Readers give two cents on how to spend $4M
We asked readers what they think St. Catharines councillors should do with an extra $4 million and received a lot of suggestions.
As reported Saturday, the money was put aside by St. Catharines Hydro for the now-defunct Shickluna hydro-electric plant project, cancelled in February.
City councillors shared their ideas about what to do with the money, such as spending it on affordable housing, tax freezes or road projects. They’ll be discussing what to do with the $4-million cheque in council chambers Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Here are some reader ideas that came in through email, Facebook and Twitter for council to consider. The responses have been edited for space, clarity and style.
— Karena Walter, Standard Staff
I would like to see the money go to affordable housing. I live on a pension and the home I am living in now will soon be sold. The owner is a senior and needs to the money from the property to survive. I, however, do not have that luxury and looking for a place I can afford has been impossible so far. Parks and other luxuries, and that is what they are, are not a good use of funds. We are a senior city now and have a great many people that need help with housing. I do not want to see it go to the city government where it will be wasted on things our citizens cannot use. We need another disastrous pool like the Kiwanis like we need a hole in the head. I can’t afford to use it and the quality of the build was the same as the new bridge. Poor. They are already ripping up the roadway to repave. — Sheryl Stewart via email It needs to all go to affordable housing. One new building in 40 years is not nearly enough — Renee Martin, Facebook Sometimes it’s the little things that count. More garbage cans around the city (that actually get emptied) and better needle cleanup (because, face it, this city and region have a horrible drug problem) are just the start. — Erica Langille, Facebook A bridge at Carlton to Grapeview. — Christine Thorne, Facebook When an ordinary person goes to a financial expert because he has just won or inherited a large amount of money what is the most common advice that they would be given? They are told to first pay down debt and second to invest all or some for a rainy day. With the amount of debt we have and the interest on it, this would be my choice. Doing this benefits every taxpayer in St. Catharines. Building a pool or arena or making our parks nicer only benefits those that use them. — Gary Kostiuk via email My suggestion is to build a civic square with a foundation or wading pool like Guelph, from the farmers market to the public library between Market Street and King Street to James Street. Also, install an outside big-screen TV so people can watch a permanent screen for any news, sports, etc., before Canada Games starting in 2021. — Dennis C. via email Take it to the casino and double or triple it. — Evan Alexandrovich, Facebook The museum needs a facelift. Clearer street signage around the city. Bus shelters and benches. The new green bins being distributed in Toronto could be used here as well. Almost animal proof. — @khanga25, Twitter I believe that some of the $4 million in surplus should go to the homeless. I have worked as a volunteer with the Out of the Cold program for about 20 years. Many of the volunteers are getting to an age when they will be forced to “retire.” I do the night shift at St. Alfred’s church, but the other churches are facing the same kind of a situation. Yes, we are called, by our Lord, to help out, but in fact it has enabled the local politicians to close their eyes to this tragic situation. Niagara Region just announced a $5.4-million donation from the province for the homeless; surely between the $4 million the city has in surplus and the $5.4 million earmarked by the Region something can be done to alleviate having the homeless wander from church to church to get something to eat and have a place to sleep. The Out of the Cold program reaches out to them for 22 weeks only. I don’t know how they cope for the other 30 weeks. What this city needs, at the very least, is a place where those who are homeless can go to stay overnight, have shower, have the opportunity to use a washing machine, talk to a health-care worker, have a postal address and are made to feel that they belong. I am sure the churches are willing to feed them, but providing overnight accommodation for them is becoming increasingly more difficult. I hope that the city will live up to the title of being a Compassionate City. — Martin Korsmit via email Help the homeless: build affordable housing, help senior citizens afford living. — Kim Rempel, Facebook There may indeed be worthwhile potential projects to which some or all of these funds could be applied. However, until such needs have been clearly identified and costs accounted, it would be best to assign these dollars to, call it a reserve fund or a similar one that the city has established under a different name. Council and staff should take a step back and weigh the pros and cons of, I’m sure, the several beneficial projects that might be implemented. However, being patient about using these funds will hopefully reap better rewards at an efficient outlay. — Lloyd Riches via email Put a large amount in a reserve. Think of the future … call it the city’s retirement plan. Upgrade failing infrastructure that should have been maintained in the past. Freeze taxes in the present. — Bernice DEttorre, Facebook Our culture and recreation programming is pretty darn limited. I’d hope some of the funds can be used in that manner. — Elise Ritter, Facebook How about protected bike lanes or a GO station so next time Niagara makes a bid for large companies like Amazon to build a factory/HQ here we don’t look like a joke? — Tyler Pelletier, Facebook Build a park with activities for residents of all ages and abilities, and activities for all seasons. Add: wheelchair/stroller accessible paths/trails, splash pad, shallow pond/fountain that can be used for RC toy boats in nicer weather and can become an ice rink in winter, wheelchair accessible playground, soccer field, baseball diamond, pavilion with picnic tables, etc., in the south end of St. Catharines — in Burgoyne Woods to make it a great family/ community destination again. — Nicole Greco-Zavitz, Facebook More community gardens, more parks and splash pads, more tree-lined streets. With the contractors they hire, $4 million won’t go far. — Joshlyn Birdgeneau, Facebook Build another swimming pool for the summer. — Nathan Bush, Facebook I see many people say spend it on pools and splash pads etc. … I’m just curious, doesn’t anybody want to see an improvement to our already-in-need beaches? Why build more pools when we can just improve Port Dalhousie beach and Sunset Beach. — Justin Salomone, Facebook Me. My $30,000 student debt is holding me back. I’d be able to afford a house if I didn’t have this debt. You would make this money back in property taxes, so it wouldn’t go to waste. — Whitney Jean, Facebook