City services subpar
Winnipeg clearly needs to re-evaluate snow-clearing operations and find a more effective way to manage its fleet.
The public works review issued by KPMG last fall highlights the fact that a large percentage of Winnipeg's snow clearing is contracted out -- more than most other cities our size. As we've seen this year, this can lead to decreased (and unacceptable) quality of service.
Coun. Russ Wyatt indicated that bringing snow clearing back in-house could potentially save money. While the councillor has opted for reduced service, rather than increased efficiency, there are still more options in the KPMG report to help improve the service, such as GPS systems on snow-clearing vehicles to help track and co-ordinate snowplows to address and prioritize trouble areas.
While the city continues to spend more for less, it also opts to ignore its own reports (and citizens) that offer practical solutions to growing problems. This needs to change.
The people in charge of the road conditions should be embarrassed. We spend at least six months of the year in winter conditions. There was more snow last year, and the roads were not nearly as rutted and dangerous.
It does not matter how slow you go. I coasted along the Chief Peguis Trail twice this week without touching the gas pedal -- traffic was moving at a crawl -- and still suffered near-accidents because of ruts.
Make 'superboxes' super
I agree with Brent Bellamy's article (Superboxes: Dare to dream, Jan. 6) proposing that Canada Post look to partner with someone to enhance our city's curb appeal with the mass implementation of postal "superboxes."
What we can probably expect, however, is something along the lines of a walk-up, self-serve, Tim Hortons takeout.
Thanks to Canada Post, we have "superboxes" to look forward to in the next few years. We can either whine and complain or decide to make the best of the situation.
I like Brent Bellamy's idea to have benches for people to sit and rest before the walk back home. Maybe some trees and flowers could make the job of getting our own mail a daily treat.
Of course our frigid weather might become a challenge, but in the end it will make us better people.
Cottage fees divisive
Cottage owners complaining about fee raises (Angry cottagers vow to withhold fees over dispute, Jan. 7) need to be reminded that owning a cottage is a privilege, not a right. Owning a cottage situated in a protected park maintained by the provincial government is a service in and of itself, regardless of whether that cottage happens to directly benefit from municipal services.
The sense of entitlement from outraged cottagers is astonishing and calls for a little perspective. These are people who have the financial means to own and maintain two separate dwellings, yet are balking at being asked to cover half the costs of the parks in which their cottages are located.
There are many worthy social endeavours the provincial government should undertake with the expectation of not breaking even. The operation of provincial parks, with the presence of a taxable base within the parks that has the means to pay, is certainly not one of them.
Cottagers should consider themselves lucky their fees have been low for so many years and accept the raise with grace.
Once again the provincial government is acting illegally. They first raised the provincial sales tax without a referendum as required by legislation. Now they are raising cottage rents without developing and sharing a parks budget, as is required under the Provincial Parks Act.
They base their argument for higher rents on the fact cottage market values have risen. Values have indeed risen, partly due to low interest rates as well as owners investing capital to improve their properties. The government rent only applies to the land, not the improvements.
Most cottages are likely owned by seniors largely living on fixed incomes. Higher property values do not increase the ability to pay higher rents.
When is this NDP government going to respect and obey its own laws?
Blowing in the wind
I could not agree more with Bartley Kives (Cold inaccuracies get silly with chilly, Jan. 7) regarding the tendency of people to exaggerate the temperature.
I preferred the watts-per-square-metre measure of wind chill -- a measure of how much heat would be lost per area of exposed skin.
Apparently it was hard to understand, although I'm not sure why. One did not need to know what the units represented to know 2000 was getting into the danger zone, regardless of air temperature.
It is welcome news to me that Environment Canada is promising a more objective measure of wind chill.
With respect to Bartley Kives' almost-correct summation of the wind-chill mess: Not only wind chill but also wind direction can add to our misery, as this verse attests:
A predicament arose this morning.
We strode along paths as day was dawning.
The wind blew in my face, its manner crass
So I turned around and let it freeze my posterior.*
*If you can think of a better rhyme, please insert it.