By Matthew Liebenberg
Several council members requested updates about the City of Swift Current’s progress with street sweeping, pothole repairs and paving work during their regular May 15 council meeting.
City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken reported good progress with these spring activities to clean and repair streets.
The scheduled residential street sweeping started on May 3 and was set to conclude on May 24, but he felt there is a need for additional street cleaning.
“We’re going to have to do additional sweeping after this run,” he said. “We put a lot of material down this winter after the rains and it’s been difficult to pick up. So this is kind of round one and we’ll likely be doing clean-up afterwards.”
He added that the street sweeping program will still be going on for quite a while after the scheduled times for the different residential areas of the city.
“We still have a number of collector and main roads to do yet and a bunch of parking lots and lanes,” he said. “So we’ll be sweeping for a while yet.”
He indicated the paving and concrete work is going well. The work is done by United Paving Ltd. of Swift Current and the concrete work is mostly completed. He felt the progress with pothole repairs has been better than average.
“We did do some repair work earlier and now we started in earnest doing the potholes since the asphalt plant started up and we got hot mix,” he said. “So we’re working our way through, filling the holes as we go. We got through all the service roads now, which was our first priority. Now we’re moving on to some of our main thoroughfares.”
The work will be continuing on various roads and pothole repairs on residential streets will also take place in the coming weeks.
“As we wind down the sweeping program, we’ll have some more resources to throw at it to start working on some of the residential areas and get those areas done up as well,” he said.
He added that residents are welcome to contact the City to report potholes on their streets. They can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the City’s 24-hour hotline at 306-778-1625. They can also fill out a form on the City website (use the search term “pothole” on the website).
Total cost of flood response still to be determined:
The City is still in the process of determining the total cost of the flood response when water levels in the creek raised to near record levels in April.
“We’re working on putting that all together and getting all our invoices in and getting organized,” Minken said. “So we don’t have a final number just yet. … We’re looking at some areas that are damaged and what the repair costs are going to be. So we’ll put all of that together.”
The area around Lee Lam bridge on the city’s south side was already identified for repair work, because the flood waters caused a substantial washout on the edge of the road and the pathway.
“We’ve also done a drone flight of the entire creek through the city, which is just being analyzed now to see other creek bank failures that we may have come upon during this thing,” he said. “So nothing major that’s sticking out, but there are some areas we’ve seen some more damage as we looked a little closer.”
The report on City accounts and expenses presented during the May 15 council meeting indicated a payment of $27,344.89 for the purchase of gravel used during the flood mitigation. Minken indicated this amount represented payment for about 60 per cent of the gravel used to deal with the flood situation and there will be future invoices to two other vendors.
The gravel was mainly used to fill the rapid deployment flood control barrier bags, which were installed in low-lying areas along the creek at risk of flooding. Afterwards the gravel was removed from the bags and it will be used by the City for other purposes.
“We’ve collected all of the rock chips that we used to fill the bags for flood mitigation,” he said. “It’s all at the service centre now. We probably have a couple year’s worth of inventory on our hands now. We looked into trying to return it, but because it was used and contaminated, we’re going to have to use it up ourselves.”
He indicated this material will be typically used to fill holes at various work areas around the city.
“So whether that’s a waterline dig or whether that’s a Light and Power dig, that’s a product that compacts well and we use it to backfill all those holes that we dig,” he said. “It’s not really road gravel, but it can be used on roadways or in lots or whatever. It’s a pretty good product for that.”
The City has made a formal application to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program for recognition of the spring flooding as an eligible event for any loss or damages to enable residents to submit any claims for flood damage. The City’s damage assessment will be submitted to the program, but it is unlikely to receive any compensation.
“I don’t believe that we’ll be fortunate enough to get any compensation out of that,” he said. “The hurdle for municipalities is quite high, but we’ll be submitting that information as to what our costs are.”