What can a city get for $40 million?
Published Friday, May 19, 2017 11:24PM EDT
The inaugural light show on the Jacques Cartier bridge delighted many people, but it also became a target for police protests, and outraged others.
Those who were most upset scoffed at the cost of lighting the bridge: $40 million to install the lights and to run them for the next ten years.
The federal government is supplying $30 million for the project, while the city of Montreal is paying one-quarter of the cost.
All week, and indeed since the project was announced, Montrealers have given CTV News a list of items they would prefer to have their money spent on: road repair, hospital beds, lowering taxes, or feeding the homeless.
But how far does $40 million really go?
For those hoping for a tax break, chances are they wouldn't notice if Montreal gave back every penny spent on the bridge.
The city's budget for 2017 is $5.2 billion. It's planning to spend $10 million over the next ten years on lighting the Jacques Cartier.
One million dollars is 1/5200 of the city's budget, or 0.019 percent.
For a homeowner with a tax bill of $3,200, that would be a tax reduction of less than 61 cents.
If history is any guide, the city will run a surplus once again in 2017 that will be many times what it is spending on the bridge.
Last year the city of Montreal posted a $139 million surplus.
The city's debt is expected to grow by $80 million per year for the next few years.
$40 million = insignificant tax reduction
The city of Montreal has been spending quite a bit on police overtime in recent years.
The main reason for that cost is having police officers direct traffic through construction zones.
The police department refuses to let officers do traffic control as part of their regular duty, and claims civilians are not legally allowed to operate traffic lights manually.
As a result police officers earn more than $60/hour to direct traffic.
Total cost for 2016: $13.8 million.
Montreal has budgeted $6 million for police overtime pay in 2017.
$40 million= 2.9 to 6.7 years of police overtime
Water main breaks
It's estimated that one-third of the drinking water Montreal produces is lost to leaks.
Part of that is from pipes that are old and full of holes. Part is from when valves or pipes burst in spectacular fashion.
The end result is 850 water main breaks every year.
The amount that Montreal spends on fixing broken pipes has swelled like a rising river.
While three years ago the city was budgeting $93 million, the current budget sets aside $260 million to fix broken pipes and to replace pipes before they break.
Montreal is hoping to rebuild or upgrade 675 km of water mains this year.
The city of Montreal fills tens of thousands of potholes each year, and it is just a patch job.
Of the half billion dollars spent on road repair, just $3.5 million goes toward pothole repair.
Each hole costs about $20 to fix, although the patches do not last long.
$40 million = Patch two million potholes
Bridges and bike lanes
In 2017 Montreal is spending $1.831 billion on capital works.
$415 million on quick fixes including patching potholes, levelling roads, and resurfacing.
Another $352 million is devoted to fixing major arteries.
Two individual items in that budget are close to the $40 million being spent on bridge lights: reinforcing the Jacques-Bizard bridge, and developing 50 km of bike paths.
The Jacques Bizard bridge crosses the Riviere des Prairies and connects Ile Bizard to Montreal island.
With three lanes, a sidewalk and a bike path, it is the only connection for 30,000 drivers.
The city is planning a new bridge which has an estimated cost of $100 million.
Meanwhile the city is constantly adding bike paths, most of them consisting of painted lines, in an effort to encourage more people to commute by bicycle.
$40 million = reinforce a small bridge, or add 45 km of bike lanes.
Snow removal is a major undertaking in Montreal, with each storm creating a frenzy of activity.
The annual budget for snow removal among the city and all boroughs is about $155 million.
Each storm the city spends about $25 million on removal.
$40 million = clean up about 1.6 storms