‘Aggressive’ capital spending plan unveiled at Sarnia City Hall

The Rapids Parkway & Sandpiper Drive looking south toward Highway 402 (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

Staff at Sarnia City Hall have put forward an ambitious draft capital budget for 2021.

CAO Chris Carter told a special strategic planning meeting of council Monday that they’re proposing spending an additional $16 million for some major projects.

“We are proposing to spend approximately $61 million compared to last year’s budget of about $45 million,” said Carter. “That shows the great work that council and staff have been working towards and some of the tough decisions that we’ve made to date in order to fulfill our goal of looking after our assets and spending capital funds within the city limits.”

Acting City Treasurer Holly Reynolds said the budget includes funding for the long-planned extension of The Rapids Parkway from Sandpiper Drive to Exmouth Street under Highway 402.

“This is a project that has been planned since the mid-90s and is a $9 million project funded through development charges and the city’s own reserves.”

Other major projects include a redesigned downtown transit terminal, replacement of the Colborne Road fire station, a new roof and an accessible gender-neutral dressing room for Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

Sarnia Arena will get accessibility upgrades in the stands and numerous parks will receive equipment upgrades.

Mayor Mike Bradley said the spending plan is a total reinvestment in the community.

“It’s our largest ever reinvestment of this nature, at the same time without taking on debt. There’s over 30 million going to roads and bridges and sidewalks, separating sewers throughout the community. There’s 11 million going to community enhancements, money to transit, and at the same time we’re reinvesting in economic development, technology and emergency response,” he said.

Council was told there’s also $2.4 million in reserve funding on top of the $61 million draft capital budget. Sarnia police capital requests are not yet included.

City council’s budget deliberations are set for December 1.

-With files from Colin Gowdy