A candidate seeking the Greater Sudbury city council seat in has some questions about some of the spending decisions made by the current crop of elected officials.
“Amazingly, one of the most divisive councils in history just voted 11-2 for a $98.5-million library and arts centre,” Pauline Fortin said in a news release to Sudbury.com. “That is $8.2 million per ward. Every candidate in every ward needs to ask themselves what could your ward do with $8.2 million? Every voter needs to ask their candidates some questions, too.”
Fortin said the money earmarked for the Junction East project, which was approved by council last week, could be better spent in other areas of the city.
“What does that $98.5 million do for our seniors? Our youth? Our homeless? Our addicted? Our police services in the midst of a crime epidemic?” the candidate said. “What does that $98.5 million do for our roads? Our bridges? Our bursting water mains? Our decaying buildings?”
Fortin said she wonders how the city’s new debt load of more than $355 million will impact Greater Sudbury’s ability to meet “meet the wage inflation demands and cost of living allowances when the next round of negotiations comes up with eight-per-cent inflation and over $250 million spent in annual salaries, wages and benefits?”
What’s more, the candidate said the number of large projects to be constructed in the next few years has her concerned about the capacity of the city to complete the work and how much the effort required will impact how city staff can respond to other concerns.
She also wanders why city council is building a new home for the Greater Sudbury Public Library’s downtown branch in the age of the internet.
“How long will it be before all the other libraries are closed to cover the $1.6-million annual operating costs? How many citizens even use brick and mortar libraries anymore? Hasn't our library system been moving to e-books for the past 10-plus years?”
She is also concerned about the city’s infrastructure deficit, and the approval of a spending on Junction East four months before an election and how taxpayers would have to cover the portion of the funding earmarked to come from external funding sources if such sources can’t be secured.
“Who gave this council the mandate to preemptively take $37.2 million from the 2023, 2024 and 2025 capital budgets or saddle taxpayers with a three-per-cent tax increase to pay for this if the other governments don't pony up?
“One Councillor actually said, almost gleefully, that unlike the KED, approving this project does not come with any lawsuits, no appeals, no protests, no petitions,” Fortin said. “Well current council, it does come with an election.”
If elected, Fortin said she will call for the city to pause the Junction East project until a “city-wide referendum can be held to see what the people actually think.”
“I am also appealing for a slate of like-minded councillors who will stand against this project. If there isn't one in your ward, then consider becoming one. We need you more than ever as our infrastructure continues to crumble and our current council sends us into the financial abyss.”
Besides Fortin, current Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland is seeking re-election. Also running to unseat him is Alice Norquay. Election Day is Oct. 24.