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  #2261  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2014, 7:26 PM
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I've always found Canadian border patrol to be significantly less polite than the American ones. The US border guards are practically jumping out of their pants that someone wants to visit them, while the Canadian ones are all "ugh y u no go 2 mexico instead k??"

It's not even a Harper thing; both times I went through the border while Martin was PM, the Canadians were rude as fuck. The Americans didn't even check our ID in 2005, they just waved us in.
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  #2262  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2014, 8:17 PM
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I've always found Canadian border patrol to be significantly less polite than the American ones. The US border guards are practically jumping out of their pants that someone wants to visit them, while the Canadian ones are all "ugh y u no go 2 mexico instead k??"

It's not even a Harper thing; both times I went through the border while Martin was PM, the Canadians were rude as fuck. The Americans didn't even check our ID in 2005, they just waved us in.
You must live in some alternate universe.
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  #2263  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2014, 2:12 AM
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You must live in some alternate universe.
Close: Northern Ontario.
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  #2264  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2014, 4:52 PM
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  #2265  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2014, 4:56 PM
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  #2266  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2014, 8:32 PM
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So I contacted our city councillors on the Public Works/Infrastructure committee regarding two things coming up at the next meeting... I figured I would include the forum in my ramblings and perhaps get some feedback.

Quote:
Good Morning Councillors for the SPC on Infrastructure and Public Works,

I am writing to you regarding 2 reports coming to the committee on the 4th, reports 9 and 10.

Both reports involve recommended intersection improvements, one at Jefferson Avenue at Adsum Drive, the other at Plessis Road at Gunn Road. Both improvements will require debt financing, but neither report states how the City plans to make repayment on this externally serviced debt. Adding ~$135,000 of operating/financing costs to our already cash-strapped infrastructure budget is both ridiculous and unacceptable. If the City continues on this trajectory of debt financing projects where the City doesn't have a method of capturing any of the value from the project, then we will be moving closer and closer to insolvency. This is equitably to personal consumer debt.

Never mind this fact -- the fact that the idea of value capture is never even in the equation. I have never once seen a report on how the City actually plans to pay back debt financed traffic projects.

Just a short analysis, Jefferson @ Adsum is predominantly in a residential neighbourhood. This means that for the City to recover the $43,185 of yearly finance and maintenance costs associated with that improvement it would require the assessed value of the properties in the area to increase by $7.1MM as a direct result of this project (excluding organic growth that would have happened without this project). Without this associated increase in assessed values our taxes will have to go up to fund this project. The part that I find most concerning is the fact that no one in the administration has told you this.

I, for one, hope this City takes its infrastructure investments more seriously and look at how these things get funded. Debt financing a project that has no ability to generate the value to pay for itself is equivalent to consumer debt. The fact that this analysis is never looked at is concerning.

Thanks for your time,
Steve Snyder
I would love to hear some feedback; do you think it is reasonsable to fund these 2 projects with debt to the tune of $135k per year without the associated increase in revenue? To add, I received a reply from Councillor Swandel stating that the interest rates are low so we should build now while we can. I actually got a bit worried by that, wondering if he understands that it doesn't matter what the interest rate is if no return happens then revenue will have to increase some other way.
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  #2267  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2014, 8:57 PM
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Intersection improvements like traffic lights are small potatoes... these are the cost of doing business. I'm not saying there aren't better ways of paying for them, but I'd never lose any sleep over it. It's the ill-thought-out capital projects that cause irreparable harm by hastening sprawl.

For what it's worth I thought it was crazy that Jefferson and Adsum didn't have traffic lights ten years ago... it strikes me as way too busy an intersection (when you factor in the high school/junior high foot traffic on one corner) to be just a 4-way stop.
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  #2268  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2014, 9:29 PM
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
Intersection improvements like traffic lights are small potatoes... these are the cost of doing business. I'm not saying there aren't better ways of paying for them, but I'd never lose any sleep over it. It's the ill-thought-out capital projects that cause irreparable harm by hastening sprawl.

For what it's worth I thought it was crazy that Jefferson and Adsum didn't have traffic lights ten years ago... it strikes me as way too busy an intersection (when you factor in the high school/junior high foot traffic on one corner) to be just a 4-way stop.
Thanks for the feedback! I too agree it's small potatoes, but the subject of value-capturing for projects needs to be addressed (I should note, I got/stole the idea of value capturing for capital projects from a guy on reddit), and when you do it on a small level like this it is easier to show the numbers. How can you determine the value-increase that should be associated with a project like CPT or Bill Clement... The 4-way in a residential neighbourhood is easy to show.

The other thing I don't think people realize is the magnatude of assessed value needed to return $35k in funds a year. $7.1MM dollars of assessed residental value gets you $35k a year, or the debt financing cost of 1 signal controlled intersection. And my original email doesn't even go into the fact that this $7.1MM is needed as soon as the project gets its financing, not over time.
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  #2269  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2014, 7:08 PM
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  #2270  
Old Posted Jul 5, 2014, 10:39 PM
Simplicity Simplicity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveosnyder View Post
So I contacted our city councillors on the Public Works/Infrastructure committee regarding two things coming up at the next meeting... I figured I would include the forum in my ramblings and perhaps get some feedback.



I would love to hear some feedback; do you think it is reasonsable to fund these 2 projects with debt to the tune of $135k per year without the associated increase in revenue? To add, I received a reply from Councillor Swandel stating that the interest rates are low so we should build now while we can. I actually got a bit worried by that, wondering if he understands that it doesn't matter what the interest rate is if no return happens then revenue will have to increase some other way.
Holy shit, welcome to the club, Steveo! I never thought I'd see the day that anybody on this forum was interested in the concept of shit having to pay for itself...

Let me briefly weigh in on your question about whether it's reasonable. I think the answer is manifold, but the underlying point is generally made by Esquire: the city doesn't operate on a for-profit basis so it uses taxation to fund what cities provide. Things like traffic lights and other infrastructure are bought, used up, then sold off for scrap (what's known as residual value). The city should be properly doing life-cycle analysis to ensure that the tax base it brings in is sufficient to cover the costs of the new purchase at the end of the life cycle minus the residual value generated by the old scrap sold off. And, of course, ensuring that there's a slush fund that covers the costs of requests based on either safety or other variables for regional infrastructure that can't be covered by the existing local improvement programs. That's how businesses are run. Unless, of course, they're buying revenue generating equipment which has an internal rate of return that gives us its true value. That analysis takes into account the weighted average cost of capital (debt, equity), all associated cash flow growth rates and finally the rate at which money becomes less valuable - inflation. That's true analysis.

What the city does well, on the other hand, is destroy value hand over fist. The city is run by shit-throwing orangutans known as councilors who jump from their chair to their desk and post pictures on twitter during council meetings. Most of them would be considered failures and most of them aspire to other places where they can take selfies and blow hard about things they can't understand. Thomas Steen is a fucking councilor. Their only interests are to be reelected and they understand that most people in their wards don't consider the cost of things, so they give them things in exchange for votes. You can bet Devi Sharma heard long and hard about that intersection, so she gave it to them. Not coincidentally, in an election year. But of course the city doesn't give a fuck because they'll just raise taxes which is their way of paying for things. So when you ask them to do basic analysis to ensure that infrastructure funds are at the very least spent at the city's affordability rate and not just because debt is cheap, their answer is meaningless because they simply don't care. I get credit card offers all the time offering me 0% for the first six months. Is my best move to go and spend every last cent I can on worthless shit? But you also got a reply from Justin Swandel who is one foot out the door and who if you asked him in an actual committee meeting, would talk over you until you sat down.

But here's my question to you and everybody else on this board. If we're beginning to become pissed off about the general incompetence and fiscal neglect within the city, why is everybody so happy about another $225MM in infrastructure dedicated to a rapid transit line when nobody is able to give even the broadest answer as to its return? And that's not another $8K in annual debt service like we're talking above - that's $20MM. I keep hearing about the fewer axles argument, but I've yet to see anybody substantiate that. The city just locked in a 10% property tax increase on the entire city 4 months before an election in a pathetic act to attract 'progressive' votes and we're getting our noses out of joint because of a couple light standards?

I'm on your side, Steveo, but man, are we fucked...
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  #2271  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2014, 1:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
But here's my question to you and everybody else on this board. If we're beginning to become pissed off about the general incompetence and fiscal neglect within the city, why is everybody so happy about another $225MM in infrastructure dedicated to a rapid transit line when nobody is able to give even the broadest answer as to its return? And that's not another $8K in annual debt service like we're talking above - that's $20MM. I keep hearing about the fewer axles argument, but I've yet to see anybody substantiate that. The city just locked in a 10% property tax increase on the entire city 4 months before an election in a pathetic act to attract 'progressive' votes and we're getting our noses out of joint because of a couple light standards?
You're not the first person to demand evidence regarding the projected returns of the SW BRT route, but what I find interesting is that this is perhaps one of the only major city initiatives that I can recall where that has even become a public issue.

By contrast, I haven't heard people demand long term cost and benefit studies of things with major financial implications like Plan Winnipeg amendments to rezone large swaths of land, or to build/extend bridges, streets and expressways, you name it. People only seem interested in cost/benefit as it relates to transit. I wonder why that is? Are we going to dump BRT on the basis that the cost isn't justified and then just carry along approving large new subdivisions and Chief Peguis Trail extensions without holding those types of projects and initiatives up to the same degree of scrutiny?
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  #2272  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2014, 2:20 PM
Simplicity Simplicity is offline
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
You're not the first person to demand evidence regarding the projected returns of the SW BRT route, but what I find interesting is that this is perhaps one of the only major city initiatives that I can recall where that has even become a public issue.

By contrast, I haven't heard people demand long term cost and benefit studies of things with major financial implications like Plan Winnipeg amendments to rezone large swaths of land, or to build/extend bridges, streets and expressways, you name it. People only seem interested in cost/benefit as it relates to transit. I wonder why that is? Are we going to dump BRT on the basis that the cost isn't justified and then just carry along approving large new subdivisions and Chief Peguis Trail extensions without holding those types of projects and initiatives up to the same degree of scrutiny?
Not to pick nits, but Plan Winnipeg has been replaced by Our Winnipeg which is actually favourable from a rezoning perspective. The document - along with complete communities and sustainable transportation - actually calls for the rezoning and reuse of lands into a context that densifies them, so that's a positive step forward. Of course, that's offset by the fact that the city does a very good job of ignoring those policies when it's convenient, so to your point about whether we scrutinize larger infrastructure projects that don't relate to BRT, I would agree we do a poor job. I would argue we do no job at all, so there's that. What's happening with the Waverley West regional system is an abortion of public stewardship and if people had any idea what any of that even meant, they'd be equally upset. Or maybe upset, but not quite equally because a lot of those fiscal hawks tend to live in those areas and drive, but you get the picture. Mismanagement is mismanagement and I don't think anybody is ever very happy about it even if it does serve their purposes in the short term.

The issue with these larger projects is mostly that they service significantly more people of an almost identical mindset. Those people tend to go a little deer-in-the-headlights when they see hundred-million dollar figures and tune right out, but they know they'll be using that roadway. They don't understand the maintenance and contingency and lack of accuracy associated with those projects and budgets, they just don't want to sit in traffic. So, if that's alleviated, they see the costs coming from something so nebulous as a 'civic budget' and it's assumed that's an endless pit of money. If the provincial government wasn't so sure it's already mostly hated, they'd let the city recoup that shit in the form of development fees and then those end users would actually feel the pain. This is what rapid transit is going to do - everybody is now familiarized with what that shit costs and they don't like it one bit. Add to that the general polarity with something like transit in Winnipeg, and you have a bonafide division down political lines. With respect to CPT, I'll bet if you said to people throughout the South end of the city - who really couldn't give a shit about the North - that the city was going into debt to run a regional corridor at the costs of hundred of millions through parcels A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, they would tell those citizens to go fuck themselves. I can guarantee the first thing they would say is that the developer - and consequently the ultimate residents - should be paying for those roads if they need them. Property tax increases city-wide on account of the North end? Not on your life.

I think a lot of this is due to a lack of education on how civic budgets are managed. The numbers are too big for most citizens. But I think if the city started doing a better job of educating the public on a project by project basis, you'd see more engagement. But again, do we really want engagement? Sometimes, I think. But mostly not. We need people who can do cost/benefit analysis at a high level and whom make decisions based on the best interests and not just the special ones...
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  #2273  
Old Posted Yesterday, 10:18 PM
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Interesting tidbit.

I drove out to the granite quarry near Pinawa to approve a slab of granite for my kitchen reno. Reason being, there are natural veins in the slabs that some people (not me) don't approve of. I asked the salesman if there are ever any completely clear slabs, and he said yes, all the time - but for the last several years all of the clear slabs have been going to the World Trade Centre!
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  #2274  
Old Posted Yesterday, 11:14 PM
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Interesting tidbit.

I drove out to the granite quarry near Pinawa to approve a slab of granite for my kitchen reno. Reason being, there are natural veins in the slabs that some people (not me) don't approve of. I asked the salesman if there are ever any completely clear slabs, and he said yes, all the time - but for the last several years all of the clear slabs have been going to the World Trade Centre!
ooo whats it cost compared to the granit normaly seen
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  #2275  
Old Posted Today, 2:25 AM
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Sorry, don't understand the question.
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  #2276  
Old Posted Today, 7:27 AM
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is there a difference in cost
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  #2277  
Old Posted Today, 12:55 PM
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Costs are only related to transportation, so no.
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