Re­duc­tions pre­dicted if MRCA’S bud­get cut

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - LEN GIL­LIS

The gen­eral man­ager for the Mattagami Re­gion Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity (MRCA) made it clear this week that if city coun­cil can­not pro­vide what is needed for his bud­get, then the MRCA might have to make some un­pop­u­lar de­ci­sions.

This could mean shut­ting off the lights at Gillies Lake and even­tu­ally clos­ing the board­walk.

David Val­lier was speak­ing at a city bud­get meet­ing when he out­lined his con­cern, not only for his op­er­a­tional bud­get in 2017 but also the crit­i­cal need for cap­i­tal spend­ing for things such as light trucks, trail­ers, lawn mowers, wash­room fa­cil­i­ties and trail main­te­nance equip­ment.

His bud­get is more than the mi­nus-2% that

Tim­mins coun­cil asked all city de­part­ments ear­lier this year to aim for a bud­get re­duc­tion of 2%.

Val­lier out­lined the MRCA 2017 bud­get re­quest at $778,000 which is 3.1% higher than last year’s spend­ing of $755,000.

The ac­tual dol­lar in­crease is a bit more than $23,000.

While he ad­vo­cated for the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing his dayto-day op­er­a­tional bud­get, Val­lier said the real con­cern is the need for a cap­i­tal bud­get to buy muc­needed new equip­ment. He did not in­clude a dol­lar value on this.

He said MRCA staff has man­aged to keep trail main­te­nance equip­ment run­ning, but the cost of re­pairs is be­gin­ning to out­strip the cost of buy­ing some­thing new.

“These are all things that if cap­i­tal is not in­fused into the bud­get, these things are just go­ing to con­tinue to fall apart. And with­out as­sis­tance from the city or an­other fund­ing agency I am not sure what we are go­ing to be able to do with some of these at­tributes,” said Val­lier.

“The lights for ex­am­ple. If things aren’t done, the lights may be shut down, as far as some­body from ESA (Elec­tri­cal Safety Au­thor­ity) com­ing in and say­ing it’s not safe, these lights are lean­ing too much,” he ex­plained.

He said more money is also needed for trail main­te­nance and the as­so­ci­ated struc­tures.

“It would be nice over the next few years to in­clude a cap­i­tal in­fu­sion so we could look at prop­erly main­tain­ing our trails; look­ing at con­nect­ing links for some of our trails; look­ing at fix­ing and main­tain­ing the struc­tures and at­tributes we have now that are ba­si­cally fall­ing apart,” Val­lier told coun­cil.

He said the au­thor­ity is do­ing ev­ery­thing it can to keep struc­tures safe and up to date, es­pe­cially with con­cerns for safety and li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

“If the board­walk is not prop­erly fixed and main­tained at Gillies Lake within a year — well not a year, I would say within three to five years — we may have to close the board­walk down be­cause of struc­tural is­sues and prob­lems we are go­ing to run into,” said Val­lier.

“You can’t build things and just let them sit. They have to be main­tained.”

He said he re­al­izes this is not just an MRCA prob­lem but also a con­cern that is city­wide.

Val­lier also said the op­er­at­ing bud­get helps sup­port the hir­ing of 10 stu­dents each sum­mer, who work at such things as trail work and garbage pick-up.

Val­lier said he would like to see if part­ner­ships can be set up with city de­part­ments for the garbage pickup is­sue, since MRCA work­ers al­ready do that in ar­eas out­side of their for­mal ju­ris­dic­tion, such as in the trail be­hind Tim Hor­tons and J&B Cy­cle and Ma­rine.

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