162K cops, green red tape, Toronto song contest make headlines in Canadian cities

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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City taxpayers on the hook for police budget overruns and fancy equipment.

Torontonians woke up to headlines this week that some of their men and women in blue were pulling down about $160,000 per year in salary. This is vastly different from what is posted on the City of Vancouver's police website which states that a probationary constable starts at $52,233 per annum and can move up to $85,812 after a number of years of service. These headlines should help in the recruiting effort.

The issue of police salaries is always guaranteed to garner media interest. Last September, CTV reported that "more than 900 people on the Vancouver Police Department's payroll earned more than $75,000 dollars..."

In Toronto, the high salaries were blamed on a bunch of overtime racked up due to court delays. According to the Toronto Star:

"Those pay packets don't include lucrative "paid duty," where off-duty officers, paid by private companies, earn between $60 and $70 an hour to perform a host of duties, such as directing traffic around construction sites."

Speaking of ballooning police budgets, the City of Winnipeg if looking at massive cost overruns as it looks to move police operations into the old Canada Post building. According to the Winnipeg Free Press:

"The cost of replacing the Tyndall-stone cladding and moving police in and out of temporary office space elsewhere had ballooned beyond $40 million from an initial estimate of $17 million."

As we reported here earlier, police budget requests are met with dismay by other city department heads throughout the country. I'm sure some of the public servants in Winnipeg must be wondering if this whole project is going to balloon out of control. The Free Press also reports:

"The cost of purchasing and renovating the new building could be as much as $100 million, based on documents the city submitted to Ottawa in January as part of an infrastructure funding request."

Meanwhile over in Toronto, some environmentalists argue that some of Toronto's green initiatives are mired in red tape. A group called the Toronto Environmental Alliance gave Miller a favourable A- grade for climate-change initiatives, but dumped all over him and his Council for all the bureaucracy built into them.

According to Metro News, the Alliance felt the following projects were trapped in red tape:

The blueprint for Toronto’s sustainable energy plan has been delayed for more than a year;

• Plans to obtain 25 per cent of the city’s electricity from green energy starting in 2008 are facing a delay of at least two years;

• A report on Toronto’s green job development strategy was expected in late 2007, but remains outstanding;

• Delayed staff reports on the two-stroke engine ban (gas-powered lawnmowers and the like) mean it is likely to miss its implementation date of 2010.

Mayor Miller has also launched a contest to find a new song for the City of Toronto. While the music development department at CityCaucus.com is itching to get in there, our executive team decided we'll give this one a pass. However, if you think you have what it takes to create a new song for Hogtown, you should contact the Mayor asap. Word on the street is it will be performed as the finale song on the upcoming Canadian Idol featuring Ben Mulroney.

For more information on the song contest, click here. 

Finally, rounding out our top stories is word out of Montreal that the Habs could be sold and shipped off to some far flung destination in the Southern United States. Mayor Tremblay responded to the news by saying over my dead body, and the bodies of Hab fans across Canada.

“It would be impossible because the fans will never let it happen," says the Mayor. This is an election year in Montreal, and you can expect the Habs won't leave under Tremblay's watch...at least not without a fight.

And that folks is the week that was in Canadian cities. Tune back here next Sunday for our regular wrap up of the events that helped shape our urban landscape.

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