As summer comes to an end and we move into fall, we start to focus on the annual budget.
There are many competing wants and needs but a finite pocket of resources. We are all familiar with this problem from doing our own family budgets. How much money do we bring in? How much money will each needed item cost? Should we borrow or save up for those items? Are they wants or needs?
Budget time is the most intense time on council, but also one of the most rewarding. It takes hours of reading and discussion and meetings but, when it is all over, we can watch the fruits of our labours unfold over the following months and years.
Staff and council work collaboratively to prioritize the limited resources of both time and money.
As we move forward on budget items this year, it is with a continued focus on climate change, mitigation of potential effects of extreme weather, reducing our impact on the planet and making the most of the resources available to us. The city commissioned an energy report last fall which was delayed because of the pandemic, but will be considered by council in October. The report outlines the greatest impacts of our energy use and what we can do to reduce them, saving money and reducing our footprint on the planet. As expected, mobilization is the greatest contributor to carbon output.
The city can help by supporting bylaws that increase density (thereby reducing urban sprawl), reducing their own carbon emission vehicles and using good planning to reduce the amount of trips made in vehicles. They can also lobby for increased transit so that we can get on the bus together instead of taking our own cars. The community can help by living near our work or shopping, carpooling, switching to electric vehicles, riding our bikes or walking. We can also support governments who prioritize carbon reduction and lobby them to responsibly use resources and tax dollars to benefit all community members.
As in any budget we have to consider what is important, what is urgent, what is necessary to prevent future costs from escalating (maintenance rather than repair), and what our short and long term goals are. Diverse communities create diverse needs, and council will do our best to meet them in a responsible and responsive way. Your input is valuable so watch for future meetings where you can learn more and give us feedback.
Sylvia Lindgren is a councillor with the City of Salmon Arm.