It is so depressing to think about how much further along in their thinking that places like New York City are than Saskatoon in realizing that not all people own cars. Just think about it, a street designed for cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. It could one day happen in Saskatoon.
Cheesman and Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) executive director Jim Turk said the university’s reputation is being damaged more with each passing week as it disputes the decision.
“This is very harmful to academic freedom. The decision should be respected,” Cheesman said.
The U of S was enveloped in controversy after the head of its School of Public Health, Robert Buckingham, was fired and escorted off campus for speaking out against various reforms. The events led to the ouster of provost Brett Fairbairn and president Ilene Busch-Vishniac.
Other staff and faculty also said Buckingham himself terminated those who spoke out.
Amid these controversies, the USFA expressed alarm that the U of S board of governors may have granted the president veto power over tenure during a closed 2012 meeting.
Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris expressed concern about the veto issue and said his ministry is investigating.
“Is it of concern? The answer is yes, it is. We’re doing our own internal review at the ministry and certainly this will be part of an ongoing dialogue with the board,” Norris told reporters last month.
The damage that has been done to the University of Saskatchewan is going to take years to fix. For a school that has its College of Medicine on probation, it’s easy to see why there is a loss of confidence in the board of the University by almost everyone right now.
A couple of months ago I discovered that BridgeCity.ca was available to be registered and I scooped it up. I had wanted a domain to document Saskatoon on for years and this seemed to be as good as place as ever.
Since then I have been uploading photos. Most of them are of Saskatoon but a few are from outside of our city limits. My inspiration for this has been the amazing photoblog Winnipeg Love Hate. If you have never been there before, you really need to check it out. Bryon Scott has done an amazing job of documenting his city and I hope to do the same for Saskatoon.
If you want to read more about Bridge City, you can find out the information here. It’s RSS feed is here. I have been managing to update the site four days out of seven. Hopefully that will increase to five out of seven.
Francois Biber joins David Kirton to talk about bike lanes on the Saskatoon Afternoon Show.
Excellent summary of the issues by both of them.
Just previous to this segment, Kirton expressed his frustration with city councillors, the mayor, and city administration being pro-car. Listen below.
This segment by Dave Kirton on CKOM’s Saskatoon Afternoon Show is hilarious. Make sure you listen.
I love the shot at PotashCorp. Poor Potash. Poor Products. Poor Results.
Nice job by the Rawlco creative folks and Saskatoon Afternoon. It made me laugh and made some great points about the lack of leadership at the University of Saskatchewan.
In case you missed the amateur hour that was Saskatoon City Council, you missed the passionate debate over whether or not Mayor Donald Atchison should be able to name streets, parks, and bridges. Here is what Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Clark had to say about it in his email newsletter.
City Council will receive a report with a few minor amendments suggested to the Naming Process. Recent debates have raised the prospect of a more significant amendment to the process. I would like the process to be changed so that the actual designation of names to parks and streets is not done solely by the Mayor. Saskatoon is the only City in Canada that grants this power to the Mayor alone, and I believe it is time to change this.
For me the issue is not out of concern with any specific names that have been applied in the City. There are two main reasons.
First having a single elected official hold naming power opens the process up to political influence, rewarding friends or campaign donors. This is not about Mayor Atchison specifically, but a question of good governance and creating policies that mitigate this potential.
Secondly – there have been hundreds of names applied in recent years to streets and parks in the City, as we add on new neighbourhoods. These names form the identity of our neighbourhoods and the City as a whole. The responsibility for establishing this story for our community should not be the purview of one individual. Ideally this is the kind of work that would have the input of people with historical knowledge and understanding of our community from several perspectives – to help ensure that as we make our mark on these communities with names that they capture a breadth of the history and identity of the City.
There is a tremendous opportunity to develop a thoughtful process to ensure that these streets and parks capture the essence of who we are as a community and where we came from. Right now the process relies on the public or property developers to bring forward names, a Committee made up of politicians and City staff determines whether a name can go on the “Names Master List” and then the Mayor picks the ones he wants to use.
I think it makes sense to have a committee that has a mixture of elected people and the public on it to be part of the approval and application of names. I also think that it would be worthwhile to engage our City Archivist and other historians to look at our Names Master List and identify which communities are being missed and a way to ensure that these get represented.
Yes you read it right, Clark used the term, “tremendous opportunity” to describing a process that involved naming street names. I don’t know what to say either except that its probable that Clark gets excited over governance things that I do not.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with this is irrelevant. In my opinion it is a shame that we don’t have streets that honour Henry Dayday, Roy Romanow, Lorne Calvert, and even Grant Devine. Heck I am all for an entire neighbourhood that uses names of former premiers. (austere houses are on Romanow Avenue while over mortgaged houses are on Devine Lane)
What does surprise me is that if council wanted to move on this, they should have done one thing really well. They needed to have counted the votes for and against before the council meeting started and they never did that. If they did do that and someone changed their mind (which it sounds like happened), that is politics but somewhere along the way, you need to know that stuff or you look like idiots. So after some attacked and defended the mayor and in many ways made it personal, it was time to vote which was a five-five tie so the motion failed, the status quo continues and you look really small minded and petty. Oh right, you have also just attacked the mayor (or one of the few perks the mayor has) and now you are left with nothing to show for it. Well except with an even more divided city council.
Of all of the issues facing the city, fighting over who gets to name streets isn’t high on my list of things that need to be done.
Leonard LaRochelle took possession of his modular home on Borden Crescent through the city’s affordable housing program in 2011. Now, 2014 has been nothing but headaches and money lost to basement flooding.
“The water actually came all the way underneath the flooring,” LaRochelle said, walking through his basement – floor boards torn up, moldy insulation scattered everywhere and furniture and drywall all huddled in the middle of the room.
Three different leaks sprung in LaRochelle’s basement this spring, causing him to tear down the walls of his newly finished basement and pull up $1,200 worth of flooring.
He said he called the builder to see if they would look at the cracks in the concrete foundation, and they agreed. However, the results weren’t exactly what LaRochelle was expecting.
After a couple of visits from a maintenance worker, LaRochelle said they patched the holes on the inside of the home, but they didn’t do anything to seal the home from the outside.
“As water continues to build up inside, in the fall if we get a freeze that water is going to expand and spider and make so many more issues,” LaRochelle said, adding exposed wood on the outside of the home is starting to rot.
When the builder wouldn’t comply, he went to City Hall. There, LaRochelle said he asked building inspection managers to have his home inspected again.
“The response I got from the inspection manager was that the inspection had initially passed so they wouldn’t find anything different now, so they couldn’t change anything that’s been done and they refused to get another inspection,” LaRochelle said, adding his next step was to take the issue to his city councillor, Ann Iwanchuk.
“It’s concerning to hear residents having these issues, we want home ownership to be a positive experience for all,” Iwanchuk said. “When I was made aware of these concerns about a month ago, I’ve gone to the administration and asked to go back to the builder and they’re currently in the process of getting more information.”
Director of planning and development, Alan Wallace, said they’ve opened up an investigation into the matter and they’ll be reaching out to homeowners and the builder to see if anything can be done to resolve the issue.
“Until we get all the facts we won’t know what’s going on up there,” Wallace said, adding the city’s hands are somewhat tied, because the contract is complete.
Of course you haven’t seen anything until you have seen the leaks in this dramatic video below.
You won’t find videos like this in Calgary or Toronto (mostly because they have tougher building codes). Hopefully that is ROCK 102 playing in the background.
The price and focus of community support officers is putting the whole program in jeopardy.
“$450,000 (a year) is a lot of money,” Ward 9 Councillor Tiffany Paulsen said at the administration and finance committee Monday. “I don’t see how council can measure if this program is working.”
At the end of July funding for the Community Support Officers (CSO) program expires. The city’s administration presented a report recommending city council expand the program for another three years into the end of 2017 for $1.35 million.
However, questions about what the CSOs patrol, how much its work overlaps with police officers, and the funding plan have put the future of the program on the bubble.
After reviewing the reports Ward 8 councillor Eric Olauson said he didn’t see the value of this program.
“I have a tough time supporting this because I think police here have to change their focus. This was a good idea at the time but I think its run its course,” Olauson said.
Councillor Zach Jeffries echoed his colleagues concern noting that five CSOs have written only 15 bylaw infraction tickets over 18 months. He said if they wrote more tickets, council could better measure the success of the CSOs.
“The number of tickets is very small … people say they want to see more tickets written,” Jeffries said, adding it would give council a measurement to determine the program’s success.
“I would personally appreciate seeing something more measureable and in my mind it’s something to focus on.”
Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said he supports the CSOs, and although he sees how the police officers and the CSOs overlap, he sees the police acting more as a protection measure for the CSOs.
“We’re always concerned about their safety so on occasion we will send a patrol car just to make sure there isn’t going to be any violence,” Weighill said. “We’re supportive of the program we think there’s a space for them to do the work they do.”
For the program’s initial 18 months, the city resolved that funding for the CSOs would come from parking meter revenues because the patrolling areas (Downtown, Broadway, Riversdale) were metered. However, Riversdale Business Improvement District (BID) executive director Randy Pshebylo said he wants that money to go back into streetscaping.
“The BID board has been very clear that they’d support a pilot program and that would then extend to an alternative source of funding and that the existing funding revert back to the streetscape reserve,” he said.
Well let’s get the obvious one out there. Eric Olauson doesn’t see the value in any program that doesn’t involve his ward getting sound walls. That is his M.O.
Secondly a year ago the same councillors were praising the work of the CSOs and talking about how awesome they were. What happened?
The Partnership’s CEO, Terry Scaddon retired and he was one of the biggest champions for the program. Without him there, councillors are feeling far more free to criticize the program.
The program was designed from the start to pressure the province in giving money to help with social issues in Saskatoon. We had the Safer Streets Commission and the hope was that the province would help fund some of the solutions to social programs that we have in the cities. It wasn’t a real need, crime in downtown Saskatoon was quite low but there was a perception out there. Unfortunately we overlooked the fact that the Wall government is very comfortable with the status quo on social issues and that the Treasury Board doesn’t include a single member from Saskatoon. To make a long story short, we never got the funding and the program is going to die.
Finally, I can’t leave Coun. Jeffries comment alone. Could it be that the reason that there was not a lot of tickets written is that there was not a lot of need in the first place? Also, encouraging law enforcement to write tickets is a really bad political direction to be giving them. The intention of the CSOs was to be helping people access needed services, not writing tickets. Countless cities across North America have cracked down on panhandlers and the homeless and it doesn’t work. Criminalizing behaviour that is driven by extreme poverty is the worst form of public policy. Zach should know better than that, regardless of which ways the winds are blowing in his suburban ward.
- Transit levels the playing field for low-income people – people on a fixed income or minimum wage, where the annual cost of operating a car takes a huge bite out of their bottom line. Giving households who spend most or all of their money on essentials a chance to increase their take-home pay increases spending, boosting the economy, and the chance to move upwards in society. Timely access to employment, services, and family increases quality of life; for people who are unable to drive, a good transit system is worth it for the sense of autonomy over mobility it provides as one is not ‘trapped’.
- Transit reduces demand on roadways, for parking, and is a key part of helping cities achieve higher densities. Roads cost money to maintain; expansion of roads takes property off tax rolls. Large intersections restrict access to properties on the corners, lowering attractiveness and therefore property values, increasing demand for police services as they become blighted. Bridges, as we know very well, are not cheap; it makes economic sense to maximise the ones we currently have. Underground parking is very expensive, driving up the cost of construction and thus the cost per unit of residential units situated above it. Single-car occupancy will not support the densities Saskatoon seeks to achieve in the downtown core. Reduced demand on the roadways reduces response times for emergency vehicles and people who for various reasons are unable to use transit.
- Transit is not a viable option for all citizens; however non-users still benefit from lessened demand for parking and reduced congestion. Families with kids who are old enough to take the bus or senior members who are unable to drive anymore, Drivers in households with seniors who do not drive and children who are old enough to take the bus are freed from onerous chauffeur duties; kids gain a sense of independence and autonomy, while older adults can age in place.
The entire post is worth a read.
If you haven’t taken some time to check out the Affinity Campus in City Park you really need to. It’s one of the best examples of an adaptive reuse that I have ever seen and a great illustration of what suburban infill can look like. It brings about 400 people into City Park (staggered so as not to create too much traffic) which helps the local neighbourhood economy. It also is striving to be a good neighbour in that it allowed City Park to keep it’s ice skating rink in the back of building (with a new warming hut to boot). As nice as the building is on the outside, check out these photos of the interior. Spectacular.
Kudos to be Affinity Credit Union and it’s architect for the project, Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture.
None of these really need a full blog post but for those that care and for those that don’t…
A New Project
I am starting a book that I hope to have done by the end of the year. I have a full Moleskine of things that I have left out of my The StarPhoenix columns, thoughts that I haven’t shared on The Saskatoon Afternoon Show with David Kirton (or talked about after we got off the air), or are just ideas that I have been working on and haven’t done anything with. Basically I am just trying to figure out Saskatoon and along with it, the ethos of Saskatchewan that makes us do things the way we do.
For many years Steven Johnson has been one of my favourite authors. Instead of writing books about what he knows, he writes about what he does not understand and in the process of learning about a subject, he brings you along for the ride. I hope to do the same thing. Look for it 2015.
Sports and Politics
I read a great bio of Michael Grange who said he wanted to write about foreign affairs but he was offered a sports job. I love writing about local and social issues but if Grantland calls, I am leaving it all behind (I’m kidding but the Grantland podcasts look like so much fun). To pass the time between now and when Bill Simmons discovers me, I am now talking sports with David Kirton and Justin Blackwell on Wednesdays at 5:15 on the CKOM Saskatoon Afternoon roundtable. David joked about it a few weeks ago that we should just talk sports and since then we have had quite a few roundtables with sports. The response has been cool but I was at McNally Robinson the other day and a stranger comes up to me and says out of the blue, “You know, I really hate what Pete Carroll did at USC too.” I looked at him and he said, “I attended Oregon” and shook my hand. I can now check, “Call out Pete Carroll for cheating” off my bucket list.
A Year in Saskatoon
I have been writing an OurYXE Neighbourhood Guide each week. Every Wednesday and Sunday, I sit down and research what is good, bad, and interesting about a neighbourhood. It’s been an incredible amount of fun exploring some of Saskatoon’s most loved (and unloved) neighbourhoods. I have been discovering a lot of history and out of the way places to check out in each of them. Part of the project is making sure we have some good photography for each neighbourhood which means I have been out a lot with a couple of cameras and my new 50mm f/1.8 lens. While the cold hasn’t been a lot of fun to shoot photos in, seeing parts of Saskatoon again for the first time has been excellent.
Along with the photos, I have been shooting a lot of video. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I had been thinking of a montage of a year in the life of Saskatoon. Something that showed the bitter cold of winter and the incredible warmth of fun we have in the summer. Saskatoon isn’t all good and it definitely isn’t all bad.
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted it to look like. Many of the videos I had seen had been time lapses and I have about 5000 time lapse photos taken, I was initially been thinking of doing something with time lapse. It’s fun and amazing but i miss the emotion of just video.
If it is as half as interesting as this video by Andy Clancy, I’ll be very happy.
Saskatoon has some great places to film but I want more than that, I want to see if I can find the kind of street life and community vibrancy in Saskatoon. If you have ideas for where me and my DSLR need to be, let me know. As I chase some city scenes, hopefully I will find some stories for the book, Saskatoon Afternoon’s roundtable, and my columns. Oh yeah, there will be some fun stuff for my blog as well.
Now if only it would warm up outside.