Gatineau Budget discussion week
Gatineau administration says they hope Aylmer arenas hold up till new money available
A debate took place during the budget discussion week at the city of Gatineau regarding where to invest an extra 13 million dollars in infrastructure maintenance. The choices of where to invest the available budget caused a stir among councillors.
The city administration gave councillors suggestions on how to invest city money. One of which was to use $9 million of the budget on a road rehabilitation program and a little over $4 million for the maintenance of arenas and aquatic centers. This was the option that was recommended by the executive committee.
Tiffany-Lee Norris-Parent, Touraine councillor, proposed an amendment that would use $4.5 million to buy 15 sidewalk snow removal vehicles, and $8.5 million for road re-pavement. This led to a debate on where to invest city money. In the end, 11 councillors voted for Norris-Parent’s amendment and 9 voted against. This means the arenas and pools will not receive the additional maintenance funds as the executive committee suggested.
Marc Bureau, Parc-de-la-Montagne-Saint-Raymond councillor and executive committee member, voiced concern for the arenas in Gatineau, as they are aging and require maintenance. He says he fears without investments, they could face closures. “This would be detrimental in places like Aylmer where there are over 100 hockey teams,” said Bureau.
Gilles Chagnon, Lucerne councillor and executive committee member, also voiced concerns asking the administration for clarity on the work needed to maintain arenas in Aylmer. The administration responded that some parts of the arenas are not at the end of their life cycle, but need maintenance such as roof replacements.
The administration also stated that they are hoping the arenas tough it out another few years. They are doing little bits of the roof as needed, and managing the risks. The work needed for arenas in Gatineau is estimated at over $7 million but there is only $2 million in reserve in case something happens. The administration is holding off because the infrastructure won’t be needed when the planned four-rink sports complex is complete.
“To clarify, we are allowing the risk that if something happens, Aylmer could end up with arena closures,” responded Chagnon.
Snow removal machinery
The snow removal machines were a significant discussion. The committee for transport, sustainable mobility, and security did not recommend investing in the amended 15 additional sidewalk snow removal vehicles. There are 9 new vehicles for sidewalk snow removal being put to use this winter. The committee wants to see how the additions to the snow removal fleet impact the level of service this season, before buying more.
Caroline Murray, Deschênes councillor, says that this spending proposal was made to increase the level of service for the side walks, to match that of roads. Currently, the level of service for roads is to have them cleared within 12 hours of a snowfall, and sidewalks within 16 hours. Levels of service put a parameter for the service but often snow removal can be done well before this time. Murray says this is important for those that need sidewalk access such as pedestrians, and children walking to school.
The budget will be voted on in December.