Nobody likes to pay more taxes.
That nugget of utterly unoriginal wisdom comes in part from a discussion that Prince Albert city councillors had on Monday as they talked about the Pineview Terrace Lodge.
Councillors were unhappy that the RM of Buckland, RM of Paddockwood, Village of Albert, Village of St. Louis and Village of Meath Park have failed to pay for their share of the Pineview Terrace Lodge.
It’s quite a can of worms that the issue is opening because it goes all the way to the regional philosophy of governance and what our neighbours pay when they visit our civic facilities.
We can all understand that people who live outside of Prince Albert don’t want to pay for city street repairs through their taxes. But when it comes to a facility like Pineview Terrace Lodge, fair is fair.
If their people are moving into the city at an advanced age, the rural governments have a moral responsibility to help pay the bills.
To review, the provincial government paid for 80 per cent of the $22.8-million facility with the City of Prince Albert and area municipalities to fund the 20 per cent balance.
Area municipalities still owe $198,805, including the RM of Buckland ($33,737), the RM of Paddockwood ($94,992), the Village of Albertville ($10,706), the Village of St. Louis (41,948) and the Village of Meath Park ($17,422).
This creates an uncomfortable situation for everybody because the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region has no leverage in collecting these shortfalls, chairperson Brenda Abrametz told council.
“Traditionally, municipalities have always supported these types of projects … but there is no authority for us to collect that,” she explained.
“We can only request it and hope that municipalities agree that it is a worthwhile project.”
Coun. Lee Atkinson asked what this could potentially mean in the future with the spectre of a new hospital on the horizon or even a P3 agreement on a potential second bridge.
“If a whole bunch (of municipalities) decide not to participate on this scale, how on earth do we anticipate that they’ll ever participate in a scale 100 times more of the cost of this project?” Atkinson asked.
Both projects would have clear benefits, with the bridge a terrific boon for anyone who lives north of the river.
The entire situation has Mayor Greg Dionne champing at the bit to appear before their councils to make the city’s case for a more regional focus on these big ticket items that are built for everyone’s use.
“I’m more available now than ever to meet with these five municipalities and say we’re partners in our region, and put political pressure on them from us and our councillors to pay their share,” Mayor Greg Dionne told council on Monday.
“At the end of the day, their residents are benefiting from the facilities in the city of Prince Albert … Whether they’re recreation or health or education, they’re benefiting.”
He’s speaking the truth.
Prince Albert Daily Herald