As a former city councillor and former regional chairman, despite the wonderful developments taking place in our great city currently, I am having difficulty being proud of Greater Sudbury for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, the roads in our community are a disgrace and leave a terrible impression for visitors, as well as ruining a few cars and supplying all car passengers with a very rough ride.
I understand that the current budget provides over $70 million for roads work, or should I say patchwork, but I suggest that the city leaders have to think out of the box and somehow come up with three or four times that money to deal with the problem, whether it is a one-time assessment, together with a serious push for matching funds from Ontario or the federal government, putting a tax on gas, raising taxes, financing or any other creative way to fund this extreme need. To see we were under budget for roadwork the past summer is confusing.
Patching roads, although necessary in some areas, is a short-term fix. As an example, to patch a 100-foot strip along a road like Lorne Street is not a real solution. The area immediately in front and behind the patch then deteriorates or the foundation below the patch deteriorates and the circle continues. Why not fix the whole road properly instead of patching? I know that we have limited funds at this time, but council must find a way, even if it is unpopular, to come up with many more millions to redo most roads. Knowing that there are many quality levels in road construction, the city must stop building at Grade B levels. Bite the bullet. Spend now and bring pride back to the City of Greater Sudbury.
My other serious concern is the number of buildings around our community that are unoccupied and are left to deteriorate. Three buildings come to mind all in one area. The two old dilapidated service stations on the corner of Lorne and Regent are just examples.
The other huge pile of junk is the old General Hospital. I realize these buildings and others are privately owned, but there must be a way for the city to force them to either renovate or tear the structures down. These buildings are on main thoroughfares and are observed by thousands of visitors every day. This leaves an image we cannot be proud of.
Mr. Mayor, you and most of the council are doing an excellent job supporting great ideas like the Kingsway Entertainment District and redeveloping the area that includes the old arena. But the image of Sudbury is at stake. I urge you to think outside the box and come up with a way to fund our road problem. You might have to make unpopular decisions now, but in the long run, Sudburians reward those who do what is best for the city.