All right. Those of you who know me know that I have been churning this over in my small febrile brain, ever since we witnessed that remarkable commentary from our esteemed Mayor that I subsequently transcribed. (Yeah, I’m not going to get tired of bragging about that, sorry.) We all know what he said. Now here’s what he should have said.

Thank you, Mr Jorgenson. With that, I’d like to personally apologize with how the City has handled this winter season. Back when we did the budget, we were certain we had a handle on what the citizens of Saskatoon wanted – we had a mandate to keep our tax rate low, we thought. Perhaps we could have been a little clearer on how that would have affected levels of service, but we don’t know since we didn’t do that. Now, with the recent feedback we have from our constituents, its become clear that maintaining a safe and adequate level of service is what Saskatonians really value.

Going forward, we’re going to see a new era here at city hall that’s focussed not on blame but results. And evidence-based decision making. (Pause.) We’re going to be more open with the citizens and make our decision making process as transparent as possible. I’d like to have in place a system where we can see everyone’s public schedules. I’d also like to see a flowchart outlining the decision-making process at city hall so people have faith that their concerns are getting to the right people. I’m also completely in favour of implementing a third party campaign overview of election finances and a lobbying registry. Also, our community associations are important connectors to everyday life in our neighbourhoods, so I’d like to see them involved with our consultation process. We should be talking to each other before the development gets planned, before we issue the RFP. That way, we’re not trying to convince people what we’ve already come up with is what they want and need. In order for us to lead effectively, we need to listen to what folks are telling us. (Points at self) I know, we’re tired of reading spiteful letters to council. Let’s put people first. Let them speak first at meetings, include everyone in as much as possible. There are ways of doing this and maintaining an effective system – let’s look at what other cities have done. In time, I think we’ll find those letters have decreased, and will be replaced with other letters expressing thanks, and hope, and optimism. It’s going to be a lot of work, and it’ll never be finished. I’m confident though, that we have the right people, right here in the great city of Saskatoon. (looks around, nods in approval.)

Possibly the hardest part about writing that was using the f-word, “folks”.

I initially started this post off as a letter to the mayor but it quickly got very shrill and accusatory. I mean, it’s hard to not get yelly when you have city employees and elected representatives called on the carpet to answer individually for systemic failure. I suppose it’s hard not to get yelly when everyone else is yelling at you as well, which is why I can understand why the mayor went off on a tangent in the first place. (The straw-man argument about the $600K was rather weak, though.) The snow removal debacle should have been an excellent opportunity for our leaders to start a bigger debate on taxes and the differing levels of service citizens expect from their government. Instead, we got a panicky all-hands-on-deck response, a flurry of pointed fingers, and an eventual reprieve granted by the weather. (The weather seems to be regretting it at this point.)

Speaking of civic engagement, Jane’s Walk is this weekend; there are several going on Saturday and Sunday. Like many, many people, I first became interested in municipal matters after finishing Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I’ll be volunteering at the bike boulevard talk, the complete streets one (Alan Wallace!) and on Sunday, the North Downtown talk. I’ll be the person with the folding bike. I’ll try not to yell.

I am also posting things over at OurYXE along with a bunch of other cool people that you probably already know.

Transcribed from the April 8th meeting of Council. Full video can be found here; this bit starts at just after the 2-hour mark. I have some thoughts that I’ll post later this week. On leadership, and morale, and responsibility. Accountability. Boring shit like that.

Mayor Atchison: That being said, I don’t see other lights on. I guess I have a few comments of my own. I guess we’ll start with potholes first, and then we’ll work back. On, ah, the potholes, when you talk about fixing them – are you talking about ah, a zone or a ward area – There’s no point fixing one in, I’ll say, Ward A and then going to Ward Z across the river, you’re gonna try and fix  — (pauses) —

Jeff Jorgenson: Yes, yes, Your Worship, it’s, um, when the supervisors have all of the information from the ratings, with their knowledge of the city and organizing work, they’ll look at the priorities, the priority, uh, repairs to make, and, ah, come up with a very smart plan for the day. They’ll get their crews off for the day, come back together, and make a plan for the next day, that’s the cycle that they’ll go on.  Every day they’ll come up for the best plan for the following day, considering those maintenance [?] books.

Atchison: OK. I think, following up on that too, instead of just putting out daily press releases, the PSAs, those things – I think people at City Hall say ‘Well, we sent them out so we’ve done our job’. I don’t care anyone says [sic]. At election time, you don’t just send a brochure out. Last time I saw, most politicians knock on doors. Because they want to see people face-to-face. I think the same thing is true with the media. You need to hold press conferences. Live press conferences. You need to tell them either first thing in the morning or at 1.30 in the afternoon, what you’re doing today, what you’re doing tomorrow, or what you’re doing that day and all the way through. You need to hold live press conferences. (Tapping desk.) Sending out a piece of paper doesn’t cut it. People want to see – and they want to hear – in person, from the people who are delivering their services. They wanna be able to tell whether or not they’re being told something factual or not. They want someone else there to question, to be able to see exactly what’s happening. And that, I believe is the best way. By doing that, in person. And the media will tell you when they’re not interested in hearing about potholes anymore because they won’t show up. (nods, satisified.) Then you’ll know that we’ve got over the hill [sic]. And we’re on the right side of the track. I think that’s the easiest way to do that.

Now, to do with, ah,  the snow this past year. I keep on hearing about, ‘if we had spent $600,000 more’. The bottom line, I still haven’t heard the answer yet. (Grows heated.) If we spent $600,000, the interpretation is that the streets would be all the same everywhere, that we wouldn’t have rutting anymore, that we’d be down to the asphalt. The bottom line is, I wanna know – is that true or not? Today, right now, if you’d spent $600,000 this year, additional dollars, would everyone in the city of Saskatoon be driving on asphalt? Yes or no.

Jorgenson: No.

Atchison: (curt nod) (pauses) Thank you. (pauses.) That’s what I wanna know. Because, quite frankly, we’ve put in $800,000 additional funding this year, when we had the surplus we put in an additional $700,000, and we also said, that we were going to look at this coming year again, that we’d look at additional funding for the following year. (Gets angry.) I think some people have a short memory in council. Do you remember when we were going through the budget process, we kept on talking about what the number was going to be, what the increase was going to be at Council. I heard one councillor talking about eight, nine, or even ten percent increase in property taxes, and all of a sudden there was this (audible gasp) “Oooh! They can’t be serious!” I heard on the other side some people were saying “I don’t want any more than two or three percent.” So we had to make compromises. We had to deal with what was there. At the end of the day, I think almost everyone on council voted for 4.99%. I didn’t hear before the final vote came anyone standing up and saying, “I am not supporting 4.99% because I want $600,000 more in the budget.” Please, correct me if I’m wrong. (Enunciates slowly.) Because, I don’t believe I heard that from anyone.

What I heard from everyone in this room was, there was some very difficult decisions to be made. And they’re decisions that not everybody wanted to make. By the same token, we had to come to a conclusion. And what was that conclusion going to be. Well, we said, we can’t afford to have everything this year, but we’ll certainly look at additional funding next year for snow removal. Some of us wanted to have even more funding for road repairs this year – we said, we’ll look at more for next year. Other people wanted to look at having more in the way of looking after lands in the city of Saskatoon. Looking after homes. Looking after the, ah, lead pipes in the city. Looking at after [sic] all the infrastructure. (Petulant) And everyone sat around the table, and everyone said, “We have to come to some type of compromise.” And if I remember correctly, at the end I said “It’s the Canadian way. Not everybody got what they wanted, but we can live with what we have.” (pauses) We did  put more money into snow removal. We did put more money into road repairs. And they said we’re going to continue to look at it this coming year.

But after the vote’s been taken, and if everyone says well “I knew it was going to be this way”, well, anybody who says “I knew it was going to be this way”, I wanna hear – before we do the budget next year – I wanna hear how many snowfalls are going to be in the city of Saskatoon for the next year, I wanna hear how much snow there is going to be, and I wanna know what type of weather conditions we’re going to have. (Stabs desk with index finger.) Because I think it’s painfully unfair to look back, and say to the rear-view mirror,  with hindsight, 20/20,  “I told you so”. (looks around, accusatory.) It’s not fair for anyone on Council to say that. Because we tried hard to come up with a budget that we all believed we could live with. And when we left that night I think most people thought we did a pretty good job in this room. And so when we’re talking about these things, I look at our employees. They feel the pain too right now. Ask them, ask the employees that are putting in 80 hours a week right now. Ask them if they were home with their families during the Easter period of time. Ask them where they were. Ask them why they’re only working 80 hours. Because Health – Occupation Health and Safety [sic] says you can’t work more than 80 hours. Because it isn’t safe to do so. Yet they’re out there doing their level best. I think of the snow this year.  Councillor Lorje says it’s almost six months, so if you look at the calendar, we’ve had snow in the last seven of twelve months. The meteorologist today said, they didn’t believe we were going to hit +10 until at least April the twenty-first. (looks around) We could still have snow on May 1st in the city of Saskatoon. We don’t know what lies ahead. If the weatherman can’t be right in five days, how are you supposed to be right within a year.

(Speaking slowly, pausing at the end of each sentence to look around with concerned expression for emphasis.) So, at this time, I wanna thank the Administration ever so much, for coming forward tonight, and informing Council, but more importantly, to inform the citizens of Saskatoon. I think the citizens of Saskatoon are entitled to hear exactly what’s going on in this community, and they’ve heard it. And when we’re continuing to go forward now with potholes, I hope we’re going to follow the same procedure of daily press conferences, letting them know exactly what we’re going to do, where we’re going to be, and so that way, we have the information out there for everyone. Not everyone has a computer; not everyone has a television. So hopefully we can get to the ends [?] sooner rather than later. Councillor Hill, you had your light on. [hits switch, but Hill’s mike fails to go on.]

Councillor Hill: Ah, thank you Your Worship. Mr Gutek, I’d just like to clarify. At any point did you hear me say that I thought one residential street clearing would bring us down to bare asphalt conditions, when I asked you the question this evening?

Mike Gutek: Um, no.

Hill: Thank you.  And, to clarify, I asked you, if it would have made a difference, in the rutting. Now you indicated that it would have removed parking and had larger windrows, but our discussions at budget time were based on strategically placing snow which would not have removed all of our parking – we would have placed snow into strategic clumps, places you talked specifically about a house that may have 2 or 3 parking stalls in front may end up with one, cause we were going to follow through with bobcats. So I just wanna be clear. Movement of snow at one course of the winter may have changed the conditions. We don’t know that, because we didn’t do it. So we can’t say that it would or it wouldn’t. It may have changed the conditions, because if you take some of that packed snow off, the total amount of that packed snow, there’s less to create ruts at the end of the day. So I just wanna clarify that nobody said we’d be at asphalt conditions.

With respect to ‘communications’ and ‘moving forward’, I think that we’ll need to have a discussion, ahm, either in chambers now or in executive, the plan brought forward for communications. I don’t think the media is going to come out with a press release every day. However, some municipalities are doing thing quite strategically and creatively, their Public Works branch are doing daily updates via live feed, as well as taped video, which the media is using that as they see appropriate, and they also play it on their local cable channel, on a regular looped basis. They do that for their Public Works, as well as for their transit updates. It’s very effective. I think we need to look at an entire communications strategy, not a one-off just looking into ruts or potholes as we move forward.

Grist has a piece on a home-built piano trike, which reminded me of the New York Times’ December video on the fate of a street piano. (Don’t watch the street piano one if you’re at work and possess a soft heart.) I love pianos, even though I never got past Grade 3 or 4.

The Atlantic Cities has a lovely profile on James Gulliver Hancock who has tasked himself with drawing urban compedia of various things – all the buildings in New York, or all the snow in Montreal, for example.

I’d like to thank everybody who booked a massage with Jenna — she says she’s had several new clients lately. I really appreciate it, and I hope you don’t regret my recommendation.

Here I am. I’m all hopped up on beer and discount Easter candy, so I’m  in a great mood to read the letters to council this week.

Alan Thomarat wishes to speak to council next week. (He’s the head of the home builder’s association in Saskatoon.) Since it is Alan Thomarat’s desire to completely blanket the greater Saskatoon area with bestuccoed pressed-cornflake castles, I imagine we all know what he is going to say.  Hello Mr Thomarat! I’m sure you’re doing exactly what you get paid to do and a good job of it as well.

Next, a letter with U of R letterhead. It’s from the Faculty of Social Work, Saskatoon campus. They would like to discuss the adoption of an anti-bullying bylaw. While I most emphatically agree that bullying is a terrible, tragic, and ultimately needless form of persecution that is perpetuated by members of society at all ages and stages of life, I wonder if the adoption of a bylaw would be merely symbolic. (As we all know, bylaws are nothing without enforcement in our current society, my lawn get off it etc. etc.) At any rate, as this is a mainly symbolic gesture I expect Council will fall all over themselves getting it passed.

Apparently the  town of Hanna has an anti-bullying bylaw. Ha, you were expecting me to make a Nickelback joke there, weren’t you? Snoopopaths. You can get fined $100 for being a bully in Hanna, and $250 if it’s not your first offence. No, I am not going to make a Nickelback joke. It’s too predictable, like toothpaste Oreos on April 1.

Jazzfest is June 21 to July 1st this summer. They’re applying for an extension under the noise bylaw. I will be making a very small part of that noise as I have two tickets to Metric this year! Eleven years I have been living in this city and this is the first time I’ve been to Jazzfest. Other things I have managed to avoid doing so far: eating at the Blue Diamond, hearing the Sheepdogs, having my bike stolen, and getting propositioned by a bunch of skeevy dudes in a van on Idylwyld. Oh wait, the last one actually happened. (It was a long night of dancing at the Branch and there were no cabs, a situation we are all familiar with. So we decided to walk home to College Drive at 2 am. In January. In bar clothes. We got to 24th and 2nd before the rest of our friends showed up, in a cab. As you can guess, I am very much for increasing the number of cab licenses.)

Montgomery is holding a “Celebrating our Veterans and Community Heritage” day in the park. They want to set off some fireworks after 10 pm.  I dunno, you guys. This seems risky. Are you sure?

HMCS Unicorn is notifying Council of the Battle of the Atlantic, scheduled to take place on May 5th, 2013. Wait, what? Oh, it’s the 70th anniversary. Fun fact: Saskatoon is special when it comes to the Navy – we have a boat named after us. (The reason why the naval outpost in Saskatoon is named HMCS Unicorn is that we have more chance of seeing that particular ungulate in Saskatoon rather than the eponymous boat.) The Wiki link about HMCS Saskatoon is brief but informative – the captain’s desk is named Cranberry Flats and Idylwyld Drive is one of the main corridors on the ship. I suppose we can all guess what is the maritime equivalent of Bare-Ass Beach. The top speed of HMCS Saskatoon is a vigorous 27.78 km/h, which makes it a good poster child for the 30 km/h safe neighbourhoods speed limit zone initiative. (I want 30 km/h zones in all neighbourhoods. I figure this should prevent me from ever running for council.)

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (Foot of the Broadway Bridge tm) wants an extension under the noise bylaw, but unlike those hoodlums and yahoos in Montgomery, they want to start before 11 am. If you live near Friendship Park, prepare to be converted by the power of their worship starting at 10:35 am on May 26th which is not May Long, thank…uh, thank Odin, I guess. Some things are still sacred.

Ashu M. G. Solo has filed a human rights complaint, officially, against the city. Oh goodie. I can hardly wait for more hateful, racist rhetoric directed against this individual. I don’t much care for his methods or hill he has chosen to die on, but certain people who declare themselves Christians are the ones who are letting down the side here. I think some people have made the mistake that since I have been known to exhibit snark, I am down with racism and bullying. Let me assure you that this is altogether not the case, and if I have given you any cause to presuppose this, please let me know what I have done or said that I may rectify it.

Tourism Saskatoon is submitting their audited financial statements, if you care. ( I know you do.) It’s on p. 430.

An individual, from, uh, TrojanOne, wants to have a ball-hockey tournament on May 25th. I am not making this up. TrojanOne is “a full-services marketing agency…[who] works with blue-chip clients to plan, develop, execute and evaluate integrated brand marketing solutions, comprising all aspects of sponsorship, event and promotional marketing, from strategic planning and program creation through to communications support and program evaluation.” I have just realized that I am in the entirely wrong field. OK. Let me just say this. You are a brand managing consultancy and you picked the one word that is irrevocably associated with a popular prophylactic. I just…I just…I just feel like there is some negative synergy here. Do you guys feel it? Okay, maybe it is just me.

Saskatchewan in motion (their italics, not mine) have submitted a letter urging Council and the administration to provide opportunities for kids to be physically active and to have safe routes to school and play. I think a lot of woes could be solved or avoided by having infrastructure in place so that children of school age can get to and from school by themselves. Yes, that’s right, I want children to die. (I’m just trying to build up a large stable of controversial statements that can be used against me should I ever fall ill and decide to run for office.)

p. 459 is the agenda for the AGM of the Mendel Art Gallery.

p. 463 is the beginning of a deluge of outraged Avenue I residents who are upset at Councillor Davies’ suggestion last meeting that Avenue I be attached to Circle Drive in order to facilitate Ward 4 traffic flow. I feel that Mr Davies is learning a hard lesson in brand management here. As someone who uses Avenue I occasionally as a bike route to get over to Confed, I concur with their observations that Avenue I is in need of some traffic management already. (Also I have a special fondness for that area since I like the idea of living on Avenue H for purely eponymous reasons.) I won’t go into each individual letter here, but it’s heartening to see a group of citizens who pay close attention to what comes out of councilpersons’ mouths during a publicly broadcast meeting.

Now we have some notices of hearing. Who is being naughty this month?

A developer in Evergreen wants to put up a buttress. Yes, you read that correctly. They want to attach a buttress to their building. Are buttresses a thing now? I feel like they should be a thing. Buttresses.

Yet another person is trying to make their entire backyard into a garage. This happens so frequently, it’s unfortunate. People: stop trying to make your backyards into garages. It’s not cool, and you’re wasting Shellie Bryant’s time. If you want your entire backyard to be a garage you can’t live in the suburbs. I’m afraid that’s how it works.

Good heavens. A billboard company wants to put up a digital billboard at 25th and Idylwyld. Fortunately the city has not allowed it since there is another billboard close by, but the company is appealing the ruling. In case you missed it, I absolutely loathe electronic billboards. I hate them so, so much. It fills me with joy when they malfunction. They are nasty, distracting, and unnecessary, and I boycott companies that advertise on them. How they are ever allowed, I am not sure. You cannot even see the traffic lights in front of them. Incidentally, if you feel as strongly as I do, send a letter to the Secretary, Development Appeals Board, City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K OJ5 or email development.appeals.board@saskatoon.ca. For further information etc. call 975-2783.

Spring is in the air – Councillor Paulsen is receiving letters about the Crocus Park spray pad. This time, it is from Dr Peter Hull, a dermatologist and professor at the U of S. He works 12-hour days at the hospital and feels like the use of the spray park is violating his right to have a peaceful environment as well as the Noise Bylaw. He wants a wall around it and does not care if that causes a surge in crime as the rink behind the school is not visible from the road and there has not been a surge in crime there. You know, I have disagreed often with Myles Heidt in the past, but I am becoming rather fond of his phrase “if you want good bus service,  you should buy a house on a bus route.” Aside from recommending that you look up the location of said spray park, I am just going to leave it at that. Far be it from me to take on a dermatologist.

The next letter, from Avenue K N, contains this delightful sentence: “I find it offensive and discriminatory that your eBill system is not set up to deal with Macintosh computers.” This man, he does not mince words. He knows how to get results from a bureaucracy.

Ms Kempt is in favour of food trucks and further suggests that they be allowed in construction zones.

One of the owners of the Hollows, Christie Peters, has a refreshingly erudite submission vis à vis food trucks. She begins with how difficult it is to obtain restaurant premises in Saskatoon – a good point that has not been raised yet, as far as I am aware – and is in favour of reducing the buffer zone to 15 m. She would be happy to see food trucks in her neighbourhood, across the street even, as it would help bring more people in. Also she notes that there is no law barring current restaurant operators from investing in a truck or two either.  She finishes by saying that competition drives the market; currently quick lunch choices are mainly fast-food; and it would be a preferable alternative to drive-thrus. Man, if the Hollows started a food truck I would quit my job and follow that thing around the entire city all day. Not just because of the letter, their food is terrific and they have no worries about competition in their demographic. I’d have a hard time deciding between Bliss, the Hollows, and Prairie Harvest as my favourite fancier place to eat. And yeah, I’ve been to Truffles, Calories, and Weczeria. Let’s not turn this into a food debate, I’m so tired of winning.

The next letter is from someone with the address on the 2100 block of Easthill, which is not a typo as I’d initially thought. Upon perusal of a map, what is going on down in that corner of Eastview? Easthill is like six streets all joined up. Wait. Oh god. All of Eastview is like that. Most of Eastview was developed during the 1960s, under the influence of heavy LSD use I presume. Anyways, this resident with an unfortunate address is thankful for the efforts made by city workers and private contractors to keep the streets cleared this year. If you’d like to know this individual’s name so you can, er, manage his brand, it’s on page 487 of the agenda.

Dr Monte Pishny-Floyd lives on Albert Avenue and has a letter about snow removal.  Both he and his wife are past 70 and due to various health issues are unable to shovel snow or drag out their bins. Fortunately the city staff in that area are sensitive to their situation and have made allowances. Alas, the dastardly weekend snow-clearing crew did not, and managed to neatly impede both their vehicular progress and their garbage collection by means of a windrow of sludge. Dismayed, the professor (since retired) contacted the City and had an employee on his doorstep in a matter of hours, who promptly removed the snow. If you’re wondering why his name sounds familiar, Dr Pishny-Floyd is a composer and was a professor in the Department of Music at the University for many years.

On a different note, Glen from Regina drove up for a bonspiel and got a parking ticket, curling matches being incompatible with a 2-hour time frame. There is a parking lot within an easy ten-minute walk wherein one can park all day but I’m unsure as to whether Glen has any mobility issues so we’ll leave it at that. “Bonspiel” translates to “good story” and this is not true in this case. (Your translation may vary.)

Mr Rahman, P. Eng, is questioning the size restriction on secondary suites (700 sq ft.) and requesting that it be increased to at least 1000 due to the fact that you have to squeeze in a stair, laundry room, and mechanical room (or so he claims). OK, so I’m curious. I found the guidelines for upgrading a secondary suite and it says that the basement itself must have a gross floor area (including the basement) of at least 100 square metres (1076 sq ft.) in order to qualify.  The secondary suite itself must not exceed 65 sq m (700 sq ft rounding up.) I think as long as he can manage to fit the mechanical and laundry rooms outside the suite he should be ok. I mean, why would you want to have your furnace located in the suite, as you’d have to provide 24 hour notice in order to enter and maintain it (unless the resident of the suite is there to grant access at the time of entry)?

River’s Edge, they of the bouncy castles, would like to thank the City for letting them enter it. Having seen some of the pictures of Range Road 3045 in the weeks after this letter was written (March 6th) I wonder if at any point forthwith they regretted sending this.

Holiday Park Community Association (which has a logo that looks like that bit in Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with the “square candies that look round”) would like to recycle styrofoam in the blue bins since they buy an awful lot of it. I agree, styrofoam is terrible, but if you soak it in gasoline and then set it on fire you can enrage all environmentalists within a five-mile radius. Do not do this or I will be forced to visit you in the small hours and put a bat up your night-dress.

Patricia has a nice letter about how she moved to Saskatoon one year ago, how much she likes it here, how she’s lived in many small northern communities across Canada, and how ineffective the snow removal and her councillor are. Patricia lives in Briarwood, on Braeburn Court, a small loop off Braeburn Crescent, which connects Braeburn Court and Braeburn Place to Braeside View. Braeside View loops around and joins Braemar Crescent and its children, Braemar Place, Braemar Court and Braemar Bay, to Briarwood Road. Pay attention though, because Braeshire Lane and its offshoot, Braeshire Rise, also exit onto Braeside View, as well as smaller appendices such as Braeside Place, Braeside View, Braeside Terrace, Braeside Bay and Braeside Court. (That is not a typo. Braeside View is a tiny crescent connecting to Braeside View. This will all be on the test.) The other end of Braeside View (the main street) connects to Briargate Road which connects to – but no, I shall spare you. The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppeth as the gentle snow from heaven.

You know, I’m really not sure I can ever top that previous paragraph. I’ve peaked, everyone. Go home.

Sue Letwin laments the lack of Citycards for the parking meters. She doesn’t go downtown anymore since they discontinued them. I admire a good boycott effort as much as the next person. (Aside: did you know there is someone on Kijiji buying up any old Citycards for $50 a pop, regardless of balance? My god, these things are like gold.) Anyway, time for my downtown parking diatribe. Cheap parking is not going to get more people to shop downtown, as those who are cost-conscious are just schlepping themselves to the suburban box stores anyways. Permit me to generalize. They are not interested in shopping at boutiques (except Lululemon). It is useless to offer reduced or free rates to lure these people as it will simply result in a race to the bottom (THIS ALSO APPLIES TO THE BUSINESS TAX DEBATE AHEM YOU ARE SUBSIDIZING MEDIOCRITY). Turnover is key and free parking is antithetical to good turnover rates. Even coffee shops expect you to buy something occasionally (and now I see more and more “reminders” to patrons about this.) The exception is Tim Horton’s, the big box of coffee shops, where you can fritter away your afternoon without any consequences.

Barbara from Botting Bay is wondering if there is a bylaw that requires all lots to be developed in an area within a certain period of time. (I’ll pause for you to collectively wipe off your screens.) Her house was built in 2009 and there is still an empty lot in the bay! Well, to be precise, it’s not empty. It’s full of weeds and dirt. And regret, presumably. Be kind to Barbara. She lives in Willowgrove and is not used to the harsh realities of city life.

Mr Potter is confused about the special garbage collection situation. I’m confused too, and I’m really sure the city is confused, if the amount of media releases in my inbox are any metric. Garbage! What is it, really? Whence doth it came? Wherefore might it leave?

Debbie on Avenue K has several vehicles on her street that have not moved in months and yet her brother’s truck, parked for a scant 48 hours outside her house, gets hauled away. I could respond sententiously with a “Life’s not fair”, but that’s not very nice to Debbie. Report those bastards, Debbie. The phone number for Parking Enforcement is 306-975-8344 and I can confirm that they are lovely people who like getting tips.

Gwen has cancer and can’t haul her bins to the back or the front and she doesn’t have any neighbours who will help. She’d like to be put on the list of people who are unable to manage for themselves but this list is full (really, City?) and she helpfully points out some of her other neighbours who are on the list and are able to shovel their property with no problems. Gwen lives at 2809 Arlington Ave, if anybody who is planning to challenge Mairin Loewen next election would like to get some brownie points.

Brendan is wondering if the police are aware that there are two “Bawdy” shops on 33rd as well as one on Idylwyld. Don’t worry, good sir, the police are zealously checking up on these places and issuing any unlicensed prostitutes fines. One wonders where the money to pay the fines comes from when they could just pay the license fee in the first place and not be hassled, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Steve O, from Wakabayashi Way (side note: a lot of home businesses are based on this street) wants a light at some point between 51st and 71st so he can get onto Millar. Probably not the worst idea, as the median speed down Millar is most definitely above the limit.

Craig Allan has three (3) grievances. People entering the intersection when the light is red (boo), people who are speeding (hiss) and the third one is snow removal (surprise!). He wants photo radar and residential snow clearing. AMEN. He does say people enter the intersection when the light is “partially or totally red” which is a rather interesting situation. These partially red lights must be located down in Eastview.

Lorene has been gaming Loraas Recycling by slightly overfilling her bin, but now that they’re contracted out for the city they’re refusing to put up with her schemes. She’s threatening to toss her recycling into the garbage. If only there were another place that you could drop off at least some of your recycling. Sadly this situation appears to be without any sort of solution.

Kurt wants to know what is up with the deforestation of the downtown. I would make a snarky remark here about trees generally not growing so hot in the winter but I have more class than that. He also notes that it appears that the City buys their roadway paint from Giant Tiger (my words). I think there was a shortage of paint last year or the year before, if I remember correctly, so a lot of lanes went unrefreshed while the City scrambled to find a new supplier.

Now we’re onto some proclamations. These are actually quite good, as they go.

The first is from enrique gaudite (the lack of caps means he’s a creative). He would like the City to declare May 25th as “World Interiors Day” as sanctioned by the idc (also no caps), the interior designers of canada (ditto). Sadly this letter is not set in Comic Sans, but in Helvetica, as proscribed by all serious creatives. He attaches a sweet-ass Proclamation from the Mayor of New York (now they know how to make a statement) declaring May 25th as “WORLD INTERIORS DAY”. The entire Proclamation is set in ALL CAPS because they are BOSS.

The Saskatoon Chimo Chordsmen – stay with me here – would like next week to be proclaimed Barbershop Harmony Week. We now pause while I read up on barbershop quartets since I don’t really know anything about them except that they wear bright colours and boater hats and there’s usually four people involved. OK. Weeeoooo. Like a lot of good music, barbershop quartets were appropriated from black culture and then incorporated into white culture via minstrel shows (aka blackface). I’m reasonably sure it’s no longer racist, but it definitely is wack. Ho ho, they even had the boaters to submit a blank Proclamation for the Mayor to fill out and sign. Too bad it says “March” so we can’t use it. Looks like their harmonies are the only thing they’ve got together. (If I go missing, question the quartets first.)

The next letter is from the Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, asking May to be declared Hearing Awareness Month. Serendipitously, this is to start after the Barbershop Harmony Week.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (for a second there I was in Latin mode and thought another hearing-related thing) would like May to be also declared International Internal Audit Awareness Month. I like auditors, especially auditors that report to the public. Bonnie Lysyk, Kevin Page, and Sheila Fraser, to name a few. You guys are terrific. We love you. No really, we do. Where are you going? Come back.

And that’s it! I’m off to supper at Prairie Harvest. Maple bacon doughnuts are no match for the rest of the agenda, even if there is a potentially Problematic Development in Stonebridge, among other things.