Category Archives: Transportation

POTHOLES

Here is an e-mail we received from a resident. It speaks for itself.

The potholes in front of my house are so big and bad and my calls to have them filled have been falling, not on deaf ears, but on people who feel that it is not possible to look after the roads and pay salaries at the same time.
One gets jackrabbited from one phone number to another until somebody comes back from lunch or a  break to tell you there are no resources.  I see resources piled higher and deeper between here and Canning where they store the chip seal material.
It is just that there are no specialists in throwing that stuff into the holes and tamping it down.  Are they in a union or something?
I considered getting the gigantic raccoon (roadkill) on the highway and having it peaking over the edge of the pothole that wants to tear my tires to pieces.  I have to detour to get out of here.
The man who delivers the newspaper in the wee hours has to have the patience of Job.  The ambulance drivers and paramedics will drive over hot coals and potholes to get to this neck of the woods, not to mention the once a year visit of the RCMP.  Perhaps they come around more often, but have disappeared inadvertently in one of the potholes.  I should check.
Betty Morgan

NO RESOURCES? Huh

 

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Parking changes in Wolfville

In case you hadn’t heard.

Wolfville town council is listening to complaints about the 2-hour limit on parking in town. This spring, council is expected to begin posting signage which will extend parking to three hours. The only exceptions are the three public parking lots; adjacent to the skate park, west of Railtown and west of the curling club, near the future home of the Wolfville Farmers Market. Mayor Bob Stead says the extended parking hours won’t take effect until the signs are up, until then the two hour limit still applies. [link]

Think there was an item in the Advertiser too but couldn’t find that link. This is a helpful move as many events or programs require you to leave your car more than 2 hours.

Priorities

Renovations at Town Hall or Roads?

Do you think it is easy to make priorities?

If you would like to have some say in what goes into the Town budget for the coming year we suggest you take look at the budget draft here and come to the meeting Monday evening ( 6pm – 9 pm , Fire Hall ?) . This is one occasion when they can’t say the public can’t have input.

Wolfville 2020

Here’s the plan. One plan anyway. Presented this afternoon at a Committee of Council meeting by some Dalhousie students who had this as a course project.

The town has asked for a physical plan that would “look at opportunities for locating new development or redevelopment within the downtown to provide new commercial space, increased parking, active  transportation, parks, open space, connectivity of vehicle and pedestrian circulation and programmed spaces”. [emph. ours]

We’ll offer some screen shots but readers  should look at all the visuals in PDF in the ToW agenda and info packet for today’s meeting. [They don’t separate these presentations out- you have to download the whole thing !] Of course these are only the images – missing is the verbal explanation of them but this should be available on tape at Town Hall.

Heading shot is of Railtown. Mired in controversy but [on second thought] not inappropriate.

They looked at “Infill development” opportunities, “transportation” and “Open space” in the “Town Centre” area of Wolfville. The “Subway lot” ,  “Clock park”  and undeveloped areas along Front Street between Elm Ave and Harbourside Dr. were targeted for attention.

Here’s the before and proposed:

Front St. and Central Ave.

North of Central Ave.

Clock Park from the N.

Nice drawings.

Highlights:

In the implementation section which followed the proposals  there is the suggestion that they talked about economic realities, the need for investment and for public support and input – all those good and necessary things  – and even left room at the end of the presentation for discussion,  debate and questions [they must have been disappointed in the paucity of that!]

There is a lot we could ask, but these are mostly questions the students could not have answered. For example, what businesses will fill the 1,500 sq. metres of new commercial space? Who will be able to afford to live in Wolfville to use the improved walkways?  Do we really have to lose 67 more parking spaces?

These sincere and hard working students did their job well and we don’t want to discourage them; they obviously put a lot of work and time into this project. We have said enough and will shut up for once.

Let’s learn from Sweden!

There’s an article in today’s CH entitled “HRM goes to Sweden: Who will learn what from whom?” which suggests that HRM has lots to learn from Sweden.You can get the tongue in cheek tone of the piece from this summary:

You know in retrospect maybe there’s not all that much the Swedes can learn from the HRM delegation about energy, housing and public transportation. On the other hand, maybe the Swedes would like to know more about cat bylaws. [The article is not to be found at the moment on line so we quote from the tree killing copy.]

We agree. The delegation, which is on a fact-finding mission, could learn a lot from Sweden.

The author of this piece, Mr. Hughes, is apparently a visiting professor with the Global Energy Systems research group at Uppsala, Sweden.  Regarding energy, he mentioned how about half the homes there are heated from community central heating plants [is it feasible to replicate district heating in a country less compact and less densely populated than Sweden? ]  He mentions extracting heat from sewage treatment plants [ we’d just be happy if sewage was treated in HRM, for a start]. Similar laudable aspects of Swedish life are touted in housing and transportation – they keep old buildings, have height restrictions, encourage the use of bicycles and run their buses on bio-fuel. We don’t doubt these are worthy things the HRM officials could observe. But he doesn’t mention cost and he doesn’t mention taxes. Perhaps Mr. Hughes could tell us how Sweden managed these things  and are lowering taxes too! Yes, Sweden has lowered taxes in each of the last 4 years! Now that we would like HRM to learn and pronto.

Sweden’s government will lower income taxes for a fourth consecutive year in 2010 to get more people to take jobs and boost the economy, which slipped into its first recession since 1992 last year.

The government will cut income taxes by another 10 billion kronor ($1.46 billion) in 2010, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told a news conference today in Stockholm. It will reduce fees small business pay by 1.2 billion kronor to create more jobs in the Nordic region’s largest economy, which shrank an annual 6 percent in the second quarter in its second largest contraction in at least 15 years.

We think Sweden’s taxes were probably pretty high to begin with but it might be instructive for the HRM big wigs to ask about the cost of Sweden’s  aforementioned improvements  and how cutting taxes now fits into that picture.

The government has already cut income and company taxes by almost 80 billion kronor, or about 2.6 percent of gross domestic product, since coming to power in 2006 after 12 consecutive years of Social Democratic rule. It cut the corporate tax to 26.3 percent from 28 percent this year and lowered the general payroll tax by 1 percentage point from 32.4 percent in an attempt to make Sweden more business-friendly. [Source]

Sounds like the electorate has spoken in Sweden.

Related: We could learn from the Danes too but that is fodder for another post.

Smart? cars

We hesitate to spread this news too widely but our concern for owners of the growing number of silly too expensive lightweight smart cars around outweighs our reticence. We suggest that owners of  ‘smart’ cars consider carefully where they park for any length of time.  There are vandals Continue reading

City report card

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies [AIMS] has produced its first National Municipal Report Card. AIMS has compared 31 cities across Canada.

The AIMS’ report not only tells us whether we receive good municipal service, but also whether we pay too much for those services. The report grades Canada’s largest cities and capitals based on the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery using a three year average (2005, 2006 and 2007).

Macleans commissioned and reported on the analysis.

We aim not merely to start some good barroom arguments, but to help voters to hold their representatives to better account, and indeed to help city governments themselves. For without some sort of yardstick to measure their performance, either against other cities or against their own past record, how can they hope to know whether they are succeeding?

How indeed. We think it an extremely valuable exercise as we did the comparisons AIMS did on NS municipalities and which we reported on in previous posts. It seems, however, that some of our municipal leaders were not at all interested in the results.

Halifax is included so of course we were interested in how it stacked up against other municipalities. HRM came in 24rth out of the 31 which is closer to the bottom than anyone should like. It did best in the categories of taxes and transportation [16/31].  On the scatter graph which shows efficiency vs effectiveness it doesn’t quite make the middle of the pack. The Maritimes doesn’t generally fare very well and it makes one envious of the other coast where things seem to be much better run. Burnaby, Saskatoon, Surrey and Vancouver show very well. The further west you go…

One city had to be at the bottom of the heap. Andrew Coyne describes it this way:

It is the quaint home of history and reverie … has governance and finance indicators that are near peerless … it is one of the more environmentally healthy.

Sounds a bit like Wolfville don’t it? Yes, Charlottetown is a nice place to live but …

It is much more difficult to start a business in Charlottetown, however. Or get bang for your bucks paid in municipal taxes, or to find a park—or anyone who takes the bus, for that matter. The city ranked last in AIMS’ overall economic development index; according to AIMS figures, which focused on the period between 2005 and 2007, Charlottetown had the highest per capita economic development and infrastructure costs in the country. … “If people want to do something business-wise that is a little different, they have to jump through city hall hoops to get anything done.”

Charlottetown has relatively low population growth, perhaps because it has trouble attracting newcomers. … [We wonder if they have a deed transfer tax?] Non-residential tax revenues account for only 27 per cent of its revenue, earning it a D- on the AIMS scorecard. … As a result, more than most other Canadian cities, Charlottetown is forced to rely on outside governments for help. “There’s a level of dependence in Charlottetown in particular to deliver services,” says AIMS executive vice-president Charles Cirtwill.

Yes, except for the parks bit, it sounds a bit like Wolfville alright. It is not surprising to us at all that it turns out to be the “most politically engaged”. All those irate residents. That too sounds like Wolfville. And in Burnaby they don’t have to be engaged; they have leaders who are doing what they are paid to do. Taxpayers can relax!

We were interested in some of the stats pulled out by the national report card. For example – The number of residents per municipal employee. The national average was 98 residents per municipal worker. How does Wolfville compare we wonder?[This was a stat not included – unfortunately- in the AIMS report card on NS municipalities.] Is it above average? Let’s see – population of Wolfville about 3800. So if the Town has more than 38 employees the Town has more civil servants than the average and as we see cities with more civil servants did not necessarily produce better results, just higher costs.

Another stat of interest is policing costs. The average percapita is $251. At that rate Wolfville’s policing should cost less than 1 million $.

Take a look at some of the other stats. We know one councillor who will be interested in the Transportation cost/ridership results. Some will perhaps find the fire service results of interest. Perhaps the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force will find something to interest them in this report card. It’s good to have a standard to measure yourself against, isn’t it?