Last week, I swear I kept planning to write a traditional This Week At City Hall column. You know, where there’s a little introductory blurb — 100 to 200 words on a rant-worthy item — and then a quick list highlighting what’s going on in each committee meeting. Like I did for, what? Years?
But then every time I sat down to write, those intro rants about the stadium kept taking over and I’d run out of time before getting to the committee meetings.
But not this week. I’m going to jump right into the meetings and I won’t get sidetracked by all the stuff I didn’t get to last week but wanted to. Like the fact that in their stadium financing plan the city is still contemplating instituting a hotel tax to help offset the annual stadium-related mill rate increase. It makes some sense, a hotel tax, seeing as increased tourism is one of the hoped-for benefits of an improved stadium. But then, back when this stadium was still more of a provincial deal, a hotel tax was one of those crazy ideas that was being floated at the National Infrastructure Summit and was being discussed by some on council as a possible revenue source to help with our infrastructure deficit. You know, to help fix our roads and stuff so that visitors wouldn’t remember Regina as Pothole City. But now, with the stadium folk eyeing that as a potential revenue source for their sexysexy project, it looks like the roads and utilities gang should consider dowsing for revenue streams elsewhere.
And whatever you do don’t get me started on that proposal for a “linear park” that will run along the north side of the railway tracks between downtown and the new stadium. No, no. I shouldn’t get going on that at all….
Monday, January 21
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): Our new council faces its first budget today. And based on comments in the Leader Post, a few councillors haven’t decided if they’re going to vote in favour of that 4.45 per cent property tax hike. The article suggests that councillors Murray and Hawkins and even Mayor Fougere are on the fence. Also, the Canadian Federation Of Independent Business have sent in their annual letter whining about taxes on business being too high. It looks a lot like the one from last year. Maybe I should start up a think tank of my own and send in annual reports to council saying, “Crank up those taxes, gang! Because, when surveyed, 42 per cent of our members — which represents 11 per cent of the people we found at O’Hanlon’s sober enough to answer a survey or at least nod along while we were talking — agreed that taxation is totally rad. Plus or minus 13 per cent. Additionally, 73 per cent of them think O’Hanlon’s plays just the right amount of 80s music.” I think that might bring some welcome balance to the discussion.
Tuesday, January 22
PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (4 pm): Considering a recommendation to phase out solid waste collection for commercial customer. Seems that because the city is converting all their trucks to gather up those plastic rollout bins as part of the overhaul of the waste management system they will no longer be able to collect commercial garbage so easily. If passed, commercial customers will have to get their waste collected by private companies.
Wednesday, January 23
COMMUNITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES COMMITTEE (4 pm): Considering proposed changes to transit services. Good news! There’s a plan to radically overhaul routes so that service is dramatically improved. Bad news! Due to a lack of resources, this brilliant new plan won’t be available for “many decades.” In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with some rejigs where some routes will run more often but a lot of other routes will run even less often than they already do.
And that’s it for this week. You can read the complete reports yourself on the city’s website.