Tag Archives: budget

Sidewalk, bike lanes, and trail spending

Saanich budget discussions focus on engineering-related spending Tuesday
CFAX 1070 March 6, 2012

Saanich continued budget discussions Tuesday night, with a focus on engineering-related spending.

Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock says the replacement of the Craigflower Bridge was one item discussed.

“that’s a project that will get underway this year, it’s valued at about 10.8 million dollars, and that’s almost entirely covered by gas tax revenue that was given to Saanich and View Royal for the replacement of the Craigflower Bridge”

Murdock says 3.5 million is being looked at for road improvements, 1 million for sidewalk upgrades and installations and 1 million for bike lanes on roadways and trails.

Murdock says the police budget was discussed Monday night. He says at 28 million dollars the police budget represents just over 12% of their annual municipal budget.

He says budget discussions will continue until the end of April with final approval of the financial plan by-law in May.

Resigning from PCC over Province’s plan to sell heritage properties

Two Saanich councillors resign from PCC board over B.C. budget
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich council’s two representatives on the Provincial Capital Commission have resigned following the revelation that the provincial government will sell off millions of dollars worth of surplus provincial land.

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock tendered his resignation to PCC board chair Bill Wellburn this morning (Thursday). Councillor Nichola Wade also stepped down Thursday morning.

“The recent announcement of the sale of Crown properties, properties in the Capital, confirmed my suspicion and fear that these properties were at risk,” Murdock said. “It’s unclear which properties would be for sale, but it became clear that some of the properties managed by the PCC would be part of that potential sale, and for me, I fundamentally disagree with that direction, and I won’t participate in that process.”

Victoria councillor Geoff Young stepped down from the PCC Wednesday amid similar concerns.

It was learned on Tuesday, as part of the province’s 2012 budget, that the cash-strapped government will put 100 or so properties up for sale to help minimize a projected $969-million deficit.

“It came as a bit of a surprise, although everyone was told we could expect some surprises in it. To me, it’s a measure which I think is a short-term cash infusion at the expense of the long-term enjoyment of these assets.”

For Wade, she says her day job working in the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation could have been a conflict of interest.

“I have, as a provincial government employee, a sworn oath of office to the Crown, and I would not want to be in a position where there would be a conflict with that oath,” she said. “I think things are getting to a point where, with the way things are playing out, there could be a conflict with that oath.”

In Saanich, the eight-hectare Cuthbert Holmes Park is PCC land, leased to the municipality for 99 years for $1. The current lease agreement expires in December 2086.

“There’s no indication that would be one of the properties that would be up for sale – but there is a possibility, and I disagree with that,” Murdock said.

Murdock has sat on the PCC board since 2008. He also voiced concerns in January when it was announced that the PCC would be restructured.

“I made my objections clear to the board chair and the board members that I disagreed with that direction because it put heritage properties the PCC manages at risk,” Murdock said.

When asked why he’d rather resign than stay on the board and be a vocal opponent to the decision, Murdock reiterated that he has voiced his concerns in the past, and he didn’t want to be part of the direction the PCC was “clearly” going.

He informed Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who appoints councillors to the commission, of his resignation this morning. Wade has sat on the board since December 2011.

The PCC board is made up of 14 directors: six Capital Region councillors and eight appointments by the Lieutenant Governor.

Managing your money

Finding funds amid financial belt-tightening
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

With uncertainty surrounding how much – if any – money will come from senior levels of government to pay for infrastructure upgrades that come with billion-dollar price tags, the mayoral candidates propose different approaches to foot the portion Saanich will be expected to pay.

Incumbent mayor Frank Leonard says creating a longer-term, multi-year fiscal plan must be created to respect taxpayers’ ability to pay for projects like a mandated sewage treatment facility and a proposed light rail system.

“We’ll have to phase in some expenditures. … We do that within our Saanich budget and the same goes for a billion-dollar expenditure,” he said. “We have to do that to see when expenditures can be accommodated.”

Challenger David Cubberley says the reality is that these projects can’t be funded by property taxes alone.

He suggests proportionate billing, based on how much you use a particular service, is the only fair way to pay for the infrastructure upgrades.

“Property taxes don’t capture anyone’s use of the roadway,” he said.

“We have a sewer utility, which creates separate utility billing based on your use of the system. That’s the vehicle for billing charges for this new infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, all departments – except public safety – at municipal hall were asked to trim one per cent off their annual budgets to help keep tax increases to a minimum. It was the third year in a row that a one-per-cent decrease was asked of the departments.

Council candidate Ingrid Ip says more similar cutbacks will be necessary to find money to pay for these projects.

“The best way is to try and cut costs in other areas, including reducing the salaries for councillors,” she said. “I think that we should have curb-side garbage pick-up – that would save money.”

Incumbents Leif Wergeland, Vicki Sanders, Vic Derman and Judy Brownoff say getting creative with ways to find money will be crucial, stressing that cost increases can’t just fall onto property taxes.

“Corporate funding is something that we haven’t been as open to, or cautious of sharing in, but we have to be creative in ways we can still manage to do business, as well as shoulder the burden of sewage treatment and transportation costs,” Sanders said.

Susan Brice, an incumbent, is calling for 50- to 75-year payment plans on the projects, while Dean Murdock acknowledges priorities need to be set right away.

“We need to make sure that, as we move forward, we’re being thoughtful about maintaining the high-quality services that residents expect from Saanich,” the incumbent Murdock said. “It’s not going to be possible to build everything at one time, so we need to stagger those approaches and ensure we’re investing in the services that our residents want.”

Rob Wickson and Nichola Wade say Saanich needs to make better land-use decisions along major corridors that allow for revenues to increase.

Harald Wolf wants to see Saanich make decisions and plans based on more realistic expectations.

“(The public is) constantly pressuring for more services, then complain when they’re expected to pay for them,” he said. “I’m concerned that most planning and improvements are based on growth projections, and I’m not convinced this growth will happen.”

Paul Gerrard says mandated and wanted improvements can’t be made without raising taxes to some degree.

All candidates, however, say municipalities can’t go it alone.

“Hopefully senior levels of government will come up with their share of the money,” Wergeland said.

Both mayoral candidates say they are skilled lobbyists who have proven they can get money from the provincial and federal governments.

“I’m confident that once we know what you’re asking for, I know how to lobby on behalf of Saanich and the region,” Leonard said, having “personally lobbied” for recreation and art centre upgrades for Saanich.

“Someone has to make the right argument and advocate on taxpayers’ interests, and nobody is doing that right now,” Cubberley said.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get. What’s gone on in the last decade in the Capital Region is living proof of that. I can’t guarantee you that I’ll be successful in lobbying the government, but no one can.”

Saanich News: Balanced budgets

What will be the best way for Saanich to balance its annual budget while also finding money to pay for large-ticket items such as sewage and light rail?

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“It’s about priority-setting. We need to make sure that as we move forward we’re being thoughtful about maintaining the high quality services that residents expect from Saanich. It’s not going to be possible to build everything at one time, so we need to stagger those approaches and ensure we’re investing in the services that our residents want. Every one of the elected officials has a responsibility to be sensitive to the burden property taxes have on taxpayers. We need to work with senior levels of government to leverage opportunities for funding, as well.”

Investing in priorities

Saanich Council is putting the finishing touches on the 2011 budget that focuses on building a stronger, healthier, and safer community. The budget will be presented to Council for adoption the first week of May. Here are some of the highlights:

We’re making mobility our priority. Saanich residents can enjoy more of this great community on foot or on bike with over $2 million in new sidewalks and bike lanes. We’re investing in roads like Tattersal and Admirals – making them into pedestrian-friendly corridors and not the car-centred thoroughfares they’ve become.

A healthy community continues to be Saanich’s goal. This year we’ll complete a $3 million renewal of our playgrounds, sport courts, and tennis courts in parks all over Saanich. The park upgrades give Saanich children and families places to be active in their own neighbourhood. We’re doing more at our community centres too with a new arts centre at Cedar Hill and a new roof on Saanich Commonwealth Place. As Chair of the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, I’m thrilled with these important investments in an active community.

We’re putting safety at the top of the list. Saanich will hire five new firefighters and add more funds for community policing programmes. We’re fortunate to have such incredible, community-centred service in our police and fire departments.

Finally, we’re connecting with residents in new ways. This year, we’ll launch a new web and social media presence. We’re creating new ways to reach out to residents and hear from neighbours about local issues. Facebook and Twitter are just a few of the tools we’re adding to the communication toolkit.

It’s important to me that we invest tax dollars in Saanich residents’ priorities. I hear feedback by email, phone, and on the doorstep that people want to see investments in healthy, walkable neighbourhoods. I think this year’s budget helps us move in that direction, but there’s a lot more that we can do.

What are your priorities? Please send me your thoughts (click on the “Contact Me” tab above).

Making sidewalks a higher priority

For the second year in a row, Council increased the sidewalk construction budget by a half-million dollars. This provides a much needed boost to spending to accelerate pedestrian infrastructure projects all over Saanich. The increase in sidewalk spending represents a significant shift in priorities in favour of pedestrian mobility.

Proper sidewalks let people of all ages do more than just get from one place to another. They foster a sense of community. When we go out walking, we meet our neighbours and see and feel the natural beauty that surrounds us here in our community. Walking also reduces our greenhouse gas emissions by letting us avoid using the car. We are much more likely to walk to the grocery store, or just take an evening stroll, if we have a safe and pleasant walking surface.

There are safety and health benefits too. Our population is aging, and many seniors who don’t feel safe on worn or uneven footpaths need a proper sidewalk to stay mobile and healthy.

Serving pedestrians with sidewalks and crosswalks has a much-needed traffic calming effect. Studies have proven that routes with sidewalks, bike lanes, and natural vegetation result in lower driving speeds. Commuters see that our streets are not through-ways or highways, but are the veins of life of our neighbourhoods.

Sidewalk spending is an investment in more than just concrete and asphalt. It means healthier communities, climate protection, better environment, safety, and mobility.

This year’s budget makes pedestrian mobility a greater priority. I believe it is important that Council continues to invest in making Saanich a more walkable community.

Saanich is a great place to live. Let’s give people the chance to get out there and enjoy it!

CREST partners must work together

SAANICH COUNCILLOR SAYS CREST PARTNERS NEED TO WORK TOGETHER

CFAX 1070 – March 23, 2010

ONE SAANICH COUNCILLOR SAYS HE DISAGREES WITH THE CREST BOARD THAT VICTORIA HAS TO GO ALONE ON THE COSTS FOR A NEW EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION SYSTEM.

DEAN MURDOCK SAYS PARTNERS ALL INVESTED IN THIS TOGETHER AND ONE MEMBER ISN’T SATISFIED SO THE REGION NEEDS TO WORK TOGETHER TO FIND A SOLUTION…

“they’re all investors, they’re all partners in this investment and they have to be satisfied that they are getting the benefited value out of that investment, Victoria’s done the right thing in bringing that forward, they cannot put their members at risk, they have a failure in communication, a breakdown in the communication network…insurmountable. that is absolutely crucial to the operation of the force, now what needs to happen is a discussion on how that can happen.”

SPEAKING ON CFAX 1070 WITH MURRAY LANGDON MURDOCK SAYS THE SOLUTION SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY BE THE ONE VICTORIA HAS PROPOSED, AS IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE.