Road-repair pleas earns budgetary shift

White Rock council votes to support $200,000 project.

White Rock city hall.

White Rock city hall.

White Rock’s 2016-2020 draft financial plan is nearing approval, after city council voted for first, second and third reading, with an amendment to allocate $200,000 for a road-repair project requested last month by a resident.

Florence Penny, a senior who lives in the 15700-block of Pacific Avenue, told council members at the Feb. 29 draft financial plan public hearing that she had addressed council “over the years” about the condition of the roadway near her home and wondered when something would be done.

The city’s director of engineering Greg St. Louis told council members that the stretch of road was “on our radar,” but was not budgeted for repair due to “higher priority” roadworks projects.

At last week’s council meeting, Coun. Lynne Sinclair tabled a motion to have $200,000 moved out of the capital roadworks reserve and into the budget, enabling the two-block stretch on Pacific between Habgood and Ewson streets to be repaired.

“I drove by and the road is a mess,” Sinclair told council, noting she was “very grateful” that city staff found a solution after she requested it the previous week.

“Fortunately, in the two-block period, there’s no under-the-road work that needs to be done…. The rest of Pacific Avenue, unfortunately, will have to wait because of pipe work and sanitary work that needs to be done.

“I think it’s great when we can respond to a citizen in a positive way in this manner.”

Coun. Helen Fathers said that while it’s “hard not to support” such a plea from a resident, there are other roads that need to be addressed.

“Just because someone stood in front of us and said that road needs fixing… there’s lots of them that need fixing,” Fathers said.

The vote to amend the draft financial plan was carried unanimously.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin spoke on the proposed 2.2 per cent reduction in property taxes for 2016, noting White Rock is the only municipality in Metro Vancouver to reduce its taxes this year.

Baldwin attributed that to White Rock “being responsible” by putting funds into reserves.

“We’ve heard a number of times from a couple of people in the community that our taxes are out-of-control and they are high, and we shouldn’t be putting money into reserves and so on,” Baldwin said, listing off tax-rate increases in other cities.  “In many respects, the reason for these high increases is that other municipalities are finding out that they haven’t put enough money aside for asset replacement. We’ve been doing this for a long time now, so it’s nice that everyone else is catching on.”

Adoption of the financial plan is expected to take place March 21.

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