The Third Crossing is a vital project for our entire community. Together with the widening of John Counter Boulevard, this bridge will facilitate an east-west traffic corridor connecting the city and making it easier for residents to get to work, school, shopping and community events. The Third Crossing will be a catalyst for redevelopment in both the city’s north and east ends, ease traffic congestion in the downtown and enable better response times for emergency vehicles going to or from the east end. For all of these reasons, I am encouraging my fellow councillors to commit to getting the Third Crossing shovel ready as one of our goals for the 2014-2018 strategic plan.
What will it cost? Of course the number one concern for most people is the cost of the bridge – and this is a concern that I share! That’s why when I ran for mayor I not only spoke in support of the Third Crossing, but I also advocated strongly that as a city we need to live within our means, by keeping property tax rate increases at or below the rate of inflation.
So how do you build a $140M bridge and keep tax rate increases capped at inflation? We will work hard to get funding from the provincial and federal governments. And for the city’s share, half will be funded by development charges – money that the city collects from developers over time, and the rest from our capital budget. In fact, in our city’s 15 year capital forecast, taking into account funding from other levels of government and the contribution from development charges, only $34M remains of the $140M price tag. Now don’t get me wrong, $34M is a lot of money. But, to put this into perspective, in the 2015 budget just passed by council, we approved spending $63M for phase 3 of the John Counter Blvd widening while keeping our tax rate in line with inflation.
We can find a balance. We can contribute our share of the Third Crossing, invest in a number of other capital projects and still keep taxes low. I believe the key is to use our tax dollars wisely, continue to encourage growth and development in the city, and make targeted investments that improve our quality of life. It can be done!
I would love to hear your comments and feedback! Contact me at email@example.com or leave a comment below.