I keep being asked why Saskatoon roads are so bad and the answer can be found in this chart which comes from a 2011 report on roads
As you can see, from 2000 to 2003 we used to fix hundreds of thousands of metres of local roadways. Then when Don Atchison was elected in 2003, you will notice a (downward trend) until we pretty much stopped doing any road repair on our local roads. You can only do this for some many years and eventually our roads look like they do now.
The paved street network in Saskatoon has an estimated replacement value of $1 billion. The City of Edmonton, in their 2010 Infrastructure Report, stated that funding for paved streets should be at least 2 per cent of the replacement value each year. For Saskatoon’s network this would be $20 million per year. The City of Edmonton has a roadway network that is almost four times the size of Saskatoon’s. Their 2011 budget for roadway and sidewalk preservation is approximately $235 million. Edmonton plans to replace all the roads and sidewalks (five to seven neighbourhoods per year) over the next three years. Some of this work is funded through a tax levy which is 1.5 per cent of the replacement value of their road network, or approximately $50 million annually. The City of Regina’s roadway network is approximately 15 per cent smaller than Saskatoon’s. Their 2011 budget for roadway and sidewalk preservation is approximately $18 million. Regina has an extensive sidewalk replacement program, and many of the walks are replaced when the roadway is replaced. Regina funds all walk replacements with local improvements that generate over $3-million of their $18-million budget annually. The current roadway and sidewalk preservation budget for the City of Saskatoon is $7-million the budget would have to be increased by over $21-million. To meet the same funding level per square metre as Edmonton, the budget would have to be increased by approximately $80 million.
The decision to focus on the primary roadways was all of councils but it has been apparent that it is a failed strategy for the last couple of years and yet the city does nothing about it, that is where the frustration comes in for me. I have heard almost every city councillor say, “we keep hearing about road on the doorstep and yet when it came budget time, almost no new money was spent on roads because the tax rate increase had to stay under 5%. Governance by tax rates rarely turns out well, especially when your road costs rise by 15% every year.