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.