Permanent Link to: First Reaction To News About The Airdrie Dog Clamp Down.
As rounds are fired off at our troops in Afghanistan, Canadians as usual are outraged at more urgent emergencies. Namely the labour dispute between a gluttonous postal workers union and an increasingly authoritarian federal government. With the innovations of electronic billing, facebook, skype, and of course basic email – it has been hard to notice even the lack of junk mail filling my usually stuffed mailbox.
Despite its staggering insignificance the strike deserves some small commentary. On Monday, there’s the possibility Conservatives will impose “back to work” legislation contrary to our inalienable right of free association and peaceful assembly. This of course would be unnecessary if Stephen Harper did a very simple thing: privatize Canada Post and open all classes of mail to competition. Oh, how CUPW would squeal at the prospect of not being able to leach off of the captive taxpayer in perpetuity. But they shouldn’t worry. Such a move would be simply too gutsy for the Tories to pull off.
Yet if the Conservatives are gung-ho enough to effectively abolish collective bargaining, why stop there? Why not just abolish Canada Post? It would be an de facto privatization, without actually being called a privatization. Surely the Tory hard core would be even happier with the abolition of the anachronistic CP than they would be at the Tories’ ultimately inconsequential tough talk about ordering posties back to work.
“Oh but the unemployment!” cries the union. But all Canadians need ask themselves is this: did the economy suffer from the firing of horse and buggy drivers?
Most Canadians already grasp a cold hard fact: Physical mail delivery is a sunset industry. As much as there will always be a demand for the delivery of large physical goods, the bulk of mail – paper, will be replaced over the internet. Even so-called junk mail — hard copy direct marketing pieces — can be delivered more economically by private flyer companies.
The idea that the benefits and pay of Canada Post workers are somehow sacrosanct regardless of technological change needs to be returned to sender, along with the insane idea that mail delivery should be a government-run monopoly. The sooner we figure this out, the sooner we can return our focus to more pressing issues.
Ross Mann, Alberta Liberty Caucus
We get plenty of phone calls over at Mann for Mayor. Most of them are to clarify Ross’ position on specific policies, or to give input as to what the city ought to be doing differently. It’s great to know that Airdronians are really excited about the upcoming election. The other day, I received a call that stood out. A 12 year old girl from a local middle school called our number after receiving our flier at her door. She wanted to let us know what she and her classmates would like to see happen in Airdrie. The first was obvious: we need more schools. Her school is already approaching fire code capacity, and classes are being held in unusual places. I already knew this, since Ross’ wife Katy teaches at that same school. Her math class takes place in a Home Ec lab.
While her first concern is one that is widely recognized, her second was somewhat less obvious to someone who isn’t a teenager. There just isn’t enough for teens to do in Airdrie. She pointed out that her and her friends enjoy going to the Cross Iron Mills mall, but it’s too far away. Especially when you’ve got busy parents, who can’t drop everything to drive you to the mall. It slipped my mind to mention that a certain local bus company wants to operate a shuttle to the mall from the city, but it did underscore a major concern that motivates our campaign: the city is not doing enough to attract businesses to Airdrie. I don’t pretend to know exactly why the mall was built in Balzac rather than Airdrie, and I woudn’t be surprised if it was highly subsidized. What I do know is that we need to find ways to attract more businesses here, so that there are more entertainment options that teens can take in without having to leave town. One of the aldermanic candidates at the all candidates forum pointed out that there isn’t even a laser tag facility here. Cochrane and Strathmore are both smaller than Airdrie, yet each have a lazer tag facility. I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that both of those cities have lower non-residential taxes than Airdrie.
What struck me the most about this conversation was her comments about Genesis Place. When she brought it up, I assumed that her comments would be entirely positive. I was mistaken. She said that the pool is great, but she and her friends are bored of it. This is something that hadn’t really occurred to me. The city put all of it’s eggs in one basket. Plenty of people lament the fact that there isn’t a smaller scale version of Genesis Place within walking distance. If the city hadn’t built one massive complex, this might have been feasible. This is the trouble with the city getting involved in running businesses. Instead of building modest facilities that fit the needs of local residents, they spare no expense to build impressive looking, though impractical facilities like Genesis Place. I can’t help but think that had the city worked with a non-profit like YMCA to operate the project, different decisions would have been made.
The city needs to find more creative ways of ensuring that people–especially teens–have easy access to a wide variety of activities. This shoudn’t mean putting taxpayers on the hook for a money sinks like Genesis Place. Don’t let the city fool you. It is a major money loser. Not only do the “profits” it generates not take into account the capital costs of the facilities (or depreciation), but it also doesn’t take into account that 25% of it’s memberships are paid for by the taxpayers, since city employees and council members receive “free” memberships. What I would like to see is the city facilitate the development of local community associations that can raise money for, and built recreational facilities. This isn’t far fetched. This type of thing is done in plenty of other cities. When I lived in Toronto (please don’t hold that against me!) I was involved with my local community association. One of the things they were able to do was acquire land, and funding for an off leash dog park. That doesn’t sound too impressive, until you consider the cost of downtown Toronto real estate. There’s no reason why we couldn’t do the same here. I have heard from dozens of people that the city more dog parks, not to mention more rinks. With a small number of motivated fundraisers, I am confident that the community could chip in to build some of these amenities without any funding from the city. All they need is some land, and the legal status to oversee these projects.
This is not just my advice, but my challenge to Airdronians. If you are discouraged by the lack of ammenities in the city, don’t lobby for the city to spend more money. We can’t increase taxes any further, and expect private companies to race here to provide services. If you are serious about helping to bringing a new dog park, skating rink, soccer field, or any other such facility to Airdrie, pick up the phone and give me a call. You’ve got my number (it’s on the green flier that was handed to you or stuck in your door). This offer stands regardless of whether Ross wins on October 18th. Everyone on the Mann for Mayor campaign believes that the best decisions are those made at the local level. If you share this belief, we’d love to hear from you.
Healthcare in Canada is a provincial government monopoly.
Every Albertan is supposed to have equal access to quality healthcare.
Sadly, this is not true for Airdrie residents.
While most Calgarians wait in line to get care at a hospital, Airdronians have to suffer through a long ambulance ride before they can do even that. And that assumes the highway is not snowed in or closed due to weather or other emergencies (like beams from overpasses falling on the road).
What to do about this has become a recurring theme of this Airdrie mayoralty campaign, and one of the questions I am asked about most frequently, along with schools and taxes.
My answer is two-fold:
First, as mayor I would use my local government platform to lobby Edmonton aggressively and demand the provincial government live up to its responsibility to give Airdronians their Constitutional right to equal access to quality healthcare.
Secondly, I would encourage, and work with, ANY private, for-profit or not-for-profit group or organization that wants to deliver health services to Airdronians NOW.
The same week I become Mayor, I will pick up the phone and call the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
I will ask them what it would take, and what council and I could do, to get them to locate in Airdrie.
I would ask the province to help us do this, too.
The Mayo is a private, not-for-profit medical clinic world-renowned for its excellence in healthcare.
They are located in a city, Rochester, just outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul mega metropolitan area. Much like Airdrie is a small city situated just outside Calgary.
Because of the presence of healthcare excellence like the Mayo, Rochester has become known as “Med City”. I believe Airdrie can pursue the same sort of excellence by creating the environment for, and actually inviting, excellence to locate here.
I believe the pricey, over-sized real estate that is the new City Hall represents resources and space that could be put to better use as a healthcare facility. I would be willing to sell City assets if it means we can get hospitals or clinics to move here.
But we have to get bureaucracy out of the way. We have to remove government obstructions to the quality of life we deserve here in Airdrie.
Again, healthcare is not something a mayor can wave a magic wand to fix — but as mayor, I will do everything within my power to facilitate the arrival in Airdrie of quality healthcare services for you and your neighbours.
This week’s City View editorial sums up pretty much why I decided to run. I’m overjoyed to see just how eager Airdronians are to get out and vote October 18th! Airdrie has a choice this time around, and I’ll bet that we’ll set a record for voter turnout this year.
Democracy is back in action in Airdrie!
Oct. 5th’s all candidate’s forum at Bert Church Theatre hosted nearly 600 residents, the most that have ever turned out.
Interested citizens took time out of their busy schedules to listen to what candidates had to say, ask questions about hot-button issues and show their support or disgust for those seeking office.
This may not seem like a huge feat, except when you take into account that last election’s voter turnout was a dismal 12 per cent. The forum in 2007 didn’t even fill Bert Church Theatre, while this year’s turnout was standing room only in the theatre, cafeteria and hallway.
It may have taken the threat of a double digit tax increase, but we are glad that something finally caught residents’ attention and spurred them to become informed about the people who represent them.
Maybe now that residents are showing interest, the Provincial government will start taking Airdrie seriously when it comes to important issues such as schools and 24-hour health care.
We also hope this interest in local government leads to greater community involvement, solidifying Airdrie’s identity and dispelling the myth that we are a bedroom community for our neighbours to the south.
We can assume all those who came to the forum will vote, but we need them to convince their friends and neighbours who didn’t attend to pick up the phone, boot up the computer or talk to the candidates face-to-face about who they are, what they stand for and what they can do to make the city of Airdrie an even better place to live.
Take matters into your own hands, get out there and vote.