Category Archives: Saskatoon

Some last minute election thoughts

  1. I think Charlie Clark wins the mayoral campaign because they a) have lists and b) the ground game.  That being said with my prior history of election predictions…  I really have no idea.
  2. Despite every suggesting otherwise, I really have no contact with the Clark campaign.  The last time Charlie and I talked was at Sean Shaw’s goodbye party and we talked about how many cameras I owned.  In a weird role reversal, I couldn’t give him an answer.  I was sick pretty much since then and didn’t attend any City Council meetings.  On the other hand, I endorsed him so some of you will call me a Charlie Clark stooge.  It happens.
  3. I don’t really know what happened to the Moore campaign but it seems to be a bunch of stances that over reached and from the emails and comments I got, started to undermine some trust and confidence.  The “hands in the cookie jar” release was brutal.  It never should have happened.  Here is why.  When you make an attack like that, people have to believe something is up.  The things with Charlie Clark and Donald Atchison, people believe that if either one of them found your wallet full of cash on the street, they would call you up and give you back.   There isn’t a hint of scandal around Atchison or Clark.    When you go negative at that time, your attacks backfire.  It also undermines your efforts to be a victim with mean tweets videos right after.  So yeah, it was a bad week.
  4. I also think saying Saskatoon is in a financial crisis was mistake from the Moore campaign.  I have looked and looked and looked at those numbers.  I have asked City Hall staff, other councilors, gone through my vast database and even talked to a contact at a rival rating service.  Saskatoon is not in a financial crisis.  The credit card is kind of maxed out for a few year while we pay some stuff off but it’s not a crisis.  Most of the debt is at a really low rate.  I don’t agree with all of it but things go back to normal in a few years.  Finally for the last two years councilors have been having casual conversations with me about future spending and slowing it down.  They have concerns as well but there does seem to be some plans in place for prioritizing things.
  5. I think campaigns do this often but instead of doing what you were doing to get close to the lead, they decide to do something different to push them over the top.  In the end, it almost never works.  Instead, double down on the strategies that made people like you in the first place. 
  6. Some of the campaign teams have expressed regret for how this campaign got out of control.  To them I say… well I want to say…. okay… I am going to say it, “Fuck you”.  You are the ones that did what you did to make it get out hand for short term gain to win shots against the other side that no one cared about.  You could have said no but you didn’t so don’t express regret to me that relationships are ruined and that people (including people who are just voters) got hurt.  You did it with eyes wide open and you knew the consequences to friends and the city.  So yeah, I don’t care if you are sorry.  Nothing is worth lying about, attacking people personally, and basically being assholes in the name of power.  As someone hilariously tweeted, the good news is that one Wednesday night, three mayoral campaigns will have lost.
  7. Who ever runs the SassyGal account has cost the Moore campaign many votes, including Wendy’s.  Moore’s campaign team has said over and over to me that it isn’t them but then distance your campaign from it by calling it out.  Sadly as anyone who reads it knows that it is an insider writing it and it reflects poorly on the entire campaign.  When Jason Kenney does a better job of distancing himself from troll accounts than local campaigns do, you have a problem.  Amazing how an account with only 65 followers can do so much damage. 
  8. I have no idea what is going to happen in Ward 2, Ward 6, Ward 8, or Ward 9.  Incumbents win in the rest.
  9. I am not cut out for politics.  The practice of a campaign where every four years you try to end someone’s career isn’t something that I enjoy watching.

At the end of the campaign, the mayor is going to have to lead a very divided city.

Things I think I know

  • I write this guide to vlogging over at the Don’s Photo blog yesterday.  I had done one back in April based on Casey Neistat‘s setup but some of the feedback was that it was too expensive.  Of course thinking through more affordable options now has me thinking about picking up either a Canon EOS Rebel T5i or a Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and Canon’s 24mm f/2.8 lens.    That’s the problem with being given the freedom to write this stuff, I end up selling to myself.  At the price point, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is a great camera and with the size of that an the lens, it is not much bigger than the $1600 Fujifilm X100-T with the same sized APS-C sensor.  That and I love the 35mm focal length for almost everything.
  • Speaking of work, we are doing a fall photo walk starting at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Some colleagues are joining me and then we will head to Alexander’s for some food and drink afterwards.

It's this Sunday

  • We are going to do a winter one after Christmas.  For photographers in Saskatchewan Christmas is both awesome and horrible.  We get all of this gear and then are trapped in winter for months.  So during Wintershines, we will head downtown, take some shots of people skating at the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink @PotashCorp Plaza, head through the downtown to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market and use some of the gear we all got for Christmas.  It should be fun.  Cold but fun.  Also I just cut and pasted the skating rink name into this post from Meewasin’s page.  I just noticed the @PotashCorp in the name.  Interesting.
  • I expected the Broncos to be 8-8 this season so the losing isn’t unexpected.  They might get to be 10-6 but since they won the Super Bowl last year, I can’t complain.
  • I love the Blue Jays but if Cleveland won the World Series in the same season they won the NBA championship, I wouldn’t be upset.

This is why I am voting for Darren Hill in Ward 1

Wendy and I live in a tough neighborhood in Saskatoon.  Some of our neighbors struggle and Wendy and I hear about those struggles.  For whatever reason they have problems with City Hall and they talk to Wendy about it.  The first answer is to have them talk to Darren HIll.  The story is always the same.  Darren helps them.  There is a phrase that you can’t fight City Hall.  Well sometimes you don’t have to.

Darren Hill campaigning for a tigers votes in 2012

That stuff matters to me.  Knowing that people who have had a rough time struggle can get help.  They can with Darren.  One of Wendy’s co-workers had no luck with her councilor and Wendy mistakenly told her to talk to Darren (thinking about where she worked rather than where she lived).  Darren helped her resolve her issue in minutes.

The other reason I endorse him is that a lot of people online think I hate Darren and always want me to run against him.  We joke around online and he torments Wendy (It’s a hilarious story and Mark and I are firmly on Darren’s side on this) in person and online but I agree with many of his stands and have no reason to run against him.  There were some votes that made me question what he was thinking but overall he does a good job representing the diverse Ward 1 and his constituents and deserves another term on Saskatoon City Council.

Here is funny story to pass along. I can’t remember the reason but someone called The StarPhoenix wanting to talk to me about something.  In that situation The StarPhoenix doesn’t give out my cell but I get the message and a return number emailed to me.  So I call a women up and somehow it came out of nowhere that she hates Darren so much, she can’t even stand to see his name is writing.  Later that day I was talking to him and he knew who I was talking about without me giving him the persons name.  He can’t resolve all of the issues but I know he has made an effort on so many of them.  For the record, I think that hating an elected official so much you hate to see their name in print in next level. 

About that photo, I grabbed it from Flickr account and at first glance, the photo’s thumbnail looked like he was dropping a baby.  Instead he is campaigning for white tigers votes at the Saskatoon Zoo.  You just know that sometime during this photo op there was some bloodshed as the tiger tried to attack him. 

Ward 5 Roundtable

Last Tuesday Lenore Swystun, Hilary Nelson and myself sat down with Randy Donauer and Paul Miazga and chatted for 30 minutes about Ward 5, challenges confronting the city, and why we should vote for them.

The audio stinks in this because I haven’t had any time at all to edit it, play with the levels and convert to MP3 since last week. I’ll fix it tomorrow morning.

Ward 3 Roundtable

Lenore Swystun and myself hosted Ward 3 councillor (and candidate for re-election) Ann Iwanchuk on CFCR’s Civicly Speaking.

Councilor Iwanchuk gave her reasons for re-election, talked about development in Ward 3 and explained to us why the budget process was as messy as it was.

You can listen to the MP3 of the show below.

Marley vs. Darren Hill

So some of you have wondered what is up with the Marley vs. Darren Hill thing.  Some of you think too much.  Don’t read too much into it.  I live in Ward 1, Marley lives in Ward 1, Hill is the councilor and incumbent in Ward 1…

There really isn’t much thinking at all about it.  Hilary’s sister’s cat Nano is making a credible run for Mayor and Marley is joining the slate.  In other words it was a late night joke that seemed funny at night but really isn’t right now.

Marley for Ward 1 Councilor

My other point for doing this is to show how easy it is for anyone to do a personal page.  It drove me crazy when I can’t find an elected officials website and when I call them on it, they always go, “well I need to get it redesigned” or some other excuse.

For most politicians, the reason I am on their website is that I need some information from them, like a phone number or a email address to contact them with.  It means an or similar page would do all of that for people really, really easily.  You can even use your own domain name with it.

So if you are a prospective councilor, school board trustee, or any elected official, put one of these together and make it easier for people to find you.  It takes 5 minutes and if you use the url, it’s free.

Ward 2 Roundtable

The Ward 2 Saskatoon City Council Roundtable

Lenore Swystun, Hilary Nelson, and myself hosted three charming candidates on running to be your Ward 2 councilor Saskatoon City Councilor on CFCR’s Civicly Speaking.

In the studio was incumbent Pat Lorje, Mark Zielke, and Hilary Gough who gave overviews of why they are running, what they are running on and how they would meet the challenges of the city in the next term.

You can listen to the MP3 of the show below.

Tonight at 6:30 Lenore and I host Ward 3 Councilor Ann Iwanchuk.  Challenger Mark Mills can’t make it.

A friendly note from Darren Hill

… to anyone who is thinking of running against him in 2016.


Many of you have offered to volunteer on the campaign. I am extremely grateful for the outpouring of support. I am very fortunate to have lots of the team from the last three elections returning, however, some friends and family have moved away and we would welcome the help.

Here is an update of where we are at and if any of the opportunities are of interest to you I would be happy to have you on the team.

* Billboards / bus benches / portable Signs
* Senior Citizen policy team & events
* Fundraising committee work
* Policy committee work
* All 10 brochures designed – 2 printed and 8 ready to go
* GOTV Team coordinated
* Half the lawn signs will go out early next week and the remainder as soon as the opponent declares
* Posters going up Monday
* Vehicle wraps (x3) ready to go if required

In other words, if you run against me, I’ll crush you and take away your desire to ever hold public office again.   Also from the looks at the Senior Citizens policy work, he’ll win your grandparents support and have you disowned.    It’s going to be awkward when your parents are driving around in one of his Darren Hill wrapped vehicles.

Race for Ward 10 Just Got Dirty

Mattea Merta's Campaign Door Hanger

There is a lot going on in this door hanger by Mattea Merta.  So we must:

  1. Cut spending in the city and only concentrate on core services
  2. Build a pool for Ward 10 families.

Okay then.

The fun line in all of this is the attack on Zach Jeffries which may not be that accurate.  If I recall, Jeffries is contracted out by Junior Achievement’s board as a contractor to do certain programs.  A distinction that is kind of important.  It’s a piece of literature that seems to reflect the worst in civic politics and gives people a reason to by cynical.  Not that way I would want to start my campaign.

Also, I hate being that guy but it’s rein in taxes, not reign in taxes.

Some quick takes on Saskatoon City Council races

This is what I think I think.

  • Dayday is not a credible candidate.  His Twitter handle links to a domain name that is currently unregistered.  If you can’t register your own domain name and set up a website, why are you even running.  This seems more about a blood feud with Atch than anything else.
  • If crime becomes an issue in the election, both the Mayor and Clark are in trouble.  Both have been around forever and it’s gotten worse on their watch.
  • I haven’t seen a lawn sign on public property yet.  This is is a good thing.  Can we keep them off of public property?  It makes the city look like crap and boulevards don’t vote.
  • In the spring, Darren gave Wendy some gardening advice.  She ignored it (because she always ignores good gardening advice) and our garden sucks despite the heat and the rain.  It’s a bit of the sore spot with Wendy and one that we enjoy rubbing salt in.  Anyways I point this out because one candidate ran in 2012 because they thought the front runner was rude on the doorstep.  Not that I am saying that Wendy is running but it’s amazing what motivates people to run for office.
  • Everyone is telling me what the impact on Kelley Moore’s entrance into the race will be but none of us have any idea.  It’s been 48 hours.  No one knows how a campaign is going to go after only 48 hours.  For right now, she has a long hill to climb but remember, when Nenshi started, he was dead last and considered and after thought.  Even the election that saw Atch election, he was behind before a violent assault happened downtown and shook up the race.  No lead is safe in civic races.
  • I was really surprised that Atch has been taking the summer off of campaigning.  I was challenged on Twitter that he has the right approach and by lying low, he makes himself as small as target as possible.   On the flipside, I am even hearing from candidates in areas that most would define as Atch’s base that people really want change.  I still think if he loses that the election could have been lost in August.

Bridge City 2.0

I have been asked a lot lately if Bridge City is now fixed.  For those of you not keeping track at home, I crashed Bridge City a few months ago and lost about 500 posts and photos.  I was devastated and felt like giving up on the project to document most of the important buildings and landmarks in Saskatoon. 

The Calgary Tower

Since then I have been uploading and putting back parts of the site that I had thought I had lost.  It’s a slow process but one that is making progress.

Right now there are 373 posts on the site with a new one going live each day from now until basically early 2017.  If I keep shooting at this pace, we should be okay through the end of 2018 in a few months.  That is awesome.  I am also backfilling a lot of posts on the day that I took them.  So if I took a photo in 2012, I am uploading it the day I took it in the timeline.  The good news is that it gives the photos their correct chronological context, the bad news is that I didn’t do that with version 1.  So a photo that I once posted in 2015 may be now posted in 2011. 

Some of you have criticized the travel sections because they are not from Saskatoon.  To that I say, “meh”.  I travel, I like taking photos and I like reading about the architects who build stuff.  You can deal with it.

I have also been asked what is the local response.  Traffic is up but engagement with builders, property owners and architects is also up.  I have also had some question the accuracy of what I have written here because their documents are different.  Those conversations are a lot of fun because mysteries or contradictory information is fun to resolve. 

The goal is 1000 posts by New Year’s Day.  90% of that will be Saskatoon.  So if you want to keep up to date, check back daily and browse the archives. It’s a ridiculous project and in some ways I wish I had never started but someone had to figure out the history of every building in the city didn’t they?  What’s that?  They didn’t?!  Darn it.

Some quick hits

  • So yeah, the infection in my leg is taking over my body again.  The specialist was hoping we had it killed but it came back in under 48 hours and started to move through my body.  Am back on antibiotics but right now my throat, ear, eyes, leg, and many joints hurt.  Also the fever is something else.  It was a year ago that I dragged myself into St. Paul’s Hospital and the doctor simply said after doing blood work, “this infection is killing you”.  A year later, it still seems able to do that.  Yes it still sucks.
  • Why do dogs sense that you have a fever and decide at that moment above all else, they need to hold you.  I love Marley but I am sick, the last thing I want is to wake up to a dog sleeping nose to nose with me and touching me.  She has twice tried to cover me up today as well.  Also, where is that service when I am cold and she is taking my covers?
  • I keep hearing that Bev Dubois is running for mayor.   This could be the greatest thing over for the Charlie Clark campaign even if Atch does drop out.
  • I watch Ken Burn’s The Roosevelt’s the other day.  The entire documentary series may be his best yet.  If you haven’t seen it, it is on Netflix. 
  • I’m missing something but I don’t understand Black Lives Matter protesting and disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade.   I am totally okay with protesting but I don’t know what disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade accomplishes when they are clearly not the ones that Black Lives Matter has an issue with.   Also, how does a festival that is about inclusiveness has a history of “anti-blackness”.    Then they wanted to kick out the Toronto Police floats who BLM sees as racist, even if their new chief is black.  At the end of the day, I don’t understand activists.
  • Kudos to John Tory, Kathleen Wynne, Naheed Nenshi, Justin Trudeau and all of the other politicians who took stands and participated or lead Pride parades in their cities.  You will notice that I left Atch’s name off that list.  His refusal to march in the parade like almost every other liberal and conservative politician in Canada boggles my mind.

Promoting Local

The other day I walked into my favorite restaurant and was immediately swarmed by the owner, the cook, and the waiter who all thanked me for mentioning their restaurant in The StarPhoenix and in an media interview I did.  They mentioned how people have come by because of what I say on Twitter and my blog as well.  I thought the whole thing was kind of cool but as I said, “I’m not the one making the killer lunch specials.”

We all know that social media advertising works but one thing is that I have never understood about how politicians don’t use it more to promote their own ward businesses.  Economic development is an important part of any politicians local goals and I think they ignore the platform that being elected and their social media profiles give them to promote just that to promote business in their ward or constituency.

While I want my elected officials to look at the big picture, promoting the underdogs in the ward can be a good thing and as Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi has shown, it’s something that can be easily done in the evening during quieter hours.  Whether as a mayor or a councilor or MLA, what cooler project would it be to visit and promote your constituents businesses and organizations to a wider audience.  I’m talking Walmart’s but the family owned businesses that make up our smaller commercial districts.

Does it make a difference.  You should check out my email when either Wendy and I blog about a local business.  I write about it, you click on it, some of you stop by and buy from them and people are happy.  More politicians need to do this.  If it makes a difference for local businesses when I do it, imagine what can happen when they do it.

A Short Disclaimer

Some of you have asked if I am helping with any political campaigns in the municipal election.  The answer is no.  I did no work on campaigns in the provincial or federal election either.

I will let you know that Wendy and I are friends with a few candidates and councilors like Jeff Jackson and Zach Jeffries.  I have hundreds if not thousands of political discussions over the last five or six years with them, often mocking and criticizing them.  I have called out Zach in columns and in the blog and I think I have been fair when I have done it.  I can tell you that I have never pulled a punch or a criticism of a politician because of a friendship and that has ended some friendship (which sucks by the way).

If Jeff wins, I can’t promise to call him out but if he does anything stupid or against the interests of the city, I most definitely will call him out on it somewhere.  He knows that and I am sure will tell me how wrong I am at a high volume when I do.

Some ask me if that influences what I write about.  Yes and no.  No in the sense that they don’t give me direction on what to write about.  Yes in that some of them are also reading and researching aspects of urban life and they bring up some interesting idea of policy being looked at or implemented somewhere, I read it and research it myself.  It’s just nerds sharing ideas on urbanism and cities. 

Wendy and I are both friends with Councilor Pat Lorje.  Both Mark and Oliver would consider her a friend as well.  Now that I think about it, most of our conversations have to do politics outside of Saskatoon.  American politics and even some Spanish discussions.  She also has given Wendy and I some solid parenting advice which we appreciate.  For those of you who follow my writing, you know that Councilor Lorje and I are on the opposite sides of some issues that both of us feel quite strongly about.  She has gone to great extent to telling me how wrong I was on columns in the past and I assure you she will in the future.

I also have a good working and personal relationship with Councilor Darren Hill.  We have grabbed the occasional drink over the years and mostly discussed issues relating the ward and city.  Most of those were constituent – councilor conversations but like all of politicos we do talk politics.  We also have disagreed on things over the years.  I have endorsed him the last two campaigns.  I may or may not this one but I think it is fair to Darren and anyone who is running against him to wait and see campaign platforms before I endorse.

Wendy and I both get along with socially with some other councilors.  I don’t offer up that much in policy suggestions but if I have read something similar to what they are musing about, I tend to fire them off some things.

Before you accuse me of being too close to council, let’s recall they hired a RCMP investigator to investigate non-existent leaks to me.   I also think as a group they collectively are one of the worst city councils in Canada.  Some of them have personally expressed their contempt and hatred of me in person and in writing.   I try not to take it personally.

Those of you who have seen me having a drink or a coffee with a politician need to know this, they aren’t asking me for advice and if they are good at what they do, they ignore any advice they give them.  I don’t care about the political process which is bad for a politician in an election year.  I am not a strategist, a tactician, or anything else.  I am a friend and a pundit but I tend to stay out of it during campaigns other than listen to funny door-knocking stories. 

If you have any thoughts or concerns about my objectivity, let me know.  I’d love to hear them.

Saskatoon City Council Roundup

  • I updated the Candidate tracking page here. With Jeff Jackson’s candidacy, Evan Drisner and Charlie Clark campaign websites.
  • Jeff is a good friend of mine.  I am just tossing that out there in terms of disclosure.
  • A little shocked to read that Drisner singing the praises of Eric Olauson.  Most would have considered Olauson a terrible councilor that contributed little to the city.   He was unprepared for most meetings I watched, didn’t appear to have read his council packet, and was more interested in his version of partisanship than anything about constituents.  Yes he was elected as a MLA but on the coat tails of the most popular Premier in provincial history.
  • I have heard from several that Atchison’s fundraiser was not a success.  Corporate tables sold out but where full of junior associates and staff and the individual seats were less then half full.  Oddly enough people keep pointing out that Atch didn’t thank people individually or work the room.
  • Atch isn’t marching in the Saskatoon Pride Parade again.  I really wish this wasn’t an issue and that had done it before.  He is invited every year and every year he comes up with a ridiculous excuse (or just is silent) on why he doesn’t do it.  I’m not a politician but I too am missing the Pride Parade.  Wendy, Oliver, Mark and I are hiking to Grey Owl’s cabin that weekend.  We have attended in the past though.
  • For those of you who say, “It’s his personal choice if he wants to attend the event.”   Fair enough but no one forced him to run as mayor either. When you seek public office, there are certain obligations.  As almost every Canadian mayor and politician has shown, marking in a Pride parade is an important part of that.