Sunday, September 25, 2016

Growth pays for growth

New Buzz words brought to you by Mr. "More of the same" Bowman who seems to have found his silver bullet... another fee.

Claiming that new developments are an unnecessary burden to the City, the Mayor hired some consulting firm to compare various fee structures and advise on how Winnipeg might get on the band wagon.

It all sounds great.  http://winnipeg.ca/finance/pdfs/growth/HEMSON-ReviewOfMunicipalGrowthFinancingMechanisms.pdf

Then you start wondering... (or maybe you don't, because you drank the Mayor's Kool-Aid)

In places like Hamilton, where they pay $35,500 (+/-), how do they compare with all the other fees and charges? I don't see the Hemson report comparing the total burden in taxes and fees to other places, JUST these "growth fees".

I'd like to know where Winnipeg falls when we compare all the zoning, permits, property taxes and waste diversion fees (and whatever other fee we get stuck with) and compare THAT number to other places. To simply trot out the comparison to one fee that is (or isn't) levied is not really a comparison at all.

This kind of thing goes well beyond what I have time to compile, but other previous studies have done it. Consider this one by CMHC in 2002 where Winnipeg (as well as the Provincial and Federal Governments) were already adding 11.6% to the price of the average home through the various fees it charged. What are we at today? Has that gone up? Down? Why are we not even discussing it? Is it embarrassing, and would it cause the Mayor and his idea to have to find a better line to spout than "growth should have to pay for growth"?
https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/pdf/63184.pdf?lang=en

Now we want to add another $10 K or so, depending on how large the home is, but we haven't really ever been told how this will be divvied up. Where is this all going?

A report that looked into various fees levied by other cities indicates that growth fees can be used as development tools... guiding the fees to encourage compliance with the planning that has already been done to yield the sort of City structure we want to see.
http://www.munkschool.utoronto.ca/imfg/uploads/201/imfg_no.9_online_june25.pdf
While I don't agree with a number of the conclusions in the study, the notions regarding how to apply the fee structure and why appear to have much larger value as a planning tool than as a revenue tool. Bowman hasn't even gone there... all he's talked about is the money.

The Hemson report states that "In recent years, the City of Winnipeg has experienced increasing rates of growth." Umm... is less than 1% a year REALLY growth? It's stagnant... Edmonton is at 7%, Regina is at 2.5%... who are you kidding! More recent growth has increased, but still slowly compared to other cities. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/150211/dq150211a-eng.htm shows us at 1.6% and I question the accuracy of any chart that shows Winnipeg growing faster than Toronto...

Basically, the long list of Hemson reports are new and creative ways to tax people. Hey... just tax us, after all, we're Canadians. We take it on the chin, whine and complain, and do little or nothing about it.

This is just another report that doesn't look at what our current burden is, it doesn't consider what the current costs associated with "growth" are, and it doesn't make any attempt whatsoever to curtail the biggest issue Winnipeg faces...


A SPENDING PROBLEM.  It's time to go to a meeting.

Hi. My names Brian, and I'm the head of a City with an outrageous personnel expense, poor productivity, and golden pension plans. My City's major expense is paying for employees. Not roads, not bridges, not sewer and water... and increasingly, these employees are bringing in projects so over budget, people are laughing at us when we make any sort of projection. I'm unsure what to do, so I'm going to do the easy thing. I'm going to charge the people more.

Admitting it is the first step.

If you want a new growth fee. Tell us how we rank compared to all the other major cities with all the applicable fees born not only during development, but the life of the structure being taxed.

Short of that, your Hemson report means nothing.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Traffic woes. What Lett doesn't gett

That's a play on words... Dan Lett, WFP columnist and resident apologist for almost everything that goes on did a piece a few weeks ago. "Season's Bleatings"  as if we, as stupid as sheep, were to be silent as we are hearded through some of the traffic planning disasters.

Who comes up with these barricades?

Winnipeg has embraced the stupidest manner of alerting you to a closed lane ahead. They'll close off the left lane, and force that lane to merge right (or vice versa) before an intersection. This is done because a block up, the left lane (or Right if reversed) is closed.

Sure... so what? They have to close the lane.  Ahem... no. Not like THAT!

Example. Maryland Avenue, where traffic from the left curb lane was forced to merge right. Trouble is, I (and numerous others) were wanting to turn left. No I (when I finally got to the light, three or four cycles in) held up traffic behind me as I waited for pedestrians to clear before I could turn left, allowing those proceeding straight to proceed. Wanna know how to fix this? See I know how, and I never went to traffic engineering school or nuthin'.  It's called a "Left turn only " sign. You put it up in the middle of the block, then again in 500 feet, and then one last one at the intersection. I've even been to places where they have those new fangled signs that flash a message, but I don't want to get too over the top here... I think this will do
 I mean... how hard is that? Now I know, you're wondering "How inconvenient was it... don't you know how to merge?"

Well... perhaps if there was some notice, but here in the Peg, it's a bit of a guessing game... which lane is closed ahead? Did it cause a bit of unnecessary frustration? I'd think so.

Now for the traffic geek who says, "We have to ensure no one goes straight to protect the workers", I have one thing to say.

And if you want to get real fancy, you could put a sign on that that looks like this

Do this, and we can prevent some of this


If you somehow manage to exist in a fog, and think this is a one off, let's look at Maryland and Ellice just a few days later (wanting to turn right onto Ellice)
And this stupidity trying to turn right onto Portage a few days after that... merge left to turn right! 
Then there's the same trick at Route 90 at Ness.
 
This is the height of stupidity. To force a lane to merge only to exit the lane in 25 feet.

These people couldn't plan their way out of a wet paper bag.

So Dan, when people complain, maybe it's not so much about the construction, but how poorly it's carried out insofar as warnings of lane closures, and the handling of traffic goes.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Minto Candidates Debate

So once again the MSM has let people down. Apparently there wasn't even a reporter-in-training available to cover the debate in the constituency with the most candidates running. The only story I've found covering the debate is http://www.winnipegsun.com/2016/04/11/minto-candidate-wants-farmers-excess-veggies . Go figure. Report on the goofiest thing out there (if you ignore Joe Chan's ideas)

Organized by The Daniel Mac/ St. Matthews (ever wonder why there's no apostrophe?) Neighbourhood Association, the questions were prepared by the joint organizer, The John Howard Society, and were unfortunately, fairly complicated, loaded, and left leaning.

Almost every question was based on the idea that the question was posed from a place of knowledge... in other words, that the entity asking the question knew what was best, "do you agree?"

While there was a list of answers provided on the West Broadway Website (as provided by the candidates) I see no such list available on the DMSMCA site.

Regardless, thanks to the org for organizing the event... which had all the makings of a Gong Show, to no fault of the organizers. (aside from the restrictive questions posed on the candidates)

The list of all seven candidates follows in alphabetical order

Demetre Balaktsis  Liberal

Virgil Gil                  Manitoba Party (represented by Joe Chan)

Belinda Squance     Conservative Party

Andrew Swan          New Democratic Party

Andrew Taylor         Communist Party (represented by Darrell Rankin)

Martha Jo Willard    Green Party

Don Woodstock       Independant


Now my first complaint (aside from the left leaning scripted, complicated questions that I as the listener could hardly wrap my head around, let alone formulate an answer to in two minutes) was that no-shows were permitted to send a proxy.

Who does that? Listen, I don't care what else you got going on, if you don't show, you have an empty chair. Aside from the fact that I don't personally care what the Manitoba Party or the Communist Party have to say, if the actual person running can't be there, what on earth would have the organizers think that letting someone else take up time talking about the issues in our neighbourhood would be a good idea? I could go on, but I think this is SO obvious that I don't have to.

Given that the two aforementioned Parties did not have the person who is the candidate available, they will not get any further mention aside from,

VOTE COMMUNIST! (because it worked so well in the east block)

and that Joe Chan needs to slow down a bit... when he speaks, and all you get is "fat cats","$300,000 Mercedes in the driveway", and that a tax cut will cure all societal woes after the simplistic ideas shared about supports for people were shared (by simplistic, I mean so hopelessly naive it was borderline stupidity). Other than that he was incomprehensible to anyone aside from his own family.

On to the good stuff

The evening started with a bunch of information from Debbie from Elections Manitoba telling people what forms if ID were needed to vote as well as explaining things I didn't know about like,

  • Home Bound Voting
  • Personal Security Voting (name not on the voters list, substituted by a number)
  • Homeless shelter able to provide a letter to a homeless person as ID
  • Voting in hospitals and correctional facilities 
  • If the voting are is not accessible, the ballot box can come to you
  • Ballots are available in Braille, large print, and you can have assistance
Debbie did NOT mention that people who may feel all 7 choices on the ballot were not worthy, could "decline their vote" as I did last election when I lived in the Wolseley Riding.


Introductions

MJW - Has her practice on Broadway, major issues are related to poverty, accessibility to education, affordable housing. We need to focus on a green economy and need opportunities for new jobs that pay a decent wage to be able to survive, and that we need to produce more locally and we should import less.

DW - Bus driver, has a long track record of work in the neighbourhood including organizing an annual yard sale, establishing a football scholarship. Problems identified in the area revolve around prostitution. The community needs to rise up and demand action from their MLA.

DB - Current day politicians don't meet with regular people in social settings. It's not a mystery that people just want to be understood and listened to. He would meet people in the neighbourhood and get his direction from those interactions. People want a servant leader, and they want to be heard.

JC - (ya... I know. I said I wouldn't mention the MB Party) Jail politicians who steal... that was a good one that had some ties to a previous lawsuit he lost I think. (with costs awarded to the defendant)

AS - Minto has seven candidates because representing the area is the best job in Manitoba! Home owners have seen the value of their homes increase since the NDP has been in power. Rent controls remain, safer neighbourhood, better graduation rates, there are more choices and opportunities for people seeking to get back into the workforce, in 1999 the Spence Neighbourhood Association met around a kitchen table but the NDP created Neighbour Hoods Alive! to help the group organize.

BS - Moved into the area 10 years ago, left Starbucks to work at the Ellice Cafe for 2 1/2 years where she met people from virtually all walks of life and witnessed them interacting. It was amazing to watch. Volunteers with The Community Research Hub, The Canadian Muslim Women's Institute, The Canadian Cancer Society, and that she has organized a group that advocates for Women's sex trade workers (to exit the lifestyle). She promised to advocate both quietly and with strength.

Who won? Probably Belinda because of the areas she's worked in the community. Don would be second I guess, again because of his work in the area. While Andrew touted accomplishments, there was absolutely no mention of specifics he's done for the area aside from the funding for neighbourhood associates, which some could argue are a government arm created because they were incapable of managing the matter, at much lower costs, and to be able to deflect any criticism for things being done... but that's a whole other debate. His claim to have been any influence on housing values of area safety is almost laughable.  Hey. It's my blog, and I can be biased if I want to. The comments in Red are mine, the material next to the initials are (as best I could record) those of the candidate.

Housing

The question was overly complex, and I can only paraphrase it. "How will you keep housing affordable, how many units is your party committed to creating, What model will it be Social, Private, not-for-profit, public...

BS - Review where the current money is being spent. Find the waste in the Department of Housing. Maintain services for those who are vulnerable, provide grants for housing. Currently 51 units of Manitoba Housing are rented to high income earners.

AS - This is a big building block. The roots of providing childcare, and early learning in schools. increases in minimum wage, health supports, have created 350 units and after the existing 500 units committed to are complete, another 300 units will be built. Rent controls will stay in place. The Conservatives didn't build any social housing when they were in government. It would be a blend of all models.

JC - Again... I know I said I wouldn't cover his blather, but it's SO funny! Building too slow. Develop basement units. For a few thousand dollars to produce 10,000 units very quickly. More tax breaks. Private rent is high, but if we develop basements there will be more units and the rent price will drop. Joe, give your head a shake. Developing a basement is only do-able if it's dry, has decent plumbing, proper ingress and so on. Look up the requirements of a secondary suite, and you'll come to understand that PROPER development of a basement is about $50,000. MB Housing had a program where the expenses were cost shared with a 10 year forgivable mortgage on the portion the Crown Corp. provided. This IS a solution, but not as you presented it.   For a few thousand dollars investment you'll have a very nice mattress on an area rug with a honey pot for facilities. 

DB - The NDP has wasted time. Rent increases would be put on hold and the rent control guidelines would be reviewed. Rent control increases are not always necessary. This is a small price to pay for landlords but has big impact on low income people. He's a first time candidate, grass roots. Talked about "Min-come" and the extensive benefits. The actual model of housing would be discussed later.

DW - As has been there for 12 years and he's still promising affordable, low income housing. This needs to be addressed. Build them. 5 Years, 300- 500 units...whatever. Stop permitting people to buy derelict homes and flip them. Fast track City of Winnipeg identified houses and make sure no one can flip them. The Co-Op model works. Sad that AS can't show what he's accomplished. Don, you're out of your depth. First off, the City was the biggest destroyer of derelict (read abandoned, not necessarily unsound) when the market was soft. "Flippers" take a completely uninhabitable house, and renovate it, increasing the life expectancy, and the value of the building. To remove the market from the equation, is to continue to have unsuitable housing that is "affordable", meaning (eventually) the ghetto-ization of the area. Private investment in QUALITY housing is NEEDED in the area. If you ever want a lesson, contact me... I'll show you around.

MJW - Mixed approach. Train people while building the units. Mixed use with commercial on the lower level and residential above. Rent geared to income.

Who won? Well, honestly, no one. It's like trying to pick the best of the worst. If I had to choose, I'd go with BS, but I can't really believe that the housing "crisis" (and I don't believe that there is one) can be solved by trimming fat at MB Housing. That is not to suggest that there isn't fat to trim, rather that making this the "plan" really is no plan at all. AS spouts number as they relate to the entire province... so talking about 350 units really has no value in the community. What have you done for me lately? While there have been incentives rolled out, and some housing influenced through programs available, AS didn't mention them, meaning he may well be oblivious and they happen in spite of him. DB is as far left as the Communist party on this issue. Landlords don't need a rent increase... no, water, sewer, electricity, taxes, frontage levy, costs of maintenance... they all go up, but it's a small price to pay for the land lord. The only one to not say anything I have an issue with was MJW... so maybe it goes to her, but by simply having a utopic idea, you don't have a plan.

Safety

The question revolved around restorative justice, and as such answers were related to the question. The candidates were ham strung by virtue of the slanted question that starts with the premise of restorative justice being a good thing. 

DB - This works in indigenous communities. Based on forgiveness. It impacts the people most affected. This should be the norm, not the exception.

JC - OK, I might have to go back and change what I said about not commenting on him. More safety, tax cuts, more disposable income for the family, more after school programs so parents can work, tax cuts bring more jobs. NDP has been there 12 years, still trying to fix things while they drive a Mercedes. NDP is not working. Note to Joe. The question was regarding restorative justice and safety. 

Now during JCs off topic response, the event became hijacked by a "Treaty One" member who told us that we were meeting on their land. She went on about how we need to work this out and ranted a bit, the moderator seemed either unable, or unwilling to manage the situation. One person in the crowed shouted out that interrupting was disrespectful and the moderator took a cue and suggested that she should hold her question until the allotted time was provided. "I don't have time for that", she replied, and continued to rant for a bit. 


AS - AS Minister of Justice, he introduced the Restorative Justice Act. Focus on victims needs, community safety. This is a better way to deal with people. Had to fight Stephen Harper. The system of laws have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years. We can decide how to implement it, how far it goes. Youth crimes too. Has to be supported by the victims. Police and the Crown will inform the victim of the option.

BS - Supportive of restorative justice. It's a system that's good for all involved. While at the Ellice Cafe she got to know people from John Howard and hired one person from there. Will make sure it continues but there is still a long way to go. This is a small part of justice and the focus should not only be on the back end, but the front end too. Equality is necessary. First Nations are not the same status as all other citizens in the constitution. Good idea, but it needs to be standardized.

MJW - Go back to the old methods. Aboriginals and other countries use restorative justice. We need more properly trained counsellors for the victim and the offender. The goals should be for harm reduction. True understanding. More counsellors. The resources are there, but need to be used better.

DW - Years ago he petitioned AS to spend the amounts of money spent on prisons to be reallocated to the community.  What would be better? Why not spend $2 Million (might have been billion) on Early Childhood Education? The NDP will just keep doing the same thing.

Who wins? BS, because she had the presence of mind to indicate that the question was based solely on the ways of handling the situation when it's already too late. The best method is to work on the front end, ad reduce the need for any type of need for the justice system to be involved. Second place goes to MJW, although the idea of hiring more "trained counsellors" has a bit of a bad taste. Look at where we are with the quality and quantity of social workers being churned out of the "university" on Selkirk Ave. 

Mental Health

Again, the question was so complex I had trouble understanding it when read and transcribing it into notes... Something about Mental Health, Young Adults, No resources... and by memory it was about providing service to them after they are over 18.

DW - Will continue to stand on the steps of the Legislature. Talked about how he was the driving force to rename "Garbage day to Recycle Day", talked about how he was the guy who brought about the blue bins. "It's not rocket science"... The government won't give you $10 a day to stay home and look after your own child but will spend $50 to have someone else look after them. Slapped the Liberal candidate for living in Linden Woods.  I really expected more from Don on this question since it figures so prominently on his campaign literature. He failed to stay on topic on this one.

MJW - CFS is more about apprehending children than about helping the parents. More training and support for parents, they can make it work, it's the system that is broken. Adjust needs to have mentorship while in care. Keep kids at home, provide mentorship. Ask kids who are 18, they would have the best answers.

BS - 1 in 5 people experience some sort of mental health issue. 75% have issues that appear in their youth. 10,000 people in Emergency Community Services is not a fix. Develop comprehensive strategies. CFS has a high number of children in care. She worked as a support worker, workers need more flexibility.

AS - The Governement has the Child Abuse Advocate studying the issue. The report commends the the work done by the NDP. 18 to 25 year olds need mentorship but they should be supported to age 25. Sometimes 18 year olds don't want to be involved with CFS any longer. 49% of children are placed with family already. (Eliciting some response from the crowd of a "we don't believe that" nature)

JC - Ranted against the NDP, $300,000 fat cat, stop taking kids away, educate them, teach them how to cook, provide them with a work ethic (as if this is something you can just give to someone... like an honourary doctorate, or a participant badge at the school track and field day) NDP has to be gone.
I couldn't resist... this guys ideas are so simplistic. It makes the Communist platform look respectable because at least they've considered their ideology.

DB - Federal statistics show 80% of youth have anxiety, depression, some sort of mental health issue. Liberals are committed to provide more. Medicare should cover PTSD, single mothers. Some one needs to advocate. Self care, self reliance, self management. Workers are over tasked. Support workers are kept busy just trying to contact 40% of their clients. With apologies to DB, he had more, and his thoughts were more coherent than I provided them, Im just didn't get them all. 

Who wins? Probably BS. I didn't understand DB's ideas on "self reliance" when it comes to mental health issues. MJW has Rose coloured glasses. AS was more interested in talking about how some report is congratulating the NDP on the fine work they've done. 

Employment

The question was again slanted around the minimum wage not being high enough to be a living wage, and "are you committed to increasing it". It's a left of centre question designed for a left of centre answer to be the only right one.

MJW - Increase job skills, people need to be above the poverty line. people should be permitted to work 3 or 4 days a week and not have to have it clawed back, or count it as volunteer time. Costs of school wile working are onerous. People need help. Job flexibility is required in situations... people with anxiety issues for example. And here I need to shut it all out, even if some of it made sense. A business can't operate around people with anxiety issues. Either you show up, and do your job, or you can't (unless you're in the business of stuffing envelopes, with no defined completion date for your work)

DW - "Keep it real" Winnipeg Harvest is non political. They report a 38% increase in food bank use. Government spins things, but that doesn't make it better. Top heavy organizations. The simple solution is in Ile des Chenes where they have "tons of excess produce"that we should distribute. Good Food Clubs, we should produce it locally. "Get real" might be a better slogan. This idea still has people reliant on receiving food for "free", ostensibly as a result of poverty. 

DB - Everyone is 2 or 3 paycheques away from poverty. The minimum wage should be raised. Liberal "min-come" policy is going to end poverty. The idea  needs to be studied, what sort of funds are required. This would lead to a healthier Province and minimize reliance on Government services.

AS - The NDP has raised minimum wage every year since 1999. The PCs froze it for 6 years. The liberals opposed raising the minimum wage. Want a fair minimum wage for all, needs to be increased. Cut the drop out rate in half since they've been in power. Tuition should be frozen.

BS - Keep more of your own money. At $11/hr, you still pay 30% tax. Index tax brackets to inflation, and raise the minimum tax bracket. Raising the wage hurts small business. if income doesn't increase along with the increased wage expense, something has to give.

Who wins? DB. Min-come has merit. It was experimented with in Dauphin and the excellent results were buried by the former federal and provincial PC governments. While the reasons for burying the results may have been due to the austerity measures required at the time, that doesn't change the facts that my former professor, E.Forget published after combing through a ton of boxes of records from the program. Second place goes to BS for recognizing that the NDP have talked a good talk about raising the minimum wage, which translates into taking more taxes from minimum wage earners.

End result?

AS was the guy with a target on his back... and his front, and JC wanted to be able to provide head shots while DW held him down. (AS is too tall for JC to take on his own, but he encouraged me to go the the website and check out their "song", so I did... and while their rhyming skills are questionable, I can't say I would have chosen "yellow submarine" as my theme song. Written as a "nonsense song for children"and given to Ringo to do lead vocals... well, maybe it's quite apropos!) 
AS didn't have much to offer by way of his record, and instead talked about things that obfuscated, which seasoned politicians do very well. Provide an answer, just don't answer the question.
His campaign literature continues to lie about Pallister being a part of "cutting 1000 nurses (he was asked about that question from the floor, and talked around it without answering why they continue to lie about it). Anyone wanting the Free Press, Winnipeg SUN, and CJOB links to proving that absolute drivel can find them on the net along with the 700 teacher firings that never happened. 

I find the out and out lies regrading the things the Conservatives have said and done alarming. People who lap that up without verifying the facts shouldn't be allowed to vote... 

BS is not "seasoned", yet her answers were on point, well considered and generally made sense. She actually told one person who asked a question from the floor that "the answer probably isn't what you want to hear", which I found refreshing. The campaign messages are clear, and have absolutely no vitriolic material in them.  

DB carried himself well however the entire platform of the Liberal party is so incoherent I just couldn't possibly consider them. A good effort, thanks for adding to the discussion.

DW... Pink, to match his tie. Now my initial thoughts on Don before the debate was that he was a political whole, who would join up with any party that would have him. I thought that he was a little desperate for attention... but I think Don really wants to have some impact. He truly wants to influence the community he lives in... but. As in independent, he'll have as much chance of influencing anything as Jon Gerrard did (possibly in the group of the smartest guys that sat in the Leg) and Harvey Smith. 
I take some issue with Don's election mail outs, claiming the PC candidate in Minto "is a vote for someone who hasn't done anything, so how can she do?"Aside from terrible sentence structure, Don... know your enemy. BS hasn't appeared before City Council a number of times, trying to rename garbage day, organize a big sale of stuff in the neighbourhood or organized "plastic bag day" but to say she hasn't done anything in the area is beyond dishonest. Maybe read  https://cs3partners.wordpress.com/  Add to that, donwoodstock.ca is still a green party website... so maybe you should have taken that site down and not included it on your election signage. Further misinformation implies that the other candidates don't live in the area.... slippery insofar as honesty goes. Just one more thing Don, "Bring creative out-of-the-box ideas to the Legislature to solve problems without political sensoring" should have been caught by spell check.

MJW has some credibility issues with me. The premise of the Green Party as presented is simplistic and utopic. The idea of living in the harshest climate outside of Sibera and being carbon neutral is beyond comprehension. Frankly, I like burning fossil fuel to keep my house warm, you and your ilk can freeze huddled together in your Passive House while cycling to work on a -30C morning. 






Friday, February 5, 2016

Something stinks


I've been away... repressed actually, but I'm going to try to get my toes wet again.

Miss me? It's been so hard not to sit down and spew. The illegal "know your zone" tickets almost did it for me since I had prepared a post back when they rolled this out with examples of how it's done in other areas, and the fact that signage was deemed necessary where this had been done before (in a Canadian City).

I read today's latest article on composting services (quoted at the bottom of the page) with disbelief. I find it amazing that any department run as badly as Water and Waste could possibly get the OK to introduce anything new until they figure out what they're doing currently. For those of you who get your "news" from Facebook...


In Winnipeg, "new" is related to a revenue stream, not a service. Another program they can ding me another $50 for (over and above the $55 I already pay for the recycling)

This Department is rife with DISMAL fails. Consider that back in June in 2011 the City announced that it was going to recapture methane gas from the Brady Road Landfill, and use the gas to power the vehicles used there. How has that worked out? Well considering it was September 2013 when they finally got the scaled back plan working, and that was about 12 years later than they wanted to get it done, you'd think that this would be a banner project with all the promises fulfilled! Collection of gas powering vehicles, heating buildings... but that ain't happening. Apparently, it's too costly, or too difficult, or maybe there's NO REVENUE STREAM! Who would you tax to do this? The savings aren't there to justify the expense, so The City decides to just NOT do it, all they do now is collect and burn it off. It's nice to talk about things...


So it goes in Winnipeg. Talk a big talk, like you're "world class" and come up with a finished project that doesn't look anything like what you've proposed to do for more money than budgeted.

How about our recycling centres?


We were supposed to get four of them, located in various parts of the City, all to make our recycling easier, better...whatever. Isn't this where that special levy was supposed to go? And what do we have today to show for the over budget, under deliver department that was granted this extra charge on our bills that we cannot opt out of (a tax)?


We have one (apparently) opened at the much loved "I have to get my tire fixed after visiting" Brady Road site, and one on Pacific that is supposed to be open... in the future. Really, who cares what date they put on it who wants to drive from North Kildonan to Brady Road?

The point is, they are so late, and so over budget that they simply have to generate MORE REVENUE to pay for their ineptness. After all, this was approved back in October of 2011.

What I guess I like most about the recent article is the last few lines,

"Today's presentation to Council was intended to share information with them about an engagement exercise the City of Winnipeg is preparing to bring forward to residents about a possible curbside organics strategy.
"The City of Winnipeg first wants to hear from residents and wants their feedback on what sort of program they want, or if they want one at all."

If the comments in the FreeP are any indication, you don't have to hold your BS consultations, and you can just leave my compost pile alone. (and keep your hands out of my pockets).

Please note that I haven't even touched on how bad the current system is, the fact that the claims of needing automatic trucks was to reduce the "poor oppressed workers" were bogus, and they still lift up these big containers (designed to be lifted by a machine) by hand to empty them into a "traditional" rear load garbage truck (in my lane anyway), or the fact that there is still no "once a month" day for bulky items scheduled for pick up in our inner city neighbourhoods, but we do have twice a month organic pick up... unless we don't, in which case they make it by once a month.
Because some of you may not subscribe...

Homeowners could be paying an additional $55-$100 annually on their sewer and water bills if a plan for curbside organic pickup goes ahead.
Councillors were briefed on the proposal at a closed-door meeting Thursday, where some details and costs were outlined.
The new fee would be in addition to $56 already charged annually to individual homeowners for unspecified recycling initiatives.
"This is an additional city tax at a time when property owners are facing a heavy municipal tax burden," Coun. Russ Wyatt said. "It sounds like a wonderful program but we have to have priorities and I don’t think this is one of them right now."
Wyatt (Transcona) said the water and waste department is moving ahead with the kitchen waste program despite having never carried out a pilot project, as it was directed to do by council in 2011.
Councillors were told a public consultation process will be launched soon, with a final report going to council before the end of the year for inclusion in the 2017 budget.
Curbside organic pickup was part of a comprehensive waste diversion strategy council adopted in 2011. That plan included the current waste and recycling pickup. The first of three or four super recycling depot, which is already three years behind schedule, is expected to open at the Brady landfill any day now.
Many Canadian communities have had household curbside organic pick-up for several years.
Wyatt said the administration wants to roll out the new curbside program for 2017, when the current curbside contract with Emterra expires.
The amount of the new household fee is still unknown, Wyatt said, adding it would depend on what is included in organic kitchen waste.
The administration presented three options for a household fee to councillors, he said: $55-$60 for vegetables only; $60-$70 for all food scraps; $90-$100 for all food scraps and pet waste.
Wyatt said the plan is to have the winning proponent pick-up recyclable, general household waste and kitchen waste.
"Winnipeggers already pay the highest water and sewer rates in the country," Wyatt said. "This will just make living in Winnipeg even more expensive."
The annual recycling fee was increased $5 in 2015, from $50 to $55.
Wyatt said adding kitchen waste pick-up will be costly for the city – and ultimately homeowners – because the current trucks used by Emterra would have to be scrapped or redesigned to accommodate an isolated containment area for the organic waste.
In addition, Wyatt said a 2011 estimate placed the cost of purchasing organic bins at $11.4 million; the cost of a new processing facility at $45 million -$65 million.
Wyatt said it’s expected whoever is the winning bidder will have to increase the fleet Emterra has by 50 per cent, to handle the extra waste.
Wyatt said while officials had an estimate for the new household fee, they would not provide councillors with current costs associated with other aspects of the program.
"It looks to me like the administration has been muzzled," Wyatt said, adding that direction would only come from Mayor Brian Bowman’s office.
"If you know the price you’re going to charge customers, you have to know your own costs but the administration told us they didn’t have those numbers," Wyatt said. "I think they’re being muzzled by the mayor."
Bowman, who is in Ottawa for the Big City Mayors’ meeting, could not be reached for comment but a spokesman denied the mayor had issued any orders to the administration to withhold vital information from councillors.
"The project is not at a stage where detailed cost information is available because the scope and breadth of the program hasn't been determined," said Jonathan Hildebrand, Bowman’s director of communications. "Today's presentation to Council was intended to share information with them about an engagement exercise the City of Winnipeg is preparing to bring forward to residents about a possible curbside organics strategy.

"The City of Winnipeg first wants to hear from residents and wants their feedback on what sort of program they want, or if they want one at all."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Who am I going to vote for?

I was all ready to go vote at the advanced polls. I'm away on election day, so I took my voter card to see where I could go tomorrow.

No where. There are no more advanced polls.

I can't blame anyone but myself. The card was there, the info clearly on the City website... my fault, save for maybe the inability to understand why there wouldn't be an advanced poll right up to election day. So there, you have it... I messed up and missed my first election in 30 years. I'm disappointed in myself, so all I can do is tell you who I would have voted for if I had.

I live in the West End, and my good OLD friend and current councilor recently sent me "The Harvey Report". Good thing we have an election so I can read about all the great things he's done. My favourite was the anecdotes from supporters, especially the one from Joe Chan, " If Harvey hadn't gotten me the information, I couldn't have sued the Mayor" (paraphrased... I tossed the literature).

Umm, Joe? Didn't you lose? Plus costs? Maybe you shouldn't be thanking Harvey for his "help".

Bellamy is Pat Martin's stooge, and the federal/provincial NDP stooge. Anyone seen or heard from Pat? No? Maybe let's call him at home on Salt Spring Island, BC. Pat hasn't been here in a while.

So we have to vote for Cindy Gilroy. I e-mailed Cindy a few months back. I had a tough time finding her website and after I did find it, mentioned that they needed to tune up their key words so people could find the site easier and asked how I could get her a donation to help her campaign. I never heard back. I sure hope this isn't an indication of things to come, because I already receive that kind of responses from the guy I cc on matters pertaining to my encounters with the City... and I don't hear back from Harvey either.

Thus ends the councilor advice, On to bigger and better things.

Go Judy Go! Away! Go Away! This career politician who has never been responsible for anything, and had to move to Manitoba to get elected because her first few attempts to get a seat in Ontario failed should just take her two pensions and open a hot dog stand that she could promptly run into the ground. Please, for the love of all things good and true, DON'T vote for Judy.

Gord Steeves. Sorry Gord, but the idea that you have fresh ideas about how to run the City can't be taken seriously. How much "change" did you vote for when you were a councilor? NOW you have fresh ideas? Puuuhleeeese. You were there when Sheegal was hired!

Bowman. I liked this guy right up to the point when he started talking.  If this was a three horse race (I'm going to stay away from any "old nag" jokes to avoid being called sexist), I'd hold my nose and vote for him, but only because I don't think he can do as much as he thinks he can, and might just be able to deliver on a few of the transparency issues he's running on. We could use a little less corruption in how our City operates. BRT....... really? Are you serious? What's next? More bicycle paths?

Since it's not a three horse race, I'll go on.

Ouellette. I just can't take a guy seriously when he thinks it's a good idea to lower the voting age to 16 years old. Listen up Rob. You're biggest tax payer is a property owner, and if you think I'm going to elect a guy who thinks that kids should be able to vote for a clown who will decide where, and how much money to take from me, and then determine where to redistribute that wealth, you've got another thing coming.

Paula. I liked you as a councilor, but for Mayor, I just don't think you have it. Sorry.

Who's the guy with the strippers wearing his T shirts again?  I haven't quite figured out his angle. Last time around, when that goof Realtor whose face adorns a number of buildings he has listed ran, I understood that he was after name recognition. The "talent agency" guy... dunno. In a word, "NOT".

David Sanders. Alas, I e-mailed him a few months ago too. Same as Cindy... nothing back. Offering money and a lawn to plant a sign on isn't as enticing as it used to be I guess. Regardless... have you read his resume?  Have you followed any of his speeches when her appeared at council meetings to make presentations? This guy has actually BEEN to a council meeting, which is more than we cold say for Bowman before the last one (which he showed up at, just to take a look inside I guess)
David is CLEARLY the most qualified person to be the Mayor out of the names on the ballot.

Forget the polls. Forget strategic voting... It won't work as Steeves or Bowman would had to have dropped out, and Steeves' ego got in the way. Judy may slip through the middle... all that after saying little, and when pressed, couldn't answer questions and had some old egg head economist "price out" her agenda, but still had no idea as to how to pay for things other than telling us that she'd find the money to cover the interest on the money she was going to borrow.

That's a plan? All you can do to stop her is vote for a strong, sensible council... and David Sanders.

We'll talk some more after the big day, and remember, "People get the leaders they deserve", especially those that don't vote. I'm just sick over it.

If you were waffling, if you had no intention of voting, would you please go and vote on my behalf?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Opinions are like...

never mind. Too easy.

I was trying to come up with a witty title. I bounce a few around, including "death", "stupidiotic", and "the definition of insanity is..." but decided instead to concentrate on the meat and potatoes of it all. (Potatoes... foreshadowing. Is it still foreshadowing if you give it away?)

I write this entry from my "perch" on the shore of the east side of Lake Manitoba. For days now I've been seething at an article/blog/opinion (remember what opinions are like?) piece titled Crying Wolf   http/www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/Under_the_Dome.html

I assume Bruce Owen penned this piece, as his email address is recorded below it. According to the staff biographies, Mr. Owens "takes up space" at the Legislature. Hmm... that's a  telling way to describe his work. This would be good empty space I assume.

Unfortunately, his piece also takes up good empty space in the FreeP.

Mr. Owen plays apologist for the NDP, suggesting that the people who have property on Lake Manitoba are somehow unfairly "blaming" Mr. Selinger for all things evil. We are currently enjoying our second bout of fish flies this year... but I don't hear any of my neighbours blaming our esteemed social worker turned  leader for the flying pests. What I do hear is a group of very disgruntled people placing blame squarely where it belongs for the current woes felt on the lakes shores... at the feet of the Ministers and the Leader who are responsible for the decisions being made to again fill the lake to well over it's capacity.

Mr. Owen suggests that we residents of the lake area are creating much ado about nothing. He goes on to tell us about how the lake isn't as high as it was in 2011, the situation won't be as bad, the NDP isn't to blame for the rain, people aren't taking you seriously... .

Hey Bruce. Did you know that you're not allowed to drain your eaves trough onto your neighbours yard? Honest! It's against the law. The water from your roof is supposed to drain over your yard to the street or lane. Anything else isn't permitted. Look it up...

Let's think about the Assiniboine River watershed. It does not NATURALLY drain into Lake Manitoba. It is DIVERTED. (Hence the name, the Portage Diversion... it is NOT a floodway). You are taking water from one watershed, and diverting it to another entirely different watershed. You're sending it to a lake where the natural inflows through the Water Hen River, are about equal to the outflows at the Fairford Control Structure.( Fairford was built at the end of the 1800's, well before the Diversion, and it's never been increased in size to accommodate the water being dumped into the lake by the Diversion. )

Guess what Bruce? When you fill up your bathtub using the tub filler spout, everything is OK! If you leave, pass out, go for a smoke... the tub won't over fill because there is a mechanism that is designed to let the water out if it gets too high. This is the like lake was before the Portage Diversion operating at 25% over design capacity. Back to your tub Bruce... now go get a fire hose and put it in there.

What? You see a catastrophic event ahead? OK. Maybe a fire hose is extreme. How about another garden hose?(or two ?) It stands to reason that there will only be twice  as much water (as opposed to three times as much as we are seeing flow through the Diversion. I see Bruce hesitant to try the fire hose. Coward...

What's that Bruce? You don't want to? You'll ruin your floor?

Oh. Ok. Well, fortunately for you, You are in control here Bruce. No worries... just don't do it! The residents of Lake Manitoba are not in control.

Bruce likely wrote his opine from the City somewhere. I didn't bother to delve into his domiciles actual location, but let's just guess at Charleswood, since picking on someone from Transcona isn't really "sporting". Bruce, I'm sure that as the guy who is "taking up space" at the Leg is keeping you busy. Have you noticed a lull in the action around there? Pssst (no, that's not a PST joke) they are all on summer break.

Summer... what a great time to have a cottage at the lake. Unless you have super sandbags on your beach.
And the lake has uncovered all the spent sand bags from the last flood... they litter the beaches for miles here, green, white, and the ever elusive gold bags!

The trees that grew here are all but gone, destroyed in 2011 by the water. Miles and miles of death on the shore of the lake. Great big ash, maples, poplar... (all the elm died due to Dutch Elm disease years before). Death stretches for miles. Trees that someone needs to remove, yet no one seems to feel the need, or have the energy... remember, the residents of the lake were told that clean up help would come... remember what our social worker turned leader promised... the Green team would be available to aid in clean up!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Some pimple faced yoot ((see Joe Pesci, My Cousin Vinny) Fred Gwynn... was this his last movie?)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVjbf-dHjW0  felling standing dead trees 10" in diameter with a Husquavarna that would rather tear his leg off than cut through the brutally hard wood of a dead Ash. Now insert a senior citizen since the green team never came...

You were thinking that I would take Ash and draw it to the "opinions are like..." but I'll resist. (The temptation is great though)

Bruce, maybe you should come out for a weekend! Really... this is my invitation to you. Leave a comment, and I'll be in touch. You and your significant other can come out for a few days, all expenses paid except the fuel to get here, unless you'd like me to pick you up. (no kids... we hate kids) We have a guest room, flush toilets, hot water, shower... we'll put on clean sheets, and you just have to sit on the beach, stare at the lake, and go for a walk. Let me know what you drink and I'll supply a bottle (but just one, as I've heard about reporters and their drinking).

See death. Miles of death. Super sand bags are covering a vast area of the beach, already covering a mile or more... and there are more to come. It's quite a sight. I'll take you out in a boat, canoe, kayak, or you can walk the beach, but the sand is all gone... the lake has pounded in lots and lots of rocks. We used to have sand... not anymore.

What's that Bruce? Doesn't sound appealing? C'mon! I'm offering to let you come for FREE! I have to pay over $2K a year taxes to have this kind of fun...I have to come here and mow the lawn, maintain the place, and know that the unnatural rise in the lake level is a DECISION that was made, both in the spring, to prevent ice jams on the Assiniboine, and now again, because Shell Mouth was kept too high to allow for the rains.

Wanna know why Shell mouth was kept high? See Bruce, I'm not a reporter... but I was there three weeks ago when the community had it's road washed out. I asked them (with no influence regarding my own interests) ,"Have thye kept the levels too high?"

"For years now... they keep it high for the potato farmers in the Portage area. If the river runs dry they cant irrigate their crops, and McCain's can't be makin' fries without potatoes!"

I see... things I didn't know. Here I was naive and believed Shellmouth was a control structure designed to act as a reservoir DURING a high water event... not to cause one.

Say what you want Bruce, the water coming to Lake Manitoba was NEVER  supposed to come here. Ignorant commentators in the FreeP I can handle... you know, the unwashed masses who believe whatever Flood Bulletin #33 tells them, full of more political propaganda than actual flood information, regurgitated through the Freep by some "journalist" who thinks St. Francis Xavier is a road trip. "You shouldn't build where it floods, you shouldn't build on a flood plain... stupid people who don't realize Winnipeg is on a flood plain at the junction (not the fork) of two rivers... (stupidiotic)

After you come visit me here, go see Shellmouth (or I can show you a video). Go see the diversion, and the increased capacity that was packed on by more equipment than I could count (Or I can show you the photos), and then go through the archives to see when the last time was that this lake came close to this level NATURALLY. (Hint, 1950, and it took 4 years to get to that level) Please also check the last drought levels... ahh forget about it... you won't bother, how about I just give you the info?  http://www.lakemanitobalakestmartinregulationreview.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Lake-Manitoba-Levels-Steep-Rock.jpg

Bruce... did you notice that when the lake was "natural" it fluctuated, and never saw as much water as it did during the time it was "regulated" as it did naturally.

Do you understand Bruce? The lake levels are CONTROLLED... The Fairford CONTROL structure, the Portage DIVERSION... Control means we GET to blame the people CONTROLLING the levels. You don't get to claim that all is good because of the controls, when all is good, and not be responsible for taking the wrath when things all go to shit. It's called accountability.

Anyways Bruce... my offer stands. I'll be very cordial, there are no strings. Come visit.

WOLF!