The 2019 budget process is starting to wind down for South Dundas council, and one thing that stands out as a future priority is village infrastructure. That priority has not been set by this council. It has been set for this council by circumstance.
The “big” project for repairs is a complete rebuild of Ontario Street in Morrisburg. This will be a $1.3 million project that will replace everything from underground pipes, to the sewer, storm sewer, and the pavement that covers it all. As one member of council quipped, it is a lot of money for one kilometre of road. In fact, Ontario Street is only half of a kilometre long, and that is the concern.
The bulk of municipal infrastructure in Morrisburg, and all the infrastructure in Iroquois dates to the same era as that of Ontario Street, the 1950’s. This is a lasting legacy of the St. Lawrence-Seaway project. Infrastructure built in the 1950’s is now reaching its best-before date. Except for Lakeshore Drive and Augusta Street in Morrisburg, none of the infrastructure has been rehabbed. That infrastructure is an estimated nine kilometres in Iroquois, and a remaining ten kilometres in Morrisburg. That does not include the infrastructure for the two village plazas. Using the projected cost of the Ontario Street rebuild as a reference, that would mean replacement of all that infrastructure will cost $50 million! This looming infrastructure challenge is in addition to dealing with two aging water towers from the same era, and the 300-plus kilometres of roads in South Dundas.
Of course we are not advocating all 19 kilometres be done at once, but the price tag is only going to continue to climb. Ontario Street was selected this year because of the number of water main breaks that have occurred. It is only a matter of time before another street will have that dubious honour. The municipality’s new roads study, when completed this year, will help prioritize what streets need to be repaired and when. However it does not help pay for those projects.
Municipal tax bills alone will not be enough to fund all the work needed. Infrastructure funding from upper levels of government is going to be needed. South Dundas is not alone in this predicament as many municipalities have similar needs. It is time that all three levels of government worked together with infrastructure programs that deliver funding, and results. Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day.