Two weeks ago Tuesday, I sent the following email to every member of the Regina City Council, Senior City Administration, the Ministry of Government Relations, my local MLA, the Premier, CUPE, the Media, and some amazing supporters and past acquaintances of myself and the efforts of those behind the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group. To date, not a single member has replied to this enquiry, even though they have assured the general public that they take every concern very seriously and want to make every effort to ensure that our crumbling infrastructure is taken care of long before the wants and desires of the few elite members of our great communities. (AKA The #yqrmafia)
This is evidence that there is absolutely no desire, on behalf of these politicians anyways, to actually proactively address our alleged $2 Billion infrastructure deficit.
The only thing that these individuals seem to care about is finding ways to exploit the needs of many in order to further their own distorted view of "capitalism" (which is actually Fascism). It is very easy to simply state that we have a massive infrastructure deficit. But it is far more difficult (for them anyways) to put (our) money where (their) respective mouths are and pony up when push comes to shove. As the saying goes, ACTIONS speak far louder than WORDS.
We must all ask ourselves - what do our City Council, City Administration, and Provincial leaders believe are more important to our province and our communities? Pet projects such as "Pat's Patio" ($14-24 MILLION City Square Plaza project developed on the backs of hard working taxpayers, effectively destroying any sense of community that the Regina Downtown may have had, also destroying the traffic flow and parking situation in Downtown Regina), "Mosaic 2.0" ($278M+ completely unnecessary, duplicate stadium project - awarded to PCL Construction, major contributors to Mayor Fougere's mayoral bid, and Premier Wall's Saskatchewan Party), and "P3" projects such as the WWTP upgrades ($230M+ - the "P3" however seems to stand more for Public (dollars) for Private Profit). Or desperately needed expenditures, like true infrastructure upgrades, fixing our crumbling roads, addressing the exhorbitant pension deficits and fiscally-responsible management of our municipal and provincial debt load, to name but a few.
It is clearly evident, Saskatchewan, that our politicians are waiting for the public pressure to be put on them, to demand their focus be on the needs of many, rather than the wants of just a few.
YOU DECIDE SASKATCHEWAN.
WANTS VERSUS NEEDS.
Good afternoon members of City Council and Senior City Administration,
Thank you once again for taking the time to reconsider the projects that are currently proposed under the Local Improvement Program. As a very concerned taxpayer, and a representative of the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, it brings me great pleasure to provide recommendations of viable alternatives to address our crumbling infrastructure deficit, which by your own accounts, is in the area of $2 BILLION. While I appreciate you each might have your own opinion on HOW we got to the point we are now or who is responsible for funding it, the fact of the matter is we are here. And, as such, we need to work together AS A CITY to find ways to address this ever-growing problem.
As I've made very clear in my delegations on this matter, the Local Improvement Act, 1993, is entirely optional in how it is implemented or applied, as well as what portion you choose to fund for each project that is deemed necessary under this program. While I disagree with your interpretation of what projects should be included under the Local Improvement Act, I agree that we have roads, sidewalks and other core infrastructure that are in desperate need of attention. Some of these needed repairs, by your own internal documents, are three to four decades past their useful life. To me, this is completely unacceptable, and to simply defer this to Administration to "come back with a report" is irresponsible and reprehensible. You owe it to the citizens of Regina to address the crumbling roads now. Not tomorrow, not next month, next year or 10 years from now. We will have to agree to disagree on what caused us to get into this situation, but the fact of the matter is you must ACT NOW.
To avoid a City-wide Tax Revolt, like the Business Tax Revolt of 1988, which is what you are sure to have on your hands soon enough, I would highly recommend going ahead with ALL PROJECTS that were recommended to you in the 2014 Local Improvement Program list, and also any others that were scheduled to be completed within the past 20 years that were postponed/stopped due to successful petition drives by residents. As I have stated, and your administration should be well aware of, the primary funding for these projects is intended to be through debt financing, as per the Act. Thus, there should be zero impact to the Operating Budget for 2014 or prior years.
We all recognize it "costs money" to fix these situations, but so does building a $278M stadium, a $25M City Square Plaza, a questionably-needed, privately-run $250M WWTP facility, or any other capital project that you have on your wish list. It is high time you demonstrate to taxpayers that you understand the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. We all WANT to have a flashy BMW or a fancy house, but we don't NEED them. We all NEED to have roof over our heads, especially in the dead of winter in Saskatchewan. We all WANT to have a car for our primary mode of transportation. But we NEED to have some form of primary transportation, such as a meaningful and useful Transit system.
I implore you, as a representative of many taxpayers who are too afraid to even speak to you, let alone come public with acknowledging they support me, in fear of being publicly reprimanded by the likes of some on Council and those that operate the ridiculous Twitter parody accounts. Do what you know is RIGHT. Don't do it because you're afraid of not being re-elected in 2016, do it because you know this is what taxpayers want. For you to plead ignorance to the wants and desires of Taxpayers is not acceptable any longer. If you spent the time doing your public research, like I have, and speaking directly to those impacted by these situations, and not just those who you choose to speak to, then perhaps you would be fully aware that the majority of taxpayers DO NOT want to pay extra money for these desperately needed road and sidewalk repairs. They DO WANT the work to still get done, however. I know you might run the risk of getting sued by those that have had to pay for the 65 projects since 2000, but so be it. If that is your fear, might I suggest finding a way to refund those taxpayers proactively, preventing the need for good-hearted citizens to take the time and money to pursue you legally.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, and I trust that at least one of you will take the time to respond to genuine Taxpayer concerns - regardless of your personal viewpoints on myself as a person.
Chad A. Novak, CMA
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group