LETTER: Fewer city studies, please

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I’m amazed at how far reaching and complex the City of Nelson’s affairs have become.

The strain on our dedicated council must be enormous. Over the years, especially recent years, the number of issues piled on the city has become vast.

From renewable energy, greenhouse gasses, and low-cost housing to health care and business development, the list is huge and keeps growing. But when I think about why residents created the city way back in 1897, their common concerns were administrating a water system, street and sidewalk maintenance, fire hall and not much more.

Other improvements were added like Nelson Hydro, street lights and a sewer system but there were nowhere near the number of issues then that are now before council and the administration.

Some of the issues coming before council seem outside the common concerns of Nelson residents and therefore a waste of council’s time.

But many issues not only are a waste of council’s time, they cost city residents money because they are referred for study by outside consultants.

Last year councillor Bob Adams wrote about the number of studies the city had commissioned over the last five years. The total was nine.

I was surprised at that number and then really surprised when I looked at what was being studied. The cost of nine studies when city staff time is accounted for would be millions. When looking at the subjects of the studies I wondered what relevance they had for city residents.

I worked through the water system study whose main recommendation was to spend millions of dollars placing water meters on all homes and businesses. What benefit would come to the residents from spending millions on water meters when we’re not short of water?

Why would residents wish to restrict their water supply or charge themselves more for a system they long ago built and paid for?

After the money was spent on all the studies did city residents receive any benefit from this expenditure? I don’t see one.

When the city is spending everyone’s money there should be a direct and visible benefit to everyone, not just a few people. Expenditures should only be on items that benefit everyone like water and sewer, streets and sidewalks, hydro and fire service.

Expenditures on studies and projects that do not benefit every resident shouldn’t be made.

If the city limited their expenditures only to those things that directly benefit every resident and dropped all the studies and projects that have little or no benefit, their work load and the administration’s would be greatly reduced and they could at the same time reduce the financial burden on residents.

Stu McDonald


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