Taxpayers are on the hook for $10 million more than planned after the cost for two projects to help developers build homes in the city’s west end has shot up in the last decade.
The escalating price tags for the Kanata West sewage pumping station and the Carp River restoration — projects shared between the city and local developers — have received little to no public scrutiny, despite overshooting their original budgets by millions.
In the case of the pumping station, the cost of the project has ballooned from an estimated $15.95 million in 2012 to $61 million in 2017. The city’s share of that project is about 10 per cent, and has grown to $6 million from $1.6 million.
When the Carp River restoration project was approved in 2006, the city’s share was $1.5 million. Since then the taxpayer contribution has grown to $6.4 million, even as many public benefits have been scaled back.
Both projects are vital if developers hope to continue building homes in the area.
Technically, council did approved the annually expanding costs, but only as part of a 200-page budget.
Each project appears as a single line item in the dense financial document, and in an annual list of infrastructure projects. Staff has not explicitly presented the project increases to committee, where the cost escalations would be more visible to members of the public.
When asked why the public was never alerted to these projects, Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri said the public was invited to take part in the budget process.
“The budget process was brought to the public’s attention, and that’s where it was discussed,” said Qadri.
Qadri said all Kanata and Stittsville councillors have been kept up to date on the costs of the projects, and he was satisfied with the way staff answered his questions.
Kanata North Coun. Wilkinson said councillors have done their best to keep citizens abreast of the costs and share reports with the public when they can.