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Bowen Budget Breakdown: Department by department

A look at what projects are being funded in the municipality's major departments
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*Editor's Note: This article provides a more detailed look at specific department funding. You can find our general budget/financial plan story here. All budget info from the Committee of the Whole presentation can be found here

Public Works: 2021 approved - $958,900 / 2022 draft - $1,017,869 / 6.15% increase

Engineering director Patrick Graham outlined several road-related projects requiring immediate attention, particularly surrounding culvert replacement.

Four locations have failed or are failing: Terminal Creek at Harding Road ($250,000 fix); Grafton Road east of Artisan ($200,000); Adams Road near Eaves Road ($200,000); and Killarney Creek at Miller Road ($200,000). The latter of these was partially finished in 2020 and the company remains under contract.

While these four are the most pressing, nearly 400 culverts under public roads are at, or nearing, end of life. At an estimate of $200,000 to replace each of the 139 large culverts, and $50,000 to replace each of the 256 smaller culverts, the entire campaign will run around $40 million.

Graham notes this is a rough estimate based on prior work, and not every culvert will cost the same. He also acknowledged it isn’t something which can be budgeted over the next few years, since many of them are expected to fail at the same time. He requested $1 million a year for the time being to deal with them.

A storm sewer issue along Bowen Island Trunk Road has also become a priority after several holes appeared, including one on the sidewalk a person fell through in December. In addition to being a hazard, the collapses are holding up work on the Multi-Use Path (MUP).

Graham explained the storm sewer system is so far gone that “everything other than replacing the whole pipe is the wrong thing essentially.” He says work could be completed by late summer at the earliest.

Moving to the roads themselves, Graham says the usual $400,000 a year is not enough to keep up. He asked for an increase to $500,000 and incremental raises after that up to $750,000 by 2026, advising works crews may just have to deal with the worst potholes for now. Rock slope maintenance is another area going over budget, the current allowance is $100,000 annually but work along Taylor Road alone ran more than $500,000.

A myriad of fixes are needed at the Public Work Service Yard, which currently doesn’t meet operational or health and safety requirements, partly because the site is contaminated. Design and environmental work began last year on the necessary improvements, and will cost $280,000 in 2022. Next year’s construction and site remediation is estimated to cost $3.9 million.

Capital projects currently budgeted for 2022 include $1.64 million for the Snug Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant, $700,000 for the Tunstall Bay Reservoir, $100,000 to get the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant up and running, and $55,000 for the Hikers Trail Road improvements. Completing Phase 2 of the MUP – once the storm sewers are fixed – will cost $500,000, but is fully covered by grants.

Graham outlined several more areas needing attention going forward, including $100,000 for replacement of a public works truck which has become a “money pit”, needing $20,000 in maintenance last year alone. The Carter Road bridge replacement will run around $750,000, and Graham also floated the idea of $65,000 to purchase a small excavator so the municipality could do certain work themselves without having to hire outside help.

Phase 3 of the MUP will cost about $3.5 million, however there are many grant opportunities available for the project.

Parks and Environment: 2021 approved - $408,700 / 2022 draft - $341,766 / 16.38% decrease

While a lower number on paper, much of the budget for parks and environment was reallocated to bylaw to recognize director Bonny Brokenshire’s time spent between the two departments.

In terms of project funding, the biggest undertaking ahead is the compost facility. This year will see costs of $100,000 from the municipality and $200,000 in grant funding, the municipal contribution coming through short-term debt financing. The facility is expected to be complete by March 2024.

Brokenshire pointed out many wooden bridges in parks around the island are rotting away and need replacing. This work will be along the lines of the Mikes Lorg bridge replacement, which is now reinforced with steel beams. Each bridge costs around $12,000 to replace.

Safer shoreline access is also a priority, starting with an accessible plan for Tunstall Bay. $5,000 to plan this design will come from the Improving Access to the Sea reserve. Together, the bridge repairs and shoreline access costs are estimated at $150,000 a year over the next five years.

Bylaw Enforcement: 2021 approved - $184,300 / 2022 draft - $262,492 / 42.43% increase

Increase reflects the reallocation of Brokenshire’s split roles.

Brokenshire explained bylaw requests went up 38 per cent between 2016-2021, including a 43 per cent rise in environment and land use issues, which she explained take more time to resolve. She says two full-time bylaw officers and one part-time manager are needed to handle the increased load, and requested $15,000 more for the department.

Building and Planning: 2021 approved - $605,000 / 2022 draft - $656,150 / 8.45% increase

Director Daniel Martin asked for $27,000 for e-permitting planning software to assist with building and development applications. The program would allow for better processing and tracking abilities on projects. The department also needs a new approving officer following a staff retirement.

Martin explained increased building revenues will cover these costs. Building and planning took home $347,170 in building permit revenue last year, up from $212,680 in 2020. The first three months of 2022 have yielded more revenue in this area than any opening three months in the past five years.

General Government: 2021 approved - $393,938 / 2022 draft - $462,700 / 17.46% increase

Corporate officer Hope Dallas outlined a pair of capital projects planned, starting with a $25,250 request for IT renewal and replacement. This would consist of replacing a number of laptops, computers and other electronics, and purchasing new tablets for the new council in the fall.

A $30,000 website redevelopment is also underway, with an aim to improve accessibility, and add e-services and a public engagement platform.

Dallas says serious work is also needed with regard to records management, which has reached capacity. The fall election will cost $46,000, while future expenses considered are $50,000 in moving expenses to the community centre next year, $20,000 in furniture, and $50,000 for the 2026 election.

Recreation and Community Services: 2021 approved - $665,400 / 2022 draft - $680,677 / 2.30% increase

Due to the rising costs of the community centre, director Gillian Drake says the department is not taking on anymore major projects in the near future. She says the goal for the summer is to update the operating plan for the community centre.

Fire and Emergency: 2021 approved - $721,200 / 2022 draft - $964,658 / 33.76% increase

Fire Chief Aaron Hanen broke down the new equipment and vehicles the department is in need of, starting with turnout (protective) gear worn by the firefighters at a cost of $28,000 this year and $127,200 over five years. Hanen says this is a high priority, along with $20,000 for new radio equipment.

On the vehicle side, the $640,000 replacement of Engine 31 comes due this year. Hanen says next year Engine 32 – a 1978 4X4 pumper truck – will need replacing too. It’s currently the only 4X4 truck in the fleet, which means it’s the only one capable of going up certain steep driveways. The new 4X4 pumper will cost around $370,000.

Hanen added the fire department has $100,000 available in FireSmart funding, which they’ll use to raise community awareness and complete community wildfire assignments.

Four new volunteers have signed up in the last month and are undergoing training. Hanen is hoping for four more next year too.