This afternoon the Corporate Services Committee will receive a report from staff that gives council a high level overview of the state of our infrastructure along with options to address it. There is an estimated backlog of $165.2 million for water, waste water, storm water and transportation assets.
- Capital Fee Surcharges
- Assessment Growth
- Use of Debt
- Pooling reserves
- Increasing dividend incomes
- Special levies
When this report was originally released to council & the public back in December, council opted to have a better look at it today. This report, (as stated above), outlined many options to consider. However, staff recommended an extra 2% tax levy as their preferred option at the time.
The report is available HERE.
Infrastructure, from a city perspective, is defined as storm water management, pipes in the ground, roads, bridges, potholes and so on.
Yet there is another key infrastructure piece that cannot be forgotten – especially in a city that is growing year over year with current population targets of 50,000 more people by 2031.
This key piece of infrastructure is our hospital.
When first elected as your mayor I reached out to many stakeholders in our community. This of course included the Guelph General Hospital. I recalled a few years ago then CEO Richard Ernst presenting to council a quick overview of future plans. Future plans of much-needed expansions and renovations to better serve our city. So I followed up with the hospital to see where things were at.
I learned that indeed expansions to serve our growing community were in the works and that the WWLHIN was already aware along with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at the Province.
I also recalled the history in Guelph of setting up special funds (special levies) in our city where historically (1990’s) they were for health care needs – like a hospital.
I often hear from citizens asking me when a new or upgraded hospital is coming to Guelph? I remind them that hospitals are actually a provincial issue not a municipal one – but there’s some clarity required around how they’re funded.
From what I’ve been told the province funds 90% with 10% coming locally, usually through a combination of municipal funding (levies) and fundraising.
I have had meetings with the hospital about this and invited them to speak today to the corporate services committee.
Council and our city needs to know the full picture of city infrastructure. Discussing only bridges or water pipes, while excluding the discussion on an updated hospital, does a disservice to our community. I thank the committee for listening to them delegate today.
For the record, we need to address city infrastructure needs. The debate at council and within the community will now be around how we do that.
I believe we shouldn’t “jump the gun” and look to the businesses and citizens to cough up more of their hard-earned money to fix potholes and roads when the city hasn’t looked in the mirror first.
Yet when it comes to the healthcare needs of our city, (especially when looking at special levies used for such purposes in the past), it is something that is understood, accepted and embraced by citizens and businesses alike. It’s an identified project, it’s a temporary ask that we can rally around, sacrifice for and can be used by all when completed.
I believe the people of Guelph will support our hospital through a dedicated fund. The people of Guelph should still support us handling our own infrastructure issues too, but they more than likely would want the city to look within their own operations first before just taking more of their money. It’s always too easy to take more money. I’m not interested in easy.
What are your thoughts on this Guelph? If it was a temporary, dedicated fund for state of the art emergency room services would you be willing to give a little more to this project? If yes – why? And how much is too much a year? If no – why? Give me feedback you know I want to hear from you!
Mayor – City of Guelph
Update as of 4:17pm – I moved a motion at committee to have staff work with the hospital to consider funding arrangements and to report back to committee by the 3rd quarter of 2016. This passed unanimously.
I moved a further motion to have staff report back to committee by the 2nd quarter of 2016 option to find operational savings within the city. This too passed narrowly by a 3-2 vote.