Platform – Part 1 – Fiscal Responsibility

The City has recently undergone a period of unprecedented spending and infrastructure growth.  Over the last 4 years, numerous projects have been undertaken in conjunction with the Federal and Provincial governments.  These include the development of a new Arts Centre in the downtown, a new parking garage on Carlisle St, a new swimming pool and library at Pearson Park and a new Football Field behind Seymour-Hannah arena.

In many cases, these projects were required to replace older infrastructure whose repair or replacement was ignored or pushed off over the years.  Even now as we build this new infrastructure, however, renovations and repair to other facilities are being put-off in a bid to keep the books ‘balanced’.  This doesn’t make sense.

Council needs to develop a priority list and a long-term schedule for repair and replacement of key infrastructure in order to ensure costs are spread out over time, and that this lumping of a huge capital debt on the backs of taxpayers is not repeated.  This list then needs to be adhered to in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

While all of us will enjoy the new facilities, the Region is now saying that Burgoyne Bridge only has a few years left of safe use.  Why wasn’t city council actively pushing the Region and the Province to get infrastructure funding to fix or replace a major transportation link between West and Downtown St. Catharines as a top priority?

No one drives a car at 150km/h between stoplights – it wastes gas, and it’s not a smart way to drive.  In the same vein, City Council shouldn’t be spending huge sums of money on infrastructure in between periods of spending nothing.  It ends up costing taxpayers more, and it’s a poor way to run a City.

Further to that, Council needs to implement a system of comprehensive service reviews, so that each department has its books re-examined on a regular basis to find savings for taxpayers.  As a City that has some of the highest tax-rates for comparable sized cities in Ontario, efficiencies need to be found to reduce the burden on Residential, Commercial and Industrial taxpayers.

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6 thoughts on “Platform – Part 1 – Fiscal Responsibility

  1. Ivan,

    With respect to vehicle idling, I am in favour of bylaws to limit the amount of time a vehicle can be left idling. I think consideration has to be given for certain circumstance (i.e. seniors driving on a hot day, delivery vehicles), but reasonable accommodations can be made while still holding true to the idea of reducing the amount of idling that happens on a daily basis. Most people don’t realize that they burn more gas by leaving the engine idling for more than 6 seconds than a shut down/restart uses.

    With respect to trees, I’m in favour of them – that’s actually a part of my platform (to be released in the next few days). One of the beautiful things about St. Catharines in the past was the tree canopy over the street (Ontario St. for instance), but that’s disappeared in a lot of areas. I’m in the process of reading the new Urban Canopy report, and will be commenting on it as soon as I finish. I support a lot of the broad ideas in it thus far, but take issue with a few points. I know that’s not a full answer, but I don’t want to complete the thought until I’ve had the chance to do the research.

    Thanks for the questions – feel free to ask whenever something comes up.

  2. I should have been more specific. Are you in favour of a so-called educational bylaw such as that we have now, which it is not enforced at all by bylaw officers?

    Or do you favour bylaws which will have some sort of financial penalty?
    Thanks.

  3. I have no patience for laws that aren’t enforced. If a law exists that isn’t enforced, then why is it there in the first place?

    Educational rarely works. People respond to incentives, and money tends to be a stronger incentive than most others.

    • We’re on the same page. I’m very concerned about climate change (and smog, but re idling, smog and climate change are the same issue anyway really).

  4. Pingback: A strong week of campaigning « Mathew Siscoe

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