Okay, I admit, this week’s TWACH headline is sensational, hyperbolic and completely inaccurate. But, hey, this week’s column is about budgets, a taxi study, street names and some discretionary use applications. Had to spice things up somehow….

Monday, April 11
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Three budgets are going before council this week and two of them are looking for mill rate increases. The first is the 2011 library budget which is asking for a boost of 3.36 per cent over last year. The big items that seem to be driving this is an increase investment in public services, land improvement and purchases, and building expenses. Wages and benefits are also going up this year. Meanwhile, on the collections side, investment in books, dvds and cds are dropping very slightly while the amount spent on audio e-books is almost doubling.

Incidentally, according to the library’s submission, a work plan and options for the Central Branch redevelopment should be ready to present to the public in early 2011. Er…. It’s already April. If they don’t spit that out really soon, I think we’ll technically be into mid-2011 territory.

Moving on….

The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District is also asking for a mill rate hike — in their case, to the tune of four per cent. Highlights from their 2011 action plan include the development of the Regina Downtown Housing Strategy, completion of the Downtown Development Opportunities Study, replacement of the their holiday decorations, enhancement of the services of the Downtown Clean Team and the Downtown Ambassadors, more window and wall murals and more graffiti removal.

As for the Warehouse Business Improvement District, they’re keeping their mill rate steady at 0.9785.

Council will also be considering recommendations that came out of the Taxi Study. Most of those seem to be meeting with approval from the cab industry and the city. So things like tightening up controls on vehicle age and introducing remote debit and credit-card machines into cabs are likely to go through. The big point of contention seems to be over the study’s recommendation that cabs be outfitted with a computerized dispatch system that would include GPS in every cab. The industry spokesperson coming out to speak to council is, not surprisingly, a little miffed over the additional costs they’ll have to shoulder in starting this system up. And the Canadian Taxpayer Federation is also coming out to speak in their defense.

Man, I hate to admit that I’m agreeing with the CTF but I have to say my kneejerk response here is to be suspicious of all this forcing of a computer system on the taxi industry. Oh, maybe it’ll be more efficient in the long term, but it would be an outright tragedy if even one Louie De Palma loses his job as a result. Plus, after all the time I’ve lost over my lifetime to dicking around trying to get some bit of space-age gadgetry to work, I’ve grown to be damn skeptical of all these claims that some system of electrical brains can bring us efficiency, cheap cabs and peace in our time. So, until someone can convince me that these “computers” are more than just a passing fad, I’m saying, let the cabbies be.

Update: As hawkeyed commenter Pat points out, executive committee recommended that all the stuff about new-fangled electro-GPS wingdangery be referred back to administration so they can consult more with industry. Staff will report back on the subject in July. So, consider the plans for a fleet of satellite-controlled killer robot taxis deferred. Potentially indefinitely. Phew.

Also on council’s agenda is a report from the Civic Naming Committee. Best new names on the list: Barnstorm and Smokejumper…. wouldn’t you just love to live at that intersection?

Funniest new name though is, undeniably: Whereatt. It’s like the beginning of a whole Abbott and Costello routine. One involving a taxi. “Hello cabbie, can you take me home.” “Okay Mack, where’s that?” “Whereatt.” “I don’t know. It’s your house. You tell me.” “Whereatt.” “I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking you. Where do you want me take you?” “My house.” “And where’s that?” “Whereatt.” “I don’t know.”

Jesus Christ. Abbott and Costello routines are fucking tedious.

Wednesday, April 13
REGINA PLANNING COMMISSION (4:00 pm): Considering an application to build a Subway at 120N McDonald Street, a rezoning to allow work on Harbour Landing Phase 5 go ahead and a discretionary use application for a group of triplexes for 5004 James Hill Road.