Regina mayor says city needs homeowners to pay for new sidewalks

February 26, 2014 - 11:51am Updated: February 27, 2014 - 7:13am
Regina city councillor Michael Fougere announced that he will run for Mayor in 2012. Photo by News Talk Radio's Natalie Geddes
Regina city councillor Michael Fougere announced that he will run for Mayor in 2012. Photo by News Talk Radio's Natalie Geddes

Regina's mayor inists there's simply no other option for fixing sidewalks in some residential areas but to have homeowners pay for most of the work.

Homeowners on Grant Drive in Regina are up in arms after receiving a letter from the City asking them to pay a portion of proposed construction on their street as part of the city's Local Improvement Program. That means the city pays to fix the road, but homeowners pay the bulk of the cost for rebuilding sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. Mayor Michael Fougere says he understands the concerns, but he's adamant it's the only option.

"Yes, there's some who like it and some who don't. And I can understand why people would say, 'I pay taxes and why should I pay for more for this?' On the other hand, this does fix an awful lot of the street."

One resident on the street said his assessment for the work was $7,564.38 in a lump sum. The other option is to pay it over ten years at a 6.57 per cent interest rate, bringing the total cost to $10,557.

The City of Regina said that interest rate is an average of personal lending rate from five major banks. But Fougere acknowledged that it is a high number.

"It is high, but that's the format that we use. And if (residents) were to get a personal loan for themselves, even a commercial loan, it would be that high or higher."

Fougere said 6.57 per cent is likely close to the rate the City of Regina would get.

"We're trying to do the best we can, to make it as affordable as we can do it."

According to Fougere, the Local Improvement Program has been used by many people to get work done on their street. Because, in many cases, they either use the program or the work simply doesn't get done.

"This is the way City Council is saying this is the best way to fix your street, given the heavy amount of work that needs to be done."

Grant Drive has been in need of repairs for several years but if the homeowners really don't want to pay for the work to be done, Fougere said all they have to do is put together a petition with enough residents to have the decision overturned.

The City of Saskatoon did away with their Local Improvement Program a few years ago. Funds for sidewalk repairs are now being tied to the mill rate and road levy was approved this year. Fougere, however, said they're not considering getting rid of LIP at this time.

"If this program proved to be cumbersome or not being used we might look at an alternative. But this, for the moment, is one tool in the toolbox to use to fix these streets."