Archives for posts with tag: Saskatoon

If you missed the North Commuter Bridge forum, here is an opportunity to look at all the visuals they had up as well as submit feedback. 

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Well, this exercise in procrastination (caring about city council) has now resulted in me procrastinating from my procrastination and actually getting the things done I was avoiding in the first place. Alas, the casualty is you, dear reader (there’s only one of you, I think). I’m sure you’ve resorted to the methadone of reading the letters yourself, but as you pull at your rapidly-thinning (or non-existent) hair, nothing funny comes to mind. Fear not! For I have read them. I’m not funny though. For that you’ll have to go elsewhere. (I’m not sure where). Much like the abject authors of these missives, I fire this off tentatively into cyberspace, hoping someone reads them. Failing that, I just hope that when I read this again in six months I’ll still think it’s funny.

So.

Speakers for tomorrow evening: Alan Thomarat, of the Saskatoon Home Builders Association. I have absolutely NO IDEA of what Mr Thomarat will raise. (Aside from “the bar” of course. Zing! Oh, zing.) Also, Adam Pollock, he of the VISUALS from last time. He’s had two weeks to generate more 3-D renderings of his possible bridge solutions. Adam Pollock: the one-man solution to Fixing The Cattle Bridge. Yes, we are calling it that now. Well, I am.

Highlights of the letter summaries:
“Commenting on deer in developing neighbourhoods”
“Commenting on snow accumulation and civic matters”
And, of course, a fair bit about councillor’s salaries.

First off, is one from Councillor Fred Baran, of the RM of Dundurn. He’s outlining the current state of affairs that Blackstrap Park finds itself in. Namely, they are being given the run-around by the province. Do not hold your breath waiting for it to re-open. Mr Baran recognizes the irony in this situation, which bodes well for his mental health.

Drew Preston would like the council to consider other alternatives than tax hikes for funding road repairs. Tossed under the bus in this letter: people who live outside Saskatoon, and people who rent. Mr Preston’s solution is a gas and/or city sales tax.  People benefiting from this solution: businesses located outside Saskatoon, and people who don’t drive. Also, people who rent, since according to Mr Preston, we don’t pay taxes. If the property taxes don’t go up, we’re not affected. (This makes sense; just give your brain a bit to process.)

Dan Norton, an ex-landscaper, has some thoughts on the construction (or lack thereof) of the Circle Drive south bridge. He is also a fan of parking and drinking coffee from Tim Horton’s while observing said construction (or lack thereof).

Next is an invoice from FCM. If you care, the city’s membership in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities costs $41,225. This is 4.123% of the proposed cost of the new website. (The new website, for my calculating purposes, will cost one meeeellion dollars. Whatever, I can’t be arsed to scroll back through the agenda here.)

Frank Regier has problems with buses, dump trucks, garbage trucks, emergency vehicles, semis, and cars racing in his area. This sounds suspiciously familiar to the mechanics of a particular racing game (available on the Playstation 2). Naturally, Mr Regier is not best pleased with living in the real-life version of Need For Speed and pleads with the administration to reconsider tax hikes, mandatory recycling, and car allowances (!) as well as urging Council to consider the plight of the economy (it’s fragile) and the homeless (without homes).

Raissa Graumans wants food trucks and pours salt on this wound by pointing out Regina has food trucks and we do not. How much longer will we suffer this indignity? (A while).

Connie Berko is not overjoyed about Pat Lorje’s news release. Specifically, she objects to the part where Lorje refers to $52,000 salary per year as a poverty wage. (Disclaimer, I haven’t read Lorje’s release.) She ends the letter with “DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT YOUR PAY IS A POVERTY LEVEL INCOME!” which I think technically requires a question mark but I’m not about to wade into that here.  Unfortunately this is a point where I (caution, thinking ahead) think they’re both right, and both wrong. 52K is fairly respectable if, like me, you are a child-free working person in a dual-income household. 52K, incidentally, is also the baseline for housing assistance if you have dependents. So, yes and no. Anyways, the thing to remember here is that there is always someone who makes less than you and that there is always someone else willing to remind you of it.

Byron Shaw agrees with M(r)s Berko above and further states that “this whole city is becoming overun [sic] with greed”. He ends it with a parting fusillade at the mayor, suggesting that His Worship take a pay cut since all he does is “running around to various ceremonys [sic], and golfing.” To make his point clear he says, “It sounds to me like its [sic] the councillors that get the work done anyway.”

In case you weren’t getting tired of the salary review comments, here is a letter from Susan Mak. She takes a different tack, raising the spectre of Greece, Spain, the USA, and our current federal government.

Terry Yaskowich thinks tolls are a good idea. (If you’re wondering what I think, I was initially in favour of tolls, because I like sticking it to people, but after further reading and consideration, I am not. Tolls are a roundabout and inefficient way of making people pay for their infrastructure maintenance required to fix the deleterious effects of rubber on asphalt, whereas removing subsidies for oil and gas/raising taxes on fuel attacks the problem at its source. Sorry, John Gormley, our alliance was but brief and tenuous.) Anyways Mr Yaskowich suggests the Coquihalla as a model – they tolled the ever-loving Odin out of it and then removed the toll once everything was paid for.

Clayton Leach watches the news. He saw the bit on the possibility of tolls. As a commercial driver, he drives to make money, and there is “no way” he’d use the bridge that you have to pay for. He puts on up to 200 km in the city in a day, if you were wondering, and crosses the river several times. If you see a flaw in his reasoning, please send your answer and a self-addressed stamped envelope to 102-104th St., Saskatoon.

Blair Wooff would like the Caswell Hill area to be considered for a parking-permit program. People are parking there and walking to downtown, which absolutely shocks me as I didn’t realize there are people who walk this far in Saskatoon. Also, the new cop shop is going in, and that will put constraints on parking. He’s unhappy at being told first one thing and then another. If the City goes forward with his proposal, I suggest that it be called the “Blair Wooff Project” or I shall be sorely disappointed. (Normally I don’t make fun of people for their names but how do you resist that.) (Quite easily, my husband informs me.)

Notices of hearings for refusal to issue development permits type things. These are all standard issue, aside from one bold auto body shop owner whose proposal has a setback deficiency of, er, 94.45%. Encroach big or croach home, as the saying goes.

A solitary anti-fluoride letter.

Shannan McKay is disgusted with the pathetic level of service in the north end (Lawson, not industrial). Her beef is with the 70/80, unsurprisingly; I take this bus often but on the Sutherland leg. Let’s just say I am shocked when it shows up at the appointed time, and I’m getting on it just outside the PAC on campus. At any rate, Shannan used to encourage people to take transit but is now seriously reconsidering this plan of action.

Tammy Hrycan has lived in Montgomery for 24 years. She is concerned about a herd of deer that live on a piece of land that is now being developed. She would like more signs for the deer, or attempts made to relocate the deer. If you think I’m about to castigate M(r)s Hrycan for her soft-hearted concerns, you would be wrong. Despite being personally responsible for the deaths of 2 deer via 1998 Suburban, I agree with her that the deer were here first and deserve consideration. Unless they are eating my dad’s hay bales, in which case, bust out the .303 and the cats are eating meat tonight. (In case you were wondering, the cats did not eat venison very often despite my father’s threats. They mostly subsisted on porridge and expired Boost shakes.)

Juan Serrano would like the City to advise him of the proper steps to take in order to remove the mandatory recycling program. There is a large number of people he has spoken to that do not like this program.

No, I did not make that last letter up.

In a remarkable fit of coincidence, Jean Hein also has beef with the 70/80. She adheres to her schedule and wants to know why this route is particularly unable to do so.

Renita Lefebvre is concerned about nobody removing the snow at the bus stop at 1000 Central Ave. The gist of it is, she uses a walker and gets stuck frequently. There’s also a bit in there about train tracks, so I am not sure if she is referring also to my own personal Issue about the railway crossing at Central between 112th and Gray. (It is about 2 feet wide, icy, with traffic whipping past at 50+ km/hr. Seriously, if a truck came along at the right time with those extendable mirrors, I would not be typing this.)

Grace Kuhn (why does this name sound familiar) also has issues with bus stops and the removal of snow thereabouts. Also: taxes, councillors’ salaries, the skating rinks formerly known as roads, and children’s welfare on said roadways.

Trevor Daviduke would like the city to update its website more often. Well, Trevor, you are in luck. The bad news is, your taxes are most probably going to go up as a result.

Paul C. Hamilton (Hey, one of my old profs!) is also concerned about the timeliness of news (or lack thereof) on the city website. Since the city couldn’t be arsed to update the website stating there was a water main break in their area, he, and dozens of his neighbours, tied up the phone lines calling the City to find out. He points out, rightly, that if the City just bloody updated the bloody website with actual useful bloody information it would free up the phone lines for people who don’t use the internet and everyone wins. (Um, I may have added some strong language for emphasis here.)

Anda Ciurezu wants to know if it’s legal to keep foxes as pets. Domestic foxes, not wild ones. If she can’t get the native varieties of foxes as pets, she’s hedged her bets here by asking if non-native (i.e. fennecs) can be kept. Anda Ciurezu really likes foxes.

Danielle White is asking the City to consider a senior’s leisure pass. Sure, why the hell not. Wait, we don’t have a senior’s leisure pass? I suppose they do get a lot of exercise just trying to get on the bus, if previous letters are any indication, but that’s a bit extreme.

Casey Cherry has a comment about the shortage of indoor ice surfaces available for rent in the city. I’d make a joke about the roads here but I’ve had a long day. His son’s team practices at 7 am on Tuesdays. Ooof.

The next letter is flipped 90 degrees. At the risk of incurring a headache, I will read it. OK. It’s about the train in the Kinsmen Park. Something about moving it to Wakaw. John Diefenbaker is mentioned. Wakaw is the obvious choice since it’s in the middle of the area circumscribed by Saskatoon, Melfort, Prince Albert, and Humboldt. That was a lot harder to read than I’d anticipated.

Some letters from CUPE notifying that the Union wishes to continue negotiations for revisions to the Collective Bargaining Agreements. There’s also a letter from the ATU Local 615 about negotiations as their collective agreement expires in December of this year.

And that’s it, huzzah. Now I am going to bed. If you’re wondering, I will most likely be watching the council meeting at home, since my chairs are significantly more comfortable and I don’t have to look the Mayor in the eye.

Right, sorry, sorry. I am a bit late on this one. It’s just that Top Gear is an actual hour long! And you can’t just watch one.

Things covered in this agenda that I am not going to talk about:

1. The Point 9 development for the absolutely fabulously walkable University Heights
2. The decision to formalize the allotment of extra funds garnered through development
3. The taxi bylaw and accessible cab licensing fiasco
4. The awarding of the snow dump site pushing contract
5. The upgrading of the wastewater treatment plant computer network and software from it’s c. 1995 (!) operating system
6. The awarding of the North Downtown Plan plan
7. The report on the Saskatoon.ca website
8. The 2012 tax assessment report
9. The report on the abuse of engine retarder brakes within city limits (conclusion: it’s a problem, but difficult to enforce.)
10. The report of the Administration and Finance Committee on the Neighbourhood Land Development Fund and the District Energy Systems Feasibility report.
11. The report on the projected return of investment for the Hampton Village and Willowgrove. Actually, I am going to comment a bit on this. It’s rather alarming that the city is expanding three neighbourhoods at once, especially in light of the declining house sales across the board in Canada. I mean, it’s not certain Saskatoon will follow suit. City managing is like turning a tanker around, but I’d rather not see the allegorical sequel to S.S. City of Medicine Hat vs Traffic Bridge. (If the housing market does indeed tank, I get rights to this allegory, journalists! You owe me money!) Anyways Willowgrove is completely sold out of single and multi-family residential lots. There are less that 25 lots in the Hamptons. Come on down! Ha ha, I am such a crank on this subject. Gonna change my Twitter handle to “HENRY MAYDAY”. (™ ME)

12. the sale of the last bit of property – the commercial bit – in Willowgrove Square. You know the place, the goofy square-shaped park deal that always ices up like a motherfucker in winter where you can bust out some sweet slides, not that I would ever do such a thing. Also you can park there and make out/deal drugs/discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything in your little car-box of Emotion, because you’re 17.

Things covered in the agenda that I am going to talk about:
The S.S. CIty of Medicine Hat. It has a lovely report, starting on p. 153, that I badly want to edit for grammar and spelling. Some background: the captain was Horatio Hamilton Ross and Ye Old Boate cost $28,000 to build – about $683k today – for a 130 foot ship. Anyways, they were coming up from Medicine Hat to Winnipeg. Our noble boat (I just like calling it a boat, okay) stopped before the bridge in order to let people off to Not Drink Alcohol. After firing up again, the majestic vessel promptly got entangled in telegraph wires and kronched at a leisurely pace into the southernmost bridge pier (now surrounded by land). There were no casualties. This, my friends, is the Greatest Marine Disaster in the history of Saskatoon. (The runner-up is the person who parked their SUV in the river this fall, with an honourable mention to the dude who tried to escape the cops by swimming across the river.) Other notable marine disasters in Saskatchewan: the one guy in Clavet every year who insists on driving his skidoo across the slough when it’s not ready; Wascana Lake; and the Lumsden Duck Derby.

Wait, what? “At the time of the crash, a small herd of cattle was being driven across the bridge from the east to the west to the stockyards”. This is more exciting to imagine than the ol’ S.S. expiring gracefully on the side of the bridge.

All right, who wrote this report? “Grand Truck Railroad”? The only Grand Truck Railroad I know of in this city is Circle Drive North.

They’ve found approximately 1,000 artifacts. This may surprise you but the Stantec archaeologists have concluded that the artifacts are most likely from the S.S. City of Medicine Hat (here listed as the “S.S. CIty Medicine Hat”. Macros are your friends, anonymous report writer.)

Annnd IMDB is listed as a source. As well as Wikipedia. The City of Saskatoon: less rigorous than your 8th-grade English teacher.

Yay, the North Downtown energy study. Previous to this agenda, this is one thing that I hadn’t thought about: where all the energy is going to come from to power this infill. Anyways the report has found that “a district energy system developed in Saskatoon would be profitable.” Since it’s a bit smaller, the power source can be changed over at a reasonable cost to something more sustainable (insert hot-air-politician joke here). Other areas of the city that qualify for a local energy district are: Evergreen, Holmwood (whatever that is) and the North Downtown. The rest of you lot are not dense enough to justify having a local energy-generating source. (No, but seriously, where is Holmwood? Is the city just making up areas now?) Anyways the report indicates that partnering with a private-sector energy company would produce an “acceptable rate of return for the City”.

Ohh Holmwood is the area the City just annexed from our friends, the RM of Corman Park, may they rest in peace. Seriously? That’s going to be super dense? I suppose that it’s easier now to just make all new developments denser than integrate density into existing neighbourhood and feel the prickle of many pitchforks in the small of your back. It’s just that Holmwood is going to be, like, so far, from, like everything. (Everything being Broadway and Downtown, where I spend most of *my* non-working time.) Oh, I’m sorry, if you’re looking for journalistic integrity and bias-free reporting, you’ll have to look somewhere else.  I’m not quite sure where, though.

Also in this section, Charlie Clark asked about sucking some more heat off the water entering the river from the power plant, in order to solidify the river’s surface a bit. Unfortunately this would cost A Lot, so no skating on the river for you. Even if there wasn’t any hot water dumped into our glorious waterway, the City would have a hell of a time stopping people from looking for a quick shortcut regardless of thickness of ice.

p. 182, if you’re following along has a terrific bit of manager-speak. The bit it’s about, if you care, is the implementation of the new telephone system along with the establishment of a Unified Communications Reserve (this sounds like socialist propaganda to me.) Here it is, in its entirety:

“This report supports the long-term strategy of increasing staff productivity by being more efficient and leveraging new technology to improve operational efficiency under the Strategic Goal of A Culture of Continuous Improvement.”

Leveraging! I love it. You know what else has “a culture of continuous improvement?” Microsoft. I think of this lovingly every time I update my work computer and my drivers are all fucked. I also love it when I unplug the keyboard and it FREAKS OUT. It also refuses to turn on without a keyboard plugged in. I suppose there’s some sort of analogy I could draw here. Look under “W” on the Saskatoon.ca website for more city worker jokes! Whoops, it’s under “H” for “Hackneyed”.

So, the new telephone system, as I understand it, will be a sort of proto-Skype (phoning people using the power of the intertubes). The police and fire phones won’t be migrated until later. I just have one burning, throbbing question: what happens if the power goes out? The savings gained by switching ($20,000 net) doesn’t mean much if, hello, there is some sort of oh, I don’t know, ACT OF NATURE. I suppose we are in the glorious 21st century, but growing up in a rural area with frequent power outages, the fact that you could still pick up your old landline phone and call your neighbour is worth something. (The conversations would go like this: “Hi, it’s so and so. Do you have power? No? OK. Who else doesn’t have power?” Oftentimes we could determine where the power was out based on our rudimentary form of triangulation. Then we would call SaskPower and ask, not unlike our Eastern cousins, how long we’d have to freeze in the dark.)

Fiiine. I’ve just been reading a lot of Sandy coverage lately and now I’m looking at things like “crank flashlights” and “wood stoves that generate electricity”. I’m sure we’ll be OK. The City is working on a disaster response plan, right? Right? Oh god, how much are zodiac rafts. I’ll take two. Wait, with no power plant operating, the river will freeze. Now I am starting to understand the thought process of certain persons who live in Clavet.

p. 196 makes reference to an “urban village” which seems rather oxymoronic to me. I know what they’re driving at, but do we have to make everything sound quaint in order to make it palatable? That was a rhetorical question. All these questions on here are rhetorical, in case you were wondering. There’s a bunch of stuff here about What Is Allowed and What Is Not Allowed, in case you live around that area and your pitchforks are getting dull. (I keep mine nice and sharp.) Also some things on LEED standards, architectural standards etc.

p. 210 is the RFP. The RFP is fun to read if you’re familiar with the area, as you will enjoy the discrepancy in how the City describes the area vs how it is generally used (see above.) Anyways it should be rather entertaining once it’s done, especially if the city doesn’t use ice-mitigating techniques. Seriously, you can go down there in winter and re-create Tokyo Drift without any loss of tire rubber. (Other forms of loss, such as self-respect, may occur.)

p. 230 recommends the charging of fees for snow-dump users. I am not sure if you read the letters to the editor in the Star-Phoenix, but if you do, then you will understand the following: HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL DIE BECAUSE OF THIS SHAMELESS DECISION? (Seriously though, props to the guy for busting out the child-killing factor. It’s an angle that I wish Saskatoon Cycles would pursue more aggressively in their lobbying efforts.) (Yes, holy Odin, I am being sarcastic here. Or am I? I mean, what are children, but pawns to advance our own agenda? Literally, if you consider the genetic factor. Children: small, occasionally adorable, meat-pylons and/or political wedges.)

Fine, I’ll list the gist of this letter: a snow-dumping person wrote in that charging user fees would result in more piles of snow being stored in/on private property rather than hauled away. Children play on the resulting piles of snow, which will invariably collapse and send them off gently into that good night. Ergo: charging fees for snow dumping would result in the deaths of children. Wait till this guy sees the stats on how many children die in car collisions. HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL DIE BECAUSE PEOPLE INSIST ON DRIVING CARS? (A lot.)

Ok, I’m rather done with this lot. Next: the communications to Council.

Speakers:

Adam Pollock thinks the Traffic Bridge replacement is bollocks, and that the north bridge is where it’s at. He’s got an idea and he wants to present it.

The next letter is from exemplary citizen, Prof. J. L. Grover. He wants to talk about homelessness and affordable housing.

Ted Popel would like to address the subject of committees of council. He does not elaborate further.

The Chamber of Commerce would like to address Council for being declared the “business friendliest Canadian city”. (It appears that the Chamber has dropped the hammer portion of their logo, an issue which I have struggled mightily with in various forms. They sponsor a lot of things which I have to print ads etc. for, and the logo is only available in some bullshit 72 dpi minuscule jpeg.)

Patti from the Heritage Council just wants to welcome new members and remind them that the Saskatoon Heritage Society is always watching.

CUPE wants to talk about the library workers.

Oh, I see. The situation at Marquis Court is that there’s only one exit. It’s for Richardson House of Fixtures and Supplies, in the new area in the Marquis Drive vicinity (which is why it doesn’t show up on the map.) She’s concerned that if there is a fire, they will not be able to leave the property. I am going to suggest that the City abolish their unfortunate plan of surrounding new developments with steep-walled moats full of wild boars. Hopefully the administration will come to their senses and approve another exit, so the good citizens of this development do not suffer an awful and untimely death in case of a totally unforeseen fire. I am also sure that the property managers at this location have installed adequate smoke detectors and other fire-suppression systems. It would be horrible to be responsible, even indirectly, for the deaths of other people.

Neale Hall is, uh, wanting to talk about the disrespectful attitude of the Saskatoon Police Service towards Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Canadian citizens. (He makes no mention of international visitors.) He states that he doubts Premier Wall is going to let this situation continue.

Mrs Gaynor Baker wishes to address the issue of fireworks. She lives on Rayner Ave; there is a convenience store on that same street that sells fireworks. She suffers from PTSD and loud bangs are understandably distressing for her. She would like the sale and use of fireworks limited to public holidays.

The FCM is acknowledging receipt of payment for a thing.

The Santa Claus(e) Parade is taking place on the 18th. The theme is “A Cartoon Christmas”.

Craig Allan says everyone he knows has nothing good to say about the “eighty million dollar art gallery”. He states that it is “for the rich” and that “less the [sic] one percent of the population is into art”. He is also concerned about the South Bridge project. Calgary was able to build their ring road in less time; perhaps the City engineers could go on a field trip and learn how to speed things up. Craig Allan is not taking any of your bullshit. This is my own interpretation of Craig Allan’s position.

The Polaris Institute has sent a helpful paper about P3’s. (No, it is not People Pavement Progress). Sadly, he has sent it to the wrong people, as he says it will help “counsellors” who might have questions or concerns about P3s. In case you were wondering, it appears that the Polaris Institute has goals and positions that are diametrically opposed to those of, say, the Fraser Institute. If you would like to read further, the report is on p. 330. I, for one, look forward to our new Cameco North Bridge To Future Prosperity. It will be a great architectural and engineering feat to sleep under.

Mary Parent is concerned about the sale of the Saskatoon Inn. Those dastardly Winnipeggers are coming in to mineral-spa(m) the place. She says that the name of the hotel represents our city, an irrefutable fact. Anyways, with the loss of the KG and the Victoria Bridge, this is the last straw. She wants to know what we will lose next; I am sure the administration will be delighted to inform her.

Stephen Holinaty would like the smoking ban to include all businesses, instituting a 10-metre zone outside. At this point, I would like to suggest that perhaps it is easier to enforce smoking zones as opposed to non-smoking zones.

p. 334 is a letter to, uh, everyone involved in either governance or health care. It is, ah, a bit difficult to summarize, but it’s mainly about the failure of levels of government to responsibly co-operate on health-care strategy. Parts of it are in both official languages of Canada. He has also copied-and-pasted other communications with government officials.

SEIU-West is concerned about CETA (Canadian-European Trade Agreement). I don’t know too much about this at this point. You do the work. I’ve gotta go back to school so I can participate in this new thing they call the knowledge-based economy.

Sandra Finney would just like to make sure your motives are pure, newly-appointed City Mothers and Fathers. Some people, she says, are being left out of our current economic munificence. Booms are for everyone (unless you are Mrs Gaynor Baker).

Donna Roller says IMAX is planning 110 to 125 new theatres next year and that we should try to get one. The city will get back to you with a PO, Donna. Actually, they can just make out the PO to me and I’ll arrange it. (It’s OK, just leave the amount line blank. I’ll fill it in once I get a final answer from the IMAX people.) Wait, we might want to check if we can get a cheaper one from Europe.

Allan Regehr is an expert on the City. Well, maybe not an expert. But he knows how the city works. He urges Council to get things done and  is rather prescient about the length of time to finish the South Bridge (his letter was submitted before the “whoops, we won’t finish the bridge till July 31, 2013” story which I am not forgetting about despite the fact it was released on a Friday before the long weekend.). He’s upset about the effect the finished bridge will have upon the Circle/Ave C/Idylwyld intersection (a valid concern) and angry that the engineer he contacted didn’t have a solution. I think there was a report on this intersection in a previous agenda, and it’s a big terrible mess but there’s no room to put in a proper cloverleaf intersection without buying out a lot of lucrative business property.

(I should really brush up on the law as pertaining to libel and/or slander. I think I’m covered under fair comment here but not entirely sure as technically I’m not a journalist.)

The Broadway BID wants to be sole vendor for an event, Broadway Spirit of Christmas 2012. They are also wishing to close 11th Street between Broadway and Dufferin. It’s unclear if the jumping green men will be present.

Now some notices of Appeals Board Hearings.

D&S Homes is trying to build a care home that exceeds the maximum site coverage zoned for that property (4.825% over).

Ryan Thiessen, owner of 66 & 68 Davidson Crescent, is trying to shoehorn a 3rd unit into a 2-unit building without a permit.

1302/1304 Avenue D North is another illegal four-unit dwelling conversion. They’re complying with the order but want more time to fix it.

The rest are all fairly generic, the usual setback or site coverage or parking deficiencies.

p. 369. Mr Daniel Hagen, of Bornstein Cres. has some comments about bridges. He is in favour of raising taxes by 1% to specifically target the infrastructure deficit, and an additional 1% for the North Bridge. Incidentally Mr Hagen’s address is on file in the agenda, those of you who feel your tax load is unjust.

Allan Herman is doing the math and is not pleased with the results of the latest infrastructure report.

Jonas Kiedrowski congratulates the Mayor on his election but is concerned with his comments on CBC dismissing the concerns of the people who did not vote for him. Mr Kiedrowski can also do math, and points out that with the current turnout, only 19% of voters chose Mr Atchison as mayor.

Don Sturm wants to know “what is up” with the entrance to the City from the west side. It’s not very…cohesive.

Shelby Trautman believes that if we were to invest in a more efficient system it will be a benefit to the city. High-fives to Shelby. She’s tired of receiving vague platitudes. We all are, Shelby. We all are.

Alex Pfeifer thinks we need to have a police presence directing traffic at Sask Place for all events, not just the major ones. He’s also concerned with pushy motorists endangering themselves by not respecting (or acknowledging) the physics involved with the operation of large semi tractors and trailers that are also present at the Husky station.

Shane Kartz is from Hampton Village and he is convinced the city is trying to make lives miserable for the residents therein. His letter is quite detailed. It involves stop signs and lines of vehicles over a kilometre long. He also threatens to smack himself over the head with a hammer if the situation isn’t resolved. You’re doing it wrong, Shane. You have to threaten to smack someone else. If you take yourself out of commission, all the City gets is less irate missives, so there’s little incentive for them to acknowledge your concerns.

Christine White is concerned about the speeding on McClocklin Road. Motorists aren’t stopping for children to cross the road (at a crosswalk) in order to get to school.

Charlcie Vidmar has had her garbage can run over and the city is not replacing it quickly enough. (The wheels are smashed off so she can’t drag it up into her yard.)  There are a lot of exclamation points used here.

Pat Tymchatyn is angry that Idylwyld traffic northbound is blocking the 31st street intersection during rush hour(s).

Margi Corbett is inquiring about the current status of Parcel Y.

Jennifer Jungwirth has some suggestions for the improvement of the Circle Drive – Airport Drive intersection.

Anita Hrytsak didn’t get her garbage picked up this week (September 25th). Neither did her neighbours. She would like to know when they plan on coming back? Please come back.

Marie Villeneau wants to know when Junor & 37th street will be opened.

Reid Schmidt is disappointed that there will still be an at-grade railway crossing as part of the Circle Drive South project. Wait, we will have an at-grade crossing there? Has anyone been on the Ring Road, like, ever?

We have a couple letters about Fairmont and 22nd St intersection, which has been resolved if news reports are correct. I am relieved.

Elsie Hanel-Jones is upset that the city is thinking about tossing out two faithful golf course employees. Also Holiday Park in particular is looking terribly shabby these days.

Tamara Wiebe wants traffic lights on Highway 11 and Warman Road (another person who refuses to use the name “Wanuskewin”) (Look, I like Wanuskewin, It is a lovely place. I don’t care for renaming roads halfway through the intersection just because.)

Jacklyn Regnier is embarrassed at the level of service 105th Street receives, specifically concerning street cleaning. Her car is dirty and she will not be voting for Mayor Atchison in her first election for which she is eligible to vote. It’s like we live in some backwards flat town…oh.

Joe Penner had a very bad surprise on the exit off Warman Road to Circle Drive East. It “turns suddenly into a sharp corner without warning”. This is alarming to me, as I use that exit often and I’m concerned about any sharp corners that may be installed there. Anyways, he ended up on the boulevard across the road in a “totalled off” car and his wife has a broken hand. I am trying to figure how he did this in my head and I’m saddened he didn’t include some sort of diagram. At any rate, he’s written a letter to council, so his wife’s hand is, er, in their hands. After close reading, the injury is implied to be a result of the crash but not specifically stated so. Someone should have a city lawyer call up and clarify that. It could be important later.
Gary Harbottle is upset that the Circle and Clancy Drive intersection will be restricted for the foreseeable future due to the Circle Drive South project. I hope Gary doesn’t get his hopes up that they’ll open it up over the winter.

Bret Donnelly got lost trying to go to Rosetown and wants some better signs showing the detour around the Shaw Centre. Or, he would have been lost if he didn’t live here.

Miss Gladys Hall has called the “HOT LINE” and has further information pertaining to the “rodent infested trash pile” on 2nd Avenue North between 25th and 24th. She has included a helpful and detailed map of the area. It’s across from the Pat, insert trash-pile joke here.

Lorena Friesen lives in Stonebridge and works at RUH. She is trying to take the bus to work, but the buses fill up at Place Riel and blow by her without stopping while she is waiting at College and Munroe. There’s a half-hour wait between buses and she doesn’t have enough time to boot it to Place before the bus leaves there. I am sure that the current Remembrance Day-themed messages on the bus LED displays are not helping. “Lest We Forget” indeed. She also has children and every half-hour is precious. Come on, buses, just stop for her.

Courtney Reinhardt has a creative solution for garbage at the landfill. She wants to build a “Pre-Loved Depot” for things people don’t want anymore but that other people can still use. OK, she finishes it off with stating she is in grade 10. I would very likely have written the same letter at her age. (Wait till she finds out that the charity she donates her used clothing to most likely just sells her good intentions to the rag merchants. We are drowning in cheap shit here. There’s a reason why Reduce is the first R.)

Iva Beck would like the Lakewood pool to be salt, instead of chlorine (she’s allergic.)

The Water Finance Research Foundation, with a truly awful letterhead, would like to submit a report about water main break rates in North America. If you’re interested, it starts on p. 399. It’s actually somewhat interesting?

Ken Ellis has a grievance about his Evergreen lot. He bought it, realized that it wasn’t a good fit, and then returned it to the store, he estimates, 6 months later. Unfortunately the store charged him a restocking fee, it appears, of some 13 grand and change. And then the store turned around and sold it for 17 grand more than he paid for it. (He states that this is “ludicrous” but if the City were indeed a private business, this would be termed “good business practice” and applauded by the shareholders.) He’s thinking about going to the local press (journalists take note). I am not quite sure of his next point but I believe his premise is that if the City sold the lots for a third of their market value, the bedroom communities wouldn’t be booming and the city would have all this glorious taxable new properties for themselves. Ourselves? Itself? Anyways he gets in a crack about how Saskatoon is just copying Calgary. Zing!

I am so glad that Ken Ellis and I agree on the importance of government-subsidized affordable housing. It is an affront that the government is asking us to pay market value for a public good.

(But seriously, I am somewhat interested to find out whether they ripped Mr Ellis off or if there is indeed a “restocking fee”.)

More Fairlight/Fairmont/Diefenbaker/22nd St traffic woes. There are a surprising amount of letters this month concerning this so I wonder what is going on down there.
The Andres would like to know if they can just add a teensy bit of lane on Circle Drive northbound between Taylor and 8th so they wouldn’t have to do the pesky merge-thing every time they want to go to the Centre mall. Related: did you know the parkade under the Circle Centre mall has 2 levels?? SORCERY. Well, not sorcery, just engineering. Now I need a reason to go to the Centre mall.

Joanne Schenn, bus pass #147526, chooses to ride the bus from Erindale downtown for work. (High five, Joanne.) However, her experience riding transit has become “impossible, unsafe and unpleasant”. She would like the University Only buses to scour the route first and strain out the students like so much plankton. This way she will have a place to sit or stand without being compressed or pushed over.

John Allen hopes that the newly-elected Council will not cater exclusively to the “ultra-rich”. He also calls out Mr Atchison’s comments on the 47% who did not vote for him and brings up the spectre of Mitt Romney’s similar remarks. Unfortunately for Mr Romney he made the key mistake of uttering this before the election instead of afterwards.

Adam Libke is frustrated with the pathetic level of service received in trying to pave 2 squares of sidewalk. Adam is in Ward 7; I suggest he get in touch with Councillor Loewen, if he hasn’t already done so. She can be surprisingly effective with cases like this, which is good, since it’s her job. Based on my impressive Google Map deducing skills, this is the offending sidewalk and offending alley.

Man, I sure hope they update those Google Maps images soon, otherwise I’m going to be making some unkind assumptions about the level of landscaping present in that fair suburb.

Trevor Larose has lived in both Edmonton and Cold Lake and says our current recycling situation is “well below either standard”. My sister lived in Cold Lake for a couple years and trust me, being below Cold Lake standards is not an accolade. He wants to know why we’re so far behind, but fortunately we have reams and reams of documentation, and past city council agendas, to prove it.

Here comes the snow-removal letters. I’m not going to summarize each one, I’ll just cherry-pick the best repartee.

Shauna Beattie, formerly of New Brunswick, is astonished we don’t plow the residential roads. She is also amazed that some people here clear their sidewalks with “LEAF BLOWERS”, instead of a shovel, implying laziness on their part. Especially when we get much less snow than NB. (Seriously though, guys. Leaf blowers?) Her letter is pretty great, actually, p. 434. This is what 6 million bucks gets you, Shauna. (Also, nice touch on the children part. That always plays well.)

Now we are being compared to Winnipeg. The indignities will never cease. Winnipeg salts their streets like McDonald’s does their fries – early and often. Saskatoon salts our streets like they’re heart-healthy.

Ramona wants to know why the graders will leave a spot for her neighbours’ driveways but don’t clear a concurrent space for her car. (She doesn’t have a driveway.) I guess 6 million bucks only gets you a certain level of consideration from the grader operator.

Time for the Edmonton comparison. They have 130 sanding trucks, 20-30 plows etc. Taxes in Edmonton are also lower, she adds, to pour (road) salt in the wound.

Brian would like to know in advance if his left-turn arrow suggestion for Diefenbaker and Fairlight is going to get shot down.

Phyllis Schmidt would like to have signs posted on the bus that no swearing and/or foul talk is permitted. Also, the bus driver was listening to the radio and it was on too loud and she had to hear an interview with “a witch” as well as some “heavy metal music”. Her third request is that the advertising on bus windows be moved up so that she can see out and know where she is. I agree, window perf is technically see-through, but only when the conditions outside are lighter than the environment inside. As for the witches, I can’t really help there. I’ve watched 5.5 seasons of Buffy but that’s it.
Alana Zimmerman moved to Evergreen and is dismayed to find out that there is no bus service there. Since she is a student, she is paying to take the bus which doesn’t exist (yet, we hope). I’d make a crack about subsidies cutting both ways here, but I remember being a student. I’d make another crack about Evergreenwashing but I’ve done that already in other venues. And I just did it here. Again. Moving on.

(Seriously though, your main selling point for Evergreen is that it’s a “sustainable development” and you can’t even get public transit out there? Oh great, now I’m the one yelling at the city administration.)

The fluoride/florine/floride/flouride brigade (platoon?) is out in fine feather this month.

Westcon is concerned about the 60th Street and Idylwyld. I agree, having the three way stop there is dumb and does not accommodate large trucks. He also says it’s a speed trap and that the speed limit should be higher on the service road.

The rest is just proclamations of assorted days, weeks, or months to celebrate/commemorate/bring awareness to assorted causes, diseases, and organizations. I must leave you here because Autism Services has written in, using their letterhead, featuring their giant logo in Comic Sans, and I am now blind.

So, I went to the Ken Greenberg/Alan Wallace talk last on the 20th of September at the Broadway Theatre. (Yes, I realize that it is October now, be quiet.) Ken Greenberg is a well-known figure in architectural and urban planning; he is a contemporary of Jane Jacobs and an all-around excellent person to read and follow if you’re interested in city-building.

Alan Wallace conveniently gave the exact same presentation as this video. I’m serious. He read it straight off the paper.

My only regret is that I thought of several points to raise only after we started biking home. So, here it is.

To be fair, Mr Wallace had a hard time following up Greenberg’s talk, especially to a reasonably educated audience. Saskatoon doesn’t shine when it comes to sprawl, and Wallace had to defend a growth plan that, even after revisions, puts 70% of new developments on the outskirts. However, Wallace tried to duck responsibility (in my view, and at least one questioner afterwards) by using the “cop-out” of “the market”, as in “the market will decide, we’re just offering people choices and hoping they’ll pick the best.” Hold up. A city operating on free market principles would not: 1. subsidize suburban development by absorbing the full costs of new developments on virgin land; 2. subsidize parking by requiring that all businesses provide (sometimes free) parking space based on the square footage of their premises; 3. have an urban planning department, really. I mean, people will self-regulate their housing arrangements, yes? (Speaking of that, I should really put up a picture of our neighbour’s house. So far, the hole in the side – caused by a speeding driver – has been repaired with a former gas station plexiglas sign, several pieces of lattice fence, a velour tiger blanket and two pieces of vintage chipboard.)

The whole point of city planning is to control what you can do with your property in order to ensure that we can live together without killing each other or ourselves.  (If you think I’m being dramatic, look at your neighbours. Do you really trust them not to go off the deep end if all planning restrictions were removed? Hell, my relatives’ neighbour of 20+ years installed a pond and killed three of my aunt’s trees in the process. The neighbours expressed no remorse.) If you want to see a community planned around the “free market”, visit a small town where there is no planning department or the city admin itself is defunct, like the hamlet near my parents’ farm. To revisit the topic sentence of this paragraph, one guy has bought up several lots and built a stockade with a tower in the middle. Ostensibly it’s for paintball or Airsoft but you’ll never know since the fence is over seven feet high. What I’m trying to say is, zoning prevents stockades and, done well, increases your property values. All filler, less killer. Unless it’s your trees.

Perhaps what the problem is in Saskatoon is not that we have too many rules  concerning growth – perhaps we’re just enforcing the wrong ones. What would Saskatoon look like if we removed the requirements, say, for front lawns to only be decorative (i.e. no vegetables)? Or to even exist at all? What if we stopped providing free storage for personal belongings, such as cars and trailers, on the street? I think a lot of the zoning bylaws we have are aimed at preserving an inefficient facade of gentility, and it might be prudent to take a closer look at why things are the way they are in order to change. We still need the laws to stop people from turning their yards into parking lots, though. Don’t get rid of that.

Returning to the video/Wallace talk, there’s a bit at about the 3:36 mark which is a giant arrow showing the daily influx to the north end for work. When the little diagram showing the new bus rapid transit pops up later in the video, note the lack of bus to the north end – it runs east-west, which is great if you’re in school, or if you have a lovely job downtown or at the university. Where are the subsidies for the large group of people to get to work? I sincerely hope there are plans for a north-south bus line, because frankly, the bus service in the north end is reprehensible. They’ve managed to make the 14 even less convenient than when I used it daily 4-5 years ago, which is staggering. It was crammed full in the mornings then, I wonder how popular it is now. I don’t need to tell you that having a reliable transit system is a godsend for employers as they don’t have to provide as much parking, have employees absent or late due to traffic or car woes, and the employees take home much more of their pay. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy driving. But driving to work every day in this city is not driving, it’s drudgery. I’d rather be on a bus or train, reading or listening to music, than edging up on yet another bumper. I got many a 20 minute nap in on the 14. Don’t look at me that way, I had to be at work at 8 am.

Frankly, the things I am saying here are not surprising. Many, many other think tanks, institutes, planners, developers and other urban advocates have expressed the same ideas. So it’s surprising to hear “let the market decide” from the head of the planning division here in Saskatoon. I can only conclude that we have much further to go when it comes to traffic, poor planning and frustration in this city. Apparently we are nowhere near the tipping point. Also, I did not get to have ANY of the fantastic spread laid out by Bulk Cheese after the Q & A and I am still bitter.

Sorry guys, this wasn’t very funny, and is rather disjointed (you should see all the ranty stuff I cut out before I published this, hoo boy). I  have been reading a lot of Stephen Leacock and Dorothy Parker lately, so I hope that will have some influence. It’s three more weeks to the election, and then another couple of days till we have a full agenda for council! I’m not sure I’m going to make it. So far the election campaign has been rather unremarkable, aside from some minor sniping between the Wolf & Atchison camps. There’s also Mr Mazurkewich, but I’d feel bad making fun of him. I suppose I could take a stab at the gong show down in Regina, but my sanity and hours are precious to me. At any rate we can all agree that the Atchison campaign lawn signs are ridiculous. QR codes? Pictures? The text only takes up 1/4 of the space available and is difficult to read. Also, can we talk about the use of Trajan Pro – that is some weak serif tweaking. Lawn signs have to be simple and bold, easy to read and easy to distinguish from the other candidates’. Mr Atchison’s are definitely different from the competition, but I’m not convinced that they were a good use of resources. If you’re wondering why I’m not ragging on the other signs…we still have three weeks. I do not forgive. I do not forget. Expect me. Especially if you use Trajan Pro. And QR codes. Come on, if you are trying to look “progressive”, using QR codes is like announcing your favourite ice cream is maple walnut, which we all know is code for “geriatric”. You know it’s true. God that felt good to get off my chest.

We were up in Evergreen and Silverspring biking around, seeing what the Evergreen development looks like in real time. There aren’t any pictures because it looks the same as Stonebridge, or Willowgrove, or Briarwood, but with more dirt. (And weird street lights.) To exit Silverspring, we took Central, and things were good until Garvie Road, which was where the MUP (multi-user pathway) mysteriously disappeared. There was still a well-worn desire path along the east side, but we opted to ride on the right side of the 60 km/hr road because we’d just come off cycling around on the dirt areas and I was tired of being jounced around. If I was a commuter up there, I’d be pissed. So much for “complete streets”. Then we headed west to the dog park but I promptly ate it on the deep gravel curve, so back home we went. At least I have a new fresh scar on my right elbow to match the one from May on my left.

Desire paths are a neat little concept, when you stop and think about them. I was always interested in seeing how people created them on campus, when I moved here 10 years ago (last week, wow.) I’m not sure why the sidewalk designers decided that students would rather wend their way around leisurely rather than take the shortest route. There’s a desire line that’s probably as old as the Bowl itself, running from the Physics/Admin corner down across to the Sask Hall intersection, along with many others. I often wondered why Facilities didn’t just pave it since the grass would never grow along there anyways. According to Wikipedia, desire paths can also represent anarchism, creativity, intuitive design, or the wisdom of crowds. I also like the (unsourced) assertion that planners in Finland wait until after the first snowfall to see where people travel and plan paths accordingly. (Instead of forcing them along a needlessly winding MUP, that’s right Briarwood designers, I’m looking at you.) Anyways, people on foot and bikes are no different than others – we want the shortest distance between two points, within reason. If I want a relaxing walk, I’ll go along the river, but I don’t use those paths as a serious commuting leg unless I have no other option.

Going back to the vanishing MUPs…I recommend David Hembrow’s a view from the cycle path for a terrific introduction and analysis into the transportation culture (well, specifically bikes) in the Netherlands. If you go to his page, there’s a sidebar on the right that has a methodical list of links breaking down excuses for poor infrastructure, design, and attitudes. I think in North America we place more importance on motor vehicles and businesses at the expense of people and the environment. Without the latter, the former is pointless. This is why I can get rather ranty on this subject – I see how it can be done well, elsewhere, and I have little patience for the half-measures we get here. I’m sure we all have a subject dear to our hearts that gets us going in a similar manner.

addendum:

I don’t even like MUPs  that much. They’re dangerous. Yes, that’s right, MUPs are more dangerous than riding on an unmodified street, in terms of collision amounts. (Collision severity is another thing. You are still less likely to die from getting t-boned by a jogger.) Only riding on sharrows and on the sidewalk are more dangerous. Here is a presentation given at VeloCity 2012 on cycling infrastructure and injury rates that I adore and have quoted extensively elsewhere.

Also we saw two guys pushing a heavily-modified and completely dead RX-8 through Silverspring. I used to like these punchy little Mazdas with their sneaky extra doors, but then I realized I would have to live next to my brother (a mechanical engineer) in order to keep the rotary engine running. At least it’s not the heaviest car to push, and they used the turn signal when turning, something many drivers with properly functioning cars can’t seem to manage.

Darryl on Spinks Drive is of the opinion that the city does not employ any traffic engineers, so he is helpfully offering solutions. Someone should also tell him the cost of installing traffic lights (I think it varies from 100-200k per intersection.)

Michael is in Grade 8 and has challenged himself to carpool, use public transit or cycle to school. Well done, Mike. He’s asking that if the pedestrian portion of the south bridge is done, could they open it to foot/bike traffic right away? It’s an hour and a half bus ride to his school, and the south bridge means he can bike it in 45 minutes or so (he estimates.) My husband would like to note that so far Michael has better spelling, grammar, and manners than most of the letters we’ve seen.

I notice that he hasn’t asked for improvements in bus service, but I’ll just share something I saw on another blog: we also need to consider the importance of suburb to suburb transit, not just suburb to downtown and vice versa. It should not take me 90 minutes to visit a friend in Briarwood when I live in Forest Grove.

Gavin Sheppard lives by Mayfair pool. He has tried to reserve a parking spot in front of his house with a chair but people are moving it. To stop people from taking his hard-earned spot on a public roadway, he wants the city to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Or at least the (dying, needle-infested) trees next to the current lot.

Maryanne wants to know if anyone on City Council has ridden the bus lately. Confederation terminal is not big enough anymore to handle the sheer amount of buses so people are forced to jog across Diefenbaker. Another deplorable state of affairs.

Alan from Priel Place (hm, I seem to have overlooked this street while on my funny name quest) wants work crews to cover and/or remove signs when they are not working because he has a right to travel uninterrupted (he doesn’t.) He’s talking about the repair work to the pedestrian overpass on the north end of Circle headed east, just east of the Warman on-ramp. Anyways, I’ve read the news release and they said that they left the barriers up while the concrete cured. He threatened that it would be a major issue during the election. I’ll say. If that pedestrian overpass crumbles during rush hour, it will be a major issue.

September is Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month.

October 14th to 20th is Poverty Awareness Week. (Every week should be Poverty Awareness Week, but that’s just me.)

September 28-30th is Culture Days.

September 8th is International Literacy Day.

And that’s it! No death threats or chemtrail conspiracy theorists. Rather a tame bunch.