Ontario Construction News staff writer
St. Catharines council says 2023’s budget responds to pressures created by inflation, provincial legislation and pandemic recovery, with key investments in infrastructure.
The $128.2-million 2023 operating budget was labeled a “resiliency budget” by the leadership team.
“This year’s budget helps to continue the path out of the COVID-19 pandemic and puts the city on a better foundation than we’ve had in quite some time,” said Mayor Mat Siscoe. “We will be able to fill some identified gaps while also addressing health and safety issues that came to light during the pandemic.
“Additionally, we’ll be able to reduce our reliance on and begin to replenish reserves, a goal that was shared and endorsed by all members of Council during the budget debate.”
Highlights of this year’s operating budget include replenishing reserve funds after several years of reliance on them due to the pandemic and spending to maintain infrastructure in a state-of-good repair, including new commitments for the Port Dalhousie piers that were transferred to the city; and other strategic priorities.
Another recovery initiative increases levy support of the capital programs – an additional $2.5 million will be directed back towards supporting the capital budget after cuts during the pandemic.
The city approved its $71.9-million capital budget for 2023, including investments that addressed the capital priorities, but also ensured infrastructure sustainability and taxpayer affordability.
- $4.8 million for a phased renovation at the St. Catharines Public Library’s Central branch, which will include renovations to the basement, ground floor and second and third floors. The project will include accessibility upgrades, new universal washrooms, improved thermal properties and other green infrastructure. Staff are currently exploring available grant opportunities to help offset taxpayer impact.
- $4.4-million investment into Martindale Pond weir replacement, a critical improvement ahead of the 2024 World Rowing Championships taking place in St. Catharines.
- Investment active transportation, climate change adaptation / mitigation and parks renewal, including about $6.1 million for recreation and parks renewal.
- More than $5.6 million for “environmental stewardship”, including tree plantings, pollution control, supporting watercourse infrastructure, shoreline protection, energy conservation and continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- About $2.8 million will support active transportation projects aimed at reducing vehicular traffic, including new sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian crossovers.