Parks spending under construction

North Saanich council reviews draft plan

Six parks projects, totaling an estimated $53,000 are part of the ongoing budget discussions in North Saanich.

Council considered the extensive parks plan created by its parks commission recently and the series of projects identified as 2011 capital projects were forwarded to this year’s budget considerations for next year.

They include to reseal the upper pond in Dominion Brook Park at a cost of roughly $10,000; work on 425 metres of trail on the Hartfell Road allowance north to Falkirk and west to Ardmore ($10,000); 200 metres of trail from Dunne Road to Canoe Cove Road ($6,000); enhance cycling awareness signage on Lands End, Chalet and Tatlow roads ($5,000); repair the beach access at the foot of Bazan Bay Road ($20,000) and $2,000 alloted to volunteer initiatives.

The referral to budget was just one of 18 recommendations outlined by municipal staff in a report to council after reviewing the draft plan.

Another large item in the proposal included a proposed funding method for the projects outlined in the draft report.

The funding proposal presented by the North Saanich Parks Commission, which included a proposed $48 per property, five-year parks levy, was tabled until further review of the draft plan is complete. “This is the key area where taxpayers will want input,” said councillor Cairine Green. “People will have the time to consider this plan and also in the context of a possible tax levy or additional taxation measure.”

Chandler said he’d like to see staff come forward with recommendations on how it fits into the  overall financial strategy.

“The variation from the way we normally fund infrastructure is significant,” Chandler said. “A special levy requires significant review … I look at parks in this regard as an infrastructure and I don’t see us putting a special levy on road infrastructure.”

Mayor Alice Finall also noted that some of the infrastructure addressed, specifically bike lanes, also fall under other departments.

“I’d prefer not to do the tax and then spend,” Chandler said. “Putting the tax part before the spending part is a little bit risky.”

“Separate parcel taxes for any project to my mind is not the way to go,” said councillor Dunstan Browne.

Council also opted out of the Parks Commission suggestion that the District of North Saanich create a list of potential properties for parks acquisition.

“It may be a nice idea to create a list of potential properties for parks acquisition, this could have a number of implications that are difficult to deal with both by the public and by the district,” said Finall. Property should be dealt with internally she said. “To create a public list would be fraught with difficulty.”