Council withholds budget, hints at 'big changes'

Tuesday, December 10, 2013   by: Jamie Lyle

City residents packed council chambers on Monday evening regarding the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project. A number of presentations were made to council concerning the risk to Drinking Water with the Pipeline Conversion.

Despite blizzard like conditions, City chambers heated up with political fury during Monday evening's regular Council meeting.

After a marathon two hour in camera session, ending well after11:00 pm, councillors came forward to report that they were unable to vote on the motion to pass the operating budget at this time.

Instead, council will send the matter to committee and will vote on the issue in early January of 2014.

Although council originally planned on setting the final budget for December 9th, a number of city residents came to council to express their opinions, at least those that could make it through all the snow.

The evening's presentations were mostly from various individuals and groups, who expressed their concerns regarding the Energy East Pipeline Project, which is gearing up to ship bitumen from the Tar Sands to Eastern Canada and to the United States.

While presenters brought forward the gift of education, others had personal stories and antidotes to tell, as well as signed petitions to formalize their concerns to council and to representatives of TransCanada, the pipeline's operator, who attended the meeting.

In addition, the North Bay Taxpayer's Association made a presentation concerning the high costs that the city incurs when it comes to purchasing services for the citizens of North Bay, citing cost runs in departments and singled out fire services as the most costly in Ontario for communities of similar size.

Don Rennick of the Taxpayer's Association also requested that council not pass the budget and, instead, wait for the 2013 associations, boards and committees to finalize their numbers so that a more accurate and transparent budgetary system can be implemented in the new year, when a more complete picture of costs and services can be shown.

On a rather mysterious note, Council also informed the press that Tuesday morning would see another news conference regarding big changes at council, with little to no information currently available.

Monday night also saw a few presentations cancelled due to time restrictions and weather conditions, with reports regarding this year's Summer in the Park and Heritage North Bay.

Amidst all the excitement, Council did pass the removal of five 4-way stops around the city, most notably the one at Main Street and Nipissing.

For further details on some of these stories, check back soon to BAYTODAY.CA.

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