In 1985, a year after I graduated university, I attended the newly released movie Back to the Future.
The final line of the film, as the characters prepare to use their Delorean time machine to travel 30 years to the futuristic world of 2015, is: "Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads."
Unfortunately, as we approach 2015 for real, we definitely still need roads, and we need to be resurfacing them on a regular basis.
The door-knocking I have done this spring and summer in St. Vital confirms the condition of local roads, sidewalks and lanes is a top priority. Some councillors view St. Vital as a "new suburban ward," but the area near Glenwood is over 100 years old, and even some of the St. Vital streets I ran and biked on as kid in the ’70’s, like Crofton and Weaver, are now 50 years old and need updating.
In the St. Vital ward for 2014, there are a number of projects planned or underway. Some of these are resurfacings, and some involve a complete removal and replacement of the old roadway. The streets include some major roads like St. Anne’s, and some smaller residential streets like Beckinsale and Wales. While a lot of the work this year is south of Bishop Grandin, last year’s road projects included portions of Hull and Pulberry, in the northern half of St. Vital ward. We are also moving forward with a new sidewalk project that will complete the sidewalk alongside the east side of St. Anne’s south to Creek Bend Road, an area of rapid residential development.
The city dedicated a 1% increase in property taxes this year (about $4.5 million) to local road improvements (a policy which I supported), and the provincial budget added some additional funds, so that projects originally slated for next year (such as Brentford south of Meadowood) could be moved forward to this year. No one likes property tax increases, but if we continue to dedicate new revenues to road resurfacing we can address some of the infrastructure needs of St. Vital ward.
The predictions for 2015 in Back to the Future were pretty far off in terms of roads (we also don’t have those floating skateboards), but if we keep investing in our infrastructure we can leave a road and sidewalk system that will improve St. Vital’s future.