Greetings TWACHers! I’m sitting in for Paul over the next couple of weeks while he is off galavanting and making fabulous martinis (probably). I figured that, in order to minimize trauma to regular readers, I should at least try to look the part. Pretty uncanny, right. Right? (Photoshop and I regret nothing!) Ok, enough with the funny business – let’s get down to TWACH business!

Of note this week is the Waste Plan Regina supplemental report going before the Executive Committee Wednesday (more on that below).

Monday, March 21, 2011
he Committee looked at the Chairman’s annual report for 2010 and some crime stat comparisons – between December 2009 and December 2010, and a comparison of year-end crime stats over the last 10 years (2001 to 2010). All in all, crime rates are down in the Queen City, but if you want all the juicy details (like the number of bikes worth $1000+ (thanks saskboy) stolen in 2010) you’ll have to go read the full report!

Tuesday, March 22
PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (4:00 pm): Mostly updates, debriefings, and work group reports being brought forward including an item in there about the Spring Melt Response Plan. A quick skim of it reveals that the city will continue to evaluate the situation but doesn’t expect any major flooding.

Wednesday, March 23
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): There are other items on this agenda, but really, the things we’re most interested in is the supplemental report being presented regarding the Waste Plan Regina Implementation Plan.

For those who need to catch up, here is a refresher: Late last year, City Council approved moving forward with Waste Plan Regina. We all got excited that we’d finally be moving forward and join most every other city in the country by having a proper citywide recycling plan. But, when the implementation plan came forward this January, Council had questions. Well… let’s be fair. We ALL had questions. In fact, so many people called and complained/commented/inquired about the plan that Council sent the plan back to the administration to produce a supplemental report providing more information.

In all, 11 issues were raised including the need for the administration to provide a cost-benefit analysis comparing different types of collection systems (co-mingled vs. separate), reporting on best practices being used in other Canadian cities, and the rational for including recycling service under property taxes while charging separately for garbage pick-up. Things that should have been included in the original report to begin with, really. You can check out more “for-real Paul” coverage about it here, here, here, and here.

On Wednesday, the administration is putting forward the supplemental report that speaks to these 11 issues. It outlines each one and provides detail on how the decisions were reached or what their additional research found. There really isn’t anything too surprising in the report – but maybe that’s the problem. I think the most surprising thing is that this info either wasn’t initially collected or it just wasn’t reported on. Most items seem like no-brainers or at least standard fare for this type of large-scale project. It makes one wonder what they discussed at their staff meetings all this time – probably stickers and unicorns.

I am glad to see they’ve provided a bit more discussion into the decision to include recycling costs with property taxes while charging for garbage pick-up. If the end goal is to increase diversion of waste from the landfill then you need to a) help people make the connection between how much waste they produce and the cost of dealing with it, and b) incentivize recycling by not charging extra for it. I think this change in the payment structure will promote both. The challenge now will be to price garbage pick up in such a way that it reduces excessive waste production but doesn’t overburden low-income households.

The report will likely be forwarded to City Council for their April 4 meeting where they’ll vote on whether to approve the implementation plan.

COMMUNITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES COMMITTEE (4:00pm): Lastly, city administration will be providing a report on a recent pilot project that saw the TransitLive installed in 22 city buses. TransitLive is a program that provides real-time info on bus locations and projected arrival times that users can access via cell-phone, computer, etc. Systems like this are used in many cities to improve service, minimize wait times. They go a long way to increasing transit ridership – it would be great to see a system like this be fully implemented here. The committee will also have the opportunity to see how the system works – sounds cool to me. Maybe you should go check it out!

As always, you can download reports and agendas on the city website.