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Editorial: Planning for future infrastructure needs vital

There continue to be breakdowns of the CVRD’s curbside collection trucks — all of them
The Crofton fire department headquarters and the adjoining hall that’s become quite dated. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Nothing lasts forever. Seems our local governments (and citizens) can use a reminder of that.

There continue to be breakdowns of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s curbside collection trucks — all of them.

It’s gotten so bad that the CVRD will be renting a collection truck at a cost of $10,000 a month so that they can run the rental while rotating out one of their trucks at a time for major repairs. They’ve also ordered two new collection trucks, but these specialty pieces of equipment aren’t something you can just go into a dealership and drive off the lot. It will take 18 to 22 months to get them delivered.

We hope something has been learned from this debacle.

It can be tempting when looking at a limited budget to put off things like maintenance and repairs. Politicians feel the pressure of trying to keep taxes low for voters. And in the last several years Cowichan’s local governments have faced the necessary replacement of a lot of infrastructure that’s been gradually aging. Couple this with the rise of problems like homelessness and addiction in our communities and you have a lot of budgetary pressures hitting just in time for a significant rise in construction costs.

Who isn’t tempted to put off until tomorrow when a truck or a building is still squeaking by?

But it can turn into a big cost down the road when the inevitable replacement needs to be made. Proper spending on maintaining equipment and buildings is vital to making it last as long as possible. Consider it like keeping the servicing up on your own car.

Think about not having to shell out $10,000 a month for a rental, but rather the savings of being able to transition smoothly from your old fleet of trucks directly into your new ones.

Both the City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan are also facing the end of life for their curbside collection trucks and are making decisions (we hope) before their trucks go the way of the CVRD’s.

The Crofton firehall is coming up for replacement, as is the Cowichan Bay firehall. A long-awaited new RCMP detachment is under construction. The Town of Lake Cowichan has a number of infrastructure projects that have been put off but are now clamouring for attention including everything from paving and sidewalks to water and sewer.

Planning for these things, and letting residents know the plan can lessen the pain, and make us all partners, rather than coming home to find out the roof has sprung a leak.