Councillor Karl Wettstein raised a legitimate constituent concern during our meeting to receive the 2014 Capital Budget and 10-year forecast.
If a Council strategic priority – like the South End Community Centre or a new main library – is not found in the Capital Budget, is it really a priority?
This is a great illustration of why municipalities continue to advocate for predictable and reliable infrastructure funding from provincial and federal governments – like their gas tax funding program.
This would allow us to plan. This would allow us to be clear about our priorities with our community.
Instead we need to get projects “shovel-ready” in anticipation of a new infrastructure funding program coming down the pipe. That is what we are doing with both the new main library and South End Community Centre.
There may not be a funding program specific for these projects. However, a funding program for another project could open up room within the capital budget to include them.
Should we approve a capital budget forecast on the hope of a future funding source or partner? That is not the approach we have taken. Given the state of federal and provincial coffers, this is probably wise.
The City has had a 10 year capital forecast for many years. It was only last term that it was made sustainable – meaning that not only did every project listed in the capital budget require a business case, it also needed a sustainable funding source. As a consequence, we removed tens of millions of dollars of projects from the 10-year forecast – including the new main library and South End Community Centre.
If we weren’t getting these two projects “shovel-ready” – which we are – then I too would be worried we were not making them a priority.