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!