Business: We’ve Dug Our Own Infrastructure Grave

By January 28, 2013Business News

By Mike Archer. In a column in the January edition of Business Fraser Valley Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce President Patrick Giesbrecht makes the point that investment in key infrastructure is a must if we are to take advantage of, what could be, some great opportunities over the next decade.

Listing the main pieces of our economic puzzle as the airport, the regional hospital and the University of the Fraser Valley, Giesbrecht makes the point that, without investment in our water and sewer infrastructure we won’t be able to take advantage of the big ticket items in which we’ve invested so much.

Giebrecht holds out the hope, much like Councillor Dave Loewen did with his attempt a couple of weeks ago to develop some grass roots support on Twitter, that the Harper government or a new BC government can be relied on to change the taxation rules so that other levels of taxpayer-supported government take the hit for the infrastructure problems of municipalities.

I don’t think there is much hope of either level of government giving up billions of dollars in tax revenue to municipalities, especially when, in most cases, it is their own fault municipalities are in the mess they are in.

Chamber President Patrick Giesbrecht

Chamber President Patrick Giesbrecht

In fact, Abbotsford is the poster child for the inexcusable waste of taxpayers’ money on vanity projects while ignoring its ageing and decrepit infrastructure. The City has known for 20 years that its water and sewer pipes will not support the economic growth its politicians have been promising.

Those same politicians figured it would be better to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on hockey arenas, hockey teams, golf courses, friendship gardens … any and all manner of things other than water, sewer and roads.

It is going to be hard to convince Ed Fast his boss is responsible for the stupid decisions of unqualified people at the local level who have been deferring infrastructure upgrades for almost two decades. Besides, with Harper’s apparent attitude towards giving money to municipalities, it is not likely to figure anywhere on his to do list.

Giesbrecht is correct in that it will be interesting to read the results of the Mayor’s Task Force on our economic situation. If that process has one flaw it is a big one – the people writing the report are, for the most part, the people who made all the mistakes which got us in this mess.

Unless they come up with something better than asking the federal or provincial governments to bail us out in a shrinking economy and worsening tax revenue environment it will have been a waste of time and money. We got our selves in this mess and we’re going to have get ourselves out.

The only important question is whether or not we have the people in place to make the tough but necessary decisions to turn the ship around.

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