Friday, July 29, 2011


I too am stymied as to why Layton would pick a rookie MP from Quebec as interim leader over and above more seasoned stalwarts of the party. Speculation runs abound from appeasing Quebec to preventing any consideration of a merge with the Liberals.

I am curious as to what you think.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Timing is everything

I'm beginning to think that the transit workers are not aware to the public perception of the service. The union's vow for job action (SP July 28/11) is not going to create overwhelming reaction from the masses. At this time of the year they can't even hold the students hostage to the threat.

I do think that Saskatoon needs a mass transit system. I've been to other cities that do have efficient services. So why can't we manage it?

Perhaps the problem is not the worker bees but the Queen Bee. What skills do the management of transit bring to the table? Many seem to have been promoted from the rank and file. Should the city be looking to an overhaul at that end?

We just keep pouring money down this drain and its still clogged. At what point do we consider replacing the drain?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks, but no thanks

I recently returned from a fly-in fishing camp in northern Saskatchewan. This area truly defines the phrase "God's Country." It was serene, the water was pristine and, for the best part, Mother Nature controlled the balance with wildlife. I understand why naturalists and environmentalists would want to keep people out. The few human residents inhabiting the far north appreciate, understand and protect this territory.

For that reason I have sympathy and empathy with the group walking from Pinehouse Lake to the Legislature to protest the storage of nuclear waste in our north (SP July 27/11.) The waste is coming from Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec. These provinces do not want to risk their own surroundings by storing their own waste. As Debbie Morin, a protest leaders states "We're kind of a final frontier."

Incredibly, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization states they are not targeting our north, but offering opportunities to host the waste repository. I'm calling bullsh--on this. This organization will not be around decades or a century from now to clean up any mess that might result from this action.

I don't think this decision should be made by a handful of people who expect to see short term benefit, ie the Town of Creighton or leaders of First Nations communities. The whole of this province will pay should the project go awry. I expect the provincial government to step up to the plate and follow the example of Manitoba by banning the long-term storage proposal. Perhaps these eastern provinces can look at their own sparsely populated areas and store their own garbage.

If our future is nuclear energy, then those producing it had best start spending some of the of earnings on how to effectively dispose of the waste.

Saskatchewan is not a garbage dump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If wishes were horses . . .

I join with the cyclists in wanting the bike bylaws revised (SP July 26/11) but not necessarily with the revisions they proposed.

They want the bicycle recognized as a legitimate vehicle and legitimate form of transportation. I agree with them. Like other modes of transportation, bicycles should be licensed and have plate insurance. Like other modes of transportation, bike drivers should pass written and road exams. They should be ticketed for infractions as are cars. And they should be charged if their use of their vehicle causes harm to others - undue care and attention comes to mind.

They want the blanket bylaw ban on cycling on sidewalks revised to allow them use sidewalks when they deem it necessary. I disagree. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. If your bicycle is a vehicle, get on the road with the other vehicles. Or pay the fines as do other vehicle users when breaching the rules of traffic.

They state cyclists should have a right to use the middle of one lane like any other vehicle and no longer forcing cyclists to ride only in bike lanes on streets that have them. I agree. Get rid of bicycle lanes and all vehicles share the same road.

I don't understand why they want to scrap the requirement to always ride with at least one hand on handlebars. And if the ban on sidewalks remains, they won't have to worry about dismounting when passing pedestrians on a bridge.

In fact most of what they want won't be necessary if we go back to the first request that bicycles are vehicles. The rules of the road should apply to all vehicles.

Which brings to mind the old adage - be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gone Fishin'

The Mistress has gone fishin' for the weekend. She'll be back and bloggin' Tuesday morning.

In the interim, people's thoughts on 'Splicegate'? We'll get the Mistress' thoughts on the topic Tuesday.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pipe dreams

On July 19/11 CBC Radio was broadcasting a story about Dundurn residents being upset at the cost of infrastructure necessary to pipe water out to their town from Saskatoon.

Given our recent problems at the water treatment plant and the water bans and fines, I am a little concerned as to whether our plant can handle the needs of a "rapidly growing city" as well as towns twenty kilomentres out.

If we are sharing this water treament plant with those outside the city limits, will those outside the city limits be sharing the cost of any new or expanded facility when the need arises?

Next up on the budget review

My bet is the majority of the citizen committees will be maintained. The report in today's SP (July 20/11) offers minimal savings to disband them and generally speaking, the people who serve on these committees are squeaky wheels. They are people who have applied to serve because they have a special interest in a particular area and come with their own agenda. The biggest problem with these committees is, although they are advisory in nature, they tend to over react if council does not take the advice. Nor are they concerned about the cost related to heeding the advice.

Council on the other hand does not want to appear to be inconsiderate of the views of the public but struggles with the committees when it over rides the advice.

Such was the case with the Heritage Committee when council dealt with the Gathercole Building. Then again, this group introduced the Doors Open program to the city which seems to have met with success. And the city does need a watch group to protect our viable heritage.

The Environmental Committee brought us a no weed control program.

On the other hand, the Cultural Diversity and Race Relations committee sheds light on some of the issues faced by new residents from other countries and the difficulties they face in adjusting to life in our city. They also identify First Nations issues.

The Accessibility Committee sheds light on issues relating to people with disabilities and their difficulties living in the city.

Visual Arts advises what art should be purchased and determines where is should be placed. They have done a reasonably good job.

And I haven't a clue what Animal Control and Traffic Safety does these days.

I dare say many on council would like to disband these committees, but they won't.

Next on the agenda please.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bite me

I was speaking to family members living in BC this morning - ahh the lovely Okanagan - God's country where there are no mosquitoes or bugs. They had been planning a visit to Saskatoon but had heard the rumours of our mosquito population and wanted to know if the rumours were true.

I told him he should make Mr. DEET his best friend, bring a shotgun and take out a hunting license. He suggested that we make Mr. Mosquito our provincial bird. The sunshine out his way must have fried his brain if he didn't remember our little friends were insects.

Which brought us around to what the city does for mosquito control. It would seem not much.

It got me lamenting the good old days when the city fogged for mosquitoes. I know, I know about the health concerns. But as a kid I ran in and out of that fog, and as has been alleged in previous blogs I am an old girl, and still kicking even after that fog folly. I worry more now about West Nile virus.

I'm waiting now for some entrepreneur to come up with dragon flies strung to wrist bands for protection against our hunger insect friends.

But the sun is shinning and life is good.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What to do?

Well, it would appear that we are waiting until 2014 to get our roads fixed and then only if the federal and provincial governments kick in (SP July 17/11.) By that time the roads will have further deteriorated and the costs be substantially higher. How ever will we get to all our new amenities? This article is silent as to whether or not monies are available under the existing Building Canada program or whether we have already tapped into that source.

I also noted in Saturday's paper (July 15/11) the hue and cry from bus riders on Council's proposed cuts to bus service. I do have great empathy for the university students due to the fact they are forced to buy a bus pass and that the mandated pass came to be at a time that service was being expanded to accommodate those students. The USSU needs to get a few law students working on this issue.

It doesn't matter were the cuts are made, someone is going to be affected and groups will be complaining. The only alternative is increased taxes and there are more people to complain about that.

Its time for the finger pointing to begin.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Law & justice do not go hand-in-hand

There is an article in today's paper (SPJuly 14/11) entitled "Justice absent from legal system" written by the fire chief in LaRonge. It is worth the read.

He comments on emotion of first responders to tragic events and the impact on the people to do those heroic jobs. We sometimes forget about how those individuals must feel and that their jobs have that very big downside.

He further comments on that Canada has a legal system, not a justice system. I fear he is correct.

In the case he deals with, a young family died in a fire that was set by an accused. After years of dragging out the process, the Crown prosecutor and the defence council cut a plea bargain. Rather than a trial for manslaughter the accused plead guilty to a lesser charge of criminal negligence causing death and was sentenced to time served - six months. He was released from jail on the date his trial was to start.

A young father, mother and 4-month-old baby died. He doesn't believe these victims received justice for their wrongful deaths. I tend to agree with him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Note of Condolence

I have just learned of the passing of Councillor Maurice Neault. My condolences to his family.

Its all about symbols

It frightens me whenever I agree with Pat Lorje, but in the instance of a wind turbine at the landfill (SP July 13/11) I do. I can't recall - did she oppose this when it was first presented? I don't think wind turbines should be located in proximity to residential areas.

Her comment "To simply put something on the horizon because it's s symbol of green energy seems to me to be a folly." But what about the folly of single stream recycling?

There seems to be a lot of symbolism going on right now. The tax review symbolizes a financially prudent council. The recycling program symbolizes an environmentally conscious council. The wind turbine symbolizes the green energy concerns of council. Get the drift?

Yes folks, and caring about constituients is symbolic of an election approaching faster than we think.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pocket change

Although Council should be lauded for at least looking at budget cuts (SP July 12/11) the reality is what's currently on the table is peanuts, comparatively speaking.

The $7,000 to $50,000 items being contemplated for the chopping block pale in comparison to the unfunded spending that has been approved. By example, a short time ago Council approved the new bikes lanes at $6.75 million. They had $1.75 million from the federal monies held for this purpose, but have no idea where the balance of $5 million is coming from.

Transit has been a losing proposition for decades. Monies were expended to improve the service with the goal it would improve the ridership. Its still a losing proposition. Now consideration is given to remove the services that they claimed with necessary to increase ridership.

The green bin (yard and garden waste) was introduced with the intent that it would aid in the landfill issues. People signed up for this service and pay a fee for it. Doubling the cost of green bin pick up may simply have those currently paying for the service to quit using it. According to the city collection schedule you are not to put garden waste in your regular can. So where does it go?

Discontinuing the sewer roto-rooting service seems like good idea - except for the fact that for most citizens this service is to remove roots from city trees that grow into homeowners' sewer lines. And as a homeowner you cannot tamper or remove a city tree.

Everything on table represents services to residents that Council introduced over a period of time with the argument they were necessary. Apparently they were not.

Increasing the parking fees again and extending the time for paid parking will not benefit the business areas of Downtown, Riversdale and Broadway. Those big box malls with acres of free parking are looking better and better. And if parking meters are to be plugged on Sundays there are a few churches downtown that will be very unhappy.

The point is cutting these services won't make a squat of difference if you continually add new expenditures to budget. I truly would like to know what the total operational costs of the Shaw Centre Olympic pool are and what the projected operational costs of the new art gallery will be.

There is no point in going on any further. I expect this exercise is only being done to get councillors by the next election.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eyes wide open

I admit I was shocked when reading the allegations of Privacy Commissioner Dickson against the City of Saskatoon (SP July 11/11.) Then I was astounded by City Clerk Janice Mann's retort that the Commissioner was targeting the city because of past disputes and her statement "we'd like a better way of doing things." This seems rather odd when every other municipality in the province abides by the existing disclosure rules, seemingly without conflict with the Privacy Commissioner.

The most contentious seems to be a harassment complaint made by a Saskatoon Police Service employee, which was turned over to the police, presumably for investigation and action. Is this a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house?

On one hand I understand that personnel issues should be confidential - but I expect that the Privacy Commissioner would do just that while at the same time verifying whether or not proper action was being taken. And wasn't the harassment complaint by a past police service employee against former Chief Russ Sabo a public issue? How will we, the public, know whether this is properly dealt with if no one from outside the system is allowed to check up on these matters. Who better than the Privacy Commissioner can assure us that in fact this employee is getting his/her concerns adjudicated?

And what is so confidential about project development records that the prying eyes of the provincial Privacy Commissioner can't take at peek and decide whether or not the reports, or any portion of them, should be made public?

What is the point of the Freedom of Information Act if the entities that it was created to oversee refuse to comply with the legislation or work with a Privacy Commissioner?

In short, what is the city doing that it doesn't want its citizens to know about?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feast or famine

In today's SP (July 7/11) Gerry Klein's Civic Affairs column implies that former Mayor Dayday was too alarmist in his recent statements regarding the rising debt of our city.

He rightly comments that over the decades past City Councils did little to advance the city and I would go as far to say that the city was in decay. However, he fails to note that those councils did not receive the infrastructure funding from federal or province governments that municipalities enjoy today. Or that Saskatoon was not enjoying a boom period.

He advocates that Council was right to advance costly capital projects in order to take advantage of funds available through senior levels of government. In some sense that is like saying you should buy something you can't afford because its on sale. I might agree with him on some of the infrastructure projects like the bridge, but I'm sorry, a $50 million dollar swimming pool, an $84 million dollar art gallery or $122 million dollar police station are above my pay level.

He points out that we will have to pay more taxes to support these facilities and justifies it by comparing our tax levels to other western Canadian cities. I truly wish when folks do this they would also point out the mean incomes of residents in those cities and the cost of living in those jurisdictions. Do these other jurisdictions have ever-increasing levies on utilities? And that residents of at least two of those cities don't pay PST.

The scariest part of this scenario is that we are at the limit of debt. Further debt in all likelihood will see a downgrade in our city's credit rating and then we will be hit hard on debt servicing. The "sheet financing" should have been the first clue.

We are feasting after a famine, seemingly without caution for the future. I for one am looking for a council that exhibits balance.

Dayday took a bit of a beating in Klein's column today, but I'm glad that he stepped forward to sound the alarm.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More good than bad

It is fair to say that all emerging societies/governments have their fair share of carpetbaggers. Such is the case with some of FSIN Chiefs. This can only be rectified by the people which they govern and in that vein I applaud those who are actively pursuing those alleged wrongdoers.

When you think of the need of residents on reserves it is hard to believe that elected leaders in those communities would not want to see their resources going into housing, social programs and improving the quality of life for the people they represent.

On a sadder note I mourn the death of Gordon Tootoosis. I thought he was a very good actor and, better yet, a role model for young aboriginal performers and youth in general. I hope aboriginal people will balance the negative controversy surrounding their elected leaders with the positive actions of their community leaders. And I would like to see our province recognize Gordon's contribution to Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Its a new era

I tend to agree with Privacy Commissioner Dickson with respect to the provincial government's lackadaisical attitude towards breach of privacy laws (SP July 5/11.) As citizens we are required to divulge personal information to government agencies in order to obtain the services we pay for. We give this information with the understanding that it will be kept confidential.

What's ironic about this scenario is the information many are prepared to share with the world through the social media outlets. However the difference is that you share this information voluntarily - unless of course a video created without your consent hits U Tube.

I wonder if the Vancouver rioters that are being identified through online videos will claim breach of privacy to defend themselves to any charges and ask the courts to set aside the videos as unlawfully obtained evidence? A silly thought?

The times they are a changing and the law must keep pace.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Are they serious?

I'm starting to suspect that the proposed budget review by council is another ruse to make taxpayers believe they have done everything possible to limit tax increases. In today's SP (July 4/11) the Mayor states he doesn't expect job cuts. I would be surprised if any of the new capital projects are cancelled. With the Mayor's comments, it is hard to take Council seriously when they say a budget review is in process, that everything is up for grabs, yet continue to spend on new projects without identifying a source of revenue to pay for them.

That can only mean tax increases, more levies and user fees are on the horizon.

Or perhaps the borrowing for the major projects will be delayed until after the next election.

I do know that Council does not want a large tax increase imposed just months before the next civic election.