City an­tic­i­pated AAP’s fail­ure

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion -

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

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