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PoCo ponders options for budget surplus

PoCo city council is considering options for its budget surplus - TRI-city newS FILE PHOTO
PoCo city council is considering options for its budget surplus
— image credit: TRI-city newS FILE PHOTO

Dog owners in downtown Port Coquitlam could soon have a new place to play with their pooches if city council decides to use some of a budget surplus for an off-leash park.

Barry Becker, the city’s director of parks and recreation, told The Tri-City News that $22,250 is needed for clearing a piece of parkland at the corner of Bury Avenue and Maple Street, erecting fencing, signs and other site elements. If the measure is approved (the city’s finance and intergovernmental committee meeting was held Thursday night, after The News’ deadline), public consultations could begin in the coming months.

“This will provide another option for all those people in the downtown area,” Becker said. “As we normally do, we would want to engage the local residents to find out what their needs are.”

The small clearing of city land was identified eight months ago as a priority area for an off-leash dog park. With so many high-density developments without yards in the surrounding neighbourhood, Becker said it is important for homeowners to have a place to exercise and socialize their animals.

But the off-leash park is not the only item council will consider paying for with a budget surplus.

Of the $764,000 left over in 2010, Port Coquitlam previously approved $442,000 in reserve contributions to help with future infrastructure needs. Grants to the PoCoMo Youth Society and Homes for Good Society as well as $25,000 for communication services were also approved earlier in the year. That leaves $279,500, and staff have recommended spending the money on a list of initiatives.

An events storage facility is being considered at a cost of $69,700 and the city is expected to provide $10,000 to start the Port Coquitlam Community Foundation; the foundation would be a registered charity to provide donation opportunities for residents and local businesses.

Another $12,000 is being considered for the purchase of 14 Apple iPads, which would be used by council and staff to display meeting agendas and notes. According to a staff report, the technology would reduce the city’s $17,600 annual paper cost, paying for the iPads in the first year.

A live burn building, which would be used by PoCo Fire and Rescue for training, is the largest expense being considered at a cost of $165,000. The three-storey structure, according to deputy chief Alan Nicholson, would create real-world firefighting experiences.

Mindy Smith, PoCo’s director of corporate services, said city departments do a good job of staying within their approved budgets. She added that budget surpluses are mainly used to pay for one-time items.  “We always make sure to come in under budget but a lot of it depends on things like snow fall, vacancy rates and how well our development cost charges are doing.”

 

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

 

 

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