Monday, April 11, 2011

"What fresh hell is this?"

When I read in Saturday's SP (Apr 9/11) about the lighting on the traffic bridge I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

When it first came to light that the bridge lighting came in at twice the amount budgeted, Paulsen was the only councillor to question administrative over-spending without the approval of Council. She was quickly blown off by then city manager Phil Richards with the explanation that as he had money in the River Landing budget he didn't need council's approval for the expenditure and the matter died. And then later Council voted to replenish the RL coffers when they were empty.

Part of me feels sorry for Council as the initial lighting project was approved based on the information provided that the bridge still had a good 20 years left. I hated the choice of lighting because I felt it made the bridge look like a cathouse and so my first reaction was to be happy that they would be gone. But as I read on and came to understand that now Council is considering doing the same thing with the new bridge and more yet - viewing bays, electrical and water outlets for staging of events and other such sundries - my sympathy died. River Landing was already equipped for all of these needs.

The $30 million fix on the bridge is escalating . Recently the Mayor lamented that the higher levels of government did not allocate funding the the traffic bridge and the cost would be borne by the local tax base. The city finance manager fore-shadowed that the extra spending on the police station could put the city's credit rating at risk. Council has already started amortizing these projects for a longer period of time which will incur more interest on debt but reduce required annual payments.

Our roads are in disrepair and infrastructure is decaying. One neighbourhood is considering fund-raising in order to fix their road so a kids' soap-box derby can be held. Auto repair shops and tire sales are booming this year as taxpayers fix their vehicles from road damage. Sidewalks and medians are crumbling.

Left on the books for consideration is the public library, a new water treatment plant, bus barns and a depot, and the cry for affordable housing in the city. Hundreds of millions of dollars yet to be spent.

Are we all so caught up in the boom that we are blind to the fact that eventually the piper must be paid?

Much like after the Devine Government era, a council of the future will have to cut services and spending on needs and necessities while we pay these debts. It is for that Council that I will save my sympathies.


  1. It is almost getting painful to watch our Municipal leaders. There isn't one councillor with any sort of foresight or planning.

    Even worse through years of no standards and poor evaluations the City Administration is proving themselves more inept than council.

    If anyone runs for Mayor on the platform that they will clean out City Hall and City Admin they would have my vote.

    This feels like a bad movie where everyone can see how lazy, self serving, and useless the City employees are. Someone needs to ride into town and clean up the gong show. Everyone is too settled and there is no accountability (for heaven's sake department heads aren't even expected to keep to their budgets, no one has reasonably forecasted the cost of any project, the maintenance of city is in disrepair, etc..), just collect their pay cheques and mail in their jobs.

    What a joke.

  2. we get what we vote for! (or for 73% of us, what we don't vote for...)

  3. And now the Mayor says the real reason for longer term debt is so those future tax payers to be able to pay for something they will be using. WTF that's like saying I am paying high taxes today because the freeway was built in the 70's but I use it every day. The day we start holding plebiscite questions about tax implications of new projects can't come soon enough. I think people will be more involved if they see exactly where the dollars are being spent and can say no before they bill comes.


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