Tonight, General Committee voted unanimously in favour of this amendment/addition in which I presented to improve our active transportation infrastructure. The highlighted portion was changed, but the bulk of the amendment/addition remained.
To add paragraph 13, as follows:
13. That city staff consider the following: That the 2020 Business Plan and Budget be prepared with a $110,000 increased contribution to the tax capital reserve which approximates $2.00 per household for the purpose of accommodating an increase in active transportation initiatives. That the planned budget request for project EN1265 (City Wide Cycling Program) be increased by $110,000 with funding from the Tax Capital Reserve for each year the $2.00 levy is in place.
My justification for this inclusion to the 2020 Business Plan and Budget:
According to our strategic plan, we want to:
- Foster a safe and healthy city by building a greener Barrie while mitigating and adapting to climate change;
- Create safer streets;
- Improve the ability to get around by increasing transportation options, including active transportation modes.
I believe that this addition to the Business Plan takes into consideration all three of these points.
Yes, it is frowned upon at times around this table to increase taxes for development that has yet to happen, but we are already behind with respect to our active transportation implementation timelines, and part of the reason why is because we don’t have a reserve for it. And yes, while any increase to property taxes, even as low as $2 per year, will be met with resistance, I think it is necessary that we encourage our citizens to also consider this increase as an investment in their city’s value, thus increasing their property values as the city grows. Furthermore, by adding to the capital tax reserve now we will lessen the amount of tax increase in the future required to plan and implement active transportation modes that will inevitably be required. Just as it’s important to plan logistically prior to our anticipated growth in population and density so that we don’t have to retro-fit infrastructure for active transportation later on down the road…pun intended, we need to plan fiscally and make sure that we have the revenue required to make Barrie an example of how active transportation can improve a city.
So how does a $2 increase compare to other city financial commitments already being collected for active transportation? Well, we had some excellent deputations a few weeks back about this topic, one given by Andy Ross Thompson, who is an architect here at Barrie at Thompson Architecture Incorporated. He shared with us that, Dutch cities invest the equivalent of $50 CAD per resident per year on cycling. The best Canadian cities (Vancouver, Montreal) are spending about a tenth of that.
Therefore, I think a $2 ask per property (not even per person) is very reasonable in comparison to other cities, and I may even suggest it’s too low…but I will start here.