Council begins budget deliberations tomorrow where we'll develop a budget plan for the next four years. There are several thoughts that will be guiding my decisions this budget cycle:
1. Let's Thrive! Here's where campaign slogans come to life. I will be supporting a number of quality of life items that will make GP an even better place to live. In particular, I will be focusing on items that have lower operating costs and are accessible and affordable to a wide range of people such as our park and trail systems. Of course, the priorities laid out in Council's strategic plan will play a key role in identifying budget priorities.
2. We have among the highest property taxes in the province. This reality will be influencing my decisions regarding the overall budget impact. I believe we need to keep our spending in line with inflation and population growth.
3. I will be focusing much attention on economic development. By making strategic infrastructure investments now, we can enable further growth within the city.
4. There are a number of areas where I believe we have extended our mandate and are paying for items that should be paid for by the provincial or federal governments. By allowing this mandate creep, we normalize the practice and set up an expectation that we'll continue to fund certain programs that should be paid for by another order of government. Given the limited taxation powers cities have (essentially property tax), we need to ensure we are only funding items within our purview.
Tomorrow and Friday we'll be discussing the capital plan. Throughout the year, Council has referred a number of items to budget and administration has taken all those items and produced a draft budget for us to dissect. Here is a list of all the major projects (above $1 million) we will be discussing. The "recommended" items have a funding source attached to them, while the "not recommended" items do not. Of course, it is at Council's discretion to move items around. These items are spread out over the next four years. You can find the full documents here.
68th Ave Twinning from 108 St. to Poplar Drive - $10.8 million
Pedestrian links - Sidewalks/pathways - $13.5 million
92 St. Twinning - $5.5 million
Leisure Centre Upgrade - $11 million ($6 million already allocated in previous budgets)
South Bear Creek upgrades (Ball diamond renewal, building upgrades, sani dump, campground upgrades, BMX track upgrade) - $1.8 million
Parks upgrades - $2.7 million
Transit bus purchases - $2.2 million
Transit Terminal - $3.4 million
Grandstands for new artificial turf field - $2.3 million
Downtown infrastructure upgrades (water, sewer lines) and Streetscape renovation - $20 million
Road rehab & overlay program - $32 million
Bear Creek Reservoir upgrades - $4 million
Traffic Signals - $9.8 million
Service Centre Expansion - $5 million
Storm Line & Pond upgrades - $4.75 million
Revolution Place (formally Crystal Centre) Expansions - $56 million
CKC West Side Soccer Field - $1.8 million
Dave Barr Field House addition - $8.8 million
Pedestrian Overpass - $2 million
108 St. upgrade to 6 lanes - $5.6 million
116 Ave & 84 St. road construction - $10.1 million