Some headlines in the the week that was in Canadian cities
What happens when it snows heavily in London, England and you simply don't know what to do? Well, who else would you call but the Mayor of Winnipeg. The BBC did just that last week when they phoned Mayor Katz to find out what were the best techniques to keep a city running during a major snow storm. Almost every Winnipeger was tickled pink when they heard they were being singled out by the Brits for being the snow capital of the world. Perhaps the next time it snows in Vancouver, the Mayor may want to give Katz a call to get some tips as well.
In Edmonton, 630 Ched Radio is reporting that some city bus drivers were illegally selling their shifts and making some big cash. Mayor Mandel questioned why the transit administration wasn't even aware of the shift trading scheme:
"The standard shift exchanges are acceptable within practice, but this idea of trading a $25 shift for a $20 shift, or not working for months on end -- that's something you should have reacted to within the general parametres of the managerial job."
Selling shifts is now banned, however, you can still trade hours for hours. According to the auditors report, some drivers were selling so many shifts that they didn't show up to work for months in order that they could run their own small business. Not showing up to work for months...what's so odd about that?
First the Hudson's Bay Company renamed themselves HBC, and now Edmonton has moved to rename an LRT station previously known as the "Bay Station" to "Bay/Enterprise Square Station" effective immediately. People were apparently getting really confused because there is no such thing as "The Bay" anymore. After reading this story, you can just picture thousands of people wandering aimlessly through the station looking for "The Bay." It will cost city taxpayers $25K to change the name. No word yet on if they'll still retain Edmonton's scratch 'n' save transit ticket days.
In Winnipeg the Aspers are at it again this week when they confirmed they are prepared to commit up to $100 million toward the construction of the city's new outdoor football stadium. The Aspers were also instrumental in building a new baseball stadium as well as the new Human Rights Museum in the Peg. On a side note, the shares of Asper's company CanWest Global were recently hitting all time lows, with imminent threats of more layoffs and newspaper and TV operation cuts.
It is expected that the feds and the province will kick in the remainder of the $35 million needed to finance the 'shovel-ready' project. If the deal materializes, the 30,000 seat stadium will be home to both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the U of M Bisons.
Given the economic recession gripping the world, Mayor Katz was thrilled to hear Asper was still behind the project:
"When the private sector comes forward and puts in this kind of investment, this is a win-win for everybody."
Speaking of investments, Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier says he want to limit how much people can donate to future mayoral campaigns. It's all part of a comprehensive campaign finance reform plan he unveiled last week which includes preelection disclosure of land holdings and contributions.
If Bronconnier's new rules are adopted by Council, it would also limit one individual or company to a maximum $10,000 donation over the three-year term limit before the election. Some folks like Alderman Ric McIver simply don't think this goes far enough. Here is what he told the Calgary Herald:
"We need to have a more comprehensive plan...After a year, my colleagues haven't agreed to move forward or do anything.
"The mayor is talking about a letter people sign, but I think we need actual rule changes...After a year of batting it around, I'm going to try it again and take it straight to council."
While we're on the subject of campaign finance reform, we would be remiss if we didn't remind our readers that Vancouver Councillor Raymond Louie has yet to reveal who donated to his failed leadership bid last year. CityCaucus.com staff are still betting 9:1 that he'll do the right thing and make the list public as soon as possible.
Meanwhile our Official Donor Disclosure Countdown Clock™ keeps ticking at the top of this web page.
Over in Ottawa, embattled Mayor Larry O'brien is trying to get back in the good graces of voters after a long transit strike by offering a parking ticket amnesty. The Mayor wants the City to write off all parking tickets issued during the 53 day labour dispute. Here's what he told the Orleans Online:
"I think it's one thing we could do to ease tension (with members of the public). We can forgive the parking tickets that were issued and give a refund to people who've already paid them"
No word yet on how much O'Brien's ticket amnesty will end up costing city taxpayers. If you recall, he ran on a campaign of no tax increases for the City of Ottawa during his term. Ok, so he didn't keep all of his promises.
Lastly, what would our cities in review round up be if we didn't include yet another story about poor Benoit Labonté, Vision Montreal's leader, and how three of his stalwarts just bailed on his party. They include Suzanne Gouin, France Laplante and Uldège Couture, all former members of the opposition Vision Montreal executive in various wards.
Here's what Madame Gouin told La Presse:
"Tous les deux ayant démissionné, je ne vois plus d'intérêt à rester dans un parti où il y a discordance et étant solidaire, j'ai pris la décision de démisionner de Vision Montréal"
En Anglais..."this party is going down big time and I thought it was time to bail before the whole ship was under water." Ok, this isn't the literal translation, but you get the point. See you all back here next Sunday for our Canadian cities roundup.