The new table tennis table at the Humboldt Plaza has some taxpayers concerned. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Grumpy taxpayers question Victoria’s $5,000 ping pong table

Tax watchdog group believes funds could have been used elsewhere

A new city installation at the corner of Humboldt and Douglas streets has some Victoria taxpayers asking questions.

A ping pong table was installed at the new Humboldt Plaza on Thursday, just in time for the official opening of the complete Wharf Street bike lanes.

The table is flanked by artistic benches, the two-way bike lanes and a sidewalk.

“Most taxpayers think any city financial contribution would be better spent fixing resurfacing roads or funding the police department,” said Stan Bartlett, chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria, a municipal spending watchdog. “For others, it’s symptomatic of a council that has lost its way and when money is no object this is what you get.”

ALSO READ: Final leg of Wharf Street bike lanes, Humboldt Street plaza set to open

The table comes from a French producer, Cornilleau, with identical-looking tables selling online for $5,000. This prompted the Grumpy Taxpayer$ to question what additional costs tied to taxes, shipping and installation could be.

“When you have unlimited tax dollars there’s no issue,” Bartlett said, “The city has done a tremendous job on that intersection; they blocked off one street and should be commended for that, but as far as a ping pong table, holy smokes.”

The Grumpy Taxpayer$ likened this investment to others including the musical staircase at the Bastion Square Parkade, or the phone-charging bench in Cook Street Village.

ALSO READ: Next phases of Victoria bike lanes coming up for discussion

“These kinds of things are cute, but practicality and logistics are important,” Bartlett said.

The City of Victoria told Black Press that purchasing the table, including taxes and delivery, totalled $5,150.

The Humboldt Plaza was the focus of the Douglas/Humboldt engagement process, which the City says involved 17 meetings with key stakeholders, four meetings with community associations, one public open house, and 1,395 survey responses in which a ping pong table was presented as an option.

Paddles and ping pong balls are still being purchased and distributed, and will be given to local businesses and schools shortly.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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