Current Events

I said a few months ago the fall term would be busy, and so far, it has to go down as one of the busiest in recent memory.  Among the major issues we’re tacking:

–  Budget – Barrie has to get it’s fiscal house in order.  Although this Council has cut the capital budget by 20% in two years, and cut new spending by much more than that, more needs to be done.  Tough decisions to come on the 2013 budget.  Council and senior City staff have already taken a voluntary pay freeze, but this is just a tiny slice of what needs to be done.  We actually need to spend more fixing roads and pipes, and much less on new buildings and new programs.  A hint of what’s to come can be seen in the decision to not pursue a Holly Library branch at this time (a shame, but understandable given our fiscal condition).  The draft budget proposed to put $2.7M more into the fund for fixing roads and pipes, while making various (relatively minor) service cuts to save money. 

Lots more to come on this, but to address one proposal – I strongly suspect Council will NOT proceed with a “special levy”, something which has been floated to pay for new projects such as the improvements to our waterfront.  I am hearing many people say that it would be better to delay or not undertake the waterfront improvements until our fiscal situation improves.  You be the judge – click here to see the new plan.  Decision to come in January, but I suspect we will need to find other ways – our residents are clearly saying they can’t afford optional projects right now.

– A sustainable waste plan.  Barrie’s landfill will be full in 2024 if we don’t take action to extend it’s life.  It will cost $6.5M to close it, and another $600,000 per year to maintain the closed site, in addition to the huge costs to truck waste elsewhere.  We must keep the landfill open as long as possible and the secret there is to encourage more recycling – a lot more.  The new strategy includes a proposal for bi-weekly pickup (green, grey, blue bins would still be weekly, and the limit would be 2 bags not 1).  This would not only save money but has been proven in other cities to encourage recycling, but remains controversial.  Comments welcome!  There are many other measures in the plan, which is designed toe xtend the life of the landfill to 2035, saving more than $7M.

– Mid-term refocusing – Council recently held our mid-term update.  We have decided to focus on three of our five key priorities for the remainder of the term – specifically:  creating jobs and growing the economy, managing growth, and improving our financial condition.  The other two priorities – city centre revitalization, and opening up city hall, will continue to be priorities, but Council feels major progress has been made on these objectives.  Our central focus will be on jobs, managing growth, and fixing our finances.

– Economic Development – the “Ideas in Motion” plan (click here to read it) is our five-point plan to grow our economy.  I’m really excited about this, the plan was built directly from a day-long session with Barrie’s business leaders and lays out specific actions for the next 4 years.  Again, comments welcome…

Lots more I could talk about…from casinos to chimineas…check out www.barrie.ca as always for more information on issues of the day as this fast-moving fall term flies by.

About jefflehman
Jeff Lehman is the 46th Mayor of the City of Barrie. The Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie from 2006 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Council, chaired the City’s Growth Management Working Group, and created the Historic Neighbourhoods project, a new initiative to protect and revitalize Barrie’s oldest neighbourhoods. Jeff has lived in Barrie for most of his life, having grown up in Allandale and attended Barrie Central Collegiate. Jeff holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree with first class honours from the UK’s prestigious London School of Economics. He was hired to teach at the LSE following his graduation, and lived and worked in London for two years as an academic. Since that time, as an economist, he has worked with cities across Canada to manage redevelopment and invest in their urban infrastructure. In 2005, he established the Growing By Degrees Task Force to assist in expanding university education opportunities in Barrie, and has volunteered his time with many organizations in the City. Jeff lives near Downtown Barrie with his wife, Jennifer, a part-time professor of political science, and their young daughter Cassie, who is already smarter than her father.

Comments

2 Responses to “Current Events”
  1. Scott Home says:

    In regards to your proposed garbage plan, I think bi-weekly service was not thought out comletely, Lets see the comparism bi weekly service 2 container limit, weekly service 1 container limit sounds the same to me. All I see is more illegal dumping raising costing the city, time for their employees to go out and collect and deliver to landfill. See no savings there we are all wise enough not to leave anything in these illegally dump bags were we could be traced. Coming from a city that tried this idea found out the hard way now they have weekly service again. Not to mention garbage being stored outdoors increased the rodent level which I’m sure the city will not help cover the cost of varmit control, lets also look at the health issue of garbage sitting for 2 weeks outside your garage or even inside your garage. have you even considered the large amount of row houses the city of Barrie contains who do not have the spacing to contain storage of garbage for 2 weeks. You want to see space saving in the landfill why not consider what all other major cities have tried and found success. Commericial garbage why accept it at the curb, Businesses should be respondible for their own garbage on average a city this size probably hayuls in 20 tonnes of commericial garbage in their landfill weekly. Being a business owner in this city I don’t not use curb service upon moving my business into Barrie I inquired about it found out I was entitled to it, asked if I didn’t use it would I recieve a tax break of not using the service being informed there is no change I still decicded not to use it. My branch in Toronto which I pay for a bin for both garbage and cardboard, I recieve most of the cost back on yearly tax return, So i decicded to go the same way at my Barrie branch. But what surprised me was to find out that as a business i have limititions on my curbside collection of recycling, I thought we wanted to incourage recycling. Second I watch cars and trucks on several occasions drop garbage off at the end of my driveway I called reported it the city but by the time the city responds the collector has alreadt been by and collected so i see the response time of the city to be very slow. also i heard on the radio consideration of 4 day collection well we all know shorten collection days means more equipment which will drive the cost of collection vechicles higher because more are needed see no savings factor there tenders are only going to be higher. If anything maybe aproach winning tender bid to see if collection on holidays are a option. That away the only 2 holidays that will effect collection will be Christmas and New Years. Seems alot less confusing for residents. being someone who has visited the landfill on Mondays to find out it operates on Tuesday to Saturday business week and to see that collection occurs on Monday and city does have staff there I see no cost savings in going to a 4 day collection. I see more of these large trucks on our city streets and longer days for them. being these trucks are in our residential area frequently should we not consider a safety factor here. What it biols down to is proper strategy in your city waste reduction and coming from the Toronto area where they, ve tried this and it failed maybe Barrie should not make the same mistake and if barrie does go with 4 day collection and bi weekly service I will be pulling my roots out and going County way where they keep weekly service and 5 day service they are the wiser ones.

  2. Concerned resident says:

    Dear Jeff,

    I am happy that you will be spending on new road ways. However I question the latest tax increase of 4.7% when you just hired even more police officers. Why not start to cut back the police while extending the life of their equipment?

    Why do we keep hiring new officers and where are we going to get the money to pay for them? I simply cannot afford the extra $200 you demand and becuse I work I do not qualify for any help.

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