Little Racist Town on the Prairies

Originally posted on murrjw:

I grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Racism exists in Saskatchewan, and Canada, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s a country that will grant someone citizenship with all the rights and freedoms, and yet many Canadians think that for the ‘welcoming ceremony’ the right of religious freedom should be stripped. Many are open about their racism. I’ve worked with people who made it clear that I shouldn’t talk to them and ‘keep my place’. I’ve been subjected to threats and violence. I’ve been intimidated with firearms, including having them pointed at me. Fortunately I have never been shot at, but it has happened to people I know. Someone close to me was fired upon from a bridge while on the water in a canoe — an insanely frightening situation without escape. Fortunately the perpetrators seemed drunk enough they couldn’t hit their target. Often acts of violence against me (like being…

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Meantime, SaskPower Must Consider Solar #skpoli

Three years ago, SaskPower VP Judy May promised me that her Crown Corporation would consider solar power once “large-scale solar installations become more economical”.

By and large, utility industry experts agree that when compared to other renewable sources solar is a high cost generation option for utilities in the Northern Hemisphere.

Meantime, SaskPower has programs available to encourage the development of environmentally preferred technologies, including solar.

-SaskPower Vice President, Corporate Relations, Judy May, January 2012

Regina panoramic

Flash forward 3 years to the news of 2015.

How many months will we wait for SaskPower to consider a $1,300,000,000 investment (or more) into industrial scale solar, as they recently completed the CCS project in Estevan for that amount to burn coal?

History has shown that if we wait for SaskPower to lead on this investment, it won’t happen. We need political pressure on the Crown Corporation to stop burning coal which kills people with reduced air quality. Following the year 2000 study in PV solar, SaskPower wrote the following for its website, which is no longer true, “At present, solar power is not suitable for large-scale generation in Saskatchewan because of its high cost and low capacity factors.” They removed that out-of-date blurb after I brought it to their attention only 3 years ago.

Dear Mr. Klein,

Thank you for your interest in solar power generation in Saskatchewan.

To answer your question about the photovoltaic array at the Saskatchewan Science Centre (installed in 2000), our most recent data (2013) show the following:

Rated power: 2,800 watts
Capacity factor (nominal year average): 7.8%
Nominal gross output: 1,913 kilowatt hours (KWhr)

SaskPower is making significant financial investments to rebuild, upgrade and modernize the province’s aging electricity system. This includes finding cleaner ways to power our growing province. We’re fortunate here in Saskatchewan to have a number of available generation options and we consider each of them, including carbon capture and storage, natural gas, hydro, wind and other renewables.

When making decisions about generation options, SaskPower balances cost, environmental impact, and reliability. While costs for solar are indeed coming down as you point out, cost continues to be one of the major barriers to large-scale solar projects that could supply bulk power to the provincial grid. To better understand the economics and operability of solar, SaskPower is investigating the feasibility of a utility scale solar demonstration project as a means of evaluating the viability of this option for Saskatchewan.

Meantime, solar technology is best-suited for residential and/or small commercial customers who wish to self-generate electricity, or for off-grid applications. SaskPower encourages the development of small-scale solar, and other clean energy technologies, through our Net Metering and Small Power Producer Programs. Through these programs over 300 homes and businesses {John’s note: Less than 300 according to SaskPower in the Star Phoenix only a few months ago.} use solar to supplement the electricity they receive from SaskPower.

Thanks again for your interest.

Brian Mohr, P.Eng, B.E. |Director, Sustainable Supply Development Resource Planning|SaskPower| 2025 Victoria Avenue, Regina SK S4P 0S1

Meantime, I think the people of Saskatchewan are going to have to pressure our Crown Corporation to invest in renewable energy in a way that people cannot do individually. We could have ~100% renewable electricity in Saskatchewan by the end of this decade. (Technologically, this is possible. Politically, probably not going to happen.)

Walk Softly on Ice, and Carry a Big Stick

I dug and pushed two cars out of the snow in the alley and on the street yesterday. I’ve more snow to shovel today, but more appears to be on the way today and tomorrow even.

A City Councillor was getting on my case yesterday for suggesting that snow should be pushed first from the sidewalk into the streets (where only cars park). He doesn’t understand how to give priority to people walking and biking, but looking at this city, that’s not surprising.

A Petro-Can gas station on Victoria Ave. plows its parking lot, but leaves ice and snow built-up on its sidewalks. I’m sure this Councillor has never hounded them on proper snow cleaning etiquette. Since a business probably isn’t eligible for a Snowbuster prize, what’s the “carrot” being used by City Hall if the “stick” isn’t working as their motivation?

Some of my Heroes Honoured Today

That life was mine, and I’m forever grateful to them, the anonymous good Samaritan who helped with AR, and all of the medical staff involved over the next two weeks who made my full recovery possible.

Since it’s Heart Month, if you workplace as an AED, please take a minute to make sure it’s registered with the health region. People in Regina at workplaces with AEDs can call the PAD program to register it for free.

It doesn’t matter what type of AED you have, where you got it or when – call 306-766-6265 to register it now!

Everyone In Cars Should Wear Helmets

I’m used to the Leader-Post containing stories with mentions of bovine excrement, but usually they are confined to articles about agriculture and actual bulls. This editorial about bike helmets is a glaring exception.

First, it was never SGI’s “buck” to pass. The legislature and councils pass laws and bylaws, not SGI (we hope, anyway). I can excuse the Leader-Post editors and Star Phoenix for forgetting this thanks to SGI’s too-cozy relationship with police forces and traffic safety law enforcement.

Second, and more importantly, bike helmet laws have the unfortunate effect of repressing the use of bicycles. We critically need more bikes on our roads, to improve public health and our struggle to limit pollution. The benefits of cycling far outweigh the risk of a van hitting a cyclist as one did to me 9 years ago in Yorkton while I was obeying traffic law (and wearing a non-mandatory helmet). I’ve cycled thousands of kilometers since then, thanks to getting back on the horse after being knocked off.

Yorkton Bike Accident

Since fewer people ride bikes following a helmet law, and Saskatchewan is looking to reduce it’s Green House Gas emissions, I propose instead that helmets be optional for bikes, but mandatory for people riding in cars. Head injuries in auto accidents are a very serious killer every year, so SUMA should think of the children, and get right on that instead.

Back To The Bus Future

It’s good there is an attempt to fix the inadequate shelter situation, but spending on energy to heat these badly designed shelters could be reduced significantly if they were insulated and shatter proof on the side away from the street, and had a DOOR. Ottawa’s heated shelters outside malls have doors. So many of Regina’s shelters are not wheelchair accessible, why not put a manual door on these 4 at least, to keep more of the heat in?

The Mayor, only a year ago, was attempting to remove ALL shelters from 11th Ave. so it’s rich that he’d appear at this photo-op. Also, Transit in Regina improves in spite of what City Council is doing, not because of it.

Also, the story should note that the Mayor in the video is incorrect. These are not the first heated shelters in the province. The first were installed, then removed (to save money/spite the homeless and transit riders) several decades ago on 12th Ave.

Overall, good news about the new shelters, Google, and mechanics on their way. Hopefully the new Bus Barn gets built soon too. It sure beats vinyl pictures.

Claws For The U-Pass

In the Carillon student paper this week is my letter to the editor, and Mr. Musleh’s response to my rebuttal of his tepid reception for the latest U-Pass effort underway by students with the support of the University President.

While Mr. Musleh frames my response as a personal critique, it’s actually taking issue with his facts and what his goal is in stating his version. For instance, where did I say or suggest “collaboration with the University will not work”? Asking questions is fine, and seeking details commendable, but doing so to scuttle the latest effort to bring a sustainable transportation plan to the University is not helpful.

I assure him that it’s not “at best dramatic” to suggest that fertile land will be lost to construction if we continue to fail as a city and university to fix our transportation issues. The UofR has already considered ‘developing’ the community gardens on Grant Rd. with residences or some other buildings. One need only look north on Broad St. to the new Badham Blvd. to see this is a real danger in Regina.

Another fact not yet mentioned enough is the UofR administration now actively supports a U-Pass proposal, while previously that was lacking. As for not seeing work done on U-Pass in the past 10 years, I invite Mr. Musleh to attend at least one U-Pass organizational meeting, or to look at what’s been done at the dozens of other campuses that have since implemented such an idea.

Like Mr. Musleh, I’d prefer the City commit to improved bus routes prior to students voicing their support in the referendum, but transit-hostile Council members won’t allow that to happen as it did recently in Winnipeg. So are students to give up for now (again) as Mr. Musleh suggests, or instead take charge and start making very reasonable demands of City Council to fix the Transit system in their city?

Councillor Hawkins in the Leader Post suggested he’d vote against the student’s democratically decided wishes if the voter turnout is “small”. Student votes are traditionally low, often as small a voter turnout as for those who elected Councillor Hawkins to Council. Why wouldn’t students want to oppose a Councillor who in part raised their bus passes by $200 with no service level improvement? By passing a referendum that says students can have a pass for LESS than the increase imposed by Hawkins, students win.

If the referendum is successful, city council will still have to vote on the proposal. One thing Hawkins will be watching is voter turnout at the referendum. “I don’t think that a small voter turnout among the student body will tell us anything on this. So, I think that the voter turnout is going to make a difference here.”

Let’s keep in mind what we’re trying to achieve, and who/what we’re struggling against to change the status-quo, and not fuss so much over any perceived imperfections in a new-to-Regina system well tested and used elsewhere. And that’s a criticism of Regina as a whole, not Mr. Musleh specifically.