Brampton’s parks and cycling trails are getting an infusion of cash after the city posted a $25 million budget surplus in 2018.

At a meeting last month, council unanimously approved $1.25 million in funding to upgrade the city’s parks, with an additional $1.875 million being earmarked for an “active transportation,” plan including new North-South and East-West cycling routes.

“We have to recognize we have an alarmingly high rate of diabetes in the City of Brampton. This is one of the battles we’re facing as a city, and I think we have an opportunity to say ‘We’re going to be a healthier community,’” Mayor Patrick Brown told committee of council on Jan. 30.

“This isn’t just about giving people modes of transit other than the vehicle. This is giving people the opportunity to be active in our city,” he added.

The new funding will come directly from last year’s $25 million budget surplus, which the mayor said was somewhat unexpected.

“I think we have an opportunity to focus on some city priorities, because we have a surplus that is larger than anticipated,” he said.

According to council’s motion, the $1.25 million parks enhancement project budget will be used to upgrade aging park infrastructure, as well as features like additional benches and shades. Staff will report back to council on April 1 with recommendations.

Last year was the second straight year the city’s books saw a more than $23 million surplus, after posting a $23.8-million surplus in 2017. Between 2012 and 2016, the city saw an average budget surplus of approximately $6 million per year.

“The projected surplus is primarily due to extraordinary revenue growth, efficient delivery of services and savings in labour costs,” wrote treasurer Dan Sutton in a Jan. 16 report.

The city will also contribute $1.875 million to a new marketing and foreign direct investment” (FDI) strategy aimed at bringing businesses from outside Canada to the city. Further details are expected in April.

Additionally, part of last year’s budget windfall will be used to pay down debt and help keep any property tax increases to a minimum, and 10 per cent will be contributed to reserve funds.

sauce: Brampton to use part of budget surplus to boost parks, cycling