City councillors are responding to articles questioning the Ross St. Underpass land lease proposal, a plan to begin spending $330,000 of our tax dollars on a project with a final price tag of $9 million. They seem to have three primary concerns.
The first is that the current train track crossing is “a barrier to tourist and local traffic.” Perhaps, but how serious is this “barrier?” No one on council asked this question before unanimously endorsing the proposal. We checked actual train frequencies and wait times, and found there is no barrier for 9 of 10 trips because no train is in the crossing. The other 10 per cent of the time there is a wait of five minutes or less. Is this a problem requiring a $9-million solution?
“The number one concern is safety.” As we have pointed out, a maximum wait of five minutes 10 per cent of the time is less unsafe than other areas of the city that are more than five minutes away from a firehall or ambulance dispatch – all the time. Next year, fire chief Brad Shirley will produce a map of the city showing areas more than 10 minutes from a firehall. Perhaps then the mayor and council will shift their safety concerns from the waterfront to these less-served neighbourhoods.
“Approving spending up to $330,000 now doesn’t mean we’re committed to a $9 Million Underpass.” True, but we’re being asked to accept council spending tax dollars with little or no information on why it is needed, how it would affect downtown, where the $9 million would come from, or how it will affect other spending priorities and our taxes.
If this seems as ill-considered to you as it does to us, visit city hall before 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 and sign the official elector response form.
Let council know it’s their responsibility to be informed – and inform you – when spending large amounts of your money.
Bill Remphrey on behalf of CASSSA