Reductions predicted if MRCA’S budget cut
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.