Local business questions city spending

EDMONTON- A local business in south Edmonton is fed up with the way tax dollars are being spent, and is calling on the city to do something about it.

Top Shelf Closets and Glass- located at 97th Street and 63rd Avenue- received a survey from the city a couple of weeks ago, asking for input on creating a graffiti bridge on Argyll Road.

A company spokesperson says considering the deteriorating state of area roadways, the business is upset with the way the city is choosing to spend money.

“How much does this cost taxpayers? And why aren’t they focusing on things that are really important to the city like fixing the roads,” said Shannon Sutherland.

As a result, Top Shelf has started a petition, calling on the city to repair area roads.

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“We just didn’t understand why the city had to spend this money putting out this survey and spending taxpayers hard earned dollars doing something like this, when they should be focusing on the essential services,” Sutherland explained.

As for the survey in question, the city is asking for community input on a pilot program for graffiti walls in three areas of Edmonton. The city is spending about $12,500 on the survey, on top of the cost of setting up the pilot program.

Mayor Stephen Mandel says public art is an important part of Edmonton because “it helps define the city.”

“I remember when we were doing the LRT and people were complaining about the shoe down at Southgate, and now you try and take the shoe away they’d be very upset.

“People need to understand that the city is far more than just a road or a sidewalk. It’s far more broad-based and it needs to be treated that way.”

Mandel admits he’s not certain how beneficial surveys are, however, “the cost of a survey is pretty nominal when you consider the amount of money we’re putting into roads.”

“We’re spending tens of millions of dollars on roads and fixing things on an ongoing basis.”

Mandel says the city is committed to fixing Edmonton’s streets. More than $440 million is being spent this year on road construction. In the Hazeldean neighbourhood in particular, reconstruction of 63rd Avenue from 99th Street to 106th Street will begin next month. And residential roads in Argyll and Hazeldean are going through neighbourhood renewal.

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“I think that our team and the city is now out doing a tremendous amount of road repairs, grind and fill, new neighbourhood reconstruction,” Mandel explained.

But, Sutherland says she’s had enough, and will be sending her petition to City Hall.

“The roadways are an essential service and we don’t really see them out here doing anything,” she said. “I hope that other people will see this and try and tell City Hall as well, their frustrations… You can write letters and you can write petitions and the more people do that, the more maybe City Hall will get it into their heads that taxpayers are frustrated.”

For more information on the Open Source Street Art Pilot Program, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

A document outlining the road projects in Edmonton in 2013 has been posted below:

2013 Road Projects

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With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

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