CBRM coun­cil ready to tackle bud­get

Bud­getary ses­sion de­layed by a bliz­zard, be­gins in earnest to­day

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

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.

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