I listened with great interest to the Nov. 27 Town council meeting. I was curious since Bylaw 1800 was once again coming up and I wanted to see if there would be any change in how the bylaw was enforced. Especially since the CT scanner is a piece of equipment that would be of tremendous benefit to the community – from a health and life saving perspective, economic benefit and environmental benefit.
I was surprised at the reasoning by the council members who voted against the motion put forward by Frank Wray (to waive all off-site work requirements). Fairness and consistency of the enforcement of Bylaw 1800 seemed to be at the heart of their decision. I cannot see how any member of council could cite fairness or consistency when referring to this bylaw.
First, how can a bylaw that triggers over $500,000 dollars in off-site work for a project budgeted at just over $350,000 dollars be considered by anyone to be fair? And yet, Gladys Atrill and Taylor Bachrach both stated that when they came into the meeting their intention was to vote for no variance at all to be granted.
Second, when the building permit for phase one of the renovation (the remodel of the x-ray room) was applied for last year this requirement for off-site work never came up. Why was this bylaw overlooked for phase one? Where is the consistency? Similarly, why does there not seem to have been any off-site work requirements for the Prestige Hotel or for the New Arena?
I fully support infrastructure and realize it’s great importance but there needs to be a common sense approach to improving infrastructure that is informed by a master plan that creates continuity in services, accessibility and equitable cost sharing. Bylaw 1800, while it does generate infrastructure, it is doing so at a crippling cost to community businesses and services and also leads to isolated islands of infrastructure.
Finally, the fundraising and ultimate approval of the CT scanner was well documented through the media. Why couldn’t the Town, council and/or mayor have been proactive and told Northern Health to expect this off-site work requirement so they could budget for it?