By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Improving Taber’s downtown paving stones has been a hot topic for both old and new councils over the past two months.
Coun. Jack Brewin first brought it up at the Sept. 13, 2021, regular meeting of council due to an inquiry by a concerned citizen — and subsequently motioned for administration to investigate options and possibilities addressing the paving stones on main street. It was then discussed once again at the Nov. 22 regular meeting of council.
The downtown sidewalk paving stone project began in approximately 2006 and was continued for multiple years. The normal life-cycle on paving stones is usually 20-50 years depending on the usage, with residential being 40-50 years. However, being the stones are commercial use, this life-cycle landed within the 20-30 year range. However, this estimate all depends on maintenance and the amount/type of de-icer used during the winter.
“First thing we looked at was the repair areas, and we figure there is around 285 square meters of repairs,” stated Director of Engineering and Public Works Gary Scherer. “This involves removal, some replacement, re-levelling and things like that. The total cost is estimated at around $95,000. We just added a little extra because things can move and expand. This could be done in the spring of 2022.”
Secondly, they looked at a replacement of all the paving stones.
“Depending on the type of paving stones council decides, things like colour and durability, it’ll land in almost $1.1 million for the total replacement. At council’s direction, we looked at coloured concrete and it was just under. That could be reduced a bit if we did just normal concrete. We also looked at grants, and we could look at a downtown beautification grant to help offset the costs.”
Scherer also noted they looked at making it a multi-year project with only certain areas being done at a time. Area one was estimated at $459,000, area two $260,000, and area three $227,000.
“There really is a lot of things we could do and lots for council’s consideration.”
Coun. Alf Rudd posed the first question of subsurface issues — to which Scherer replied there has been nothing done, and it would have to be resolved.
Coun. Joanne Sorensen then asked what the lifespan of the coloured concrete would be opposed to the regular concrete.
“It should still be around 20-30 years,” noted Scherer. “It depends on the finish too, however, right now the pricing is all at coloured concrete with a broom finish.”
Brewin commented he would be strongly against a stamped finish to the concrete — as in the winter it would be very slippery. He then added a concern over the issues of waterlines possibly needing some replacement.
“Back in 2006, when these were originally done, they did look at all the curb stops and waterlines, and they replaced the majority of them. But we would of course look at them again just to make sure we get enough lifespan out of them.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering then posed the idea of just doing the $95,000 repair and inquired if Scherer would be happy with the results of just that repair.
“I would be happy with the results. Under the MGA, we just need to get the fixes done when we can according to budgets and that’s what we’re doing. All sidewalks in town are assessed every year and we are just going through this process.”
Brewin suggested looking for more information and possibly applying for grants before spending the initial $95,000.
Bekkering began a motion for council to direct administration to add the initial $95,000 to the 2022 capital budget and to apply for grant funding for the downtown sidewalk project. Brewin once again stated he wished to look into grants before spending the $95,000, just in case they would have to be replaced again.
Scherer added the paving stones should be fixed due to liability issues. However, the entire fix is much more than was initially in the budget. Along with the possibility of a survey of downtown businesses to see if they would prefer concrete over paving stones — or vice versa.
A friendly amendment was then proposed by Coun. Carly Firth to add the surveys of the downtown businesses as to which sidewalk they would prefer. This was accepted by Brewin.
The motion was carried unanimously.