Budget night

good morning TwoVille,

It was an epic 8 hour budget meeting last night, a culmination of many weeks of hard work and dedication by Staff and council. I want to congratulate all for the quality of the dialogue and for the outcome last night.

Our taxes went up more than some wanted….. but we are still very much in line with other communities our size, and I am confident that residents will come to appreciate the value that they are getting for the tax contributions. It’s a community based, value based budget that addresses important issues like transit, housing, sustainability, safety, including items added last night that will benefit those of us who need support the most.

Here are some notes I made to present last night about affordable housing, and it outlines what I’ve been hearing from Ward 2 about what their priorities are. Thanks to all for your input… keep it coming:

James

Affordable Housing

Keeping a healthy reserve for affordable housing is HEALTHY for our whole community…. Can we justify this expense? I think we CAN because it is NOT an expense… it’s an investment in the well-being of our community. As many of the informed, articulate delegates who spoke about this issue last month said-  during the municipal election 10 of the 13 of us around this horseshoe identified affordable housing as a top priority for this new council. That commitment by those ten did not come from their own personal opinions, it came from canvassing our neighbourhoods, from listening to our electorate, from hearing the compelling stories of those who struggle to have their basic needs met. An investment in affordable accessible housing, especially in my view SOCIAL housing, now, will pay for itself quickly in reduced health care costs, reduced crime, increased security and safety, and it will allow more people, once housed in a way that gives them a sense of self-esteem, sustainability and equality, to CONTRIBUTE to our community as taxpayers and engaged citizens.

There are those here who STILL will say we can’t afford this, and I would suggest that there are compelling arguments that suggest we cannot afford NOT to do this. Some say this is more a provincial and county matter, but I’d like to remind us all that fiscally this city is sound, and that when other levels of government fail in meeting the needs of our residents, we have a responsibility to step up. For those who say this might result in a small tax hike, I believe that our citizens are looking for a community-focused budget that leaves no one behind, that is inclusive, innovative, and visionary. I believe that our enlightened populace expects us to be fiscally responsible, AND that they also understand the VALUE that they get for their tax dollars, and that with some of the community-minded amendments we are seeing tonight, we will still be in line with other cities our size in this province.

I believe that a majority of Guelphites want us to make sure that our fiscal policies are aimed at our quality of life, not at an artificial bottom line that only helps those who need help the LEAST. They want to know that our budget is aimed also at those most at-risk neighbourhoods that need help the MOST… that we are addressing the widening gap between the wealthiest and the poorest of us. When that gap is too great, NONE of us thrive. Addressing affordable housing is a do-able positive step in addressing that gap. We can send a strong signal  that we are pro-actively addressing an area that we have fallen sadly behind in, in a city that IS for the most part prospering. Please, let us be be bold, let us be responsible, and let us keep the commitment we have made to keep housing as a priority by supporting this amendment.

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