Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sewer System or Leisure Center Expansion

Hmmm let's see. What should we spend your tax dollars on today? An expansion of the Leisure Center (you know, the one where when we first built it, we did not include seating for watching the swimming in the just-short-of-olympic-sized-pool, and not enough seating for the hockey rink?)... or should we build the new Event Center for the local WHL team.... or should we fix miles and miles of old sewer pipe that needs to be replaced ASAP?

I know! We will build the Event Center AND expand the Leisure Center - and then we will just hike up everyone's electricity bills by 47% starting this month AND increase their sewer and garbage collection fees. That's a great idea!

OMFG. That is what my city council is up to at the moment. Less than two weeks ago, the front page of the paper boasted about the City planning an expansion of the Leisure Center. And then this week the paper told us that our fees on utilities are going up 'because' of the 50+ year old sewer pipes around town.

I'm sorry - What? Should we not push back the leisure center and the Event Center planning projects until stuff that our tax money is absolutely supposed to go to gets done first? Apparently not?

Another little tidbit to keep in mind is that the paper also printed a story a month or so ago about how our City Council was thwarted in their bid to get Federal tax dollars to help with the Events Center, so they are going to hit the Feds up for cash for the Leisure Center instead, and transfer the money they saved up for the Leisure Center themselves (oh sorry, I mean with citizen money) back to the Event Center. According to the councilman interviewed, they 'do this kind of thing all the time. Move money from one pocket to the other'.

Okay - well move the freakin money to the SEWER pocket instead of hitting us all up for more money during the coldest months of the year (ie higher elec bills and now higher fees by 47% flippin percent!!!!!!!!!). It is truly outrageous. Only one guy I voted for got onto council and he isn't exactly fulfilling my dreams either, but the other ones can go to.... well you fill in the blank there.

It is truly baffling. People are really struggling right now but winter is the worst time to raise fees on Elec because while summers here can be hot, you can manage to survive in the heat if you don't have a/c. I did it for many years. But in the winter - good luck if it's -40C outside and you can't afford to have your heat on for long because of the elec side of the bill. This literally makes me sick. If we have money slated for projects for fun and leisure, they need to have a vote to shift it back over do to the emergency of the sewer system. Why have families keeping their furnace low and wearing sweaters and mukluks to bed because they are afraid of their bill being too high to afford, in favor of keeping cash for a Leisure Center expansion - which is really part of a ploy to get more money from the Feds so they can use it for the Event Center? It's revolting.

Another thing to note is that I heard about this sewer pipe problem at least 1-2 years ago. I remember reading that about 80kms of pipe is very old (and a bunch of water pipes too if I remember it all correctly) but there was definately talk of how old the sewer system is and how much of it needs to be replaced. But now the City is acting like this is new news and acting like it's a dire emergency and they have no choice but to increase the sewer bill by $4 a month on avg and increase Electricity (which they say is unrelated, and I say Baloney).

The council keeps saying that we have been 'spoiled' for many years, having cheaper utilities than any other city. Well guess what? It's also one of the cheapest cities to live in across the board (rent, food prices, etc). They keep comparing us to Red Deer and Grande Prairie for prices but they don't seem to factor in the avg wage in our city compared to those ones - if the standard of living is higher and the wages are higher there, then their bills are going to be higher. If my city starts charging us the prices from further north, and our wages do not reflect the others', then people here are going to be in deep kaka. Sure, we have a lot of high earners here but we have a huge number of lower earners so........ how are they going to afford all of this? I don't get it.

The City knows that some people are stupid and others just simply forget. Just this week at work, my coworkers were talking about the sewer problems and how one of them lives in an area that needs redone badly - they talked about it like it was the first announcement of the Apocolypse. But I reminded them that I told them about this at least a year ago, if not two. Why has the city been wasting millions of dollars on 'plans' for the non-existant Event Center, revamping water parks (although my kids did have fun, they also had fun in the old ones), etc while they KNEW the sewer issue was going to hit the fan eventually. Where are the savings for it?

I could go on and on but I think I more than made my point. We need to start paying attention and calling them out on this. I already wrote my MP and he misunderstood me the first time so I wrote him back again. Will it make a difference? I don't know - I would try the MLA but I have had issues with him over the years on totally unrelated matters and I do not like him as a person at all. Very ignorant and condescending. So I refuse to even attempt to talk to that man anymore. I should be contacting our WildRose guy and see what he has to say about all this. But there is not a single person on Council that I wish to email or call. I sent a copy of my MP letter to the mayor and the councilmember I quoted above and they did not respond. Nice job guys!


  1. Do we have to read this whole tirade (irrespective of whether it is valid or not) in order to find out which pathetic city you are referring to?

  2. I don't often list my actual city, and in this case I left it open to interpretation because this sort of thing goes on in a lot of cities and it can be 'fun' to see how many guesses there are. But since you asked, sort of, it's Medicine Hat.

  3. Sample news articles (I am not sure if they are still visible to non-subscribers):

    Dec 7th - "A Growing Storm Of Infrastructure Costs"

    Dec 1st - another tidbit I did not write about - increasing some business fees by by up to 170% all at once

    Nov 30th - "Plan For Major Leisure Center Expansion"

    and more fun spending:

    Nov 25th - "City On Verge of Innovative Solar Project"

  4. I must add that while tax dollars should be going to infrastructure, schools, etc etc etc - and many will argue about the uses... I call into question the state of long-standing public areas (such as playgrounds) that have been in total disrepair for DECADES and continue to be in a nearly unusable state - while brand new playgrounds are being built, or some are being fixed up while others are not. If the agreement way back in the day was to build a playground in a certain area, then why not keep it up? There is one by my work that has been broken down for at least 10 years now and we can no longer take the daycare children on it because it is incredibly unsafe - but there it sits, ugly and broken, in the middle of a big green space with many families with young children surrounding it. And yet another about a block away is exactly the same way it was back in the 80s when I first moved here. It is terrifying to be in that place (my kids sometimes run to it if I can't rein them in fast enough), and it sits right beside a huge area of lower income families with tons of young children... and nothing gets done to it. It looks completely ridiculous because you drive a few blocks away and see that the new water park is being built - on top of a spot that was built longgggggg after those other playgrounds. So why is that space being fixed up already and other's are 30 years old (or older) and literally unsafe? How does that happen and who approves it?

    It boggles my mind. I had this argument with my partner because I think they should be fixed up or just taken down and given a funeral but he doesnt think tax dollars should be going to that kind of thing at all. I argued that the City agreed to build those playgrounds in the past and has not fulfilled their duty of maintaining them, and that is wrong. It was part of the draw for people to settle into those newer areas back at that time, and now they go to try to sell their house and they have an eyesore across the street. The City is bringing down property values by doing that and those people should be angry. Their property taxes have risen enormously but they have nothing to show for it in their areas. Crappy roads, potholes and cracks everywhere, lumpy sidewalks, busted rusted playgrounds - and have to fork out $1500 a year or more for property tax? What a crock.

  5. Oops I should add that I think the roads and sewers and storm drains need to be sorted out first because that could cause a whole lot of trouble in the near future. But existing playgrounds that have not been touched for 30 years need to be dealt with before expanding things that were only built 10 years or so ago.

    We got our main road paved in MARCH last year after a heavy snow winter, and in FEB this year after an incredible amount of snow that literally did not melt from the middle of Nov on, with new snow added over and over.. walking across my road (which is a main drag!) was like going over a roller coaster and cars were literally parked ABOVE the sidewalks because of how much snow was pushed to the sides by vehicles driving... and we did not see a plow for over 3 months. But we can afford to expand swimming pool centers and built new arenas? It really makes me sick how long I could go on about this.



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