City hold budget buzz session

City council and staffers got an earful from residents on Monday.

City council and staffers got an earful from residents on Monday.

Over three hours, 105 residents filed into Festival Hall to bend the city’s ear on the 2016 budgets and city plans.

To name a few, they asked about debt, mosquitoes, sports fields, policing and capital projects.

Mayor Tara Veer said this annual process is an important step in ensuring the budget that is built and tabled meets the needs of the citizens. She said this council has been very strong in its commitment to engagement with the public.

Dean Krejci, the city’s chief financial officer, said projects earmarked in the 2016 capital budget include mostly road projects including widening Delburne Road to potentially six lanes, building a third storage site and crown paving. The estimated capital budget rings in at about $168 million for 2016, up roughly $28 million from 2015.

Krejci said residents mostly asked questions about the city’s capital plan, borrowing interest rates and the debt limit. The city has currently around $240 million in debt.

Jean Coley, a long-time resident, attended the open house to get some answers on sidewalk snow removal. Coley said it is challenging for seniors to walk the sidewalks because of the snow. She said last year there was a lot of snow on her street in the Pines because the snow was not draining off the roads properly.

Maxine Laing attended the open house to see what the city’s plans are for the next few years. She was interested in learning about the new innovations for neighbourhood planning.

Coun. Ken Johnston said he heard various opinions and concerns from residents.

Johnston said several residents highlighted the shortage of sports fields in the city.

He said city’s sport field strategy is addressed in the 10-year-capital plan but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen next year.

Veer said some of the areas in the budget are already secured including the new capital savings plan that will pay for future community amenities.

Council will debate the 2016 capital budget in November and the operating budget January.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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