By Rosemary Westwood - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Turns out that free stuff on the side of the road isn’t actually free
It turns out, free stuff piled on the side of the road isn’t actually free. Chairs, tables and TVs plastered with “free” signs cost taxpayers in the Victoria area $330,000 to clean up in 2012. Vancouver spent $1 million. Now, as university and college students prepare to move house at the end of the term, Victoria is eager to head off another spike in student detritus, part of the 650 tonnes of abandoned waste the city hauled away last year.
The Capital Regional District and the University of Victoria student society have joined in a campaign aimed at reducing the heap of household items going to landfills by 15 per cent this year, partly through proper recycling. Emily Rogers, the student society chairwoman, says a few hundred students stopped by tables set up last week for the “Junk It” campaign. But getting a car-less student to take her junk to the dump will be tough, she says, noting, “You can’t take your couch on the bus.” There are, of course, numerous private disposal businesses eager to do the job, but that costs money and it’s something students and their parents have either been unable, or unwilling, to shell out for.
Victoria has company. Last year, Vancouver crews took away nearly 21,500 items, including 7,700 mattresses. Most cities, including Victoria, levy ﬁnes for illegal dumping—Toronto collected $31,500 in 2012—but “it’s hard to catch people,” says a Vancouver worker.
Another problem in the quest for cleaner streets: the curbside economy, in which people scour for free cast-offs. Websites such as Craigslist regularly feature “curb alerts.” Rogers offers caution, though: “For every treasure on the side of the road, 25 pieces of junk are decomposing.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Some of the Green party leader’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.
Remember, this was a byelection. So there was no—I think people get panicked about vote splitting. Whether it is another Conservative, whether all the three ridings had gone Conservative, it wouldn’t have changed the dynamic in the House of Commons one bit. So in a general election, you have a different set of concerns and I think the Liberals, the NDP, need to start talking to each other. I’ve said that for some time. The Green Party at our convention actually had the members pass a resolution calling for me and our federal council to seek cooperation with the other parties so that in the 2015 election, we—I don’t know what form or shape that would take, but at least have discussions with a goal of after the 2015 election, getting rid of first past the post. The only reason we have all these panics about vote splitting and strategic [voting] is because we have one of the most bizarre voting systems that remains in any modern industrialized democracy. We’ve got a situation where the minority of voters can elect the majority of seats and where people worry needlessly. In the case of Victoria, we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched a last-minute fear campaign to tell supporters that if they voted green the Conservative would come up in the middle. Well the Conservative was stuck at 12% and wasn’t going to budge and it was very clear.
So that vote spitting argument works on all sides. It can motivate people to vote, not for what they want, but against what they’re afraid of and in a set of byelections, we went into them thinking that this was an opportunity certainly to make sure that people could see the Green Party was viable in different kinds of ridings across the country and certainly you know, the fact … that parties that are larger than us, that were in what were presumed to be safe seats, when they won by over 50% just 18 months ago and I refer to both the Calgary Conservatives and the Victoria New Democratics, they eked out victories by very narrow margins and I think that’s a sign that really the politics of Canada is different. The Green Party is a force electorally across the country…
Again, I can’t stress it enough. Byelections do not put in place a government in power. So there’s much less to fear and the fact that people play on this, you know, you’ve got to vote for one party over the other because you’ve got to be afraid of a Conservative additional seat: that’s not going to change the dynamic in the House of Commons. In byelections, I felt much less pressure, but as I said, our party has a policy. Our membership has passed a resolution calling on us to seek cooperation. I did attempt to see, cooperation with one of the major parties before these byelections. I’m not going to go into details, but they weren’t interested.
So you know, we’re just in a position when in byelections, you want to do the best you can to ensure that a different voice is heard on the federal landscape and I think we did remarkably well and I’m very pleased that—you know, people wrote off Victoria as a place where, because Denise Savoie had last been elected there with over 50% of the vote, there was the assumption that it was such a safe NDP seat, that at least nationally, nobody really bothered to cover the fact that our momentum was huge. If the election campaign had been one week longer, we would have taken Victoria. In the meantime, Calgary Centre, I think that … who would have imagined before these byelections that you would even be asking me about a strong showing by the Green Party in Calgary Centre.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM - 0 Comments
Reviewing the by-elections, Alice Funke focuses on the Green vote.
But, if you look more closely at the right-hand side of the second graph above, and examine the parties’ historic vote-shares in the three by-election ridings, you are immediately struck by what became in many ways the most unexpected story of the evening. And this has big implications for all those trying to “unite the progressive vote” like LeadNow.ca, 1CalgaryCentre.com, and authors like Paul Adams of PowerTrap.ca … The Green Party cut into the Conservative vote in Western Canada. Substantially.
… What this suggests to me is that strategies aimed at causing parties to withdraw from certain ridings may have quite different outcomes than their proponents predict. And the one riding that was the most beset with endless clumsy tactical manipulation and cross-party griping about who was splitting whose vote, also wound up (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) being the riding with the lowest voter turnout.
Meanwhile, the Greens have clearly delivered a scare to the three other political parties in english Canada in this round of by-elections, and have finally understood the importance of a beach-head versus rising tide strategy to a small party, especially during by-elections. But their continued existence is also in greater jeopardy from the cuts to the public subsidy, as they are not raising nearly enough just yet to replace it and be able to run a substantial enough national campaign to keep beach-head seats in the fold. Also, they have yet to be able to sustain an eye-popping performance from one campaign into the next, as the history of London North Centre, ON, Central Nova, NS,Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, ON, and Guelph, ON amongst others amply demonstrates.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
The by-election results with changes from the 2011 election in brackets
Conservatives 50.7 (-3.9)
NDP 26.3 (+5.2)
Liberals 17.3 (-0.6)
Greens 4.1 (-1.3)
Conservatives 36.9 (-20.8)
Liberals 32.7 (+15.2)
Greens 25.6 (+15.7)
NDP 3.8 (-11.1)
NDP 37.2 (-13.6)
Greens 34.3 (+22.7)
Conservatives 14.4 (-9.2)
Liberals 13.1 (-0.9)
Overall, the Conservatives won the night, but lost a chunk of their vote share in the process.
Conservatives 32.9 (-11.4)
NDP 24.4 (-5.6)
Greens 21.7 (+12.7)
Liberals 19.9 (+3.5)
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s by-elections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham. Results should start coming in after 10pm when polls close in Victoria. We’ll be here all night (or at least as long as it takes to exhaust whatever drama can be found).
Some numbers by which to measure the night. First, the vote percentages from the 2011 election in each riding.
If you combine the 2011 results for those three ridings, the cumulative total divides like so.
9:45pm. Beyond the obvious (who wins?), some questions for tonight. How low does the Conservative vote go in Calgary Centre? How well does the NDP vote from 2011 hold up? Can the Liberals show improvement? Can the Greens make significant gains? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Polls close at 9:30 p.m. EST in Calgary Centre and Durham and 10pm EST in Victoria. We’ll have live coverage here tonight starting around 9 p.m.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
An interesting pitch from the Conservative candidate in Victoria (a riding that hasn’t elected a Conservative since 1984).
The closing argument is “Lets (sic) not send another MP to Ottawa who will be shut down,” which seems a rather negative assessment of the Harper government’s treatment of opposition MPs.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 1:11 PM - 0 Comments
In a release this morning, the Prime Minister announced byelections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham. (A fourth byelection could be necessitated by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Etobicoke Centre this Thursday.) Bob Rae thinks the Prime Minister should’ve waited for the Supreme Court and added Labrador (Peter Penashue’s riding).
As Kady O’Malley notes, the Conservative party’s early line that “majority governments don’t win by-elections” is mostly nonsense. Two years ago, we did the math on the last thirty years of byelections—see here and here—and came to a similar conclusion.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 3:55 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP MP for Victoria is retiring. Here is the official news release.
Victoria Member of Parliament Denise Savoie announced her retirement from politics today. Savoie will be resigning her House of Commons seat effective August 31, 2012. The constituency office will however remain open and its personnel will continue to serve the people of Victoria.
“After 6 years in the House of Commons and nearly 13 years as an elected official, I have decided to return to private life,” said Savoie. “My doctor gave me a health warning this spring and recommended that I adopt a more balanced lifestyle, without the travel and physical demands of the job of an MP from Western Canada. I am therefore resigning as the Member of Parliament for Victoria.”
“Denise Savoie leaves a tremendous legacy to the House of Commons and to the New Democratic Party of Canada,” said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. “Denise is a leader in our caucus with her passionate commitment to sustainability and protecting our environment and her focus on cross-party cooperation on issues of common concern. She will be missed by all of her colleagues regardless of political affiliation.”
“It has been a privilege to serve my community as a Member of Parliament,” said Savoie. “I am proud that I was able to secure federal infrastructure funding for the Johnson Street Bridge and sewage treatment. In the House of Commons, I introduced legislation and motions that reflected Victoria’s values, such as creating a national child care program and banning tankers from our sensitive coastal waters.
“Thomas Mulcair is an exceptional leader who is inspiring Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” said Savoie. “I am confident he will build on Jack Layton’s 2011 breakthrough and lead the NDP to victory in the next federal election.”
Denise Savoie was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Victoria on January 23, 2006, becoming the first woman ever elected as MP from Victoria. She was re-elected in 2008 and 2011. After the 2011 election, Savoie was appointed Deputy Speaker. She served on Victoria City Council and the Capital Regional District board from 1999 to 2005. Prior to entering elected politics, Savoie was active as a volunteer with many community and environmental organizations in Victoria.
Before Ms. Savoie won the riding, Liberal David Anderson won it four times in a row. Through the 1980s, Victoria was a battle between the NDP and Progressive Conservatives: the PCs winning in 1979, 1980 and 1984 and the NDP winning in 1988.
This could set up a round of as many as four by-elections this fall. Calgary Centre and Durham are currently without MPs and, pending the Supreme Court’s decision, Etobicoke Centre could have to go to a vote too.
By Mark Richardson - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
Victoria, British Columbia – Day 57
Trans-Canada distance: 7,370 km
Trans-Canada adjusted distance (including …
Victoria, British Columbia – Day 57
Trans-Canada distance: 7,370 km
Trans-Canada adjusted distance (including ferries): 7,605 km
Actual distance driven: 15,245 km
NOW: (Victoria) Tristan and I drove the final hour right through to the very end of the highway this morning – or is that the very beginning?
The sign says “Mile 0” and as journalist Walter Stewart wrote in 1965, “the Trans-Canada Highway (is) the world’s only national roadway that has two beginnings and no end. You start from Mile 0 on Water Street in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland, drive 7,714 kilometres, and finish up in Beacon Hill in downtown Victoria, where the sign reads – guess what? – Mile 0. Neither city wanted to be at the tail of the procession, so we made a road with two heads and no foot. Very Canadian, very sensible.”
That was close to 50 years ago and much has changed since. The road no longer starts in Newfoundland in downtown St. John’s – as I discovered on the first day of this journey, it starts at the dump – and the distance is now more than a hundred kilometres less, including the salt-water distance covered by the ferries that connect Newfoundland and Vancouver Island to the mainland.
While the eastern end of the highway is purely practical, because Newfoundlanders generally consider it to be the road across their province rather than the road across Canada, the B.C. terminus is still graceful and beautiful, once it’s finished pressing through Victoria’s congested downtown. The Trans-Canada ends at Beacon Hill Park and today there was a young deer grazing under the trees near the sign. It seemed a world away from the moose I was warned about constantly back East.
It’s also no longer a challenge to drive; anyone with a licence and a vehicle can do it. Rush along and it can be covered in a week, though those are long days filled with driving and not much fun. But slow it down and everything changes – the highway becomes a necklace across the country, linking the Canadian provinces and their people to each other in a tangible, physical, highly visible way. There’s still a romance to be found on the road if you want to look for it: it’s right there beneath your feet, under your tires, waiting to show you Canada.
THEN: (Victoria) The Malahat Highway, which goes over the mountain just north of Victoria, was completed in 1912.
Thomas Wilby and Jack Haney drove it to arrive at the provincial capital on Oct. 18 that year, 53 days after leaving Halifax, and I’m sure the end could not come too soon for the pair. They’d grown to despise each other. For an account of the journey, take a look at my story in Maclean’s magazine here.
They went straight to the provincial capital building beside the harbour to deliver various pieces of mail to the mayor that dignitaries had given them along the way, and then to the coast to pour their remaining bottle of Atlantic water into the Pacific. That night, as in Vancouver, they were feted as heroes – or at least Wilby was. Dinner was at the Pacific Club and Albert Todd – of the Todd Medal – spoke, then the deputy minister of public works, and then Wilby.
In his book A Motor Tour Through Canada, Wilby says that “It was after the car had been stripped of the appurtenances of travel – after the speeches of the banquet at the Pacific Club – that I strolled out under the stars to the Douglas obelisk in the Parliament Grounds… Sir James Douglas, who had pre-visioned the day when vehicles would make the crossing of the Canadas to the Pacific! Linking east with west – a trail from Hope to the Kootenay across the Rockies, meeting at Edmonton a similar road built westward from the Atlantic – a great highway should cross the continent by which emigrants from the maritime provinces might have easy access to British Columbia. As in the days of Sir James Douglas, so now Canada needs the Transcontinental Highway for the unification of her peoples.”
It was not that simple, though. Wilby and Haney left separately to return east on separate trains and never spoke to each other again. Indeed, Haney rarely spoke of the adventure at all. And it would take another 50 years before the Trans-Canada Highway would be declared open, and another decade after that before it could really be considered finished.
And it’s still not finished, though it is complete. It will never be truly finished, because it’s improved, widened, straightened, smoothed over with every year that passes. In another hundred years, who knows what the Trans-Canada will look like, or what route it will take? But it will be there, linking the provinces, lending its iconic route to the country, never to be taken away.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: (Victoria) Louise Rouseau lives at Mile 0 House, right opposite the famous sign in Beacon Hill Park. Her cousin owns the building and she visited in 1961 on her honeymoon, the year before the TCH was opened officially. Is there anything different about living right at the end of the Trans-Canada Highway?
“Oh yes,” she says, “there most definitely is. You see a lot of stuff here – some sad, some good. One guy drove off the end of the road, down the cliff. He was trying to kill himself. It didn’t work though and he walked back up on the steps.
“People come to see the Terry Fox statue. Many tour buses stop here, but I don’t know if they know that it’s the end of the Trans-Canada. I tell them if they ask. Sometimes, when I’m out with my grand-daughter, we get swarmed by a tour bus. We get our photo taken – a lot.”
SOMETHING FROM TRISTAN, 12: (Victoria) Today will be my last and final day of blogging and I am happy about it because I will no longer have to stay up late writing it. Now I can stay up late watching TV.
We had tea at The Empress hotel today and everything in there was so fancy. I was so afraid to do something wrong, but I got through it without doing anything wrong, I think.
So as I said earlier this is my last day of blogging, so I would like to wish all of the people who read my blog a farewell. Goodbye to all.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 5:28 PM - 0 Comments
Courtesy of the Martlet, video of Thomas Mulcair speaking to a crowd at the University of Victoria. His speech starts around the 11-minute mark, questions begin around the 27-minute mark. Topics covered include: the greatest city in Canada, resource development, the Canadian Wheat Board, supply management, fighting the Conservatives, international relations, public services, the purpose of government, C-38, the Liberal party, foreign aid and energy. At 29:52, Mr. Mulcair does his Michael Ignatieff impression. At 37:56, Mr. Mulcair is challenged to justify using attack ads.
By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
… a secondary sewage treatment facility, that is
It has been a slow, painful process, but it looks like Victoria and the surrounding Capital Regional District will eventually get what most every city in the First World takes for granted: a secondary sewage treatment facility. The scenic provincial capital has been the butt of jokes and the target of anger from environmentalists in Canada and neighbouring Washington State for piping its screened but untreated sewage a kilometre offshore into the Pacific Ocean.
The federal and provincial governments are expected to announce “within weeks” they are finally paying their share of the $782-million project, district chairman Geoff Young told Victoria’s Times Colonist. The three levels of government are to share the cost equally, but the funding announcement has been repeatedly delayed after the recession sent revenues down the drain.
The district had long argued the sewage was diluted and rendered harmless by the deep water and fast currents. The provincial government forced the issue in 2006, ordering that a secondary treatment plant be in place by 2016. But even if construction begins next year, the first treated flush isn’t likely to be celebrated until 2018.
By Sarah Efron - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 4:38 PM - 0 Comments
Visiting cocktail makers bring in fresh ideas and fresh faces
On Sunday around midnight at Unlovable, a subterranean bar along Toronto’s trendy Dundas Street West, a steady stream of customers heads inside. The main draw isn’t a band or even a DJ—it’s the bartender. Matt Turenne, a jovial man in a lumberjack shirt, normally pours drinks at a large restaurant and bar called Parts & Labour, but he’s spending his night off “guest bartending” here.
“I’m stuck at my own bar all week, so it’s fun to get behind the bar at a place where I hang out for fun,” says Turenne as he prepares his own take on a Manhattan: Kentucky bourbon, sweet vermouth, the aromatic liqueur Amaro and two dashes of Angostura bitters. He’s one of a half a dozen or so local bartenders and restaurant staffers to do a guest stint at Unlovable in the last two months.
Although bars in Canada are just starting to dabble in it, the practice is commonplace in New York City. Some Manhattan bars bring celebrities behind the bar for charity events, while others recruit regular people—preferably those with large numbers of thirsty friends. In the last few years, the Mad Men-inspired cocktail craze has spurred an increase in guest bartending so drink specialists can show off their creations at new venues.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 16 Comments
If, as variously reported, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers the fall economic and fiscal update to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce today, it will be the third-straight fall he has delivered the update to an audience other than the House of Commons. Last year it was the Mississauga Chinese Business Association who enjoyed Mr. Flaherty’s presence, two years ago it was the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
Granted, the last time Mr. Flaherty did deliver the update in the House, what he had to say nearly brought about his government’s defeat.
By Richard Warnica - Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Gloomy weather in B.C. is taking its toll on tourism
While most of Canada has sizzled in recent months, it’s been downright gloomy in B.C. There were only seven days above 22° C in Vancouver between May and July (normally, there would have been about three weeks’ worth already). In fact, 2011 could be Vancouver’s coldest spring and summer on record, says David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada. Making matters worse, it’s wetter than usual, too; the city has been drenched with 94 days of rain in the last four months. Victoria has also been colder and greyer than average.
Added up, it’s bad for business. Frank Bourree, a B.C. tourism industry analyst, says many restaurants have suffered because of the slowdown. Patios have been sitting empty and some proprietors have been forced to close. While the weather isn’t solely to blame, experts say it is giving potential tourists—especially Americans on the West Coast looking for a weekend getaway—second thoughts. (The plummeting U.S. dollar isn’t helping matters, either.)
B.C. relies heavily on U.S. tourism, and the industry had been hoping for a big year. While Tourism Victoria says the number of U.S. visitors to that city is up slightly from last year, the total is still down considerably from pre-recession levels. And things aren’t looking much brighter in the near future. The weather forecast for August: more of the same.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 1:55 PM - 208 Comments
With 51 precincts reporting specific estimates—restricting the count to media-reported figures and, where available, police counts—it’s possible to account for approximately 21,000 anti-prorogation protestors at yesterday’s rallies. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 11, 2009 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
This week’s Newsmakers
It’s coal in your stocking, bucko
Santa shook like a bowl full of Jell-O at the Southlake Mall in suburban Atlanta, but not in a good way. Police in Morrow, Ga., say 45-year-old William C. Caldwell III dressed as an elf and waited an hour in line to have his picture taken with St. Nick. When he reached the man in red, Caldwell, looking very elfin at five feet tall and 108 lb., said he was packing dynamite in his bags. Santa called security. The mall was evacuated but no explosives were found. The naughty elf faces a variety of charges and the prospect of Christmas behind bars.
The other shoe drops
Two Iraqi journalists are now one shoe short of a pair. Muntazer al-Zaidi, who famously chucked a shoe at former U.S. president George W. Bush, has himself become a target of flying footwear. Zaidi was speaking at a news conference in Paris when an exiled Iraqi journalist, arguing in favour of U.S. policy, hurled a shoe at Zaidi. Zaidi’s outraged brother attempted to rough up the fleeing journalist, who wasn’t immediately identified. And Zaidi later complained, “He stole my technique.”
Son of a Terminator
If the rumours are true, Tallulah Willis, 15, is dating Patrick Schwarzenegger, 16. Doesn’t that have the makings of the ultimate teen-romance action flick? Willis shares her time with daddy Bruce Willis, and with mom Demi Moore and her hubby Ashton Kutcher. And Schwarzenegger’s dad, Arnold, is the governator of California. The New York Post says the pair started dating at Halloween. A rep for Bruce Willis denies it, but dads are always the last to know. Continue…
By Jason Kirby - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 11:20 AM - 18 Comments
After Canwest’s fall, stations are searching for salvation
In late August, employees at CHEK-TV in Victoria gathered in the parking lot for one last goodbye. After 53 years on the air, Canwest Global Communications was about to pull the plug on the money-losing television station in a desperate and ultimately futile attempt to stave off collapse. Then, with just hours to go before the final fade to black, general manager John Pollard announced a last-minute reprieve. He’d reached an agreement with Canwest CEO Leonard Asper that would see the station’s 40 employees, along with a handful of Vancouver Island residents, buy CHEK and run it themselves. But if Pollard, now a media proprietor in his own right, is at all nervous about betting his life savings on an industry that just saw one of corporate Canada’s most spectacular flame-outs, he’s not showing it. “We get to call the shots now,” he says. “We’re going to make this work.”
The daring experiment at CHEK is just one example of the way the media landscape is being forever altered. A perfect storm of the recession, new technologies and shifting tastes has threatened the way conventional broadcasters like Canwest, CTV and the CBC have operated for decades. Now, with Canwest’s move to put itself into bankruptcy protection, a wave of speculation has been unleashed about who will buy the Global Television network. More importantly, questions are being asked about how those stations can once again be made viable. Continue…
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Get all the numbers behind our exclusive survey. And see where your city ranks.
The Maclean’s survey of Canada’s Best and Worst Run Cities, published in our July 27th issue, misstated the residential tax burden for the city of Longueuil, Quebec. The original figure, as compiled for Maclean’s by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, put the average tax burden per residence at $666. The city of Longueuil has now revealed its own estimate is $1241 per residence. The published figure was calculated using only those taxes directly assessed by the City of Longueuil and failed to include the taxes paid by city residents to cover services provided to the entire Longueuil Urban Agglomeration (of which the city forms a part).
The adjustment means Longueuil’s grade for taxation efficiency falls from an A+ to a C+, or from 1st to 14th among the municipal governments surveyed. Accordingly, it drops from fifth place to seventh in the overall rankings.
Maclean’s regrets the error.
This survey, the first of its kind in Canada, provides citizens in 31 cities across the country with comparative data on how well—or poorly—their city is run, measured by the cost and quality of the public services it delivers. (Why 31? We took the 30 largest cities in Canada, added whatever provincial capitals were not on the list, then subtracted a few cities from the Greater Toronto Area for better regional balance. Somehow that left 31.)
Though the overall results—Burnaby, Saskatoon and Surrey, B.C. lead the pack; Charlottetown, Kingston, Ont., and Fredericton trail—will be of particular interest, they are less important than the process this is intended to kick off. We aim not merely to start some good barroom arguments, but to help voters to hold their representatives to better account, and indeed to help city governments themselves. For without some sort of yardstick to measure their performance, either against other cities or against their own past record, how can they hope to know whether they are succeeding?
To compile the survey, Maclean’s commissioned the Halifax-based Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, expanding on the institute’s earlier work measuring the performance of municipalities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Unlike other studies, this does not try to measure quality of life, or which city is the “best place to live.” Rather, it focuses on the contribution of local governments to this end.
This survey looks at a city’s efficiency—the cost of producing results—and the effectiveness of its services, including how well each city does when it comes to things like maintaining roads and parks, picking up garbage and putting out fires. Click below to see how the numbers break down. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, November 21, 2008 at 2:17 PM - 7 Comments
Here, after more than a year in the making, is the route for the…
Here, after more than a year in the making, is the route for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic flame, done up as a nice interactive map.
Guaranteed, there will be grumbling from some communities that didn’t make the cut, but, really, it’s a pretty impressive exercise: three oceans, more than 1,000 communities, scattered over 45,000 kilometres (10,000 kms more than originally planned) and spread over 106 days. Some 90 per cent of Canadians are within an hour’s drive of the route, so deal with it. It all starts in Victoria on Oct. 30, 2009, before veering North, way North, as far as Alert, within 900 km of the North Pole. Why stop there guys, go for the Pole, assert Canadian sovereignty over Santa!
Here’s how you apply to be one of the 12,000 torch bearers. Continue…
By John Geddes - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 1:09 PM - 2 Comments
Stephen Harper is about to speak to a smallish Tory crowd at the Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel and Marina. The view here on this sunny day couldn’t be better. Just below the hotel where he’s speaking is the office of Orca Spirit Adventures whale watching company. (A few years back, I spent a memorable day on one of their boats, which I can see docked from where I’m writing.)
The location is important, given that today’s Victoria Times-Colonist features a front page story under the headline “Killer whales threatened by salmon shortage.” Salmon stocks are down, the whales aren’t getting enough to eat, and they are “losing blubber and developing strange behavioural patterns.”
Stock markets will bounce back, eventually. We know that, no matter how worried we get. But fish stocks? They have a way of collapsing permanently. In this case, the black and white whales would go with them. It would be helpful to know what the Fisheries and Oceans department has to say about today’s news in the local paper, which is based on reports from independent scientists.
But the Times-Colonist tells us that a DFO official said the federal government’s experts are not granting interviews during the election campaign. This strikes me as absurd. By the way, the Prime Minister will be talking about banks today.