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A win-win situation

Phil Sheegl's resignation is long overdue (Departure not tied to review: mayor, Oct. 18). There has just been too much smoke surrounding his actions over the last five years to not raise serious concerns. The city and the public trust are better served with his departure.

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In reading his letter of resignation, I find it more about what was not said. First, it clearly is not a letter of resignation to the city council. There is no explanation to his employers as to why he was leaving.

Rather it is clearly written to the public, with the full understanding that it would be published, attempting to highlight his ostensible accomplishments. Change the title and the signature block on the letter and it reads more like a letter of recommendation rather than one of resignation.




Winnipeg's loss may well prove to be Ottawa's gain.

With his unmatched managerial talents, his unimpeachable financial acumen, and his large inner circle of personal and business contacts, the city's recently departed chief administrative officer, Phil Sheegl, should be primed for a possible appointment to the one place that implicitly honours his craft -- the beleaguered Canadian Senate.

To date, his public service record qualifies him as being worthy of membership by those already there.

Coincidentally, there are always flames to be put out on Parliament Hill (Conservatives move to quell raging Senate controversy, Oct. 18). I wonder how Ottawa is fixed for fire halls?




Your Oct. 18 front page headline, End of an era, contains a typo. It should read, "End of an error?"

The question mark is there as a hopeful indicator of extensive change at city hall.



A solitude of one

Re: Le combat ultime (Oct. 12). If I wanted a newspaper in a foreign and soon-to-be extinct language, I'd subscribe to one.



Adding to urban sprawl

Your Oct. 3 story Planners lose on subdivision should have been headlined "Taxpayers lose on subdivision." It appears that yet another developer will be allowed to add to Winnipeg's problems of urban sprawl while being subsidized on the cost of a new development.

Terracon Development claims that covering the cost of proper road access through the development, providing transit access, and building appropriate-sized playing fields and a noise-attenuation barrier would increase the cost of houses from $300,000 to $600,000. This shows the extent to which taxpayers are being asked to subsidize this new development.

The project will go ahead without the infrastructure, but one day it will be needed. Residents of Castlebury Meadows are sure to insist on transit service and proper playing fields (just as those in Waverley West moved into their new subdivision and realized that the schools within walking distance that they needed had not been provided). When that day comes, taxpayers will be on the hook.

Winnipeg's famous low prices for new housing are clearly subsidized by taxpayers. If developers had to cover the whole costs of sprawl to outer parts of the city it might become more competitive to build infill housing in existing neighbourhoods. We would not see the strains on our infrastructure and the loss of population from existing neighbourhoods that are occurring.



Ignoring the elephant

Graham Lane's Oct. 16 column, Hydro has conflict with gas, ignores the elephant in the room: runaway climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

When fugitive methane is taken into account, the burning of natural gas is no better than coal in terms of greenhouse gas equivalent. The true cost of the environmental damage associated with the extraction, distribution and burning of natural gas is not reflected in the cost of the fuel.

Carbon capture and storage, the only possible way to curb greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels, is of very doubtful practicality on a large scale and would increase the cost to well above that for hydro. The cost of more extreme weather events associated with climate change, such as severe flooding and storms, is paid by society.

Extraction of natural gas by fracking includes the risk of depletion of valuable fresh water resources and the risk of contamination of groundwater with methane and toxic chemicals. The disposal of hydrogen sulphide extracted from sour gas carries the risk of extreme environmental damage through potential future leakage.

Even without considering these unaccounted for hidden costs, the future economic benefit of natural gas is very precarious. The burgeoning supply of natural gas has depressed the price such that in many areas extraction of shale gas is not profitable.

We must realize the danger of the burning of fossil fuels, including natural gas, and become serious about converting to carbon-free energy sources. This continued promoting and expansion of natural gas as a viable fuel is a disaster in the making and must be stopped.




Graham Lane neglects to cite his source for the average cost of heating a home in Manitoba. The figures he used are far higher than those from Manitoba Hydro.

Hydro estimates that the annual heating cost for a typical single family residence with a high-efficiency natural gas furnace is $621 -- $453 for gas plus a $14 basic monthly charge ($168 per year). This is barely half the $1,193 cost stated by Lane.

A smaller but still significant gap exists for heating with electricity. Manitoba Hydro estimates an annual cost of $1,193 for heating a typical home with an electric furnace or electric baseboards heaters versus Lane's estimate of $1,621.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 A16

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