A Plan for Our Alleys

Potholes, pooling and poor conditions - these are words that I hear on a consistent basis when residents of Ward 10, and other Edmontonians, describe their alleys to me, and I am not surprised. While we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in repairing and reconstructing our arterial roadways and our neighbourhood streets, our alleys have been left behind.

At the November 8th Council meeting, a $434 million strategy to reconstruct the roughly 1200 kms of alleys throughout the City will be discussed, and this discussion cannot come quick enough. As it currently sits, two-thirds of the alleys in neighbourhoods across Edmonton are in poor condition. In fact, 37% of the alleys in Edmonton received a failing grade during the last city-wide inspection. This strategy will recommend to address this issue by bringing the city-wide alley system up to a medium level of service (fair to good or better condition) within a 25 year horizon.

These poor conditions stem from two main reasons. For one, the alleys city-wide have an average age of 32 years, which is well beyond their expected lifespan. Secondly, when the alleys were built, they were not constructed with the proper base, which makes handling the garbage trucks that use them to collect your waste near impossible; when we discuss this strategy at Council, I will be asking about the quality of construction that is to be expected, as well as options to address the usage of alleys for waste collection.

Though I understand that there may be some concerns regarding the time it will take to execute this strategy, the recommended phased approach, which will begin in 2019 if approved, allows for the necessary time to coordinate resources both internally and externally, recognizes industry capacity and allows for the time necessary to plan an efficient program that directs the resources where they are needed the most.

The order in which alleys receive renewal will be determined through our Risk-based Infrastructure Management System (RIMS), which is a tool that simulates asset deterioration over time by completing various renewal and rehabilitation scenarios that weighs the benefits and disadvantages of investing in one project against other potential renewal projects. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of Ward 10 alleys are reconstructed first as 67% of the alleys throughout the Ward have failed inspection, and an additional 25% are in poor condition.

It is recommended that this program will be funded through a dedicated tax levy, which will begin in 2019 and incrementally work its way to 1.27%, or an additional $30 per household on average, by 2022 to secure the annual funding of $18.3 million. This funding structure is similar to that of our Neighbourhood Renewal Program, and has the benefit of a direct line of sight between developing the fund and the actual reconstruction of your alleys. While I certainly recognize the affect this program will have on your property taxes, this funding is desperately needed to address an important, but often neglected piece of infrastructure in our city - your alleys.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposed program before it is discussed at Council. Please feel free to call me at 780-496-8132 or email me at michael.walters@edmonton.ca


In other, but related news, at today’s Executive Committee meeting, it was recommended to Administration that a City Policy be created that seeks to ensure the funds collected for the Neighbourhood Renewal Program cannot be used for any other city purpose besides funding that program, which will ensure the long term sustainability of this program.