Among the projects are $250,000 for discussions on Fair Share renewal and $50,000 for a Facilities Master Plan, and $250,000 for further dealings with the proposed Site C dam, which would be covered by B.C. Hydro. The Master Transportation Plan that was postponed last year has reappeared at a cost of $150,000 in 2014 and $70,000 in 2015, as well as another $125,000 for the Downtown Action Plan.
One project included in Director of Finance Mike Roy’s presentation that likely won’t be approved by at least two councillors was $50,000 for a development plan for the Greenridge Heights. The subdivision north of the new hospital has been in discussion as both in the area of where a helipad may be located and the need for a new school, Councillor Byron Stewart argued the line item should be put off until both of those issues are resolved. Councillor Trevor Bolin agreed, adding that if the City’s does not go ahead with its current boundary extension proposal, that property is one of the last ones in town available for development.
“If it weren’t to happen, Greenridge Heights would then become kind of the last piece of property inside the city of Fort St. John that could be developed,” he says. “I think we need to play that one pretty close with so much going on.”
One of the external pressures the City is facing this year is a “massive” B.C. Hydro rate increase, which hasn’t yet been finalized, but has been rumoured to be 26.4 per cent between 2014 and 2016.
“That’s going to have huge impacts on our budgets,” Roy admits. “Of course we don’t know where they’re going to land until it comes through the Utilities Commission, but it’s still going to be some increase, but the question is to what extent that increase will be.”
A public meeting on the Operating Budget will be held on Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m. in council chambers, with finalization expected by November 25 and adoption on January 13, 2014.