March 12, 2007

Ottawa just finished its budget debacle again and I can see so many ways they have saved money - and my tax bill. The city recreation department offers fitness classes (aerobics, aquafit, yoga, etc.) well below market rates. This not only puts local fitness businesses at a big disadvantage trying to compete, but also costs us higher taxes to subsidize these classes. A private business has to pay for facilities (pool, rooms, lockers, change rooms), sports equipment, parking (and snow removal), first aid, emergency equipment, insurance, advertising, web site, office services, and even a lifeguard! The city doesn't appear to cost these things into their pricing - how else can they charge a third as much for year-round membership? And that includes (in some cases) 16 classes a week to choose from rather than 3! I personally know two people who were teaching privately who work for the city recreational programs. It's only a matter of time before my favorite class disappears as the paying customers follow them.

Another obvious saving would be to amalgamate school systems. One office instead of several. One school bus system instead of ... let's see, how many buses are there? Buses for public and Catholic, primary and high schools, kindergarten and junior kindergarten, more for french schools. Every single bus you see involves a huge amount of cost, operating, maintenance, insurance, salaries, parking, etc. It's no wonder I was paying more for taxes in Kanata in 2001 (small house, 35' wide lot) than someone with a half million dollar house on a quarter acre of land in Richmond, B.C. Not to mention that I lived within walking distance of 3 schools, yet at least 4 school buses went down my street every morning.