The biggest concern I have with the large projects the city is proposing is cost and how it will affect my community. I requested information from city hall asking how much the Baker Street renewal alone would cost. I was emailed a file, itemizing costs for above street level work (not including the pipes underground) and it showed estimates at $1.1 million dollar per block of Baker Street.
I still don’t know how much it will be for the below-ground work, or for Railtown, or for Vernon and Victoria Streets within the Urban Design Strategy. And, there are still big plans for the bottom of Hall Street. This is all adding up to be an enormous price tag. A chartered accountant told me that government projects are almost always over budget. After developing condo projects in Fairview, and more recently with the Nelson Commons downtown, property taxes and service fees have continued to rise, as a compounding cost, every year.
According to the most recent Canada Revenue Agency statistics (for 2011 incomes), about half of Nelson residents had incomes of less than $25,000 per year. More than a third were below $20,000 and a staggering 1,540 people lived on less than $10,000 per year. Adjust for inflation and, assuming those ratios are roughly the same today (as our food bank visit numbers suggest), we obviously have many people here who are economically disadvantaged.
I personally know many individuals who are hard working, contributing members of this city, or have finally retired, and they are simply stretched to their limits or have been forced to leave. If property taxes continue to burden homeowners on fixed incomes, small business owners, and renters (who wind up paying more as well), how many will be able to afford to pay any more?