Happened across an interesting article by Steve Paikin, of ‘The Agenda’ TVO fame, on the changes that are being noticed about Tim Hudak. A great read, and an interesting rundown of where the PC leader has gone in the last few years.
This article only tells part of the story from last night’s Council meeting.
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on the Sustainability committee in St. Catharines for the last 6 months. One of the things that has become a major priority of the committee, in the wake of the Sustainability report (which I can’t find on the city website, or I’d link to it), is an anti-shelving policy; that is, don’t just look at the pretty report and ignore it, actually implement it. One problem for Councillors has been the lack of tangible projects we can embark on right now – many projects would cost a great deal of money, and are hard to understand in terms of how they will make things better.
The point I made last night, however, should be clear and tangible to everyone. Our infrastructure deficit is growing, and we’re not being proactive in making sure funding is available to replace, rebuild and maintain our infrastructure at current funding levels. A tangible example: it is the City’s stated goal to maintain our city-controlled roads at a PCR (Pavement Condition Rating) of at least 75 (on a scale of 1 to 100). We are currently sitting at a PCR of 72 – not quite there, but hopefully on the way . . . except that, by maintaining the current level of expenditure, we’ll see our PCR deteriorate to 68.5 over 10 years.
Another tangible example: we should be budgeting for 2% of the total value of the watermains in the city to maintain sustainability, approximately 8.96 million dollars. We’ve budgeted, however, 1.08% of the value, or 5.5 million dollars.
Neither of these makes sense.
If we want a city that doesn’t fall apart at the seams, we need to replace key infrastructure when the need arises. To do that, we need to ensure that the appropriate money is budgeted to take care of the infrastructure. If facilities were maintained properly, multi-million dollar replacements might be spaced otu a little more realistically. When infrastructure reaches the end of its useful life, it needs to be replaced. It’s not complicated.
With that in mind, I’ve asked Financial Management Services to report back on how we’re going to reach sustainable levels of funding for key infrastructure in a timely manner. I have a lot of faith that our staff will find a way to get us there. I look forward to getting that report back within the next 6 months.
Given the first meeting of the Governance Committee for the new year happening shortly, I thought this was an interesting article; a more united and regionalized United Way. Not a bad way to stretch dollars farther and still serve the citizens and charities of the Niagara Peninsula.
Along with the vote to merge the local Chambers of Commerce, a sign of things to come for the Region . . . ?
A couple of interesting stories in today’s Standard.
The first is a follow-up story about Our Community Food Store and their quest to put a co-op grocery store somewhere in the downtown of St. Catharines. The thrust of the article focuses on the success of the Lexington Cooperative Market in Buffalo. It was unfortunate to read some pessimism in the article, but overall it seems people are pretty optimistic and very supportive of the idea. The truth is we’ve done a disservice to downtown residents by allowing the core to deteriorate to the point where there is no grocery option left, but the city is moving in the right direction now. We’re getting to a point where residential occupation downtown will hit critical mass, and when that happens I think those amenities we need will be there.
The other article I wanted to highlight was regarding Regional Transit – numbers are in, and show a steady increase in ridership (although not where it was hoped). The biggest drawback, as far as I can see (and I use the service) is the cost. $5 moving to $6 does not make sense. If I have to get to work on a daily basis, $200-$240 a month just simply doesn’t make it affordable for me to get rid of my car. The Region needs to roll out some affordable fare options like monthly passes.
An interesting budget meeting last night, where the Grants committee approved recommending to Council that Our Community Food Store be given a $2500 grant to help in putting together a market study on the viability of a co-op in the downtown core.
I think the goals of this group are good, and like Councillor Elliott I support the idea of a grocery option downtown. I think the Co-op group is being prudent in conducting the market study before putting together their business plan, and lost in a lot of the conversation is the fact that even they don’t really know what form this venture may take. While they have been very optimistic about timelines and ideas for the business, they have also been quite realistic in conversations with Councillors. They know that market conditions will dictate what direction the project moves in.
The bottom-line, however, is that if we really want a Residential revitalization in the downtown, amenities like grocery will have to exist sooner or later. I give a lot of credit to this group of residents for taking these important first steps.
Great article in the Standard about David Oakes (Director of Economic Development) And Rick Lane (Director of Recreation and Community Services) making their away across Southern Ontario to the new Spectator Facilities that have been built in the last 10-15 years. A lot of communities have made their way down this path – it’s good to see our Senior Management out there early in the process making sure we learn from the mistakes of other cities.