Skip to content

Newmarket bracing for rough 'wave' of infrastructure repairs

Town expects more disrepair in next decade with funding shortfall for asset management
Newmarket Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh.

The Town of Newmarket is bracing itself for a “wave” of infrastructure repair that could see it experience greater challenges to keep up.

Budgeted funding is falling short of matching the repairs needed for parks and facilities within the next decade, according to a staff report to council May 27. While assets are presently in fairly good condition, staff are projecting a significant surge of facility replacement needs starting in 2026-2028, with a shortfall of $70 million over the next decade to address infrastructure on a needs-based basis.

Still, the town is planning to address it with reserves and potentially play “catch-up” in the following years when replacement needs are less pronounced. But Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said upper levels of government will have to come up with some funding to help address it.

“If you look at the projections going out about 50 years, the impact on the tax base is unacceptable, and property taxes are not the right vehicle to fund something of this level,” Taylor said, speaking broadly about infrastructure challenges to come for all municipalities. “One way or another, there has to be, let’s call it a new deal. We have to advocate aggressively for that.”

The report highlights that about 75 per cent of town facilities and 70 per cent of parks are in fair or better condition, based on age-based assessment. This is projected to degrade over time, with staff expecting some significant repairs to be needed in the next 10 years, but that will be followed by a lull in repair needs.

The $70 million is what it would cost to asset inventory and keep it at current service levels within the next decade.

“What this means in practice is since we won’t meet the full need - municipalities never do - we will just have a period of catchup where you will start to see more wear and tear. There could be potential breakdowns or closures or disruptions,” acting manager of asset management Erik Wright said. “We have to get through that wave, kind of chew our way through it, and then come out on the other side.”

Still, the town is planning for asset replacement through its annual tax bill and building up reserves, with asset management plans for 95 per cent of all town assets complete. The town has also maintained an asset replacement fund, which it has put tens of millions into annually.

“I have seen municipalities boast about one per cent or zero percent tax increases, and what they neglected was their asset management in order to achieve that,” Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh said. ”So, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Yet with the upcoming shortfall and infrastructure gap, Vegh said, “Ten years in the political world is like tomorrow. We need to be planning.”

Staff said they will take asset management needs into consideration in each annual budget process.

“The reasons we have reserves and people (say) ‘wow, you’re building up these big bank accounts, these big reserves,’ is for this very reason,” Taylor said.