Regina should review sidewalk program, committee decides

After receiving a higher-than-usual number of petitions, the City of Regina is moving to review its sidewalk, curb and gutter program.

Some residents pay $10,000 to get their walks, curbs and gutters done

A Regina crew builds a sidewalk on the city's south side. Homeowners on this street will have to pay for most of it under the city's local improvement program. (Ted Deller/CBC)

After receiving a higher-than-usual number of petitions, the City of Regina is moving to review its sidewalk, curb and gutter program.

The city's public works committee voted Thursday to hold a review of the local improvement program, which handles the three types of concrete works.

This year, the city was supposed to proceed with 15 of the projects, which are cost-shared between the city and local residents.

However, due to petitions and resulting complications, only seven will go ahead. Public works voted Thursday to proceed with those seven for a total cost of about $890,000.

In contrast to this year's five successful petitions and eight cancellations, in 2013 there were no successful petitions.

Debate about local improvements has been heating up in recent weeks.

Many residents have expressed concerns about the costs. Homeowners in the latest round will pay 80 per cent, while the city will pay 20 per cent. For many, that's anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. 

They can pay it off over 10 years, but the city charges interest, with the rate this year set at 6.57 per cent.

Residents of Grant Drive who voted against a local improvement levy for sidewalks will have to wait for a road rebuild. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

Complicating matters is the fact the city likes to fix local roads the same time it does the sidewalks and curbs, so when the sidewalks get cancelled, the road renovations do, too.

That's got some neighbours upset that much-needed road repairs — which are paid out of general tax dollars — are being put off because people don't want to pay for the other work.

Some of these issues were raised again at the public works meeting.

Coun. Barbara Young said a review of the local improvements program is needed.

Under her proposal, the review would include:

  • possible changes to the current sidewalk program and road renewal program.
  • a look at the interest rates charged to homeowners.
  • a survey of how other cities handle their sidewalk, gutter, curb and local road projects.

 The proposed review of the local improvement program will go to the next meeting of executive committee, which is city council in committee form.

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