Moncton considers making portion of Main Street one-way
City outlined pandemic recovery plan that calls for shaving spending to reduce $3.5M deficit
Moncton is considering limiting a portion of Main Street to one-way traffic in an effort to boost the area available to businesses and pedestrians for physical distancing.
The idea has previously been raised, but gained renewed attention as the city plans its recovery from the pandemic.
Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc. previously rejected the idea of completely closing a portion of the main thoroughfare to traffic at a council meeting last week, but said it was surveying businesses.
Kevin Silliker, Moncton's director of economic development, told city councillors during a committee meeting Monday that there was some support for the idea of a one-way street with a bike path. Few other details were available Monday.
"We do have to remember that we don't want to do anything that's going to adversely affect them in a big way," Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold said of businesses along Main Street.
"I personally think that the one way street is a great idea. I love the idea of a bike lane being included in that, of course."
Other ideas under consideration include using private lots for additional seating or closing Downing Street and Orange Lane.
No final decisions were made Monday. Silliker indicated staff would need time to consider the idea and it may return to council in June.
During the committee meeting, councillors also heard that the pandemic is pushing the city toward a projected deficit this year of $3.5 million.
The city expects to bring in $4.9 million less revenue than budgeted, while expenses are estimated to be $1.4 million lower than budgeted, resulting in a deficit of $3.5 million.
Lower revenue is projected because the city offered free parking in most areas in April, buses can only take six passengers at a time, and venues like the zoo and Resurgo Place have been closed.
Overall, staff estimate Codiac Transpo fare revenue will drop 65 per cent, parking and Magnetic Hill Zoo revenue will drop by half, and building permit revenue will be down by 15 per cent.
The city is expected to save about $750,000 this year as it will only hire half the normal number of summer students it budgeted to hire.
The city expects to spend $350,000 that wasn't budgeted for COVID-19 supplies, like sanitizer and personal protective equipment.
Since the city can't legally end the year with a deficit, staff recommended cutting millions in capital spending on things like parks and equipment.
According to the staff report, those cuts include:
- Centennial Park landscaping - $700,000
- Parc Rene Arthur Frechet - $250,000
- Salisbury Nature Park - $50,000
- Youth amenities - $500,000
- Humphrey Brook Trail slope stabilization - $500,000
- Traffic safety upgrades - $350,000
- Fire department special operations vehicle - $200,000
- Fire engine replacement - $750,000
- Bus fleet - $250,000
- Sidewalk fixes- $500,000
Staff noted some projects like the Humphrey Brook Trail or the purchase of the fire engine couldn't go ahead anyway because of land issues or the equipment wasn't going to be available before 2021.
Staff said some projects that have gone out to tender have come in less costly than estimated, resulting in savings for the city.
"I feel very confident about the plan presented today," Coun. Susan Edgett said, adding there would need to be many more decisions in the future.
The plan calls for gradual reopening of various city owned or operated facilities after city staff evaluate plans to keep users safe.
The downtown Moncton Market is set to begin a phased reopening June 6.
Only general timelines were offered for other locations. Resurgo Place and the Magnetic Hill Zoo are expected to reopen in mid-June. The Superior Propane Centre would reopen in late June, as would sports field bookings. Public washrooms would open in mid- to late June.
Opening dates for the Crossman Community Centre, playgrounds, splash pads and outdoor swimming pools are still to be determined.