Campbell River Mirror

Time to stand up and pay up

Having read in our local papers that city council is open to other views about potential financial solutions for the 2012, here goes...

When I moved her in 1981, Campbell River was a very proud community. Bragging was the name of the game: Salmon Capital of the World, a strong commercial and sports fishery, a booming forest industry, sawmills, the pulp mill, a strong mining industry, richest small town in Canada. Campbell River had the lowest household taxes in B.C. and strong elementary and secondary school system with a growing population. Who could be blamed for bragging?

While this plethora of good luck and positive world conditions existed, not enough money was pent on sports and cultural facilities and events. Storm, sanitary sewers, curbs and gutters were given low priority. Storm sewers resembled neglected First World War trenches. Sanitary sewers were neglected. Consequently, the restoration in Willow Point of Erickson Road to Hilchey Road naturally ran over budget. Eventually, all the high living came to a crushing end. The city had to catch up with all the neglected work. Curbs, gutters, storm sewers and sewer cross connections had to be found and fixed (notice the sewage smell in Willow Point disappeared?). The money that should have been spent in the time of plenty had to be spent in the lean years at higher costs.

With the good years gone, like Greece, we have to bite the bullet. If we can believe our financial crowd, the $3.5 million loss can be knocked off by a small increase in household taxes, less tha a dollar a day. If this is the case, I see no crisis. We’ve had the good times, now its time stand up for Campbell River and pay up.

The Sportsplex has come under scrutiny when cutbacks are considered. A small increase in user fees could make a large difference. Reduction of city staff and workers is counter-productive. Face it – they are consumers and their wages circulate within the town. Laying off staff who understand the geography and workings of the community engineering and planning departments to work developing a 20-year plan. When we get back on our feet, we will have a staff who will be ready to run the administration and logistics of the recovery. That is their expertise and we hired them for that purpose. Councils may have some ideas on the way forward, but the implementation of the work is the job of the staff and workers and when we have a change in council, the work will continue according to the overall plan.

There are many ideas floating around about how to get back on our feet. For example, the suggestion by Richard Show to get into the ship building industry is a worthwhile endeavour. Campbell River has had a cheap ride for decades. No money in means no work done. A small tax increase will bring us into a better financial situation. If there is no tax increase, the result will be lost jobs at the city and will include expensive severance payouts.

We have a choice.

Denis Hayes

Campbell River

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