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. email@example.com