Gatineau’s 2020 Budget puts heavy emphasis
on climate change adaptation
All but four councillors voted to approve the City of Gatineau proposed 2020 budget, with all four of Aylmer and the Plateau’s elected officials voting in favour of it.
This year’s budget is $651.8M. It comes with a 2.1% tax rate increase, as well as a 4.6% increase in city expenses and investments which aim to combat and adapt to the changing climate.
Gatineau mayor reminded the population that the spring floods cost $11.5M in damages, $3M of which was absorbed directly by the city, with the remaining $8.5M being reimbursed by Quebec.
In an attempt to aid those hit hardest by the floods, the city will inject $1.4M into the Land Use Plan for vacant lots, $230,000 of which will be invested in planting trees on these lots to help with ground water retention and absorption.
An additional $10M will be added to the $24M Heavy Rains Action Plan which aims to reinforce and adapt city infrastructure, such as sewers and water retention basins, because of increasingly frequent and devastating weather events.
$7M will be invested in the development of a new ecocentre in the west end of Gatineau to help deal with the 15,000 tonnes of residual waste material per year that is picked up during special waste collections. Private companies are also picking up over-sized waste but it ends up in city facilities too.
Public transit, through the STO, will be receiving a $3M boost in funding to provide additional staff and buses and offer a higher quality of service for the growing number of public transit users.
$2.8M will be invested over the next three years into an Urban Outdoors Fund that will promote tourism. Organizations such as the Boucher Forest Foundation will showcase the importance of forests and healthy living environments.
A $1.7M boost will be given to Gatineau’s existing sidewalk budget in an attempt to create new and better sidewalks.
The city is increasing its snow removal budget by 35%, and investing an additional $1.2M in a pilot project aimed at adapting to less predictable winters and improving operations generally. A recurring investment of $253,000 in spring sweeping operations will also include an attempt to reduce completion time of these activities from eight weeks to six.
$28,160 will be invested into a winter cycling network by keeping certain bike paths clear year round, theoretically reducing car traffic around town.
Large investments Upcoming
Planned investments for the next three years are of $465.9 million, of which $197.8 million will be spent in 2020:
— $56.3 million will be invested in Wabassee Creek watershed
— $49.6 million will go into the maintenance and improvement of water and sewer systems
— $27.4 million will go to paving and maintaining the road network
— $14.8 million worth of capital will be invested in drinking water and wastewater plants
— $12.9 million will be spent on various municipal buildings
— $5.5 M will go to the Social Housing and Home Renovation Program
— $3.5M is set to be invested in the development of parks and urban open air
— Various other investment projects for the upcoming 3 years are being valued at around $27.8 million
The 2.1% tax hike will represent a $60 increase in property tax for a median household worth $238,000. For such a household in Aylmer this would represent a yearly cost of $2,888 in property tax.
This increase is due to tax indexation being set at 1.6% to which is added a 0.5% tax on infrastructure catch-up, which adds up to the suggested average increase of 2.1%.
Several costs such as building permits, arena rental fees, parking permits, will also be increased this year, with parking fees on city property, such as at city hall, increasing from $2/h to $3/h. The window of time in which clients will be charged for parking will also be extended by one hour, going from 8 am - 7 pm to 7 am - 7 pm.
Budget announcements showcased Gatineau’s high dependence on tax revenue, which accounts for 86.8% of the 2020 budget. 75.9% of all tax revenue generated by the city was collected from residential and commercial tax.
Four councillors, Louise Boudrias and Jean-François Leblanc, Marc Carrière and Jocelyn Blondin, voted against the proposed budget.