Gas Tax to pay for Civic Plaza instead of potholed roads

Civic Plaza

The city has explained how they hope to pay for the new Downtown Plaza.

Tom Vair is the Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services. He explained via email how the $6.6 million estimated cost is going to be covered by a few different funding sources. A part of the email response is below.

The preliminary estimates and funding sources for the plaza project were presented to Council on August 12, 2019. The funding sources identified:

  • $2.5M of funds were earmarked for downtown amenity improvements from a one-time gas tax funding increase made available to the City.
  • $500,000 was set aside in the capital budget in 2019 for growth initiatives and continued for 2020.
  • We outlined our goal to raise $3.4M through funding applications to NOHFC and FedNor as well as a fundraising campaign.

When asked further about the use of gas tax for items such as this. Vair responded there are 18 different categories the gas tax can be used on by a municipality. This project falls under culture, tourism, sport and recreation categories of use.

Vair doesn’t believe the project NOFHC funded with Tony Porco at the Machine Shop and this project are the same. Therefore, he hopes they will help partially fund this project as well. However, staff have thoughts on contingency plans if it’s not approved.

“I would question the notion the projects are similar – while they both feature a skating surface, this is only one component of a host of benefits each location provides,” said Vair. “The rink in the plaza will be recreational skaters and there is lots of room for additional skating rinks in our community – both will be successful!”

Vair noted the plaza is expected to serve as an attraction that will bring people to the downtown core. Highlighting some of the Plaza’s design features as evidence:

  • Flexible event/gathering area
  • Stage with outdoor screen
  • Outdoor Farmer’s Market area
  • Play Zone
  • Lighting displays
  • Shade structures
  • Public washrooms and change area
  • Seating
  • Trees and planting beds

NOFHC is an agency of the provincial government. Doug Ford and local MPP Ross Romano were both elected to help bring spending in the province under control. As Vair stated it is yet to be decided if either the NOFHC or FEDNOR will approve the spending on this project.


  1. A “plaza” to be used as a “flexible event/gathering area” is not what the Soo should be investing in right now in light of the pandemic. Perhaps our city councellors should put this project on hold following Sudburys example putting a similar project on hold due to pandemic.

  2. Always remember that these clowns were voted into office.

    Sad reflection of the state of mind of the majority of Saultites.

    No wonder tourism is totally lost.

  3. The city needs to stop building away from the downtown area. A grocery store in the downtown area is needed to attract people, plus there are no longer any schools in the area to attract young families.

  4. According to the provincial government’s website:
    “Ontario’s Gas Tax program is a long-term source of transit funding that municipalities can count on. The program provides stable and predictable transit funding for Ontario municipalities by providing two cents per litre of provincial gas tax to improve and expand transit.”
    So our municipal government is using the gas tax revenue exactly as it was NOT intended.
    Instead as our infrastructure continues to crumble and the (ridiculously self named) “green energy capital of north america” continues to use a high carbon footprint and ineffective transit system that many people avoid, we’re pi$$ing the tax revenue away on something that we can’t use for the next few years due to a global pandemic and the city can scarcely afford to maintain.
    Yup, sounds about right. Status quo for ‘The Soo’.

  5. Most people I know avoid the downtown area for many reasons and have said a downtown plaza won’t change that.
    On my street 2 families have moved away citing crime, lack of opportunity and they feel the city is being managed poorly.
    I agree which is why we’re moving away also, and won’t be looking back.

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