SUDBURY -- Sudbury city council has approved the 2021 municipal budget that includes a four per cent property tax increase.

There are significant investments in roads, transitional housing and Pioneer Manor, the largest long-term care facility in northern Ontario.

The city budget includes $59 million to upgrade and modernize Pioneer Manor, a cost shared with the province and financed over 30 years.

"It's money well spent," said John Lindsay, chair of the Friendly to Seniors Group. "Whether Pioneer Manor should be run by the city or to be run by a not-for-profit group is another question, but … we do have our aging population and a certain segment are going to require long-term care."

The budget also addresses the homelessness and opioid crisis in the city. A $1.1 million fund will pay operational costs for six months for transitional housing to place and support individuals struggling with mental health and addictions challenges.

'It can't come soon enough'

"It can't come soon enough, so glad to hear that there are plans for some starting point, sometime in the late summer to early fall," said Ray Landry, the coordinator of the Homelessness Network. "It's a very important transitional step towards more permanent housing."

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc and Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti proposed amendments that would have resulted in a 3.8 per cent levy increase, but council turned it down.

Leduc said many people can't afford tax hikes right now, especially in the pandemic.

"Now we are going into the third wave, we are going to be losing a lot of small businesses, these business people can't afford to be paying property tax on their business, going home paying property takers there," he said.

"Then I look at Laurentian University with everything that is happening there. There is going to be major layoffs that's going to affect the economy in Sudbury obviously."

Lindsay said many seniors may also struggle with the increase.

"When you look at communities like Thunder Bay at 1.6 per cent, when you look at Barrie which came in at under 1 per cent and my pension cheque, it's indexed but it's indexed at 1 per cent," said Lindsay.

Good news for drivers: council approved $400,000 for the purchase of an all-in-one automated pothole patching machine to improve roads.