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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

Saint John councillors give input on 2024 budget

By Brad Perry Oct 17, 2023 | 12:56 PM

With municipal budget time fast approaching, Saint John councillors have a big wish list for city staff.

Councillors spent much of their meeting Monday night giving input on what they would like to see in the 2024 operating budget.

Greg Norton was among many councillors who said there should be more of a focus on street-level services.

“Whether that’s the paving of roads and streets that continue to deteriorate or whether it’s the plowing of sidewalks to maintain city passage by pedestrians or increasing our service levels in those areas,” said Norton.

Several councillors — including Gerry Lowe, Greg Stewart and Paula Radwan — said they want staff to consider a community centre for the city’s east side.

According to Lowe, that part of the city has a child poverty rate of around 90 per cent.

“I want it like P.U.L.S.E. in the south end, like the west side [Carleton] Community Centre. Something that will help people — they do income tax, they have nurses, they have all kinds of different things,” he said.

Brent Harris said he wants staff to review the city’s recreation subsidization policy so families pay less to use city-owned facilities.

Harris said the city also needs to take a leading role in helping those who are dealing with homelessness.

“We have 190-plus people living rough in the street. We have no ability any longer to call that someone else’s lane. It is the single biggest risk factor that we have to growth, prosperity and wellness in the city,” he said.

“One of our top priority as council is Belong. It’s very hard to belong anywhere if you don’t have a home.”

Harris said that could involve council reconsidering setting money aside in reserve for a new multiplex facility.

Other suggestions put forward by councillors included:

  • more bylaw enforcement officers
  • improvements to recreation facilities
  • get the Municipal Housing Entity up and running
  • look at performance management city-wide
  • develop a labour relations strategy
  • enhance the city’s industrial parks to optimize growth
  • more traffic calming measures in areas most needed
  • flood mitigation on the city’s east side
  • working with the province to keep more of the industrial tax collected
  • work to prevent erosion on the city’s west side beaches
  • more funding for the city’s community centres

All of the feedback will go to the city’s finance committee, which will bring a budget recommendation back to council in November.