I have a few suggestions for our municipal leaders and staff.
1. Refurbish each and every community arena in the City of Greater Sudbury. NO new arenas while old ones still stand. What sense does it make to spend hundreds of millions on new buildings in new development areas when the facilities built by our fathers will likely last much longer, cost less overall and can be updated for a fraction of the cost of a new build? Besides, removing arenas from some of our legacy neighborhoods will only further isolate and add to the sense that these communities are “forgotten.”
2. I’m sorry, artsy folks. No more bailouts for art galleries or theatres or anything like that. We are heading into a prolonged period of economic pain and arts funding is a “when times are good” sort of thing. Enough. We simply can’t afford it.
3. End this idiotic policy of using roads money on “patching” instead of rebuilding from scratch. That policy may make sense some years, but not as a continuous thing. We have an infrastructure deficit so large that this patching policy is akin to applying band-aids on a burn victim. Enough.
4. No more money for beautifying downtown. Not another red cent for “facade renewal.” Has this policy made a difference? I’m sure a public poll would reveal that a plurality believe downtown is worse and more disgusting than ever. It’s a failed policy. You drop bad policies when they fail.
5. Stop squeezing and shaming developers and business in this town. I bet most people know that developers pay fees called “development charges” (that are obscene to begin with). But did you know that developers also need to pay huge amounts for “future upgrades?” Any project of a certain value gets squeezed by staff for their personal wishlist of upgrades they spent years ignoring. Builders are then extorted through permit and approval withholding, among other tactics. Ask any businessman or woman that has tried to earn a dollar in this town and they will tell you about it.
6. At long last, someone with some backbone put in place to negotiate with the public sector unions. Anyone with a relative or friend who’s a City of Greater Sudbury employee (with exceptions) will tell you how egregiously our money is wasted. Remember the shift selling by city bus drivers? Or the laughable “fire optimization” plan? Or maybe you’ve noticed how city vehicles seem to get higher and higher trim packages each year. I remember when city trucks were white, 4x2, single cab. Now, I see SLT, Bighorn, Lariat. Get it all under control. No more fluffy, cushy, gold-plated anything. Back to basics.
Let’s start with this. After a few years you’ll start to hear estimates of our infrastructure deficit going from billions to (hundreds of) millions and then we can start thinking about relaxing a bit. Until then, hard times call for hard decisions by harder people than are currently at the levers of power at Tom Davies Square.