Many tax-paying citizens, including those on low and fixed income, such as older members of our population, a significant number, are concerned about the ongoing development expenses of the city “Junction Projects,” which are now more than $3 million for the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) and a new library and art gallery, plus other possible “amenities” downtown on Shaughnessy Street, like a performing arts centre, new hotel and World Trade Centre.
The final bill could come in at several hundreds of millions of dollars, not including interest on debt to finance, which will require generations to pay off and with no real economic return.
Hopefully, the KED will not go ahead due to appeals with respect to poor planning and environmental concerns, as well as recent citizen preference to rehabilitate the present arena. Many question the perceived need for a new library and art gallery plus a new hotel, theatre and trade centre as part of a grand plan that could be considered as pure speculation as is hoped for funding from the upper levels of government. Due to pandemic expenses, both the province and Ottawa are looking at supporting only essential municipal services.
There is also the matter of our present and growing infrastructure debt.
As for a new library and art gallery, we already possess an attractive and functional downtown library and nearby art gallery on John Street, just over the Paris Street bridge. Possibly, if needed, both could, like the present arena as suggested, be renovated at far less cost than building new with required parking. There is available free parking at both current locations.
With respect to parking, it is the reason why downtown is not what it was just a few years ago when approximately 200 spaces with free two-hour parking was available where the School of Architecture is now located and a further almost 70 spaces where the Place des Arts is being built, both close to the centre of the downtown.
We are a city of drivers of all ages with the city being so spread out and with challenging public transit. What seems to have been ignored by our planning staff and council is the three Cs when it comes to parking.
These are convenience, cost and content.
The first, convenience, is simply how close to a desired destination. The second is how much will it cost, and, finally, which perhaps should be first, is why the trip - content?
It is now evident that compared to years past, there is less “content” downtown, and certainly less convenience and the cost to park continues to increase.
Seniors, and indeed many of all ages, feel that our elected civic representatives should have as their goal in these trying times to restore and protect what we already possess, including buildings of significant and historical importance, as well as our roads and lakes which are of particular concern, and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner for the benefit of all citizens now and forward into the future.
John Lindsay, chair, Friendly to Seniors – Sudbury