City capital plan lets us look into the future

The City of Chilliwack plans to spend millions of your dollars over the next decade. Do you want to know how?

The City of Chilliwack’s intent to further expand its police service should not come as a surprise.

Given the level of property crime in the community, and the strong support shown by the public in the city’s own survey, the addition of five more RCMP officers in 2018 is a logical step.

But it would be a mistake to think that’s the only thing the City will be spending money on next year.

Although policing accounts for nearly a third of the City’s budget, your tax dollars will be paying for a lot more.

Read: Chilliwack budget continues to prioritize public safety

It’s worth taking a look. Because while we all like to complain about where our money’s going, we’re often less inclined to find out the route it’s taking.

The city makes it easy for us. Every year finance staff prepare a capital plan that details the city’s funding priorities over the next decade. True, those priorities may change between now and 2027, but they do offer a window on the direction we’re headed.

For example, motorists in the city’s south end will be relieved to see some help coming for the perennial bottleneck at Promontory and Chilliwack River Road. The City has budgeted $2.7 million this year and $2.9 in 2019 to improve the busy corridor.

That’s not the only place money is being spent. The City is allocating a total of $32.5 million for road and capacity improvements next year alone – the largest one-year expenditure expected over the next decade.

And it won’t just be motorists who see the improvements. Another $6 million will be spent on cycling infrastructure – projects like the Sardis Rail Trail, and the Rail Trail North.

City parks will also see an investment, the biggest coming at Watson Glen Park where a third ice sheet will be added to Twin Rinks ($10 million), and the tennis courts will be rebuilt ($386,000).

Money is also being set aside for trail and park acquisition, irrigation and upgrades.

Some expenditures, like the “waste activated sludge thickener” for the sewage plant, may not hit everyone’s highlight list. But that’s the way budgets go. Finite funds mean finite choices.

Learning what those choices are gives us a peek at what our community may look like a decade from now.

~ Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress

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