As our municipality votes this weekend I share a letter that was written for social media in response to sometimes heated debates about municipal debt and infrastructure spending.
The essence of this letter was printed in our local paper and was well received by those that value a strong community. Fingers are crossed for a positive outcome for the election and the community.
“Municipal politics, infrastructure and debt are more complex than many suggest.
Municipal governments aim to create strong, safe, vibrant communities with limited resources.
Chelsea infrastructure is financed by residents but also from other sources – higher levels of government that see benefits of developing community infrastructure like community centres and municipal waterworks.
The Meredith Centre (our new community centre) received funding from higher levels of government. Residents also contribute. The Meredith Centre now hosts Chelsea Forest School, Chelsea Nordiq Ski Club, Unigym gymnastics, family fun nights as well as hockey and beneficial social services. Even if people choose not to use the services offered at the centre it adds to the strength of the community by making Chelsea attractive to the kinds of people who make good neighbours.
The centre village waterworks project helps produce a vibrant centre core village. How? It allows businesses to exist without individually investing in very expensive commercial grade septic systems. It keeps the dense village core clean and safe. The risk of faulty septic fields and polluted wells is lower. A vibrant village attracts desirable businesses for residents and visitors. Remember Gerry and Isobel’s café? They closed. One of the big reasons was they faced very expensive septic solutions. A loved business is gone.
I hear people say “I don’t use the Meredith Centre (or the village core waterworks.) I don’t want to pay for it through my taxes.” Municipal infrastructure benefits us all – directly or indirectly. Those that choose not to directly use these expensive capital investments benefit by being part of a desirable community that attracts people we enjoy living beside.
As some say “I don’t want to use or pay for the Meredith Centre,” you could say “I don’t want to pay for the roads I don’t use,“
“I don’t want to pay for schools because I don’t have children,”
“I don’t want to pay for the TCO bus service – I drive a car.”
All of these services affect everyone in the community. I appreciate that people have roads, schools, bus service, firefighters, police services, options for social services and active play – even if I don’t directly benefit from each service… it makes my community stronger.
I want a council that recognizes and understands the complexities of municipal level politics, infrastructure, finances and the social needs of a diverse community.
We live in a well sought after community. When I moved here in 1996 some people thought I was crazy. Now people tell me how lucky I am to live in Chelsea.
Should we be worried about our Chelsea taxes and the net debt that Chelsea residents are responsible for? We should always be diligent and ask questions of our governments. But compare our municipal debt and taxes to Canadian debt and Ottawa property taxes.
We’re ok… we’re better than ok!