Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Canada, Alberta, and Edmonton things and stuff

It's only Wednesday but there's lots going on in gubermint at all levels...

  1. Bill C-19 was introduced to terminate/kill/shoot down/blow up the Federal Long Gun Registry.  Long awaited by the Conservatives, now with a majority, this will pass.  Many will watch gun crime numbers more closely now I'm sure.
  2. Canadian Wheat Board gets the axe.  Some say taxpayers will then have to prop up farmers when the prices drop.  I don't know about you, but I don't see food prices dropping anyway.  They've only been going up and up.  What I also hope doesn't happen is what's happened in the U.S. where a private monopoly has taken over.  And now, the Wheat Board is suing the federal government.  Oh joy.

Newly minted premier, Alison Redford's been quite busy:
  1. She appointed 2nd place candidate Gary Mar to "Pledge Representative to the Social Committee" .. er.. Alberta Ambassador something or other to China.  Plum job for $250k or so.
  2. She appointed failed candidate and former MLA Rick Orman to head up the economic policy committee or something.  A good appointment considering I supported Rick on the first ballot and agree with a lot of his policies. 
  3. She got the $107 million in for education.  Loved the debate on that one.  Ah, democracy at work.
  4. She's toying with the idea of emulating BC drunk driving laws.  Couldn't have anything to do with the fatal crashes near Grand Prairie and Lethbridge could it?  They're not reacting out of emotion are they?  I can't stand it when governments do this.
  5. She's backtracked/flip-flopped on a few things though already...
    1. Legislative sitting?  First it was no.  Then it was yes.  Then only a couple days now and a few more in November.  Not good. Not good at all.  With lots going on, she needs to be held accountable.  Why? Read on..
    2. Heartland overhead power lines in Strathcona County?  Her newly appointed Energy Minister, Ted Morton said the gov't was going to review all the lines.  Then only four hours later, Premier Redford says only two of them need review and that the lines are necessary, when in fact, they will not even be near full capacity.  I'm vehemently against overhead power lines.  They're ugly for one, and more especially, the health concerns for very nearby residences is quite valid.  These power companies need to "Bury the Line".  Read more at RETA.
    3. Health care inquiry?  This was one of her promises in the leadership race, now she's watering it down.  More to come on that one.
Overall, so far I'm not impressed with her but not surprised.  Even in this short period, she's obviously being handled by party stalwarts who've caused her to back down.

In my opinion, all the opposition parties are doing a good job keeping her and her government accountable.  In the next election, vote for one of them, but not the PCs.  Come on, 40 years? Seriously?


Downtown arena.  On Monday, the public came forward expressing their support/non-support and concerns.  The biggest concern is in regards to the deal and how much taxpayers are on the hook for.  A lesser concern is the location, parking, etc.   The majority of citizens appear to want a new arena but question the funding model.  Here's why I want a new one...

After attending an Oilers game Saturday, I can say that I can't stand Rexall Place.  I had to grab tickets in Ardrossan from a family member, then driving down the Yellowhead and arriving there, parking availability was a joke.  And when taking the LRT, the station is crammed on the way there and back.  Downtown bars eventually got crowded to the hilt with fans.  Getting a cab is a pain.

But the venue itself, while sturdy, has crammed seats, crammed concourses, and I could never for the life of me understand why they didn't build a tunnel from the LRT station to the coliseum.  Instead of staying indoors, leaving your jacket behind and going from your office downtown to a nearby LRT station, then get off and walk underground then head right to your seat, you currently have to stand and walk outside for several minutes.  This is Edmonton, people!  It's cold in the Winter.  So people have to bring winter coats and put them on their seats, which are already narrow and crammed.  Not a good deal for $250 a pop for Gold seats.  That said, for concerts, rodeos, special events, it's just fine.  I'm very glad Katz dropped the no-compete clause for Northlands. That said, I only think he used it as a negotiation tactic, not a business success requirement.

That alone makes me want to have a new arena.  Secondly, is the location.  Everyone talks about Columbus as a model.  Let's look at Nashville.  I've been there.  The arena is next door to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, and a mere block from the main entertainment district on Broadway Street in East Downtown where dozens of bars and restaurants line blocks of road. And the live music is amazing.  The football stadium is only a short walk across the pedestrian river bridge.  Lots of energy there.

As far as the details of the deal, I think the Katz Group needs to kick in a lot more.   I've never believed for one moment that Katz has ever had any intention on moving the team.  Edmonton is one of the best hockey markets in history.  We pretty much sell out every game.  The players are gods.  Bars and restaurants count on Oilers games.  City Council should have called his bluff and asked for more money up front:  $100 million, then provided $100 million in loans, coupled with a ticket tax, and the City could MAKE money off this deal. 

UPDATE:  Council just voted 10-3 in favour of the Caterina amended motion regarding the Katz deal with Councillors Diotte, Sloan, and Iveson against.

Councillor Don Iveson has posted his thoughts on why he voted against it, which pretty much align with my thoughts.

1 comment:

Landmonster said...

Our city planners are a giant pain in my ass. Southcommon was built before the infrastructure, so we had to tolerate, not only a couple of years of construction, detours, and extra heavy traffic due to the location being a major shopping center, but it is the way that people are welcomed to our city. What was once an amazing vista as you approached the city, is now a mass of concrete and confusing exit and entry ramps. 99th street being blocked off most of the year left me expecting a great new expressway is more congested than ever. I won't comment on the Quenell bridge. The city is becoming noisier and much less pleasant overall.
I say, lets get the bridges built and more major arterial roads within the city. Make parking downtown, free for 2 hours. It will not increase the employee parking downtown, but it could stimulate businesses downtown with increased shopping and convenient access to the core. We have these huge venues and landmarks in our city, but our planners simply can't figure out how to make the city better, just bigger.