If you say it quickly maybe that number doesn't sound as big as it really is. But the fact remains that it is $16.6 million of our tax dollars that the majority of city councillors have voted to spend on Millenium Park. And as we have seen with past projects, for example, the north Highway 2 widening, the price tag will inevitably grow along with the lengthy delays that will no doubt accompany the project.
I have always felt that our tax dollars, municipal, provincial and federal, should be spent with the intent of meeting the expectations and needs of the majority of their constituents. During these inflationary times, it is important for councillors to consider how many St. Albertans out of a population of 70,000 will make use of the proposed improved $16 million dollar Millenium Park with its water feature, doubling as an outdoor rink, and a pavilion. There are no doubt other projects worthy of our tax dollars that would benefit the larger majority of St. Albert taxpayers.
That being said council has already passed a 5.5 per cent property tax increase for next year adding an extra $226 to the tax bill on a property valued at $500,000.
Now in reality my home is not valued at $500,000 so my tax increase will only likely be in the range of $175 which may not sound like much to some people. But to a pair of 70+-year-old retirees without a fat pension, still working part-time to supplement our income and closely watching their finances, it just adds to the extra $250 in carbon tax that I paid on my gas and electric bill this year. Add to that the extra in carbon tax that I paid every time I fuelled up my vehicle so I could get back and forth to my part-time supplemental employment. Then let's not forget the increased cost that the federal Liberals have added to everything grown, manufactured and distributed with their carbon tax.
While the Bank of Canada raises interest rates in order to wrestle inflation down to a 2 per cent increase, how is it that city council can smile and pat each other on the back by keeping our property tax increase to 5.5 per cent?
It all adds up over the year and with the cost of inflation affecting everything, I wonder how the less fortunate are managing in these tough times. We read stories every day about how so many are struggling and not just the homeless living on the streets or in shelters, but working poor families that are adding to the record numbers using the food banks.
Perhaps the best use of a portion of the $16.6 million dollars should go to our food banks to help those families rather than spending it on a park overlooking the mighty Sturgeon River.
Merry Christmas to all and here's hoping for a safe and prosperous 2024 for the world.
Rob Pritchard, St. Albert