Support Our Crown Corporations

For City Council on Monday:

Your Worship,

I’m here to speak in support of Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations. I’m originally from a small town that would not have had electrical grid service, nor widespread telephone service when it did if not for the creation of Crown corporations. SaskPower, SGI, STC, and SaskTel are among the very best service providers in Canada to this day, often offering rates far below their national competitors’ rates.

While I was on the advisory board for SaskTel’s Community Net high speed Internet service to schools and libraries, we led the world in broadband access across our vast province. Crowns are capable of delivering world-leading services, and ultimately that’s what City government is here for, not to make a profit, but to deliver needed services that individuals are not well suited to provide in a competitive economy.

It’s still possible for Regina, Saskatoon, and other municipalities to save STC by taking it over, since we run Transportation services with larger budgets than the “loss” STC incurs each year to offer transportation service to Regina and the rest of the province. If we focus on routes admittedly “profitable” by the Provincial government, we can maintain service levels to some destinations, and add a revenue stream for the City of Regina. Try to find another delegation that offers a revenue stream that fits with one of the City’s core-services already in existence.

Other parts of Canada have inter-regional transportation services, like Go Transit, and Via Rail. The Provincial Government has failed in its duty to provide multi-modal transportation options to its citizens and visitors, so the City should make its best effort to fill in that gap as it does with ParaTransit service. I must bring up the Province is paying for shuttle buses to the city’s hospitals to reduce parking problems, rather than fund Regina Transit sufficiently to operate shuttles that are available for patients and regular Transit users as well. There are smarter ways of delivering Transit services, but standing by and letting STC be scrapped is not one of those smart choices.

Speaking of smart choices regarding Transit, I’d like to see fares for children be reduced to $0. This would encourage families to use the bus over private automobile choices.

#YQRcc Budget Then, and Now

As part of the 2017 budget, 13 transit buses will be replaced, along with six paratransit buses, costing $8.3 million this year. An additional $2.9 million will be spent on bus shelters to upgrade with new concrete pads and accessibility enhancements, as well as purchase more modern bus shelter for the city. Regina Transit will upgrade the technology, including dispatch systems, this year as well.

That was in January.

This is in April. Shifts Happen.

Last year the City promised U of R students that they’d see increased bus service. Now, service is being cut back. Should URSU withhold payment to the City for their broken promise?

Save STC – SaskParty Ending Rural Transportation System

In a shocking turn of events, it’s been left to the NDP to defend the interests of people in rural Saskatchewan. This is something that would not have been predicted ten years ago, when the NDP name was mud outside of Regina and Saskatoon for having closed hospitals and schools in many small communities. Now, the SaskParty government is selling off STC’s assets to private companies, destroying a critical transportation infrastructure that has been in place for 70 years.

About 200 people gathered over lunch hour in Regina at the new STC Bus terminal, to tell the government to stop the closure. Guest speakers include City Councillor Andrew Stevens. Andrew was on the Morning Edition to explain the ridiculous cuts to the Cities.

Sondors THIN eBike Battery Review

Most people won’t care about the stats below, but someone looking on Google about the Sondors’ performance may find the reference handy.

Regina is a really flat city. I went about 26.5km (16.5mi) before the battery showed dead on LCD, flashed, and it only worked on PedalASsist sometimes while pedaling the next km to my destination. I had been hoping the range would be more like 40km (while using the throttle a fair bit), but I guess the 50mi* range maximum advertised is far too optimistic, or only pedaling with PAS 1 makes a huge difference over using the throttle too. The PAS 2 setting I tend to use is about 79W ~24km/h, and the throttle spikes to 420W and cruises around 250W at 31km/h (19mi/h), so the stock THIN battery just doesn’t last like I’d hoped.

The bike is still really useful to me, but I’m going to need spare batteries before I attempt an inter-city journey down the Trans-Canada Highway to Moose Jaw 70km away. I expect ebikes like the Sondors THIN and Original fat bike to become standard equipment for commuters within the next decade. I haven’t felt this way about a technology since I first saw the iPod Touch around 2007, and now everyone has one of those (or their enhanced equivalent) in their pocket.

*My tire pressure was a bit low about 40psi (of 50psi max), and there were some head winds at times. I’ve not checked if the front brake is perfectly adjusted so there’s 0 rubbing, which would impact the range somewhat too.

Saskatoon City Planner on Environment etc.

Here are the key quotes, as I see them, which also directly apply to Regina and its thinking.

It can be awkward, going from a small city to a big city. And by the time we get done with the 30-year plans, we’re going to be a big city. We’re going to be half a million people. So all of the things we’ve done for the last 100 years has all been manageable in a small city way, like our transit system, like the way we plan neighbourhoods, like how we design our road system. And how we relate to the region had all been pretty much stable for the last 60 years or so.

Those things are all changing and we can’t ignore it. They’re just coming at us. We will have to deal with it. …

Transit — that’s another one. It’s a big one. We have a small city transit system. It has to evolve or it’s just going to fail. It’s starting to fail already. When you have buses congested in traffic, there’s no way anyone can keep a schedule. If you can’t keep a schedule, nobody’s going to use it. Four per cent of the population. It might go down from there. Who knows? But why would you use transit?

Under the radar for a while, but everything eventually percolates to the top: Homelessness. Homeless counts are going up. They’re not going down. How that’s being addressed is kind of behind the scenes here.

…Although roads will continue to be built, we can’t rely on the automobile as much as we are — 1.1 drivers per car is our average. So that’s one person in a car driving all over the place.

…You see a lot of cars driving in and out, so we’re using our cars an awful lot. Maybe we’ve made it too convenient to do that and I think that’s true because we’ve been able to, but you can’t continue that.

I think environmentally, we need to pull up our socks a little bit. We’re lagging behind in some respects. We just brought in recycling in the last five years. So we’re not exactly leading in any great way.

…We have an awful lot of sunshine here and I don’t know why solar hasn’t taken off. While not being too unkind to our Saskatoon Light & Power folks — they do a wonderful job — but that should be an energy company. Maybe it’s time to cut the tie with SaskPower and maybe generate, create energy and sell it.

Move To Saskatoon?

George C. Sharpe of Regina writes to the Leader Post:

Regina is at least three steps behind similar-sized cities such as Saskatoon.

For example: There is still no transit service to Regina International Airport in spite of pleas and requests from the airport authority. (It is much like having bus service denied to an entire neighbourhood.)

No ban on smoking on outdoor patios. Saskatoon has been doing this for 10 years.

Still no bylaw making it mandatory for all Regina residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks after each snowfall.

The first snarky response to his letter from the public?

“So, move to Saskatoon then.”

That’s a bad attitude, and possibly why Saskatoon is ahead of us. If everyone who wants those common sense improvements is told to “Move to Saskatoon”, Regina will continue to be left behind. I’ve tried pressuring the Mayor and Council to reinstate bus service to the Airport for years, but it won’t happen without greater public support for my George’s and my position on improving Transit.

Extremely Normal Sidewalk Challenge

I challenge someone to take a bike, or walk from City Hall to Peavey Mart in the east end. From a lack of takers, we can assume it isn’t safe and the City of Regina has to fix it so there are sidewalks and cycle tracks available down Victoria Ave.
It’s only 6.4km, just 2km farther than City Hall to the University of Regina. Many people go this distance on their bike every day, or run around the lake this far for fun.
I was in the newspaper the other day asking why pedestrians always come second behind people getting around in cars, especially in construction zones. Conveniently there’s another construction site underway to test my theory…
Hi John Klein, the pedestrian sidewalk on the south side (under Ring Rd. overpass) is closed for safety during certain aspects of construction, but is usually open. It is closed when traffic is closed on Victoria Ave due to overhead work. Pedestrian access will be closed under the bridge this weekend when the road is also closed to traffic. Please use the north service road. Thank you.

John Klein John Klein: Are signs posted back at Park St. and Vic. so pedestrians know they’ve no way through if they don’t use the Service Rd from that point?

City of Regina | Municipal Government City of Regina | Municipal Government: John Klein The road closed signs applies to pedestrians and motorists. Further to that, we encourage pedestrians to ALWAYS use the north service road when walking in that area due to the high speed traffic on that section of Victoria Avenue.
John Klein John Klein: Pedestrians don’t tend to adhere to road closed signs if there isn’t also a sidewalk closed sign or fence. There being no sidewalk there makes that a bit awkward. If the City encourages pedestrians to ALWAYS use the service road, why is there a pedestrian underpass with lights at all? It’s not connected to anything. The answer to my rhetorical point is that the City doesn’t actively encourage pedestrians to use the service road, and should build the safe street infrastructure along Victoria Ave. so pedestrians stop dying in that stretch.

Build the TransRegina Sidewalk.