Charlottetown doubles capital budget to ramp up pandemic recovery

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Jason Coady, the chair of the City of Charlottetown's finance committee, says the capital budget is designed to get projects done while boosting the local economy after a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Jason Coady, the chair of the City of Charlottetown's finance committee, says the capital budget is designed to get projects done while boosting the local economy after a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Expect a lot of city-sponsored construction around Charlottetown in the coming year, because on Wednesday council voted 9-1 to approve an extra-large capital budget.

Bob Doiron was the lone councillor to vote against it, saying he "had one outstanding issue" but giving no detail.

The budget had been scheduled for a vote Monday, but was delayed when councillors expressed some concern that numbers were not what they expected them to be, a confusion that has since been sorted out.

Total spending in the budget is $68.6 million, more than double the $31.6 million approved for 2020-21.

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the increase is meant to stimulate an economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is a big capital budget for a small city," said Brown.

The price tag for the new Simmons pool and arena is $15 million, according to the City of Charlottetown's capital budget for 2022-23.
The price tag for the new Simmons pool and arena is $15 million, according to the City of Charlottetown's capital budget for 2022-23.()

"The city, like the province and the feds, are trying to put money back into infrastructure to get the economy moving. And that's how I'm looking at this budget."

A lot of that budget can be chalked up to a large increase in partner funding, mostly from the federal and provincial governments. Spending from the city itself, however, comes close to doubling, growing from $26 million to $49.9 million.

"We're trying to keep people busy, trying to keep the economy going, keep people working," said finance committee chair Coun. Jason Coady.

"So I think the timing is good for the city to move ahead with these projects."

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown is all smiles over the 2021-22 capital budget.
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown is all smiles over the 2021-22 capital budget. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Coady added of the cash from the other levels of government: "Some of this funding is time sensitive, and we certainly want to get our application in and be considered."

The biggest items in the budget are not surprises but long-discussed projects, as well as improvements to facilities for the 2023 Canada Games.

  • $2.2 million to be invested in the Bell Aliant Centre, including improvements for the 2023 Canada Games.

  • $1.5 million for upgrades at the Eastlink Centre, also including Canada Games improvements.

There are a number of other significant budget items spread around different departments, including $1.92 million for an aerial ladder truck for the fire department, $1.6 million for work at Wright's Creek Bridge, and $900,000 for improvements to the Victoria Park shoreline.

Charlottetown's 2021-22 capital budget includes $1.5 million for upgrades at the Eastlink Centre, partly to make improvements for the 2023 Canada Games.
Charlottetown's 2021-22 capital budget includes $1.5 million for upgrades at the Eastlink Centre, partly to make improvements for the 2023 Canada Games. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

As well, the city is undertaking a $7.5-million project to improve the energy efficiency of municipal buildings.The budget for sidewalks and pathways more than doubles to $2.8 million, including new multi-purpose trails along Capital Drive and Grafton Street leading to the Hillsborough Bridge.

The street work budget is up about 30 per cent to $5.9 million, and includes a $500,000 intersection upgrade at Ken's Corner.

The capital budget also includes spending for the water and sewer utility, but the cost of capital projects there is down over last year.

Total costs for 2021-22 will be $11.6 million, with $4.2 million coming from city sources.

"Labour will be an issue," Brown acknowledged Wednesday.

The city will spend almost $1 million on upgrades to the Victoria Park shoreline.
The city will spend almost $1 million on upgrades to the Victoria Park shoreline.(John Robertson/CBC)

"It's not only an issue for public projects; it's an issue for private projects. So we're one more group in the queue, to get those supports from labour and get the best prices for our materials.

"But waiting and waiting for something to ease down or soften in prices, we could be waiting for some time."

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