By David Hill, Barrhaven West Councillor
This month city council will be starting the process of discussing the 2024 budget. I want to highlight some of my initial requests for this budget both to be transparent about my intentions and to solicit your feedback.
The city has provided a budget direction proposal to the Finance and Corporate Services committee which puts affordability for residents at the fore. The proposal holds the property tax at a 2.5% year over year increase, which when coupled with the assessed revenue growth of 1.5% sees a city budget growth of 4% – which is reasonable in an environment where inflation has hovered at about 3.5%.
The mayor has been clear, both in recent statements and in his election campaign that he sees affordability as the centre of the budget making process, and I agree. We need to ensure that there are balanced investments in our core services – snow removal, road work, police, recreation, transit and infrastructure. I want to see us investing in an Ottawa that is set up for prosperity and that incentivizes our local businesses to flourish, and for larger businesses to see Ottawa as a friendly city to invest. As Ottawa grows into the future, we need to set the conditions for good paying jobs – especially in the Barrhaven area! – in order to improve our quality of life here in the suburbs.
I have advocated with planners, the city treasurer, city manager and our mayor, that Half Moon Bay requires commercial investment, because at present it is a retail desert. We have been successful in receiving several applications over the past months that would necessitate infrastructure investments at Cambrian Road and the intersection of the realigned Greenbank Road. Therefore, I have requested that the initial phase of the Greenbank Realignment be anchored on this intersection and that as resources become available, we build the spur lines North and South until Greenbank is realigned. It all starts with that intersection, and I will be advocating hard that it be a stand-alone line item in the 2024 Budget.
Furthermore, my office has been engaged with all stakeholders in the advancement of a civic centre for Barrhaven which will form the nucleus of our future downtown. My discussions with city staff have been focused on ensuring the translation of the scope of work into a preliminary design creates a much needed public community space – both indoor and outdoor. I envision the land acquisition taking place in 2024 with the detailed design happening concurrently.
From a safety perspective, I have requested funding to implement a functional design for a pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of the Barrhaven United Church on Jockvale Road. This is a complicated site due to the proximity to the at-grade rail crossing, however, traffic safety engineers have committed to presenting me a functional design this winter. On the topic of traffic safety, I have exhausted all of my traffic calming resources for this year, with the majority of investment being in Half Moon Bay. I will continue this trend in 2024 with a focus on old Barrhaven and a few select sites in Stonebridge. You will also see an increase in the number of community safety zones and with that, speed enforcement radar, especially near schools.
These budget requests are reasonable and will be impactful for our community, they are also keeping us within our means. Grandiose programming comes with a cost, and this is something that working folks and fixed income seniors cannot afford. I am currently paying a variable rate mortgage so I can attest to the impacts of inflation and rising interest rates on families. It’s painful. The last thing you need is your city adding to that pain.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or thoughts on the upcoming budget process, or on any other municipal issue, please reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 613-580-2473.