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Campbell River spending habits slammed

Campbell River’s city council can be compared to George Bush, according to one taxpayer.

Lorne Harron, who resurrected the city’s United Rate Payers Group, had some strong words for council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Harron was one of three taxpayers who spoke to council as a delegation.

Harron said he was not impressed with the city’s spending habits and said the chances of spending at city hall being curtailed are slim.

“It hasn’t been demonstrated in the past,” Harron said. “Before the last election the last council decided to increase money for Robron Park – right before the election. That sounds as George Bush as you can get. They should have waited until after the election to proceed with that insanity.”

In November, council did commit to spending $1.4 million on upgrades to Robron Park that would include new bleachers, trails, an artificial turf, utilities and drainage, and Merecroft and South Birch parking lot upgrades. However, last month council chose to withdraw its application to the province’s community recreation grant program for provincial funding for the park. That means the city’s portion won’t be used this year. Still, Harron said he could point to another example of wasteful spending.

“Did you folks not spend $480,000 to buy a house next to Frank James Park and then you bulldozed it?” Harron questioned. “You found $480,000 for that.”

After getting cut off by Mayor Walter Jakeway for going over his allotted three minutes, Harron wrapped it up by reminding everyone to attend the next Rate Payers meeting, scheduled for April 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Centre.

“I expect every single taxpayer to show up and try to fix this problem,” Harron said. “We’ll deal with this.”

Sean Smith, who ran for a seat on council in November’s election, also spoke to council and was met by a round of applause from the gallery before he even began to speak.

“I’m not here tonight to do what a lot of people think I’m going to do and that’s complain,” Smith said. “I want to present a couple of ideas and thought processes.”

Smith said the city needs to change how it operates. He pointed to spending $250,000 on an all-weather track for Robron Park.

“Would it be nice to have? Absolutely. Is it a want? Yes. Is it a need? No,” Smith said. “I’m looking for my armchair and going on information that’s available to me. I’m not on the inside but what I see from the outside is $250,000 sitting there, doing nothing. When I drive down Highway 19A and I see crews out there laying dirt on the side of the road I ask ‘why’ when we’re losing money. We’re spending thousands of dollars laying dirt, why now?

“We need to think about what is a priority.”

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