City Releases “What We Heard” About the 2016-2018 Budget Consultation Process

In plotting how to spend our money in the next 3 years, the city invited the public to learn about budget allocations, and weigh in on what was important to them for 2016-2018 budget. Here's what participants said.

In plotting how to spend our money in the next 3 years, the city invited the public to learn about budget allocations, and weigh in on what was important to them for 2016-2018 budget, via the interactive website: http://engagestjohns.ca/Budget-2016-18, which let citizens take a quick poll, post a question, or join a discussion group.

“Our goal was to inform and educate the public about the budgeting process,” says Danny Breen, Chair of the Finance and Administration Standing Committee.“By providing online tools and a series of in-person events, we tried to make it as easy as possible for people to participate.”

Some Results of the Report …

Top Priorities:
– Roads and Transportation (less potholes; solid snowclearing, etc.); people are baffled by the pothole problems on our streets, and the constant construction, an asking if there isn’t a better method/process/material for fixing them.
– Development and maintenance of Recreation & Parks
– Community Development

Neighbourhoods: Planning and Development
People want a focus on building better neighbourhoods; neighbourhoods with a self-sufficiency in amenities (food, drink, culture), and more green spaces and recreation facilities. Neighbourhoods that are inclusive, with affordable housing for everyone. As for downtown — people want better planning and infrastructure, and the maintenance of street front heritage.

Collaboration and Communication
We want more synergy between the people and the powers that be, and between the powers that be. Meaning more partnership development between the community and public/private sectors, and a continued engagement like the Engage St. John’s website is providing.

Transportation and Accessibility
People want public transportation that’s both easier to use, and accessible to everyone, as well as accessible sidewalks, roads, and parking areas in all seasons.

Demographics: Attraction and Retention
“Our changing demographic should be considered,” meaning that we have an aging population, so to retain our youth, the city needs to be welcoming to younger demographics, in terms of attractions, job availability and diversity, etc.

There is sentiment we ought to attract and accommodate residents by investing in “affordable housing; things to see and do; neighbourhood engagement; community services for low income residents; partnerships with local businesses.”

Identify New Revenue Sources
Lastly, there is a sentiment we need to identify new revenue resources. It was also suggested we modify spending instead of “cutting across the board,” communicate that additional services may mean higher taxes, and that we “examine operating costs of current and future programs and services.”

Other suggestions: seek sponsorships for recreation facilities, save money by doing things in more innovative ways; launch a composting pilot program.

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