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Accidental Deliberations: On dramatic conclusions

Presenting a one-act play starring Saskatchewan’s Minister of Highways and Infrastructure, along with one of her party’s most troublesome adversaries.

Reality: How can you possibly justify spending more public money on highways to get less done?

Nancy Heppner: There’s a perfectly good explanation for that. It’s because we’re spending on the…(flips pages in the Compendium of Random Transportation-Related Terms)…culverts and bridges!!!

Reality: That’s demonstrably false. So again, how can you justify spending more money on highways to get less done?

Nancy Heppner: There’s a perfectly good explanation for that. It’s because we’re spending on the…(again flips pages (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here (via PressReader), arguing that there’s no longer any escaping the fact that Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party can’t be trusted to be either honest or reasonable about its biggest and costliest decisions.

For further reading…- Mike McKinnon reported here on the glaring gap between what Brad Wall knew about the failings of the Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage project, and the propaganda he spread publicly starting last year. Geoff Leo has exposed one set of design issues which have been withheld from the public. And the Canadian Press raises the question of what SaskPower is supposedly trying to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On contrasting activities

Thomas Walkom rightly notes that this fall’s election has seen somewhat more discussion of government acting in the public interest than we’ve seen in some time. But it’s worth drawing a distinction between the varieties of intervention on offer from the NDP and the Libs respectively.

As much as the latter have tried to suggest that running immediate deficits is the sole measure of progressivism, the real difference between the two lies in their longer-term plans.

For the NDP, the goal of an active government is to build up a stronger social safety net over time. Immediate funding for child (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ira Basen discusses the Canadian federal election campaign’s focus on the middle class – as well as the reality that the economic security which looms as the most important priority within that group will require more government action than the limited policies currently on offer. And Tavia Grant comments on how precarious work is being addressed by Canada’s federal parties.

- Meanwhile, Andrew Jackson discusses a new Centre for Spatial Economics study showing the positive economic effects of a long-term infrastructure plan.

- Dave Seglins, Harvey Cashore and Frederic Zalac report on how (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Point of No Return?

A friend sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article, “The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares are Already Here.” It’s a relatively complete and accurate synopsis of the state of our climate-changed world today.  Fair warning – it’s a dismal read that you may find upsetting before you sit down to Sunday dinner (if you still do that sort of thing).  Here’s my follow up:

For the first time people in their 30s and younger have to contemplate the possibility that their lives will end not by mishap or natural cause but out of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, reminding us that it’s our communities who ultimately pay the price for the poorly-thought-out election announcements from senior levels of government that we’ve seen so frequently recently.

For further reading…- CTV reported on last week’s Evraz Place expansion announcement, while the Leader-Post offered an all-too-obvious example of cheerleading for a shiny new project while paying no attention to the opportunity costs involved. – Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Party’s regular announcements and re-announcements of what proved to be an ill-thought-out scheme for new school construction have lasted from last July to last November to just last month. – And (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Juxtaposition

Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party is trumpeting the “success” of a hiring freeze in which the entire government saved $8 million in a quarter – or roughly $32 million per year – by not hiring staff.

Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party has increased the cost of consultants in the Ministry of Highways alone by roughly $50 million per year by using more expensive outside contractors rather than hiring staff.

Anybody else think the Saskatchewan Party might be freezing the wrong kind of spending?

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Margot Sanger-Katz writes about the connection between inequality and poor health. Nicolas Fitz reminds us that even people concerned about inequality may underestimate how serious it is. And BJ Siekierski asks what will happen to Canada’s economy in terms of both growth and equity as unsustainable resource and real estate booms come to an end.

- Of course, we could help matters by not burning billions of public dollars where they’re needed least. On that front, David MacDonald compares the Cons’ actual budget plans to the far more productive uses of public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Renzetti makes clear that we can’t count on one-time crowdsourcing to perform the same function as a social safety net: This is the problem with the wildly popular new online world of what you might call misery fundraising: It semi-solves one small problem while leaving the system in ruins. Crowdfunding someone’s personal tragedy is the equivalent of fixing a broken arm, but closing the hospital.

It used to be that crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter were wonderful places to raise money for cultural projects – movies, plays, even the occasional potato-salad (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Energy From Drinking Water

Drinkable water right from a tap in your home is a relatively new and amazing thing. Just when you thought water delivery systems couldn’t get any better a company has converted pipes into energy generators. Their new pipes can capture energy from water as it flows to its destination to provide a small amount of energy for communities.

“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler says. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.”

In Portland, one of (Read more…)

reeves report: Loopholes threaten Ontario Greenbelt

The Greenbelt Alliance wants better protection for the ecologically sensitive area, which remains at risk from sprawl, mega-highways and contaminated soil.

Map of Greenbelt and other protected lands in Southern Ontario.

SOUTHERN ONTARIO’S 7,200 square kilometre Greenbelt and the prime farmland and headwaters it contains remain at significant risk from expanding urban development despite protective legislation in place for a decade.

Ontario’s Greenbelt at Risk, a study from the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and Environmental Defence, believes the Ontario government must do more to strengthen protections for the sensitive Greenbelt space stretching from Welland east to Coburg and north to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kevin Page points out a few of the issues which should be on the table when Canada’s finance ministers meet next week: Our finance ministers are smart. They know that faster growth is going to require higher investment rates and sustainable public finances. But the reality is that Canada is falling down on capital investments in both the private and public sectors. Business capital investment has grown a weak 2 per cent over the past two years. That is not boosting the investment rate. Meanwhile, government capital investment has declined 2 per (Read more…)

ParliamANT Hill: Western premiers ask federal government for $1B spend on infrastructure

Satire inspired by this headline:

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman look into the spread of wealth inequality in the U.S., and find that it may be worse than we already knew. And Paul Krugman discusses how toxic anti-government ideology is preventing the U.S. from both getting its economy on track in the short term, and investing in infrastructure it will need down the road: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings — or more accurately, desired savings — with nowhere to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Abdul Abiad, David Furceri and Petia Topalova highlight the IMF’s research confirming that well-planned infrastructure spending offers an economic boost in both the short and long term: (I)ncreased public infrastructure investment raises output in the short term by boosting demand and in the long term by raising the economy’s productive capacity.

In a sample of advanced economies, an increase of 1 percentage point of GDP in investment spending raises the level of output by about 0.4 percent in the same year and by 1.5 percent four years after the increase (see chart, (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Hey, Think You’re Resilient?

“Resilience.”  It’s the new climate change buzz word.  It applies to individuals, communities, institutions, and infrastructure.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from repeated climate change impacts. It’s the ability to withstand repeated floods, for example.  That might require making your home resilient by having it mounted on stilts well above ground level.  It might entail constructing new floodways to channel flash floods away from communities.

Resilience planning was one topic of discussion at the 2014 World Climate Week summit in New York.

It’s not just the Third World that is taking up the issue of resilience.  In (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: You’re Paying for Those Pot Holes Whether They’re Fixed or Not

It’s no secret that essential infrastructure in North America is in a bad way. Neglect driven by tax cutting has led to deterioration in everything from roadways to overpasses, bridges, sewers and water mains.  The end result is essential infrastructure in immediate need of repair and replacement.

An illustration of the problem comes from a forced retreat of the “just in time” manufacturing sector.

Companies like Whirlpool and Caterpillar are making costly additions to their otherwise sinewy supply chains to compensate for aging U.S. roads that are too potholed and congested for “just in time” delivery. Some (Read more…)

PostArctica: Disgraceful Street Work In Verdun

For many, many years one of the most common pedestrian complaints on Wellington street has been the less than ideal condition of the granite tiles that run up the center of the sidewalks. People have tripped and fallen from getting a foot stuck on an uprooted tile or one that has sank or is to some degree not flush with the sidewalk. Recently Maçonnerie Gratton was awarded a contract to fix the tiles. You would think that being a well known business with over 60 years in experience in Verdun that nothing less than a good, effective professional job would (Read more…)

THE FIFTH COLUMN: What Are Cyclists Lives Worth

While I cannot answer that question I can tell you what our society and its governments have decided cyclists lives are not worth.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of installing truck side guards on all large trucks.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of developing and installing better mirror or camera monitoring systems for large trucks and all motor vehicles.

Cyclists lives are not

The Disaffected Lib: Sometimes In Life, It’s the Little Things That Matter

It’s really a little thing.  A little worse.  A little more frequent.  A little longer lasting.  A little more severe.  A little more damaging.

That’s the face of early onset climate change. It’s the face of severe weather events of increasing frequency, intensity and duration.  It’s weather made a little worse, a little more often, a little longer.  Yet it is, indeed, the little things that can really matter.

A little heavier rain, an extra day or two, once or twice more often per month. The thing is, all these little things add up and they multiply the overall impact (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Brad Wall is kicking Ontario while it’s down by demanding that it let stimulus funding leak out of a province which actually needs it – and how Saskatchewan and other provinces stand to suffer too if Wall helps the Cons impose similar restrictions across the country.

For further reading…- The Leader-Post reported on the Sask Party’s own rejection of the TILMA here, while Matthew Burrows noted Saskatchewan’s overall consensus not to pursue it here. – I posted here on the absence of any substantive differences between the TILMA which Wall rejected based on public (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: We Need To Do What These Guys Are Doing

“These guys” are the Brits.  What they’re doing is taking an inventory of their transportation infrastructure to assess its vulnerability to severe storm events caused by ‘early onset’ climate change.  The good news is that the Brits get it. They know climate change is real and that they’re going to have to adapt or else.  In other words, the Brits have concluded that infrastructure designed for Halocene conditions just can’t cut it in the Anthropocene.

Britain’s crumbling rail network is not built to “modern standards” and is at risk of a repeat of the severe disruption of last winter unless (Read more…) . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: We Need To Do What These Guys Are Doing

Things Are Good: A Call to Think Bigger About Transit

The way we get around in North America is changing from a work-home orientation to a node based network with multiple destinations. At first cars were used to fulfil this but as traffic worsens we need to rethink how we all get around. The solution, of course, is to kick the addiction to owning cars.

This raises bigger questions about the role of TOD in shared transport networks. One of the reasons services like Uber and Lyft, not to mention autonomous cars, make some planners nervous is because they don’t have a fixed node associated with them. So how do (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Post-fight analysis: Round 1 to Jim Prentice as Wildrose comes out swinging over debt remark

Jim Prentice and Wildrose champion Rob Anderson square off in Round 1, as members of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce look on. Actual scenes from Alberta political discourse may not appear exactly as illustrated. Judge Dave gives Round 1 to Mr. Prentice. Below: The real Mr. Prentice and the real Mr. Anderson.

Well, it’s hard to know for sure, but I’d say the first open policy scrap between Jim Prentice, Progressive Conservative Premier Apparent of Alberta, and the Wildrose Opposition yesterday morning went to Mr. Prentice.

Leastways, by most accounts Mr. Prentice managed to sound like a grownup when he (Read more…)

PostArctica: Turcot “neighbourliness” Meeting on April 23 in Saint Henri

Info Citoyens

Comité de bon voisinage

Dans le but de faciliter les échanges avec les riverains des secteurs touchés par les travaux de Turcot, le ministère des Transports met en place un comité de bon voisinage. Ce dernier vise à maintenir un dialogue tout au long des travaux, aussi bien avec les résidents que les entreprises et les institutions touchés par le projet. Ces rencontres permettent de faire le point sur les travaux, d’aborder les préoccupations de chacun et de travailler à mettre en place des solutions communes.

Une rencontre d’information qui s’est tenue le 11 février 2014 a permis d’en apprendre davantage sur ce comité et de faire (Read more…)