Thank you for your letter on the topic of my decision in favour of the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge.
As you point out there are many reasons for making this decision. Yes, replacing the bridge will cost a lot of money. But I firmly believe replacement is the most economically defensible option for all of us and is also the most sustainable option because it provides for safe bike and pedestrian traffic — moving us away from our dependence on cars. Refurbishment would do nothing toward moving us to these other traffic options. The option to do nothing is not possible as the bridge will continue to deteriorate and become increasingly unsafe.
It is not just the seismic considerations that concern us. The electrical and mechanical features of the bridge are worn out and could cease to work at any time. This is the reality of dealing with an aging infrastructure.
Here are some numbers of interest:
There is no tax increase proposed for this project.
The cost per resident ( already budgeted) is $19/resident/yr for 20 years. The cost for refurbishment is $18/resident/yr for 20 years.
The cost per single family dwelling is $63/household/year for 20 years. Whereas the cost for refurbishment is $60/household/year for 20 years.
The cost to replace the bridge is $63 million, of which $21 million has been secured from the federal government Build Canada Fund, leaving Victoria residents with a bill for $42 million. The cost of refurbishment is $35 million. There are no federal funds available to support the refurbishment option. With one exception ( Councillor Geoff Young) Council agrees that the best value for money is with the replacement option
Because the bridge is a regional asset, there is a proposal to the CRD to assist with paying for the $15 million rail portion of the bridge and $8 million for the multi-use pathway so the $42 million cost to Victoria my decrease. We will know more in January..
The city has secured a low interest rate of interest through CMHC of 4.25% Interest rates are projected to rise so this is one of the reasons Council is anxious to get this rate locked in and the project started
Victoria Council has been greatly assisted in its deliberations on this project by a Citizen Advisory Council
The advisory committee includes:
o Urban designers Sid Chow and Jim Kerr
o Cycling and pedestrian consultant David Cubberley
o Heritage expert Richard Linzey
o Sustainability specialist Allison Ashcroft
o Community representative developer Joe Van Belleghem, and Citizen-at-Large Cara Segger
o Business representative Margaret Lucas
o The committee is chaired by City Manager Gail Stephens.
All of this information is available at www.johnsonstreetbridge.com
Although there is no denying this is a huge project, it is only a part of what Council and staff are working on. We have made exciting progress in the past year in providing supportive and affordable housing. The issue which remains at the top of our priorities is to end homelessness and ALL of us are doing what we can to achieve that goal.
We are working hard to make Victoria the most liveable city and I am proud to be part of a Council that is making real progress on that.
Thanks again for being in touch.
City of Victoria