Highlands East received an asset management plan from consultants April 11, revealing the current replacement cost of all infrastructure totaled $101 million.

The township hired consultants PSD Citywide to prepare the plan, as legislated by the province, and Israr Ahmad and Sarah Craig presented it to council last week.

They looked at roads, bridges and culverts, water and wastewater distribution and treatment, vehicles, facilities, land improvements, and equipment.

The consultants said the plan provides important data on Highlands East’s assets, including replacement costs, condition and age information, short and long-term needs, current performance, where they are falling short on funding and how to close that gap.

Breaking down the $101 million, roads make up 38 per cent of assets, or more than $38 million, followed by buildings, at 31 per cent, or more than $31 million. Next were the water network (seven per cent), vehicles, sanitary network, bridges and culverts, each six per cent, machinery and equipment four per cent and land improvements, two per cent.

The consultants found that 58 per cent of the municipality’s infrastructure was in fair or better condition, with the remaining 42 per cent in poor or worse condition.

It was estimated that $16.1 million worth of roads were in poor shape, with $3.1 million very good, $7.8 million good and $10.4 million fair.

Bridges and culverts had $1.4 million rated as very poor and $300,000 as poor – with the remainder (nearly $4 million) very good, good and fair, as examples.

The consultants further said that, on average, $3.78 million is needed each year to remain current with capital replacement needs. However, “based on a historical analysis of available capital funding from sustainable sources, the municipality allocates $2.33 million annually – both for capital projects and to reserves. This creates an annual capital deficit of $1.45 million.”

It suggested to close those deficits over time as, “short phase-in periods to meet these funding targets may place too high a burden on taxpayers too quickly, whereas a phase-in period beyond 20 years may see a continued deterioration of infrastructure, leading to larger backlogs.”

The consultants suggested increasing taxes by 1.7 per cent per year over 10 years; increasing water rates by 3.3 per cent per year over 15 years; and increasing sanitary rates by 2.2 per cent per year over five years.

Ahmad said the township will have to continue to work on its asset management plan into 2024-25.

Deputy mayor Cec Ryall asked if Highlands East’s growth had been incorporated into the work thus far, and Ahmad said it had not, but would be.

Ryall commented when it comes to asset management planning, “once you stop, you will fall behind. So this asset management plan has to be maintained every year … it has to be improved based on intelligence and usage each year.”

Gooderham bridge works

Highlands East said on April 17 that an extensive rehabilitation of the Gooderham bridge, on County Road 507, just south of County Road 503 in Gooderham, has begun and is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

During construction, they said travel across the bridge will be reduced to a single lane of alternating traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals and drivers should be prepared for some traffic delays.

There will be a planned one-day full closure of the bridge to complete work that requires the entire bridge deck to be raised. The township said it’s working with the contractor to schedule the closure to minimize the impact.

A minimum of two weeks advance notice will be provided. In addition, the closure will have advance warning signage, a signed local detour, notification on the 511 system, and the County’s website, as well as media and social media announcements.