Archive for January, 2012

CBC is reporting on new conflict of interest guidelines for marketing companies working on government files.

These guidelines state:
“Not to Represent nor advise any person or organization engaged in advocacy activities against the government including Crown Corporations or other agencies”

This constitutes a major problem. This is not so much a problem for marketing companies as they can choose not to work for companies who do not fall in lock step with conservative beliefs or principles. It is however a major problem for advocacy groups or other political parties in this province who may find that their marketing company may choose to no longer provide services to them because they want to get a government contract.

It could go even farther where some companies in an attempt to meet the criteria may start cleaning house and firing employees who do not believe in the lock step notions of the Alward government.

This new policy could even be interpreted as an attempt to influence the upcoming municipal elections by intimidating marketing companies to not provide services to those candidates who may speak out against the government.

This policy is extremely nasty and could be used in ways that could seriously impact on the way of life of everyone in this province. It’s long term impacts could be felt nationwide if this is not curbed before it starts.

The Moncton Transportation Discovery Center was first studied back in 2003-04 and a recommended design (same one we are looking at today) was put forward and approved by council. Finally in late 2011 (after 7 years) they got funding from the federal government. They originally got 1 million from the province in mid 2010 (just before the election, still unpaid). The city plans on paying for half and was looking for 2 million from private investors.

Now there are multiple problems with this whole process for me. Over the 7 to 8 years that they have been “working” on this file construction costs have dramatically increased. This means that original cost estimates are basically meaningless. Secondly we have the provincial government with the liberals promising money so close to an election that they were almost guaranteed to be annihilated in and the conservatives failing to meet signed commitments that were in place before they were elected. Thirdly we have a city who wants so badly to play with the big boys but have no interest in paying for the projects themselves.

There is nothing wrong with getting involved in huge projects or for municipalities to work to improve themselves with great facilities. However, If we are going to do this we need to make a serious effort to pay for our stuff ourselves. This is not a huge issue as the city should be setting a portion of their budget aside for big ticket items anyway and I would hope they are. But we can not keep expecting other people to pay for our luxuries. Especially when many of them we could afford ourselves if we made half an effort.

It is true that the liberals should not have been promising money to the city if they were not willing to write a check on the spot, and it is equally true that the Conservatives should be upfront and admit they have no intention of honouring this commitment the previous government made. But over half the budget for this project is accounted for (the city was paying for half, and sponsors being found for 2 million additionally) so I think that perhaps after 8 years it just might be time to get off the pot and start breaking ground for this project. Because on top of everything else while we are sitting there waiting patiently for the Alward government to produce the portion of funds that the Graham government promised, construction costs just keep going up and this project keeps languishing away because with no action started, there is no sense of urgency on the part of the provincial government to declare their intentions with regards to the portion promised by the previous administration.

This type of thing is endemic in this city, with the Moncton Event Center being looked at. The whole aim for the city is to line up funding, They are going to the Federal government (who said no) and they are going to the province, but what they are not doing is looking at ways to make the project a financially viable project that would pay for itself and allow the city the ability to create the project without going hat in hand constantly begging for funds from other people for things that WE want in OUR area.

We have the ability and it is time that we showed it. We need to get our hands out of the other levels of  governments pockets and prove that we deserve to play with the big boys. We are grownups it is time to prove it. Let’s leave our begging for things that really matter and pay for our frills and luxuries our self. 

I would love to see this museum and I really believe in the event center project but I also believe in doing things for ourselves. 

Promises Vs Intentions

Every election there comes along a party (or more than one party) who promises that they will give the voters a real treat. They promise far more than their wallets can pay for and then they break them all because there is no money to pay for what they keep promising.

I think as a voters we would be better served if the politicians actually told us the truth.

In that vein I will tell you my thoughts on my run for Mayor. There is not a lot of promises to be made. To keep my promises the council (who are not obligated to me at all) would have to back my positions, the city staff would have to fall into line and the money would have to be readily available. None of these can be guaranteed with any level of certainty at any time.

I have certain things I hope to be able to accomplish. These are my goals for my term as mayor. I will work towards achieving as many as I can. Some are obviously out of reach but I can try to set the groundwork to make it feasible in the future.

  1. Find a way to get the event center construction started. This should be doable with or without federal or provincial funding and we need to look at options to figure out how to make it happen.
  2. Change the plan for a traffic circle on Killam Drive to an intersection that is better planned then the present design. This should likely include widening Purdy and Mapleton to four lanes because of traffic volumes that an updated intersection would create.
  3. Find some way to improve the intersections at the Gorge Road/Mountain Road/Evergreen intersection as well as the intersections from there to the Northwest Center as there are many that are poorly laid out. This should improve traffic flow in the area however there is no “quick fix” this area needs a lot of study to fix poor planning from previous decades.
  4. Make a portion of the downtown area a “pedestrian mall” specifically from the subway area to city hall
  5. Fix Assomption Blvd and make it 4 lanes to accommodate the increase in traffic from closing Main street area.
  6. Would dearly love to sink the entire train line that runs through the downtown core. This could all be buried but it requires major planning and preparation and is a major project.
  7. Fix the “booter” problem in the downtown area. My personal thoughts would be to licence booters with licences costing 500,000 per year and 10,000/boot/yr, limiting release fee to $25 half of which is paid to the city, and all lots allowing booting must be licensed and registered with the city at a cost of 100,000/yr.
  8. Fix the problem that allowed a strip bar beside a high school and a “swingers club” in a primarily residential neighborhood by requiring that adult entertainment facilities of this nature be confined to industrial park areas. (rather than waste time trying to shut them down just force them to move to an area they do not disturb people as much)
  9. Find a way to finish the work on the Peticodiac. The provincial and federal governments choose to look at it or not as the mood fits them but while we wait for them to fix the mess we are left with a project just barely started and then left in a mess.

There are so many things I would love to do as Mayor and not all of them are covered here. But promises are a dime a dozen and all I can promise is that I will do my best to make sure the voters in this city get the best value for their money if they elect me Mayor.