For 2018, the City of Lachute’s budget has two recurring themes: long-term vision and quality of life.
As with many cities its age, Lachute is dealing with many infrastructure issues while looking to carve a nice, cozy place for itself in the future. Age does come with a silver lining, however. Lachute has many beautiful, historic buildings that are waiting for a new role in the modern world.
Lachute’s 2018 budget is $ 22,699,700, representing an increase of $ 559,800 over 2017.
Investments have been split into four categories: water treatment improvement, winter-related operations (like snow removal), infrastructure sustainability and assets maintenance and, finally, long-term strategic planning and investments.
The taxes for 2018 are a tad higher than 2017 following a 4.5% increase for the City of Lachute’s residents.
To better understand the increase in terms of dollars, we must first know the average value of a Lachute residence, which is $ 195,000. Taxes on such an amount will be $ 2,276 for 2018, which translates to a hike of $ 98 per year.
This 4.5% can be broken down, further explaining the origins of the tax increase.
3.9% out of 4.5% is related to city-related increases and residential value, with the remaining 0.6% representing an anticipated increase in the cost of policing costs. Obviously, the increase varies based on the nature of the property, with different rates for industrial and commercial.
The City of Lachute’s General Manager, Benoît Gravel, expands on the 2018 budget’s major investment categories.
In regards to the city’s water treatment improvements, Gravel had this to say:
“Lachute has episodic, coloured-water issues due to small iron and manganese deposits caused by groundwater migration. It’s no secret among residents. We’re putting precautions in place to try and limit this as much as possible. It’s nothing dangerous.”
According to Gravel, improving the water treatment system will cost approximately $4 million, representing a major, one-shot investment.
Luckily, Lachute also increased its snow removal budget for 2018, investing a total of $ 1,211,800 for the season (a $101,300 increase over 2017).
“We were lucky, in a sense,” said Gravel.
“We had planned a bigger budget for snow removal. Good thing, too, with the winter we had. We would’ve been over budget without that increase.”
Gravel stated that most of that budget is dedicated to the actual removal of snow.
“That’s the part that takes time. This year, we had three snowblowers instead of just one.”
Lachute will also be investing a great deal in its infrastructure, bringing key, outdated pieces of it up to current standards.
Phase one of the large-scale revamp is priced at $ 5,696,000 and includes Barron Avenue as well as Elizabeth and Robert Street.
“It’s not just about traffic circulation; it’s about the whole infrastructure. The Ministry has very strict regulations concerning the overflow of water into our rivers. We’re not allowed to increase this overflow. Additionally, we need to limit the volume of water we send to the wastewater treatment plant, allowing for further urban development.”
According to Gravel, Robert Street is a good example since its infrastructure currently combines wastewater and rainwater, making it difficult to manage. The work planned for 2018 aims at separating the two, sending rainwater to the river and wastewater to the treatment plant.
“This represents an $8-million investment over two years,” said Gravel, adding that “many other streets need this type of improvement.”
Regarding roads, another $ 1,508,000 has been set aside for additional paving and infrastructure-related work within the city. Rural roads and culverts have been allocated a $ 1,008,000 budget and, last but not least, Lachute will be investing $350,000 in its parks as well as bike trails.
The City of Lachute has quite a few interesting things in store for the future.
First off, 2018 will see a $ 4,161,300 investment in the new library, which will find a new home in the old United Church, a massive historical building on Rue Principale, near City Hall.
Big things are also heading toward Tricentris Industrial Park, starting with a name change.
“The new name is Synercité. It was recently adopted,” said Gravel.
“The park is known for Tricentris, a non-profit recycling sorting centre that serves approximately 200 municipalities. They have three sorting centres in Québec, but their head office is here, in Lachute. Our goal is to build a new park around the existing centre with industrial and knowledge synergy as a priority. The main purpose will be the transformation of recycled material.”
Gravel also stated that, ideally, the new industrial park would be transportation-free, increasing its focus on sustainable development.
“Currently, we’re evaluating the infrastructure plans. This year, we’d like to open part of a new road and start building new enterprises. We’ll be showcasing the project at Québec’s Salon des technologies environnementales in a few weeks.”
Finally, 2018 will mark Lachute’s first ever long-term strategic plan, determining where the city is going and how it plans on getting there.
For Gravel, the first step is learning what citizens desire in terms of development.
“We want to know what direction they wish to see us take, what their priorities are. The next step will be establishing a vision alongside our partners.”
Anyone interested in a detailed breakdown may visit the City of Lachute’s website, where a comprehensive version of the 2018 budget can be found: http://www.ville.lachute.qc.ca/citoyens/finances-municipales/budget-rapports/.