Skip to content

Sudbury roads en route for slip to ‘poor’ status by 2030

In advance of 2023 budget deliberations, the City of Greater Sudbury issued an update on its asset management investments, which shows city infrastructure is still being underfunded

Greater Sudbury roads are on a path toward further degradation due to a funding gap, and are expected to drop from an overall “fair” to “poor” condition by approximately 2030.

This, according to the city’s latest update on its asset management status, which maps out both the condition of assets and the degree to which they are being funded. 

The latest annual total capital funding gap for various areas of municipal operations is at least $103.3 million, according to the latest incomplete estimate. Some areas of potential funding shortfalls, such as buildings and facilities, haven’t been calculated yet.

Some of the existing data relies on assumptions and outdated information, which future reports are anticipated to update and refine.

Municipal roads alone face a capital funding gap of $45 million per year to maintain them in their overall current state. The city’s five-year historical investment in roads is $35 million per year, and the annual need is $80 million.

Greater Sudbury’s proposed 2023 budget earmarks $50.6 million of “capital investments in road construction and repair to maintain the city’s transportation network.”

The municipality’s roads are currently classified as fair, with a pavement condition index of 49.8 out of 100. Following their current path of underfunding, municipal roads are expected to hit an index of 40 and become classified as poor by approximately 2030.

Of the city’s paved roads, two per cent are very poor, 14 per cent are poor, 28 per cent are fair, 50 per cent are good, and six per cent are very good.

“One of the challenges facing the city is the need to balance competing needs between expanding the transportation network within the city's large geographic area and meeting the needs of existing and aging assets,” according to a municipal report on the agenda for the Feb. 7 meeting of city council.

The city owns and operates a road network of 3,592 kilometres, plus 441 kilometres of sidewalks, 3,601 street light poles and 14,916 street light fixtures (which have all been retrofitted to LED).

Street light fixtures are all in good or very good condition, while street light poles range in quality, with 39 per cent classified as very poor.

All city bridges are in fair (22 per cent) to good (78 per cent) condition, on a scale that includes good, fair and poor. Approximately four per cent of large culverts are in poor condition, 26 per cent are fair and 69 per cent are good.

On bridges and large culverts, the city falls short of a Ministry of Transportation goal of maintaining at least 80 per cent of structures with a Bridge Condition Index of at least 70, with 78 per cent of bridges and 69 per cent of culverts hitting an index of at least 70.

The city’s water treatment and distribution system has been underfunded in the amount of approximately $54.1 million annually in recent years, and the system experiences approximately 72 water main breaks per year.

Approximately 24 per cent of the city’s linear infrastructure (pipes) is in very poor condition, eight per cent are poor, eight per cent are fair, 29 per cent are good and 32 per cent are very good. Water treatment/distribution facilities carry a similar breakdown.

The city’s stormwater management system (537 kilometres of stormwater gravity mains, 277 kilometres of ditches, 8,600 maintenance holes, 8,744 catch basins, 15 ponds and 24 oil and grit separators) is in an overall good condition, but has been underfunded by approximately $1.6 million in recent years. 

Fleet and equipment (570 vehicles, 4,738 pieces of equipment and 115 bus shelters) are in an overall good condition and are underfunded by $2.6 million per year.

The city’s inventory of 399 buildings and facilities and 237 residential housing facilities totalling five-million square feet are in an overall fair condition. Perhaps most notable in the building rankings is that 21 of the city’s 27 fire hall and EMS buildings, some of which currently proposed to be consolidated, are in very poor condition.

The city has a total of 417 assets making up their parks and recreation department, and are in an overall fair condition, of which six per cent are very poor, 28 per cent are poor, 60 per cent are fair, four per cent are good and two per cent are very good.

The City of Greater Sudbury has a historical capital investment of $3.21 billion, and its infrastructure carries a replacement value of approximately $10.91 billion. Road assets alone have a replacement cost of almost $3 billion.

The report follows the city’s Enterprise Asset Management Policy, which follows government direction (Asset Management Planning for Municipal Infrastructure) to properly account for and manage lifecycle costs of municipal assets.

The city’s financial shortcomings in funding infrastructure shouldn’t come as too great a surprise for city hall watchdogs.

The assets report on the agenda for next week’s city council meeting is the latest in a series of updates, with the most notable to date arriving in August 2021, which then-Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland referred to as a “beast of a report.” 

The city’s infrastructure deficit has also been well-established, and Ontario municipalities currently face an infrastructure deficit of approximately $52 billion required to bring assets to a state of good repair, according to a 2020 report by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.

It has also been largely accepted that municipalities can’t fill their infrastructure funding gaps on their own. During 2022 budget deliberations, then-Mayor Brian Bigger sussed out from city administrators that council would need to increase the municipal share of property taxes by 33 per cent to meet their estimated annual infrastructure funding shortfall.

Tuesday’s city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be viewed in-person at Tom Davies or through a livestream available by clicking here. The city’s infrastructure deficit is also expected to come up during 2023 budget deliberations slated to begin on Feb. 15.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
Read more