Bylaws to borrow $32.2 million passed but not without comment

City council gave final reading Monday night to bylaws to borrow a total $32.2 million for 11 projects with some acknowledging the opposition expressed during the alternate approval process.

Depending on the item, between and 2,756 and 2,967 electoral response forms were submitted in opposition - all well short of the 5,546 threshold to force council to either abandon a proposal or take it to a referendum.

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But the counts were enough to prompt comment from council members.

As he had in February when the bylaws were advanced to that stage , Coun. Brian Skakun voted against six of the initiatives.

"I understand the frustrations of the people that signed the forms," Skakun said and noted the borrowing comes on top of a 4.7-per-cent increase to the city's property tax levy as well as $50 million worth of borrowing, approved during an October 2017 referendum, to build a new Four Seasons Pool and a new Fire Hall No. 1.

Coun. Terri McConnachie suggested a spate of cost overruns contributed to the opposition and indicated the city will need to do better to avoid similar trouble in the future.

"Even though the challenge failed, the message has been received," she said.

Others said the outcome still shows a majority of the city's voters remain in favour of borrowing the money to pursue the work.

"We've heard from those who responded. Those who didn't sign a response form sent a message too, there are people who didn't sign those for very good reasons," said Coun. Murry Krause.

Mayor Lyn Hall said he refuses to ignore the city's infrastructure needs and predicted the projects will be regarded as money well spent.

"I am convinced in a decade or 20 years from now, we will look back on this, or councillors of the day will look back on this, and I think there may be a bit of thank you, because we have addressed the problem and we haven't kicked that can down the road," Hall said.

According to a staff report, the estimated impact on the property tax levy of the 10 projects for which borrowing would be for 20 years will be 0.29 per cent in 2021, 0.32 per cent in 2022 and 1.31 per cent in 2023 when the largest of the projects, a $10.2 million upgrade of the Aquatic Centre, kicks in.

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