Congrats to Mohammed Ahmed

As a runner I had to throw one more in – congrats to Mohammed Ahmed, a 19 year-old from St. Catharines, on a spectacular freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, as well as winning the 2009 St. Catharines athlete of the year.

I looked up his numbers; I don’t even run as fast as him in my dreams.


Good luck, and good work, to Bruce Timms

Good news from Regional Councillor Bruce Timms, whose tireless work on getting the Heritage Designation he’s been seeking for the Welland Canal system appears to be getting closer to the goal.

Here’s to hoping the roadblocks come down and it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way.  A little bit of discussion and negotiating goes a loooong way.

‘The End of an era’ or ‘A new opportunity’?

As a surprise to no one, operations are beginning to wind down at the Ontario St. GM plant.  By the end of this year, all employees are expected to be finished at the plant, either moving over to the Glendale plant or retiring.  The CAW believes the job losses should be cancelled out due to the new operations at Glendale.

The closing is not a happy development, as anyone who has lived in a city like St. Catharines will tell you; least of all during a recession.  It does, however, give the city an opportunity to do something productive and useful with the land, which is in a great location in this city.  At present, it is zoned as medium density residential.

I think it would be a mistake to simply throw up a new residential neighbourhood.

For starters, building a Carlton St. – Grapeview connecting bridge is a necessity.  The closing of the Martindale on-ramp this fall proved that downtown accessibility is severely limited in the West end, and building a bridge across 12 mile creek would be a huge improvement on the current situation.

Some residential would be a good idea as well, but if we are trying to intensify the residential situation in the city, why not look to build a condo complex.  Something bold, different looking.  A commenter in the linked article suggested looking to the Toronto Distillery district for ideas – not a bad suggestion.

The article also suggested the potential of placing the proposed new spectator facility on the site, as opposed to the lower level parking lot behind St. Paul St. where it is being proposed now.  I’m a firm believer that all of the eggs of this city shouldn’t be in the same basket – spread the economic well-being around the city.  With other commercial possibilities, the area could be a great addition to the service industry in St. Catharines.

There are a myriad of possibilities; some are blindingly obvious, others would require a little bit of work and imagination.  The biggest mistake the city can make is to allow the 43 acres of real estate to be wasted on yet another every-house-looks-the-same neighbourhood.

Let’s hope the leadership of this city has the courage to make a decision that benefits all the citizens of St. Catharines when the time comes.

Only 1.5% more. Why, thank-you City Council!

I suppose I shouldn’t be too sarcastic – but it just seems so . . . transparent that city council would come in with a relatively small tax increase in an election year.

All that said, I’ll reserve judgement on it until it’s released.  Knee-jerk reactions are ok for some, but I’ like to see exactly what they kept versus what they chopped.  I still think the way the budget is created is a kind of knee-jerk process in and of itself, but that’s a topic for another post.

The dirt of politics

Unfortunately, none of this should surprise any of us.

It is eerily reminiscent of a municipal election-year budget that aims for a zero percent tax increase when the tax increases over the last several years have been anything but zero.  We need to stop letting politicians buy our votes with our own money – it’s not right, and it’s not fair.

As for the NHS – if it takes Jim Bradley stepping down and a by-election in this riding to fix the horrible mess that is Niagara’s health care system, so be it.

More people in tax arrears – call George Darte!

Total tax arrears are considered a barometer of property taxpayers’ ability to pay, city treasurer Shelley Chemnitz said.

Wow – well Ms. Chemnitz pretty much says it all.  I can’t imagine that people not being able to pay taxes would have anything to do with taxes being too high, or not enough priority being given to trying to improve the economic situation in this fair city of ours and get people back to work, but then, what do I know?

We need a readjustment in priorities at city council.  This report is useful to a degree, but it came about because of a misguided attack on PDVC.  More time working to build a better city, less time re-fighting battles that have already been lost.