Wednesday, July 07, 2010


In local politics issues can be grouped in three categories.


First you’ve got “potholes.” Used euphemistically I’m talking about any kind of issue constituents may perceive when roused from the backyard pool/barbecue and forced to venture round front to see how their hard earned tax dollars are being spent. The extent to which havoc has been wrought in these mean suburban streets by various miscreants, reprobates and the slapdash work of public servants is a significant aspect of any pothole issue.

Experience has shown that the most prevalent pothole peeves include:

• Garbage - not well collected/not collected on time

• Traffic - too much/too fast

• Cars parked in violation of the three hour parking by-law

• Various concerns related to neighbours’ inadequate property and yard maintenance and deportment.

• Improper or tardy removal of snow in winter and leaves in fall.

Cities have engaged qualified staff (mostly well paid) to deal with these matters but, you should know, these issues are best handled by the ward politician. He/she is only too glad to be of service and will usually resolve these matters and in return you will remember him at election time. (Please note the municipal election is two weeks earlier this year.)


A second category, call them neighbourhood issues, are planning matters that deal with minor modifications or significant changes to land uses. This is tricky stuff complicated by the neighbourhood’s perception of whether it is, in fact, a minor or significant change (it is almost always significant) and a lack of understanding of the fact that property owners have legitimate expectations of their rights under planning regulations.

The way neighbourhood matters get resolved has an important long term impact on the kind of community we live in.

Neigbourhood issues are the purview of the ward councillor (although sometimes the mayor “helps out”) who works with appropriate city staff and with a proponent who wants to make change which is at odds with the neighbours who are typically happy with the status quo. An outbreak of NIMBY inevitably will ensue.

Community Priorities

A third category is issues of broad community interest. Or, at least, issues that ought to be of broad interest as their impacts will be long term to all residents both from a cost and benefit perspective.

In my town (Burlington) I can think of at least 4 such issues. I’ll come back to them later this week.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


While Edmonton may be called the City of Champions local politicians are treated as much like chumps here as anywhere else.

We are talking about the surprising developments over the last ten days when Edmonton Oiler Owner Daryl Katz played “the good old Hamilton card.”

That is what Edmonton Sun reporter Terry Jones called it anyway. Those
NHL-Hockey-deprived Hamiltonians may not get it but your blogger understands this to refer to a tactic once used by former Oiler owner, Gretkzy trader and convicted fibber Peter Pocklington.

The story in the local media is that Edmonton Mayor Fred Mandel didn’t get a hint of Katz’s dalliance with the Ambitious City’s Mayor Fred until June 28th - just before it broke online.

As far as the rest of Council they are described by the Sun’s Clara Ho as “perplexed” – which your blogger would assert is the normal state of Councillors when such high level wheeling and dealing is in the works.

There is such consternation out here that a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new locker room to be enjoyed by the football playing Eskimos suddenly seemed of no consequence.

Oilers President Patrick Laforge – says the Hamilton developments have nothing to do with the Oilers. “It is purely a business strategy,” he told all who would listen.

But Journal Columnist Paula Simons thinks the Oilers are guilty of bad manners. “Blindsiding, perplexing, and alienating Edmonton’s mayor and city councillors isn’t merely rude. It’s weirdly self defeating.”

Apparently this is another in a series of recent blunders by Katz. Earlier Council misunderstood his $100 million pledge towards a new arena. It turned out to be a commitment to invest in the area around the arena. A recent application that would blanket zone 16 acres of that area came forward without plans or design.


“(T)here were all kinds of people who were fully own board with the arena two or three months ago, who are now asking all kinds of questions,” notes Councillor Ben Henderson.

The Sun’s Jones thinks Katz, like Pocklington before him, should be required to sign a location agreement.

That might help and it is an idea that might have legs.