Get priorities straight

Dear sir:
This letter to the editor, albeit somewhat late, is my personal response to the “Downtown Core Committee Report” and the public meeting held at the Memorial Sports Centre on June 13.
I attended the meeting and, indeed, would commend those individuals who have spent hours and hours of volunteer time to come up with recommendations on how to improve our core area.
I am onboard with the goals intended, however, I am in total disagreement with the Parking and Traffic Flow Sub-committee recommendations noted in its report under Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3.
This portion of the report is full of controversy and all kinds of assumptions—none of which are backed up by a rational argument indicating numbers, targets, proper input, surveys, or measurements with real numbers and justification.
I expect dollar figures would run well into the tens of millions without buy-in from any level of government beyond the municipality.
There was overwhelming opposition to this plan, except for the smaller issues brought forward by the Downtown Issues and Branding Sub-committee.
I think most of the attendees would agree that a lot of the recommendations in that committee’s report are easily attainable, would not cost a lot of money, and would have a positive benefit to downtown businesses.
Council needs to get its priorities straight. We all have witnessed the downturn in the pulp and paper industry and we are worried about our major employer in town. There has not been any significant growth in any sector (tourism, mining, pulp and paper, nor manufacturing) in the north and we have an aging demographic.
While on council, I agreed the commercial tax rate in town was too high, but unless council reduces spending, any commercial rate reduction will have to be absorbed by the residential ratepayer.
If municipalities want more money, the option of increasing taxes and user fees (which is happening here) is always available. So, too, is cutting out waste and unnecessary spending.
Voters are not likely to favour paying more tax to the municipalities that refuse to repair roads, fill potholes, and clear snow when money instead is being allocated to trendy social projects with little to do with providing primary municipal services.
There is no money going into roads in 2006 or 2007. The road work we will see done is for sewer and water work—and that money is coming from the sewer and water budget. A list of roads in need of repair would fill several pages.
There are a lot of people upset about the way things are going in our town and it’s high time mayor and council started to listen.
Thank you for allowing me this time.
Signed,
David M. Bourgeault

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