Lake Country sets funding strategy for Transportation For Tomorrow Plan

Combination parcel tax in 2016 plus tax hikes of not more than 1.83 per cent beginning in 2017 to fund $30 million backlog

Lake Country council has given funding approval to its 20-year Transportation for Tomorrow infrastructure plan and has opted for a combination of an ongoing parcel tax, which will begin in 2016, as well as annual tax increases beginning in 2017 in order to raise the necessary funds for the plan.

After two months of reviewing and discussing funding options, council voted to implement the funding model starting in 2016. Lake Country residents will be charged a $125 parcel tax for the next 20 years beginning next year. Then, beginning in 2017, a maximum 1.83 per cent property tax will be added, helping the district raise about $1.5 million each year to go towards road improvements.

There will also be $350,000 each year allocated to the plan from the federal government’s gas tax allowance.

“Providing safe and enjoyable ways of getting around Lake Country is the Transportation for Tomorrow vision,” said Mayor James Baker. “After learning about the status of the 200 plus kilometres of roads in Lake Country we saw a presentation from the specialist transportation consultant in October, and then had some lively debate over a few evenings on the various funding options that were put forward. We worked hard to balance the need to catch up on the $30 million backlog and secure our future while carefully considering the costs for our citizens.”

The Transportation for Tomorrow plan is the district’s solution for the implementation and sustainability of some 200 kilometres of roads in the district, most of which are in need of some sort of repair.

The document focuses on roadway infrastructure and its importance for not only vehicles but pedestrians, cyclists, accessibility and transit users alike. Crafting the plan began in 2012 and included a public engagement process in 2013.The plan addresses three categories that are key to keeping our roads serviceable.

1) Maintenance: Required to ensure they are safe and passable.

2) Renewal.

3) Improvements to provide safe alternatives to cars.

Lake Country says the funding process will be transparent so taxpayers can see the amount dedicated to roads and transportation infrastructure year over year as a line item in the tax notice, and see meaningful improvements on road condition and transportation updates in the community.

Lake Country Director of Infrastructure Services, Greg Bucholz added that service standards are tailored specifically to meet the needs of Lake Country and the  unique community character and values of the district is taken into account in the plan.

Roads, he added, are critical since they connect people to family and friends, schools, places of work, amenities and services.

“In this year’s community survey, and in recent public input on developing a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, we’ve heard people say they want safe places to walk and ride,” said Buchholz. “Road condition and maintenance was recognized by those that did the survey as the single most important transportation issue in Lake Country. Real long term solutions can only come from a committed and cooperative effort by informed citizens and the district.  Timely decisions needed to be made and priorities set.”

Find out more, read the reports, and see the public outreach videos and ads on the Transportation for Tomorrow section of the District website.

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Meanwhile budget deliberations continue in Lake Country as the district is looking at a proposed 2.85 per cent tax hike in its 2016 budget, on top of the Transportation for Tomorrow funding plan.

Lake Country council met Tuesday and has scheduled a few other meetings on the 2016 budget as council will meet Jan. 12 at 4:40 and Jan. 14 at 4:30 if necessary.

These meetings are held in the council chambers at municipal hall (10150 Bottom Wood Lake Road) and are open to the public. Agendas will be posted by the end of the week prior to each meeting.