Time for cash-strapped city to think outside the box

Time to start realizing we are not the real centre of the region

Victoria has incredibly smart people and a deep sense of municipal pride. We do some things sensationally well and we have a dynamic business community. Unfortunately, our city can’t seem to govern itself properly.

For well over a decade, taxes and city operating expenses have grown faster than our population and inflation. In most years, the gap has been large and there is no end in sight.

Plus we continue to ignore:

– an aging infrastructure and the need to build adequate reserves to refurbish or replace things like sewers, roads, buildings and bridges;

– a tourism industry that is not what it used to be and is unlikely to recover in the near or mid-term based on global economies;

– a downtown core that used to be the Capital Region’s economic engine, has seen much better days and seems to be in decline;

– that we are no longer the centre of the region, yet continue to act as if we are, both in terms of our actions and willingness to financially support the larger region’s needs.

Chatter about filling the gap by freezing civil servants’ pay, cutting elected officials’ stipends and curtailing inconsequent expenditures is just that, idle talk in the face of difficult facts.

Our city needs to look at managing its affairs in a sustainable fashion. We need a council with a vision for dealing with a significant and growing structural deficit, a council willing to deal with the challenges and not delay the inevitable.

Some form of amalgamation or sharing of services with others is just a beginning. We need to think outside the box.

The City of Victoria hasn’t been honest with itself in looking at what is required to stabilize the city’s finances, today and tomorrow. Deciding what the future will look like is urgent.

Paul Brown