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Blais, Cumberland Ward get large chunk of budget dollars

It's hard to believe that just two years ago Stephen Blais was fighting for his life after suffering a massive heart attack.

The incident happened in early January, 2013. It would take four months before the Cumberland Ward representative was well enough to return to city council. In the 21 months since then, Blais has accomplished what most of his colleagues can only dream about.

He has been especially busy during the last five months as evident by all the goodies he received in the recently released draft budget. Of $30.6 million dedicated for asset renewal and growth projects in the east end, $9.5 million is going to projects in Cumberland Ward, or roughly 30 per cent. The number is even more impressive when you take into consideration the $30.6 million figure includes $15.87 million to extend Brian Coburn Blvd. from Mer Bleue Road to Navan Road, a project that was approved more than five ago.

Take out the roughly $15.9 million and you are left with $14.7 million, of which Cumberland's share is nearly 66 per cent.

Among the many projects slated for Ward 19 are improvements to a number of bridges and culverts in the rural part of the ward; intersection improvements at Brian Coburn Blvd. and Aquaview Drive, and Portobello Blvd. and Valin Street; $410,000 for the Avalon Recreation Parkway; and a $4.5 million expansion of the Francois Dupuis Recreation Centre.

But Blais' crowning achievement from his first term in office is the future expansion of Millennium Park, for which $8 million has been set aside. Blais somehow managed to convince several east end developers to repay $6 million of the expenditure, leaving taxpayers with only 25 per cent of the bill. Not bad for someone who was knocking on death's door just two short years ago.

Elsewhere in the east end, Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette hasn't done bad either. The veteran city councillor will see $2.4 million spent in his ward, and that's not including the funding to complete the Trim Road widening and the widening ot St. Joseph Blvd. between the Hwy. 174 eastbound on-ramp and Dairy Road.

Among the big ticket items earmarked for Ward 1 are improved access and parking for Cardinal Creek Park 18A; $776,000 for lifecycle maintenance to the Ray Friel Centre; and $740,000 for lighting and pathways for three area parks.

As well as Cumberland Ward and Orléans Ward have fared in the draft budget, Innes Ward seems to have been completely forgotten. Of the $14.7 million earmarked for asset renewal and growth related projects in the east end, only $342,000 will be spent in Innes Ward -- $92,000 for lifecycle repairs to the Blair Road fire station and $250,000 to study erosion along mud creek. (I'm not including the $14.87 million for the Brian Coburn Blvd. because as stated earlier, it was approved years ago and benefits Cumberland Ward just as much if not more than Innes.)

Rookie councillor Jody Mitic will have his work cut out for him over the next three months as he tries to get a piece of the $34 million that has been set aside in the budget for strategic initiatives, which is code for projects not already spelled out in the draft document.

Some of the items on the Ward's wish list are traffic mitigation measures for Forest Valley Drive in Chapel Hill, Viseneau Drive in Chateauneuf, and Renaud Road next to Bradley Estates. Parents at Chapel Hill Catholic School are also hoping for some money to help pay for a new playstructure.

The only problem is that Mitic won't be the only councillor looking for a chunk of the $34 million. In fact, they're already starting to line up at the Mayor's door.

For Innes Ward to get its fair share, Mitic will need a little help from his eastern bloc buddies, Monette and Blais, both have already shown they can get the job done for their own constituents. Here's hoping they can do the same for the residents of Innes Ward. I have a sneaking suspicion there will be something in there for them, the question is how much?

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

 

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