Big red numbers celebrating the year are back in Charlottetown
The big red numbers are back on the Charlottetown waterfront.
The giant digits celebrating the calendar year were brought in last year as part of the 2014 celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.
Downtown Charlottetown Inc. (DCI) has brought them back, updated to the current year.
“The numbers were such an attraction last year, they were a destination for so many groups celebrating occasions for this fabulous photo and they were another reason to come downtown,” says Dawn Alan, executive director of Downtown Charlottetown Inc.
The provincial crown corporation P.E.I. 2014 Inc. told The Guardian last year it paid $50,000 for two of the digits in last year’s ‘2014’ display. It partnered on a tender with Parks Canada, which has a similar display of giant red numbers next to Province House depicting the year 1864 – the year of the Charlottetown Conference.
The two government agencies got the idea from a structure built in Halifax to commemorate the War of 1812, and borrowed the Halifax numbers to help make the ‘1864’ and ‘2014’ structures.
Alan said Downtown Charlottetown Inc. paid for the one new digit to update it for the new year. She would not say how much it cost, only that it was “much, much cheaper” than costs shouldered by P.E.I. 2014 Inc.
She says DCI wants to use this as a countdown to the country’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017, and hopes to update the structure every year until then.
Downtown Charlottetown Inc. is a privately funded notfor-profit organization that operates with a levy from property owners and businesses.
Alan says no taxpayers’ money is used in anything done by her organization. not going to feel the extra pinch.
That’s because the extra money is coming out of a part of the budget the city uses to pay for unexpected expenses.
“In the budget that was passed by council (in March) there was a line item that was referred to as extraordinary expenses,’’ Lee said.
The line item he refers to shows up as “Reserve for Extraordinary’’ and that bank account is expected to have $1,012,844 in it this year. Lee says that $30,000 will come out of that account and will not result in a reduction anywhere else.
Lee said money in that account is used for things such as extra money it has to dole out in negotiations with its union employees.
“Several of our contracts had expired several years ago and we’ve been putting money aside for those contracts for the day when the contracts were renegotiated so it wouldn’t be an unbudgeted expenditure.’’
Council voted last week to accept a report prepared by former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly on compensation. It will see the mayor’s salary jump 12 per cent, deputy mayor’s salary go up 18 per cent and a councillor’s salary jump 22 per cent.
Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Canada director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says councillors should not be making decision that affect their own pay.
“This process . . . should be determined by the taxpayers who pay for them, not by outside experts, by consultants, or by former mayors from other cities,’’ Lacey said.
“The best way to depoliticize this process is for city council to set up an independent commission of regular taxpaying people in their communities who would determine how much a city councillor would be paid, and what the total compensation should be.’’
Such a process has been used in British Columbia, one which awarded politicians a modest increase but cut back on perks.
“Voters and taxpayers are smart. We want to have good compensation for our elected officials that is fair. Taxpayers understand the community that councillors are operating in.’’
Lacey noted that during Kelly’s tenure as Halifax mayor, council salaries jumped from approximately $52,000 in 2004 to $72,000 in 2012.
“He also had a big increase during his time as mayor. Curious choice for Charlottetown to have him write the report.’’
Lacey said despite the pay hike people don’t get into municipal politics for the money.
“One of the worst arguments I’ve heard for increase pay and benefits for politicians is that you get better pay and people. There is no evidence that pay has anything to do with the quality of politician you get.’’
Eliott Quirion-de Pol, left, Lili-Rose Quirion-de Pol, Leonard Quirion-de Pol, Louna Cloutier-Nunes, and Maira Cloutier, visiting Prince Edward Island from Quebec, take a moment to play on the #5 at the 2015 signage outside of Founder’s Hall in Charlottetown Monday.