City anticipated AAP’s failure
Dear mayor and city council, I feel compelled to write you to provide my thoughts on the outcome of the Alternative Approval Process and your response to it.
First of all, while you state otherwise, there was an option to the AAP. You could have chosen to go to referendum at the same time as the new fire hall and new pool went to referendum (I can’t help but feel these expenses were known at the time). Or you could have gone to referendum at a different time.
While you would argue it’s expensive to hold the referendum, I would counter that the difference between it and the energy and costs from city staff associated with the AAP is negligible and, at the end of the day, there’s no way to assign a value to truly engaging and consulting residents that a referendum would have provided.
It’s my opinion you chose the AAP because it was easy and you realized the outcome would be more likely in your favour.
At the time of the pool/firehall referendum, I feel you and city staff had to know that the question of this $32 million was out there. But I can’t help but think you held back on this information with the logic being “let’s get the new pool and fire hall approved first, then worry about this later.”
I can honestly say that I voted for each and every one of you. Unfortunately I now feel let down by you. You didn’t really give us a fair chance to prioritize our spending because of the approach taken.
So an increase to property taxes of 2.3 per cent each year over the next 20 years to pay for these expenses plus roughly 3.6 per cent increase to our property taxes each year over the next 20 years for the new pool and firehall, with a total spending of more than $80 million. And that doesn’t include any increases that come about between now and then to cover off other inevitable projects, inflationary increases, wage increases, etc.
I also take issue with what I perceive as a dismissive and almost arrogant response to the outcome. Mayor Hall, according to media reports you said: “I stand firm on the infrastructure needs of this community and
I will continue to work for it. You can disagree and I’m fine with that […] But to continue to ignore what’s going on from an infrastructure perspective in this city I just can’t do it.”
I think it’s fair to say none of us want to ignore the infrastructure concerns but how they got addressed may have been different if you put all of the issues in front of us at the same time. Maybe we would have said no to the fire hall or pool or both in light of the other infrastructure projects on the table but we weren’t given that opportunity.
Coun. Murry Krause and Coun. Kyle Sampson, you both effectively said the same thing. This quote from Krause: “We’ve heard from those who responded. Those who didn’t sign a response form sent a message too, there are people who didn’t sign those for very good reasons.”
So, in essence, your argument is that those who didn’t respond was a vote in favour of the initiative? To quote Col.Potter from M.A.S.H.: “Horse hockey.”
Following through on that logic, during the last municipal election more people didn’t vote for each of you than voted for you. So does that mean you shouldn’t be on council? It’s crazy logic. Not to mention the cumbersome, onerous process that is the AAP. And again it’s the dismissive, seemingly arrogant tone to your responses. No sense of humility or conciliation whatsoever.
Lastly, I think it’s fair to say that so many of us are frustrated and angry over the ongoing cost overruns with various city projects, which only exacerbates everything above. They seem to be frequent and extreme with no accountability. There’s at least the perception when it comes to the relationship between city management and the council, it truly is a case of the tail wagging the dog.
John Barrett, Prince George