Tuesday, January 29, 2013

THE BEST OF TIMES AND THE WORST OF TIMES



For those of us that think the City of St. John’s is awash in infrastructure woes, video of the impact of cascading water flooding down McTavish Street in Montreal yesterday should be an eyeopener.

A broken water main swept people away and flooded several buildings yesterday afternoon.


A water slide down Leslie, Garrison or New Gower could make for a fun ride! 

Seriously, the city is facing an unprecedented infrastructure crisis
 

Water main infrastructure is reaching the end of it's lifespan and is decaying rapidly. The issue of under-maintained infrastructure should be pivotal in  this fall’s municipal election. 


With the provincial government heading into two years of significant deficit, the plight our capital city's legitimate needs continues to  be placed on the back burner.

The provincial government is not paying a fair rate for key municipal services, including water and other infrastructure. City taxpayer’s are subsidizing the provincial government! 

It is a crazy situation which may lead to a doubling of taxation for residents of this city. We can not just accept it!

The City and Municipalities NL are pushing for a share of the gas tax, elimination of the province's break on building permits, and a break on the harmonized sales tax that the province collects from municipalities. The provincial government is sitting on it’s hands

Speaking of sitting on our hands. While municipal leaders are collecting windfalls from developments – they seem unable to provide infrastructure to these same areas.  Take for example, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in development of hundreds of new homes in East point Landing, n, the city of St. john's refuses to provide curb, cutter and sidewalks along Logy Bay road.

These taxpayers have been neglected despite the significant developments that they have paid for.  The developers provided sidewalks in the development, but the City is in no rush to provide sidewalks along one of the province's busiest roads.

The area is blocked with young families that should be able to enjoy the trails and amenities of the East End, but accessing them is dangerous. They are forced to walk, push strollers, jog and bike on narrow shoulders along Logy Bay Road. Once gain, City Council will ignore the problem until someone gets seriously hurt,or killed.

Of course, planning aside, how does council move forward on new infrastructure when it can not pay the cost of repairing the existing decaying infrastructure?

I think it is time to get our spending priorities straight.

Premier Dunderdale, a city MHA, must offer a realistic fiscal arrangement for the Province's capital city.

3 comments:

Wm. Murphy said...

Of course, planning aside, how does council move forward on new infrastructure when it can not pay the cost of repairing the existing decaying infrastructure?

Well you have mentioned that you will be running for City council so how do you answer your question?

Peter L. Whittle said...

Nurph:

That is the crux of making choices instead of deferring the problem to the next crowd.

The pension and infrastructure liabilities have to be addressed. Municipalities are severely constrained.

However there needs to be establish strategic priorities for the city-region to ensure smart and sustainable growth.

The province should pay adequate and reasonable grants in lieu of property taxes on provincial property. New taxation powers would require council to seek sources of revenues from their own voters for infrastructure priorities. Might be time to look at P3 options as well.

The dysfunctional and inefficient funding formula needs to be addressed in such a way as local governments are in control of and accountable for more infrastructure spending. How well are the existing federal and provincial transfer being spent? I would like to see lessened local dependency on other levels of government and improved political accountability.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ran out of space:

Municipalities need a reasonable,
reliable source of funding. Province needs to offer municipal funding in stable 10 year commitments with five year reviews.

The comment section is a hard place to tease it all out but I am up for the discussion.

What are your thoughts?