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.