City Planning, Reviews and Transparency

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know what goes on in the cities planning department.  But that right there is part of the problem.  Some of this info should be known, reviewed, and available easily to see. And perhaps it is, but the HRM website is not exactly user friendly in my opinion.  Yes its hard with so many departments, and I don’t have better options.

The snow issues of last winter are still fresh in our minds, and we still see foibles and inconsistencies, at least from my and I’m sure the public’s perspective.

I’m not on council, nor am I running, but if I were, here are things I would like answers to, and I think we should have them publicly available no matter what. Some relate to each other, some don’t. And in no particular order….

  1. When do we start regular maintenance for different things? ie: road repainting, patching, parks and rec?
  2. Who, how often, and when are plans for regular maintenance reviewed.
  3. How are priorities set? Is downtown residential patching more important than heavy shopping areas like Bayer’s Lake? Same with line painting.
  4. What data is used to determine this.  historical? how often is it collected, updated?
  5. What is the infrastructure plan? Do we have multi-year plans? if so why, a few years ago, was beford hiway near old ultramar paved, then torn up for water, then torn up for gas, rather than doing the latter two first?
  6. Do we have an infrastructure bank? Do developers contribute? Should we allow developers to build developments for profit that add to our infrastructure woes without contributing to a pool to improve it?
  7. Should we allow development at all in some areas till we can make it sustainable infrastructure wise?
  8. Do we have a growth plan?
  9. Why do we interrupt daily traffic in non-residential areas when we could do work in off-peak hours.  If contracted, why, who reviews.  Are the cost savings worth the downsides?
  10. Why, oh why, do we allow paving and patching in cold weather? I would need to see empirical proof that this is a valid plan, as having seen it first hand, asphalt sticks to tar better when both surfaces are hot. Cold ground will also expand, and heave destroying work done during cold weather faster than if in summer.
  11. This is an over generalization, but it is a common perception in the HRM public….Why is it so hard to actually make a decision? Are people afraid? Lets stop referring to committees over and over, and do things.

I’m not looking for personal response here, I just think that council should be aware that these criticisms are out there (not necessarily of council either, but of the whole shebang).  Lets get together and make this city truly work rather than continue to feel like were bogged down in bureaucracy and “heritage”.

Sport and Politics

There was a time when I was idealistic about sports, and it being non political.  It seems now that it is more politics than sport.  We have governing bodies with lobby groups, we have bribery, cut throat back room deals, and all in the pursuit of the mighty dollar.

The current controversy is over the new Russian anti-gay laws, which while I read, I cannot claim I truly understand all their implications, and the fact that the next winter Olympics are due to be held in Sochi, Russia (the fact that Sochi is sub-tropical, and was awarded winter games is another controversy entirely).

Lots of prominent people are saying to boycott the games, or to stage them elsewhere.  The second option I can support somewhat, the first, I feel is up to the individual athlete, because really who does a boycott hurt but the athlete?  What I really want is to still be an idealist, and have the Olympics where there were awarded, keep politics out of it.  They should be a thing ono their own, with their own police, a UN task force maybe?

I know, I know, I’m reaching.  Just seems very frustrating that so many of these events get caught up in the turmoil of politics.  I do not support the law in question, nor do I support any law that discriminates against anyone, but I wish there were away to separate the politics from the games.

Feeling more and more like its time to scrap them altogether, because they are just used as a tool, not as a celebration anymore.

The Death of News Media

Bear with me as I get to the point here 🙂 – Capitalism is a problem.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not anti-capitalist.  I believe everyone should have the opportunity to be able to make money from their work.  But what I am anti is lack of control. 

This brings me back to my point, somewhere along the line, the media has become so capitalist, that they’ve stopped reporting news and started reporting agendas.

We’ve lost for the most part investigative journalism, shows like The Fifth Estate and W5 are few and far between, and, I’m troubled to say are likely censored by their owners to ensure they aren’t investigating their agendas.

I have no evidence of this, but that too is the troubling issue, we can no longer trust that news is being reported at all.  Things that should be important like the purchase of military equipment with secret funds aren’t talked about.  Things that make the government look bad aren’t reported. Opinions contrary to the agenda of the media outlet are treated condescendingly, not objectively. Go to Wikileaks.  While you may not agree with their methods, do you really think nothing there bears reporting to us?

On a less intense side, watch your local evening news.  Tell me, when did celebrity gossip shows move into the main stream news cast?  News Flash (pardon the pun) Britney Spears getting married is not news!  Put it on the entertainment shows, fine, but I think more coverage on local municipal, provincial or state issues is more appropriate for my news.  

I know there is a line to trodden here, but its not that hard I don’t think.  Yes George Clooney being arrested for Syria protests is news, because of the context.  But do you see what else is wrong here? Without his arrest there wouldn’t have been any press of the protests.  Tell us the news! Why are people protesting? Whats going on in Syria?  Less fluff, more content please!

We need to control our capitalism in this regard, a media that caters to the agenda of its owner is not a news outlet, its a propaganda machine.