As I was leaving the YMCA tonight one of the regulars that I have known for several years said to me: “Can you believe it, City senior management proposed an increase in ball field fees that would make Saint John’s fees 4 times higher than Moncton or Fredericton” and he went on to say with an almost incredulous voice; “The highest in Canada” “and all for $93,000 a year”?
In my opinion this short sighted recommendation has cost the Saint John $930,000 in bad public relations. I watched the Council meeting for 50 agonizing minutes while our fearless Council stewed over $93,000, the next municipal election can’t come too soon. Great, let’s rob the kids piggy banks for $93,000. We have to make up for those perks, big management salaries and pensions somehow don’t we? I repeat “pathetic”.
I tried but I couldn’t escape, he went on to tell me that 9 employees with his company were transferred to Saint John. He told me after comparing taxes, services and recreation all nine employees with their families chose the “valley”. Surprise surprise, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this story. He told me he grew up in Saint John many years ago, one of 9 kids, and the opportunity to play sports for free is probably what kept him out of trouble.I eventually escaped feeling ashamed and guilt for City Hall.
You could fill City Hall with decades of reports on how sports and recreation helps to create healthy families and keeps kids out of trouble, so what do we do in Saint John? On a percentage basis continue to erode budgets for anything that has to do with attracting and maintaining healthy families, I repeat…… pathetic.
Do you suppose that if we took a few dollars from the Protective Services budget of $52,000,000 we might be able to provide “free sports to all kids” in Saint John? You know send a message that we welcome families and kids? Who knows with few kids getting involved in drugs and crime we might be able to reduce Protective Services budget? Now there’s a radical thought.