District buying equipment to implement road maintenance strategy

Lynsey Kitching


Public works has had a reliance on asphalt businesses to come into town whenever there needs to be patch work done to asphalted areas, which can hold up production on many fronts.

Manager of Operations for the District Doug Beale explains Tumbler Ridge needs to have the equipment and be able to do the roads when it is convenient for the District, and not have to rely on asphalt companies.

Having its own equipment, says Beale, would allow the District to get repairs done right away and feeds into the maintenance and replacement strategy for our roads and trails. Beale explains right now there are a lot of failures with our roads. Failures are rough spots like potholes and cracks.

Though there still needs to be a road replacement plan put in place, getting the new equipment is part of the maintenance strategy, which will help preserve the lifespan of the roads we have. When the new roads get paved, we already have a system in place to property look after them and keep them newer for longer, explains Beale.

The equipment, which was approved by council to be purchased are: asphalt hot box reclaimers (allows hot mix to remain at a constant working temperature for long periods of time), an infrared asphalt heater (allows heating of road surface for repairs), and a portable packer.

It’ll run a bill of $130,000 taken from the $330,000 budgeted for Pavement and Sealcoating and reallocated for this purchase under the Payment Equipment budget.

Beale writes, “A key element of any Maintenance Strategy is to have the proper tools to do the tasks and in the case of our roads, Public Works needs the ability to do the work necessary to properly repair and maintain the road surfaces within the community.”

The solution to patch roads currently is to use ‘cold patches’, which are considered more temporary, only lasting about one year and needing constant maintenance.

This other option of recycled “hot mix asphalt” lasts for three to five years and will also be aiding in the recycling of asphalt in the community.

Beale explains there are a lot of projects around town where asphalt is being removed or replaced and also some stockpiles of the material, with more development to come.

There are two main problems raised with the purchase of the equipment, however. The first is man power. Are there enough people on staff to make use of it? Beale explains once they have the equipment and start using it, they will see how much man power they need.

He says, “We need to fix the failures to prevent further damage.”

The second problem brought forth is raised by CFO Candie Laporte. She writes, “During budget discussions Council and staff discussed that $100,000 of this budget would be designated towards preparing a comprehensive payment management plan, which is crucial to the management of our infrastructure and the needed spending requirements.

I am concerned that the remaining balance will not be sufficient to cover these costs.”

She advises council to wait because she thinks it is unlikely the equipment will be used this year. “Therefore we would be storing, depreciating and using up the warranty period on equipment we likely won’t utilize in the winter months,” writes Laporte.

Even with theses counter-arguments, Council agreed all in favour to purchase the specialized asphalt recycle equipment and furthering the process of our road maintenance strategy.