Jesse Kline has written an interesting piece in the Post this morning, calling into question the foolishness in many municipal expenses in Canada. Kline makes the link between bizarre and outlandish spending and the continuous search for larger revenue and increasing taxes. In other words, the greater the number of silly but highly expensive public projects, the more need for cash to pay for essential services there will be.
Kline cites examples like the $60K urinal in Victoria, and the undeterminedly pricey airport tunnel as well as the $25-million so-called peace bridge in Calgary. Typically, supporters attempt to justify these with reasons as foolish as the expenses.
For its part, the City of Calgary says its investment is well worth the money, because the bridge will attract tourists. Right, because I was going to take my Christmas vacation in Vegas, but I decided a nice stroll over a bright red bridge in -40° weather was a better idea.
The problem of the continuous search for more and more municipal revenue could at least be attenuated by a more prudent approach to public spending at city halls.
Canadian mayors drive taxes up with their staple search for ways to beautify cities and attract tourists, choosing quests as ephemeral as Montreal’s Mayor Bourque spending millions on flowers each year to commissioning projects of questionable permanence like mayor Drapeau’s Big-O.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to good aesthetic levels but we have to wonder about state imposed beauty, chosen and commissioned by committees of politicians and public servants. Instead, Klein calls for a return to simple basics:
Governments should focus on properly managing our money. And if they are going to use much-needed infrastructure money to make the city look nicer, planting trees would be a much cheaper solution.
Cheaper…, and greener.