Dayday criticizes River Landing, city's solution to Circle Drive traffic
Mayoral candidate Henry Dayday on Friday took a few jabs at city council, criticizing them for not only how the River Landing project is being financed, but also for not doing enough to solve the traffic jams in the Circle Drive area.
According to Dayday, who also served as the former mayor of Saskatoon from 1988 to 2000, the city actually faces a $1-million budget shortfall as a result of how the River Landing project is being bankrolled.
Currently, operating costs such as snow clearing and maintenance work, which is supposed to be paid for by taxes from the area, are being footed by expected future surpluses.
Dayday said this is a potentially “dangerous” practice because it assumes the future revenue for the River Landing project already exists.
In order to remedy the problem, Dayday said it might be necessary to raise property taxes by one per cent, reduce services by over $1-million or a combination of the two.
“You need to balance the budget today,” he said, otherwise “we’re passing the cost to future taxpayers and that puts the city on a very slippery slope.”
According to the city, however, financing for the River Landing project will not result in burdening future residents.
“The intent is that River Landing should be self-sufficient and not touch the tax base so that taxpayers will not having to pay for River Landing,” Marlys Bilanski, Saskatoon’s general manager of corporate services.
But in the meantime, because the build-out for the waterfront area is still being worked on -- and therefore, the city cannot collect 100 per cent of the anticipated tax revenue -- Bilanski said a $1-million from the discretionary capital reserve has been tentatively redirected into the project.
“This ensures that [the River Landing project] will not impact the mill rate,” she said. “And then once all of the land has been sold and River Landing is complete, those funds get repaid.”
In addition to the River Landing project, Dayday also had a few harsh words for how the city is dealing with the traffic congestion on 42nd Street, between Millar Drive and Avenue C.
“What we need is a common sense approach to our traffic congestion problems.”
Dayday said while a north commuter bridge -- which the city estimates will cost up to $75 million and is expected to be completed by 2016 -- would help to alleviate the congestion in the north industrial area, the city should first deal with its debt first.
“Let’s start solving problems with less costly solutions.”