Home­own­ers earn minor vic­tory

Com­mit­tee votes to re­duce amount Pleas­ant Drive res­i­dents pay for road widening costs


It ap­pears Pleas­ant Drive res­i­dents won a minor de­ci­sion Mon­day evening, as the stand­ing com­mit­tee for in­fra­struc­ture, trans­porta­tion and safety voted to have the prop­erty own­ers cover only 40 per cent of the costs as­so­ci­ated with road widening, as op­posed to the 60 per cent stip­u­lated in the city’s lo­cal im­prove­ment pol­icy.

How­ever, home­own­ers on Pleas­ant Drive would have preferred the city cover the en­tire cost of the $1.6-mil­lion project pro­posed for next year, which will see the replacement of the watermain, sanitary sewer line, and storm sewer line, as well as the widening of the street from 6.1 me­tres to 8.5 me­tres, and the con­struc­tion of a 1.5-me­trewide sidewalk on the east side of the street – the last two com­po­nents of which have been pre­sented as a lo­cal im­prove­ment project.

Speak­ing dur­ing the meet­ing, Pleas­ant Drive res­i­dent Dan Kane ques­tioned the city’s lo­cal im­prove­ment pol­icy, ask­ing why home­own­ers must pay for as­sets owned by the city.

“Roads and side­walks are pub­lic prop­erty. These as­sets do not re­main with the home­owner. They are on pub­lic land and are main­tained by the city… Once these changes are made, can we be held re­spon­si­ble for any fu­ture up­grades?”

Ac­cord­ing to a report pre­sented to the in­fra­struc­ture, trans­porta­tion and safety sub­com­mit­tee May 11, lo­cal im­prove­ment projects al­low for the re­cov­ery of cap­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture costs from nearby, ben­e­fit­ting prop­er­ties.

Orig­i­nally, city staff rec­om­mended Pleas­ant Drive home­own­ers cover 50 per cent of the costs of the new sidewalk and 60 per cent of the road-widening costs, al­low­ing the city to re­cover some­where in the neigh­bour­hood of $310,000.

That means res­i­dents would have had to pay any­where be­tween $5,000 to $17,000, de­pend­ing on each prop­erty’s street frontage. With the op­tion to pay that amount over 10 years, some res­i­dents could have been look­ing at as much as a $1,700 ad­di­tion to their an­nual prop­erty tax bill. “My­self, if I was liv­ing on that street and all of the sud­den I had to pay $17,000, and they take that over 10 years – that’s $1,700 a year – that’s a real hard­ship for a lot of peo­ple in our city,” Coun. Bon­nie Henderson said. “… I worry about that, whether we should be putting a cap on each house.”

Though coun­cil­lors voted 6-4 to re­duce res­i­dents’ share of the road­widen­ing cost to 40 per cent, they also voted to re­fer the city’s cur­rent list of lo­cal im­prove­ment projects back to staff to al­low for the devel­op­ment of a new fund­ing for­mula to be con­sid­ered by a new coun­cil. Mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are set for Oct. 22 of this year.

“We should let them de­cide it. We should not do it on our way out the door,” Mayor Dan Mathieson sug­gested. “I think that it should be looked at and the fund­ing should change.”

As for the re­duc­tion in Pleas­ant Drive res­i­dents’ share of the road­widen­ing cost – a rec­om­men­da­tion that still needs coun­cil’s ap­proval – di­rec­tor of in­fra­struc­ture and devel­op­ment ser­vices Ed Du­jlovic said his staff will have am­ple time to re­work next year’s cap­i­tal bud­get to en­sure the project has enough fund­ing to pro­ceed. gsim­mons@post­media.com

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