This Week At City Hall: Creepy Dechene Edition

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.

12 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: Creepy Dechene Edition”

  1. “Encourage” is a far better word than “incentivize”.
    I’m looking forward to reportage of the waste plan supplemental report, but at the moment I’m contemplating the lake on my public sidewalk, which will only get worse because the sidewalk is and has been for some time lower than the street. My tax dollar at work.

  2. I think “incentivize” fits because it allows for the expectation of a some kind of value (value in this case being absence of cost) in what’s being encouraged.

  3. “Incentivize” is my candidate for bad word of the year. The first point was written in clear language, understandable to everyone reading the article. The second point was a brick wall for anyone with lower comprehension skills, all because of “incentivize”.

    It also looks like a bad anagram of “TransitLive”.

    Speaking of which… at the bus stops in front of the Cornwall Centre, I’ve seen two broken cell phones / PDAs in the last week. Hopefully it wasn’t because the new TransitLive system is messing up and causing transit-users to throw their devices in frustration at buses leaving their stops too quickly.

  4. Ugh, I’ve given up on waiting for city-wide curbside here in Saskatoon and signed up with Loraas. It’ll be a year before council moves on it, anyways.

    I wish Saskatoon would install the TransitLive system here too. There have been times when I’ve courted hypothermia due to late buses.

  5. Good catch saskboy! I’ll fix that. Tired typing fingers me thinks.

    Madeline – The impression I got from skimming this doc was that they are just in the data collection phase right now (re: TransitLive). I’m not sure if it’s actually up and running for people to check just yet. Perhaps those cellphones/PDAs were smashed because people can’t check real-time info and missed their bus.

  6. #3: Hope that wasn’t an implication that I have “lower comprehension skills”.

  7. I’ve been actively using TransitLive for quite some time. The thing is awesome, even when the next bus doesn’t have a GPS installed, primarily because:
    a) It has an interactive map of the city that shows you every single bus stop and which busses stop at each one
    b) For non-GPS busses, it provides ETAs based on the scheduled time the bus is supposed to be leaving the closest previous “time stop”. These ETAs are actually fairly accurate most of the time. The only time they’ve been out to lunch is when adverse weather has caused the busses to be behind.
    c) Because of (a), you can use the map to “trip plan”. Visually seeing where your possible transfer points are and cross-referencing the ETAs makes that map a better trip planner than the “actual” trip planner on the transit website, which has a tendency to ignore options that would have you transfer more than once, or transfer at a place other than downtown, or walk a block or two to make a transfer (even if it might save you 20-30 minutes).
    In short, I love TransitLive, and hope that it receives a full implementation and is given the elbow grease needed to live up to its full potential.

  8. Thanks for the info anonymous – so glad that the program is useful! Feel free to post the website/link here (I don’t know if I’ve found the right one).

    If the program is taken past this pilot stage I believe the next goal is to continue working out the kinks that you mention so that it is an even more robust program.

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