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Letter: People should have a say in how tax dollars are used, says resident

She suggests the city should use a participatory budget process
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TimminsToday received this letter from Carol Tanguay in response to the recent talk at council about the budget process. The full letter follows:

Did you know that a participatory budget process is not new?  Various countries such as England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, to name a few, uses participatory budgeting. In Canada, cities like Sudbury, Ottawa, Oshawa, Hamilton, London, Toronto, Guelph, etc. also use this process. So why should the City of Timmins be any different?

Participatory budget processes ensures participation in government, transparency and openness, provides education for unengaged residents and communities to get involved on local issues affecting them and their tax dollars. Open and transparent processes may attract residents who have the greatest needs and are better to relate to the communities they live in. Their role in a participatory budget process may help to redistribute finances to the communities in need. The question is why is Coun. Campbell all alone on this?  Where are the voices of the constituents around the table? Why are there “hurt feelings” in regard to how our tax dollars are being spent?  

If the city did not have so many needs then a participatory budget process may not be required since everyone’s needs would be met, however, this is not the case. With aging infrastructure, etc., public’s involvement in the budget process is of utmost importance.  

The question we need to ask ourselves is why does Coun. Campbell feel that this is so important for the residents in order to have this item added to the agenda not once but twice.  Our budget process changed two years ago – why?  Other cities were holding their participatory budget meetings during COVID so this should not be used as an excuse. For example, if you go to London, Ontario’s website, they hold online sessions in regard to their budget. Residents are not able to speak during the presentation, however, they can type in their questions which are addressed throughout the session.  

The Ontario Municipal Councillors’ Guide states – “The key responsibilities as a councillor are to support the municipality and its operations while ensuring that the public and municipality’s well-being and interests are maintained.”

If you watch the council meetings, you will notice that Coun. Campbell has always represented the people of this city as a whole. You will see a pattern as to who supports the individual communities. Coun. Campbell not only represents his constituents in Ward 3 which should be the case as per his role as a councillor as noted above. He has supported various wards, on occasion, and now is the time for us to support him.   

Let’s remember that this is about your tax dollars and how they are being spent and used. Your tax dollars include your property taxes, federal taxes, provincial taxes, gas taxes, etc.  Government money given to the city from the federal or provincial governments are also your tax dollars.  You may not have a say as to how much tax you are required to pay but you should have a say as to how they are used.

If you are in agreement, please take a few minutes to send an email to Mayor Pirie at mayor@timmins.ca advising that you wish to have an open and transparent budget process and that you support Coun. Campbell’s motion.

Carol Tanguay,

Timmins, Ontario