CBRM council ready to tackle budget
Budgetary session delayed by a blizzard, begins in earnest today
How to best address failing infrastructure is at the top of the agenda for one veteran councillor in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as the region prepares to launch budget deliberations today.
CBRM Dist. 5 Coun. Ray Paruch said he’s concerned about earmarking work for south end residents of Sydney and other residents experiencing chronic flooding.
“What we first and foremost have to do is fund some studies and some mapping, to see what can be done with the infrastructure,” Paruch said in an interview.
While everyone is aware that the area experienced devastating damage during the Thanksgiving Day flood, he said some area residents who never saw water permeating into their basements before are now seeing flooding more regularly.
“Many, many people are experiencing flooded basements,” Paruch said. “Whether or not something can be done, I don’t know, but I’m in the process now of forming a group of a couple of interested citizens, not only in the former city of Sydney or the south end of Sydney, but throughout the whole of the CBRM.”
He said the group hopes to meet by the end of the month with Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking and any other member of CBRM council who wishes to attend.
That would mark the beginning of a process of getting the engineering expertise available to focus on formulating a plan on how best to proceed, Paruch said.
He said the municipality couldn’t simply attribute all of the damage homeowners experienced in October to the unprecedented Thanksgiving Day rainstorm.
“That did happen, yes, but since then, just in general rainstorms that we’ve had since October, all kinds of basements are flooding,” he said.
For Dist. 2 Coun. Earlene MacMullin, a main concern is ensuring that there is clarity behind the CBRM’s sustainability fund, which is intended to provide assistance for community-based not-for-profit groups.
In recent years, the downtown blossoming program, a municipal program that provides flowers for downtown areas, has been funded from the sustainability fund. MacMullin, who represents North Sydney and surrounding areas, also noted that last year money for CBRM’s New Year’s Eve celebrations also came from it.
“Last year in particular there were a few things that were funded by (the sustainability fund) that in my mind shouldn’t have been,” she said.
MacMullin said it’s her understanding that some steps have been taken to pay for the blossoming program out of the parks and grounds budget.
As someone who was first elected to council in October’s municipal election, MacMullin said she is looking forward to taking part in her first budget deliberation.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting. It’s quite an amount of information to go through,” she said.
“Ever since I was elected it was a huge learning experience and I am really looking forward to going through the budget, to get down, go line by line, and really figure out the bones of everything.
“We are a cash-strapped municipality, so it’s going to be interesting to see how far we can make this money go.”
Dist. 11 Coun. Kendra Coombes of New Waterford declined to comment in advance of budget discussions, saying she planned to make comments there.
The massive winter storm this week resulted in the postponement of budget deliberations in the CBRM.
The budget session had been due to begin Wednesday, but CBRM staff advised that instead the session will begin today at 2 p.m. in council chambers at the civic centre in Sydney.
The session will continue Friday and Tuesday, if necessary, as Monday is a holiday.
The storm had already forced the postponement of a planned meeting of the CBRM board of police commissioners due to take place Tuesday morning. No new date has yet been set for that meeting.