By Pat Warren
KAWARTHA LAKES-The City is spending an unprecedented $48.5M in total capital investment with an investment of $24M in roads and related infrastructure. That represents increases of 6.7% and 31.1% over 2018 and 2017, respectively.
With this level of spending we thought we would take an in depth look at where your tax dollars are going.
Some of the highlights in the budget are revitalization with a $4.0M investment in road and streetscape assets for Russell Street and Peel Street.
Continuance of the 2018-2020 program to rehabilitate gravel roads, the overall budget which is now reduced to $4.1M from $4.6M due to cost savings realized in 2018. This was challenged by Mayor Letham as there was a resolution from the previous Council that the full amount was to be spent on gravel.
An investment of $2.3M for a new engineered cell at the Lindsay-Ops Landfill will ensure adequate landfill capacity for current and future residents and businesses.
One of the largest amounts being spent and debated is the investment of $1.9M to consolidate the Oakwood and Little Britain fire halls into a modern and expanded Mariposa Fire Hall.
Councillor Yeo made a motion to remove this initiative from the budget, seconded by Ashmore. Yeo said it was going to cost 250,000 each to upgrade Oakwood and Little Britain while the new hall at Mariposa is going to cost 2 million. He was also concerned about response times.
Other councillors wanted to see more services shared in new builds. Fire Chief, Mark Pankhurst said it’s difficult to add other services to fire halls but said there may be room for an ambulance bay in the new build.
Councillor Andrew Veale said the community is split on the new proposal but did say that funds will be available from the sale of the land to help with the costs.Mayor Letham spoke against the motion stating that the information was peered reviewed, it makes sense to consolidate the two halls. He Said “This project is not putting people at risk; response times are ok and it will save operating costs going forward. “
Councillor Yeo’s motion was lost and the fire hall consolidation will move forward.
Also, $1.4 million for a second aerial truck was not supported which will save dollars coming from the operating budget.
Another interesting item that was supported is a second disaster recovery facility. If the main data centre is destroyed, the second one will be able to start up immediately in a disaster. This includes all data including phones and servers.
Council voted down $360,000 for design of the Paramedic South Fleet Centre. Councillor Elmslie felt we need to relook at this which is going to cost 6.8 million to build over three years. Councillor Yeo agreed, saying we need to look at multiuse buildings rather than stand alone buildings. Staff thought we need to consolidate 4 buildings in Lindsay. We need capacity to deal with growth.
CAO Ron Taylor reminded Council that this was part of the core services review. It took a multiuse approach by repurposing our facilities. He said that it shouldn’t be removed from the budget but possibly deferred.
Councillor O’Reilly spoke against the motion. He said” this building will be close to Fleming College and we don’t need to buy the land. There will be 3000 new homes being built soon so we are being short sighted because of all the growth.”
Councillor Dunn wanted to find partners and spoke in favour of the motion to remove the funds.
Staff said that there is strategic placement of the building which needs to be close to Highways 35 and 7 to improve our response times and service.
Staff continued saying “there are already partnerships with the college, CAC dispatch, shared service command centre, and would be multifunctional. It is more than a building. We can’t add ambulances without space.”
Councillor Elmslie suggested that it could be added when the new Victoria Manor is going to be planned which will be in the next few years.Mayor Letham said we have to find a model to better deliver the service and Council wants to look at another model.
The $ 360,000 for design was removed from the budget at this time.
Other larger budget items include the finalization and initiation of the growth-related redevelopments of Logie Park ($1.5M) and Bobcaygeon Beach Park ($2.0M), respectively.
The Redevelopment of Bobcaygeon Beach Park is budgeted: $2 million in 2019 of a total $6 million investment to develop the park into a multi-use recreation property, to expand the park and its recreational amenities and to enhance tourism. Project design includes outdoor pavilions, increased docking, playground structures, walking paths and shoreline improvements. For details, visit the Major Projects page on the City’s website.
Finalization of Logie Street Park redevelopment: $1.4 million in 2019 out of a project total of $4.5 million. Project includes a new splash pad, playgrounds, enhanced trails, lilac plantings and improved parking.
Also, an investment of $2.6M in recreation facilities, primarily on arenas will be spent this year. (new roofs, flooring, ice work and more)