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Newer councillors impact the municipal tax levy

Council voted in favour of three curbside leaf and yard waste pick up days during the year. They also approved an increase to the recreation trails budget by $85,500.

THUNDER BAY – Two of the newer members around the council table had a say in the 2024 operating and capital budget.

The municipal tax levy dropped slightly to 5.47 per cent after growth (5.91 before growth) with Red River Coun. Michael Zussino and Neebing Coun. Greg Johnsen putting forward ideas that impacted the budget.

Zussino put forward a removal of a proposed expansion for the curbside leaf and yard waste pick up from two to four times a year, which would have meant a savings of $170,000.

“I wasn’t really comfortable with that price tag,” Zussino said after the over six-hour meeting Thursday.

“I live in a neighbourhood that has a lot of old trees, which can produce lots of leaf and yard waste. I see lots of these bags out in the spring time and in the fall. I just don't see the volume that would be collected from a third or fourth collection. I think most of it is done between those two seasons.”

McKellar Ward Coun. Brian Hamilton put forward an amendment that added one more day of collection, and a savings of $85,000, which passed.

Johnsen, with the knowledge that the proposed budget for multi-use trail maintenance, expansion and reconstruction is $339,500, discussed increasing the recreation trails budget by $85,500.

“This is something that I ran and campaigned on, and often spoke to residents about in the Neebing Ward,” Johnsen pointed out. “This wasn’t just about my ward, but it’s also about the entire city. This is something that everyone can use.

“When I looked at this further over the last eight or nine months, it struck me that we're spending a lot of money on building up the existing trails but not as much on connecting and making the routes that other cities have. An $85,500 increase is a good start. I'm happy to keep working on this, and keep advocating for outdoor recreation."

An amendment from At-large Coun. Mark Bentz that would have focused efforts on maintenance and reconstruction of existing trails was lost.

McIntyre Coun. Albert Aiello got his fellow councillors on board to eliminate the use of asphalt instead of concrete for repairs on sidewalks, which staff reported would have saved the city $40,000.

At-large Coun. Rajni Agarwal was unsuccessful in a pair of asks - she proposed to put $63,000 back on the budget for a part-time position in downtown litter debris pick-up.

She also proposed removing $100,000 relating to the Strategic Core Areas Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

The initiative supports upgrading buildings through grants that include reimbursement of building/planning fees and financial incentives for upper floor residential/office and lower floor commercial conversion/improvement and façade improvements.

Council also followed the recommendation of staff to approve the $6.9 million proposed capital budget for the Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) but that no further funds be committed to the central library project until the result of the planning process. Instead they will wait until the planning act to amend the official plan and zoning by-law is complete.

When it comes to proposed gross operating budgets, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) is asking for $7,700 less than it did last year - for a total of $3.07 million.

The city manager’s office presented a $10.5 million budget while infrastructure, development and operations proposed a $73.7 million budget.


  • $504,000 increase in Waterworks Revenues within the Rate Supported Operating Budget
  • $50,000 savings by removed the Planning Services Heritage Grant Program
  • Average 7 per cent increase in Building Services User Fees

The next budget review session will be on Monday, February 7 with ratification set for the following Monday.

Dougall Media will have more on the Thunder Bay Public Library decision in a separate article.


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