This Week At City Hall: Budget and Buses, Oh Boy!

This Week at City HallLast week, I swear I kept planning to write a traditional This Week At City Hall column. You know, where there’s a little introductory blurb — 100 to 200 words on a rant-worthy item — and then a quick list highlighting what’s going on in each committee meeting. Like I did for, what? Years?

But then every time I sat down to write, those intro rants about the stadium kept taking over and I’d run out of time before getting to the committee meetings.

But not this week. I’m going to jump right into the meetings and I won’t get sidetracked by all the stuff I didn’t get to last week but wanted to. Like the fact that in their stadium financing plan the city is still contemplating instituting a hotel tax to help offset the annual stadium-related mill rate increase. It makes some sense, a hotel tax, seeing as increased tourism is one of the hoped-for benefits of an improved stadium. But then, back when this stadium was still more of a provincial deal, a hotel tax was one of those crazy ideas that was being floated at the National Infrastructure Summit and was being discussed by some on council as a possible revenue source to help with our infrastructure deficit. You know, to help fix our roads and stuff so that visitors wouldn’t remember Regina as Pothole City. But now, with the stadium folk eyeing that as a potential revenue source for their sexysexy project, it looks like the roads and utilities gang should consider dowsing for revenue streams elsewhere.

And whatever you do don’t get me started on that proposal for a “linear park” that will run along the north side of the railway tracks between downtown and the new stadium. No, no. I shouldn’t get going on that at all….

 

Monday, January 21
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): Our new council faces its first budget today. And based on comments in the Leader Post, a few councillors haven’t decided if they’re going to vote in favour of that 4.45 per cent property tax hike. The article suggests that councillors Murray and Hawkins and even Mayor Fougere are on the fence. Also, the Canadian Federation Of Independent Business have sent in their annual letter whining about taxes on business being too high. It looks a lot like the one from last year. Maybe I should start up a think tank of my own and send in annual reports to council saying, “Crank up those taxes, gang! Because, when surveyed, 42 per cent of our members — which represents 11 per cent of the people we found at O’Hanlon’s sober enough to answer a survey or at least nod along while we were talking — agreed that taxation is totally rad. Plus or minus 13 per cent. Additionally, 73 per cent of them think O’Hanlon’s plays just the right amount of 80s music.” I think that might bring some welcome balance to the discussion.

Tuesday, January 22
PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (4 pm): Considering a recommendation to phase out solid waste collection for commercial customer. Seems that because the city is converting all their trucks to gather up those plastic rollout bins as part of the overhaul of the waste management system they will no longer be able to collect commercial garbage so easily. If passed, commercial customers will have to get their waste collected by private companies.

Wednesday, January 23
COMMUNITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES COMMITTEE (4 pm): Considering proposed changes to transit services. Good news! There’s a plan to radically overhaul routes so that service is dramatically improved. Bad news! Due to a lack of resources, this brilliant new plan won’t be available for “many decades.” In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with some rejigs where some routes will run more often but a lot of other routes will run even less often than they already do.

And that’s it for this week. You can read the complete reports yourself on the city’s website.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

9 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: Budget and Buses, Oh Boy!”

  1. What’s the linear park proposal? Clearly a take-off on New York’s High Line park, but I haven’t heard of it. Anyway, isn’t the stadium boondoggle destined for the Agribition Grounds where that heritage barn conveniently burnt down 4 years ago?

  2. That would be “dowsing”, not “dousing”.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that I have to give up my private curbside recycling company, while businesses large and small may have to hire private firms to tote away their solid waste.
    Can you say “ass-backwards”? I knew you could.

  3. Talbot: The linear park is a proposed swath of green that will run from downtown to the new stadium on the exhibition lands. If it happens, it’ll run just north of the rail line. I don’t think all the details have been worked out. Details like how they’re going to pay for it. This doesn’t seem to be a part of the stadium project. And I don’t know if it’ll be part of the RRI or if it’s just an idea they’re throwing around right now.

    Barb: I might even go so far as to say bass-ackwards.

    (And, re: “dowsing”: fixed. Thanks.)

  4. I disagree. The current system is backwards. People will always produce more waste than neccessary if it’s a) easier and b) cheaper. Other places I have lived do curbside recycling pick up at no additional cost and charge you yearly for garbage and then a per bag fee (so that those who use the most landfill space pay the most). Businesses also had to contract garbage pick up for themselves. They often have vastly different waste management requirements from one business to another. The system we currently have in Regina just fools people into thinking there is no cost to being wasteful and producing limitless amounts of trash, when in fact there are both environmental and financial costs (cost of new landfill space for one). Very frustrating. I for one am glad to see Regina finally moving forward with this. Wish they would take it a step further and identify the charge as being for garbage as it should be and charge for volume so that people would actually think about what they are throwing out.

  5. Oh, I agree with you that the charge should be on garbage not recycling. (And I’m pretty sure Barb would as well.)

    That was the original plan that staff pitched. And we’ve covered the schlmozzle that happened at council that’s led to the current situation where recycling will be the extra cost.

    As for commercial customers needing to contract out for garbage collection, I just pointed this out on twitter (where you can follow me at @pauldechene) that not all of these customers would qualify as “commercial.” Sure, there are some pizza joints on that list, but there’s also the city’s various fire stations, several non profits and churches, and some sites operated by the City of Regina.

  6. Just a quick correction for you Paul, the Exec Committee Meeting is actually at 5:30PM today, not the 11:45 as per usual. So, you might be able to make this one if you’re interested!

  7. About the linear park, what can I say, what an amazingly unique idea: Create a “green” walking path RIGHT ALONG THE TRACKS where thousands of drunk-ass Rider Fans will be making their merry way back to wherever they (I mean their DD) parked, you know, the “short” 15 minute walk as outlined in the plans. LOL

    For those that truly want to raise a ruckus about this ridiculous Stadium Project (No it’s not the fricken RRI – let’s call a spade a spade here), City Council is making the “ultimate” vote on Monday, January 28, 2013 at their Council meeting beginning at 5:30PM. This will be the meeting where they sign the legally binding contracts, so any decisions made after this date, if approved, will cost taxpayers big money. That said, a large group of us are working on holding a demonstration in front of City Hall from 4-5pm on the 28th, and would love it if you could make it out to show your support. You don’t need to do much else other than simply showing up and being a supportive body in the demonstration.

    It is our goal to raise awareness of other very important issues that the City could and should be addressing, long before ever taking on such a massive project like this new stadium, especially considering it is more of a luxury item, and certainly not a need. There are valid options that the City hasn’t considered, that the province did during their study. We simply want the City to delay the legally binding decision for six months and review these options and allow public input into the process.

    If you can make it out, it would greatly be appreciated, but if not, we completely understand. I would ask that you share the event with as many people as possible. You can find all the information on my website at http://novak2012.blogspot.ca/p/rri-faqs-position.html

    Thanks again,
    Chad Novak

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