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LETTER: Tired of the mayor’s call for a ‘debt-free’ city

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Dear Editor:

I’m growing tired of Mayor Mike Bradley’s call for a debt-free city and to be patient until we can expect our city to be focused on being a place worth raising a family in.

A “debt free” city is just smoke and mirrors. This mayor has been using this language for years to get a feather in his cap and create a legacy. Still, it comes with the cost of failing infrastructure and being decades behind in our amenities and quality of life.

Debt for cities is vastly different from debt for individuals, and the mayor appears to confuse the two in the media to keep us all thinking he’s doing something of value by delaying and avoiding doing the things this city desperately needs.

He is treating this year’s budget of $171,667,548 as if the city is an individual trying to pay off a mortgage before retirement. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

The city is only $7 million in debt, but we have $41 million in cash reserves. We are already debt-free at any given point in time, but he continues to dangle the carrot because he doesn’t understand how large corporations do accounting.

It’s called a balance sheet and the city’s balance sheet is solid; we are more than ready to start building.

For example, every city in Canada of our size and larger has one or more indoor recreation centre. In Sarnia, we have been wrongly captured by a “debt-free city” narrative that doesn’t allow us to even consider solid financial strategy to make the city better for all.

Four years ago, I brought this to city council with thousands in support, and I feel the mayor is still trying to delay moving this forward. He will drown out this project’s progress by asking for more reports and consultants and offering stern warnings that we won’t be debt free if we plan to do this.

I wish we had a mayor that cared more about the citizens and their quality of life than a newspaper headline and manufactured legacy for his success.

How about we build a city where our grandkids don’t want to leave instead? 

Nathan Colquhoun


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