Acting Mayor’s Report
Mayor Benty has requested that while fulfilling the role of acting Mayor, each of the Town Councillors pen an article for the newspaper.
I am taking this opportunity to attempt to clarify some of the misconceptions in regards to the Bridge to Bridge (Dike improvement) project.
Through numerous community conversations it has become apparent that the public process that is being undertaken is somewhat misunderstood.
I will move to shed some light on this.
For the better part of the past decade, beginning with the work of Mayor Jim Doyle and council, carrying forward with Mayor Aman Virk, and proceeding with Mayor Benty and Council, our local government has been lobbying the provincial government for the core funding necessary to address a safety and infrastructure issue critical to our community.
After years of work and preparation, we have finally been successful in securing this funding.
This often takes a long time because municipal governments are at the whim of Sr. government granting cycles as we do not have the resources to fund large infrastructure projects with local tax dollars alone.
We prepare, lobby, and lobby again until successful. In the case of dike upgrades, this has finally come to fruition.
Bridge to bridge will move forward and the conversation of whether or not to proceed is not on the table. This project has been deemed a community priority, has the support of at least three consecutive councils and will finally be addressed.
A useful analogy to understand this would be to liken the state of the Kicking Horse Dike to a main foundation wall in the living room of your house rotting away.
To keep the home from falling down, to fix the wall or not, is not up for debate.
A responsible owner will move to remedy the problem using best building practices and in a manner that not only fixes the foundational issue but also addresses subsidiary concerns.
Ignoring it would have potential devastating consequences. Protecting key community assets and maintaing core infrastructure is a foundational role of local government and is our elected responsibility.
The notion of “counter petition” has led some to believe electoral consent is being sought to proceed with this project. This is where the confusion lies.
Upon receiving core funding, council proceeds to address how to apply the municipal portion of monies.
We ask ourselves the question: Is this a project with only short term benefits to the citizens of today or is this a project with long term positive benefits to citizens of today and tomorrow?
If the answer is only today, then we would move to fund the project in the short term via tax increases, re-allocation of resources, short term borrowing etc.
Today’s residents would bear the cost burden.
If the answer is long term, we would move to borrow funds over an extended period so as to spread out the payback. The cost burden would be shared by citizens over a 30 year period.
Council has deliberated this question and our conclusion is that this project has long term benefits and the best course of action is to fund our portion with a long term loan.
The cost burden should be shared over time.
In order to borrow over the long term, we need, by law, the assent of the electorate. This is where the “counter petition” process comes in to play.
The question being asked, and this is the key part to understand, is do we want to pay for this now or do we want to pay for this over time?
By signing the counter petition you are saying, in essence, that you do not want to borrow for this project long term, and think that we should pay for it in the short term. You would not be saying no to the project.
You would be saying no to borrowing and sharing the cost over time and yes to the funding reallocation’s, resource shifts, and potential short term tax increases to fund this in the short term.
I am hopeful that this helps to clarify the question that is being asked and a brief rational as to why it must be asked.
It is a pay now or pay later, not a yes or a no.
Councillor and Current Acting Mayor, Caleb Moss