While the total number of signed alternate approval forms opposing the city's borrowing of $32 million over 20 years fell short of the legal required number to have the city reconsider this proposal or go to a referendum, the fact of the matter is some 3,000 citizens of Prince George did in fact sign the petition.They signed because most if not all of them are sick and tired of the constant increases in taxes, and the way in which the city spends our money.
Couching the spending in terms of necessary infrastructure below and above ground doesn't cut it.We need to get the city to have a hard look at all their spending and the consequences of their decisions.When you reach the point where you are taxing people out of their homes or forcing them to make significant changes to their lifestyles because of the huge increases in taxes over the past many years, it is time to make some serious changes in how we do business in this city.
The fact that the AAP is nothing more than a sophisticated way to impair peoples ability to control the city's borrowing also has to be looked into. There was (and is) no logical reason why this borrowing of $32 million could not have gone to a referendum.The city had no qualms about a referendum for the new swimming pool and fire hall but chose the AAP for this borrowing.Why?
They will say that it was to save money, ie; some $80,000. for a referendum, however this is just smoke and mirrors. This issue could have been put on a referendum along with the pool and fire hall or it could have had a stand-alone referendum.They chose the AAP because that was their best chance of getting the OK to borrow the money.
The city could have taken the $11 million from the provincial government and the $3.5 million from the additional gas tax money we received this year to do some of this infrastructure. They could also have held off on borrowing until they found out whether or not they will get the $6 million grant for the aquatic centre and also the grant for the swimming pool and thus reduce the amount of money that would need to be borrowed.Seems they have other plans for this money.
Municipal elections and referendums are required by law to be held on a Saturday. This allows most if not all of the citizens of a city the ability to vote.The same does not apply to the AAP. In fact, there was no attempt by the city to set up alternate places and times that citizens could fill out the forms. If you could not get to the city during regular office hours between 830 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday to get the forms, then you were for all intents and purposes out of luck.
Places that were set up to assist citizens with this process, such as the farmers market, parking lot at CN Centre, behind city hall after 5 p.m. on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the Thursday May 30th deadline, along with delivering forms to peoples houses were all done by volunteers on their own time and their own dime.
As was stated by others, the AAP is for all intents and purposes designed to fail.From 1968 to 2003, it was only necessary to get five per cent of eligible voters, however after 2003 it was returned to 10 per cent.
To give some perspective as to how successful this AAP was for those who were involved and who filled out forms, you need only to look at some other AAPs in the past.Cameron Street Bridge, approx 600 forms signed.New police station 1,100 forms signed.River Road Dyke, 9,271 forms signed. (successful).
So 3,000 signed forms for borrowing $32 million is a solid message to the mayor and city council to reconsider this decision and find another way to fund these projects or go to a referendum.
Contrary to what they may think, they do not have the support of the citizens of Prince George for this borrowing.What they have is the results of a convoluted process whose outcome was fairly predictable from the beginning.