The Mayor is hot to get money to build the Maley extension. Kathleen Wynne is happy to waste money on this road to nowhere. Meanwhile Greyhound is cutting service to Northeastern Ontario.
Who loses? Sudbury taxpayers. Two ways:
Laurentian University is one of the city’s most important growth industries. The city exports intelligence. We import about half of our students, add value and send them home. Each student brings over $20,000 per year to the city. they rent rooms, buy beer, and pay fees.
Laurentian has a serious disadvantage in the market for southern students – we are hard to get to. Making the city harder to get to will hurt recruiting. My conservative guess is that it will cost Laurentian about 100 students a year. That is $2 million a year in lost income for the city. Don’t forget there is a multiplier. We use 1.4 for the architecture school business plan, and that brings the loss for the city to $2.8 million per year.
Now think about retired people. Sudbury is already one of the oldest communities in the Province. The city needs a plan to hold the growing number of retirees. Everyone that leaves reduces the tax base and raises the cost of living for those who stay.
Many retirees – I am one – have kids in the south. Many make medical trips south. Increasing numbers don’t drive or don’t have a car. Cut the bus service and some will leave.
How many? Out of the 31,100 projected to be over 65 in Greater Sudbury in 2017, lets say that just over one third of 1% will decide to move south because of the cut to bus service. That is 100 people who have, according to national figures, a median income of $42,000 per year. The annual loss would be $5.8 million. At current interest rates the negative impact has a present value of $400 million. Lost tax revenues for the city could total over $100 million.
Adding up the effect, the Greyhound cuts could cost the city $8.6 million dollars per year. they probably save the Scottish owners about half a million a year.
So here is a question for Mayor Brian, Premier Kathleen and Greg Rickford, Minister for FedNor: Are you guys totally insane?
You are each willing to throw $23 million at the Maley Drive project, which I have shown makes a negative net contribution to the Sudbury economy. The same money would probably keep the Greyhound service for 25 to 50 years. Or it could be used to build Ontario Northland services.
An addiction to road projects may be popular among politicians who don’t understand the northern economy. And it may be the way to sink the Sudbury economy.