Thunder Bay Development List

Update: So I have not been able to keep up with this list to a degree that I would want and I know that the people coming to this list would want. I had originally been using a list that was partly created by a friend and then other items I knew to be ongoing construction myself. I currently am not residing in Thunder Bay and do not have an accurate detailed list or knowledge to pass onto you. My friend is still creating this list and keeping it fairly updated as to the ongoing within Thunder Bay. Here is a link and I urge those interested to go and check out his page. If your wondering if there is anything planned for Thunder Bay or ongoing then this is the place.

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/thunder-bay-developments-projects-radar-john-susin?trk=prof-post

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Bike lanes good but the plan not so much

The city is in the process of adding bike lanes to the city streets to make them safer for bikers and drivers. They have recently been in the news because of the mess that has become Victoria Avenue. This street was converted to have bike lanes on both sides and allow for easy access for riders to the streets that come off of it. The problem is that people don’t seem to know what exactly to do on this street and it has become dangerous. The biggest issue is that the bike lane is its own area then merges with the road as a ‘shared’ area. To add to that the road goes to 4 lanes at intersections giving the driver the view that the bike lane is over and they can return to driving as normal. The problem is that it doesn’t and 500 ft later they are forced into the other lane in some cases people continue driving in a turn lane. I believe that the city needs to reevaluate its position on how these bike lanes are laid out. I think that they should continue the bike lanes as they provide a great service for relatively cheap but the planning needs to change.

The big lanes are a big jumbled mess right now, they start here and end here. They don’t really go anywhere and they don’t help someone get to where they want to go. Instead of just adding random streets here and there I would like to see the city along with the active transport committee have a little more focus and look at a smaller area. It would be better for the long term evolution and use of the bike lanes if they were more connected and got people where they wanted to go. This means adding lanes onto existing ones and working in a smaller area. It would be nice to see both sides of the city done to the point where a biker can go from a-b in a continuous lane before the city works on connecting north-south. I believe that if the city worked on these two areas they could grab a lot of bikers, teach drivers how to deal with them in a less stressful area and they could increase usable + acceptance. I think that bike lanes are great and its another way that the city is working towards getting the citizens more active. I think that the plan seems to be unfolding wrong but is still workable and good for the city.

Is it time for Thunder Bay to take a breather?

I’m a man of progress and am always looking to the future of Thunder Bay and the country in general. I was thinking to myself tonight about all the great projects that will be undergone in the next couple of years and of years past. I thought of the great economic impact it will have and the added bonuses of having these in the city but with a link sent to me today by a friend, I kind of rethought those positions.

From 2007-2017 will likely be the busiest decade for Thunder Bay, possibly ever. In that time period we have seen a recession almost as bad as the 1929 depression and seen the biggest spending plans by government ever. To combat the economic downturn in Canada the government paired up with municipalities and provinces to put money into projects that banks were unwilling to do. One of those projects was Prince Arthur’s landing at the Thunder Bay marina. It came with a local cost of around 30 million and 46 million from federal and provincial levels. Government also chipped in for a new library ( 5 million) road improvements and more to the area. The construction has been unlike anything we have seen in Thunder Bay and kept almost everyone busy for the foreseeable future. The problem some would see is that a majority of the money spent is government money or money borrowed from banks. We are already seeing cut backs so what happens when the government money dries up, does the private industry come in?

Even on a local level we are seeing money spent on projects that hasn’t happened for a long time. The city is planned to expand its bus services (7 million for the terminal and 3 million annually increase) to increase ridership from 9 million to 11 and reach new parts of the city which do not get bus service. The city is also spending 7 million on 2 new fire halls to replace a couple which are older and do not meet the needs. This comes on the heels of the city spending 9 million for a new EMS station and 11 million for a new social services building. The city is also looking at building a new arena which could cost them from 25-50 million to build of which only 25 is accounted for. Add to that the expanded marina plans which range from 17-25 million and likely to increase with the recent news. All together the city’s 200 million dollar budget is continuing to climb and the construction business seems to be booming but a major is from a local source. While this has been happening we have seen little of the private industry and that is a major problem.

So the question is this. When does the city say “its time to take a break?” I personally would like to see them complete the projects that have on the go now. I feel they will add to the quality of life that all citizens enjoy and will be a boost to the economy until the private sector can take over. I think when they have completed these projects it is time to take a break and work on getting our debt to a more respectable level. It sits at 170 million from a high of 200 which is a good reduction for the time being but it needs to continue to reduce. When the private industry takes over, I believe that the city needs to work on repairing what it has and working to find efficiencies within the business model. I also believe that the city needs to continue the trend of saving up for projects like we have seen in the ReNew Thunder Bay business model. The question we all need to ask is when is enough, what is enough and how do we get there?

 

Leave your comment below.

Government of Canada under new management

This is something we will likely never see but there is a chance that there will be more and more input from lenders, banks, creditors and people we owe money too. Canada has a huge debt and it is growing considerably at a extremely fast rate. We have spent more money then we bring in since 2009 and have multiplied our debt levels multiple times over. Canada’s debt stands at 1 trillion three hundred seventy eight and give or take a couple million. Living in Canada we feel that we will not have to worry about banks trying to control our business and that government will continue to do what the people want. We are starting to see a change in this thinking because of what is happening in Europe and Ontario.

Recently, the government of Ontario took a harder stand on there debt and getting it under control as a couple credit agencies told them that there rating would be dropped. This seemed to come as a shock to McGunity and his party and they took this to heart with the Drummond report and the recent budget. Even after the release of the budget and the extra 490 million towards the deficit, a couple credit agencies have already dropped its rating and caused another problem for the province. A good credit rating will allow a person or a province to borrow money at a cheaper level, each time the level goes down the amount that may be borrowed goes down and they increase the amount of interest they want. Currently, the interest Ontario pays is the third largest expense and getting bigger. With the downgrade this means that banks will be less willing to borrow money to Ontario and they will want a higher return upfront. Without showing the banks and lenders that Ontario is committed to cutting the debt and deficit earlier the credit agencies will continue to be shaky and hesitant with Ontario. If we continue down this path we could see a Greece like control of Ontario’s finances. While the province has a plan to cut the deficit by 2017-2018 the debt levels will have increased substantially and could overtake education in expenses. This is something that is happening as well with Quebec and slowly with Canada as a nation.

Canada’s debt is close to 82% of our Gross Domestic Product or GDP. “Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period.” This means that our debt is coming towards being on par with the level of the Canadian economy. The debt also stands at a level of $40,000 per person or the average income of a Canadian worker annually. A higher debt level requires a higher amount of money put towards it and requires more to be put aside which could be used for more productive levels. Lenders, banks and credit agencies will watch you with more of a hawkish attitude when the money they lend you becomes in danger of failure to repay. This is being shown to the world in Greece where the government was almost unable to pay its debts and without the help of foreign money would have failed. Banks and other governments have twisted the government’s of Greece’s arm to force cuts, austerity down the throats for repayment. While its unlikely to happen here in Canada just yet, if we continue down the road we are now it is a possibility. Banks could play a bigger role in modern government if they feel they will not be repaid and force the government’s hand. While its likely not on the mind of Canadians just yet, the amount of personal debt along with the amount of government debt could lead to a reduction in the quality of life we all have come to enjoy. We as a country need to accept that this level of debt isn’t acceptable anymore and need to work on bringing it down to a level which is more manageable. With a reduction in debt we will be able to work on the projects we desperately need like feeding the poor and helping the homeless. While the plan might be harsh at first it will likely be necessary to get the job done.

The plan should include: – 2% increase in the GST which that increase is put directly to the debt.

– 2 cent increase in gas tax which is put to repairing roads and other infrastructure

– Continued labor cuts to government employees even after the budget returns to black. Using this money to pay down the debt

– Reducing the transfer to Quebec from 10 billion to 3 billion. Using that money to pay for infrastructure upgrades across the country

– Increasing VIA and defense spending with a minimum 50% Canadian content for any contract signed by these 2

– Reducing the senate from 105 – 20 (1 French and 1 English from each province/territory), reducing the pension and pay given to senators and making the process an elected one.

– Get rid of subsidies for the oil sands, big business and wealthy Canadians.

– Change the tax brackets around to include more in the lower levels and return the business tax level up to a higher level.

– Make cabinet smaller by merging departments and move more then online to make it cheaper for government.

Cutting from top to bottom will be necessary for the Canadian economy and the debt levels. It might be hard to get through this but the financial freedom that Canadians will have once the debt is lower will allow them to breathe easier and know that another country or private industry will never have to arm bar us to do what we should have done in the first place.

Presented with an Opportunity and a problem

Thunder Bay has continued it plan to redevelop all 52 KM of waterfront or for the time being as much as they possibly can. While funding for the project continues to be a issue and other projects are taking precedent over the second phase a new snag arose today. Part of the environmental assessment required a diver to go into the water to see what kind of items lay below the water and just under the ground. They found a number of items that were left by the industry which had used the land previously and some items were likely from people even previous to that.

The main thing that was found is in question. CBC stated that it was a boat and TBTV a barge which are very different things. I believe that there are a number of advantages for the city if they decide to bring the items below the water back up. It could provide a interest number of pieces to help showcase the industrial past of Thunder bay but the cost would have to be acceptable. 1 million to search the area better is needed to see exactly what is under the water and under the soil. That is when the decision making needs to occur. If its cost effective and the items could be used to give a visual history of the city’s past then I think it would be a great idea. To show how land can be reclaimed for use by all and how just because something is there one day doesn’t mean it always will be. If they can reclaim the land then they will also be able to keep the original designs and put the 300 slips into that area.

If the money or the items below aren’t worth it then it becomes another problem. As a city do we want to dredge that area to make it available for all the boaters or do we want to go with a smaller number of slips. There is a huge waiting list for a slip down at the marina and the 300 extra slips will hardly make a dent in it. The marina is one of the only city services that breaks even on a yearly basis and adding more slips would allow the city to bring in some more cash. They would also be able to make another 300 boaters happy if that occurred but I guess we will have to see what items are below the water and make a decision then. In the end it will be about the money and what we can do with the money we have available to us.

I really hope that the city continues on with phase 2 of the waterfront development as it would be a great addition to the area and would allow city residents to stretch there legs. It would help to make Prince Arthur’s landing a mix of commercial, residential and green that residents envisioned when they supported phase 1.

Ontario is going to need to cut deeper

The election is over, the budget is passed and yet again today another credit agency has downgraded Ontario. Moody’s brought the Ontario credit rating down to Aa1, which is something that S&P did the other day. Ontario is going to need to cut likely deeper if it wants to keep its promise of getting the deficit under control and then it will need to likely keep cutting to get the debt under control. Ontario’s debt financing is the 3rd largest expense it and its growing each and every day. The debt financing is standing at 10 billion dollars a year, simply in interest owed to the banks. The debt will stand around 400 billion when the budget is in the black again.

So, what will need to be cut or increased to get the budget back in order.

Full Day Daycare – 1.5 billion a year. A major center piece of the liberal program and a great thing for parents to have. The problem is how expensive it is to operate this program and the costs are expected to keep growing. The province will likely have to look at cutting this program or in the short term adding a cost to help keep it running. The province of Quebec offers daycare for 8 dollars a day, maybe the province can ask for that as well to keep this program healthy. In the end it will likely be scrapped but not under this liberal government.

Return MP’s pay to where it was 2008 level. A couple years ago the province gave MP’s a raise, to the tune of 22% to ‘”keep the good ones in Ontario”. This is an area where the province could save some money and show regular Ontarian’s that they are in this for the long haul as well. While this move would likely be nothing more then symbolic, and money saved will be a good amount.

Increase class sizes – When the province moved to reduce the number of students per teacher it added large number to the workforce. 10,000 new teachers were hired to meet the demand and added to the provincial payroll. While this gave the economy a boost it also increased the education budget significantly. Cutting even half of these workers would reduce the amount spent on education significantly, money which could be put into debt financing or reducing the debt itself. While this wont sit well with the provinces teachers federation, it will likely be something that needs to be done.

LHIN’s – Getting rid of these groups will help to reduce more bureaucracy and administration jobs.  The money saved can be put into the health care system or reducing the debt.

 

There are a lot of different items that will likely need to happen for the liberals to bring the budget back into the black. Its something that needs to happen sooner then later and will likely need deeper cuts then they are letting on. When we do get into the black we need to continue to keep expenses down and work on getting the debt to a manageable level. The province should also set money aside for a stimulus package, in times of a economic downturn the province doesn’t need to borrow the money.

Time to break some Thunder Bay stereotypes

There are a number of stereotypes or thinking in Thunder Bay that have nothing to do with race, gender or the other things we usually account with for stereotypes. The ones I’m talking about is more of how we as a city act and make decisions within our city.

“If I wanted to live in a concrete jungle, I’d live in Toronto” – I have personally heard this from a couple different people when it comes to talking about building tall, dense buildings. People in Thunder Bay seem too all want the same thing when it comes to a home and family life. They want to be able to have a acre in the backyard, a deck and want to be 5 minutes from the bush. The problem with this is that the city is growing out so far and its becoming more expensive to provide services for these areas. While the taxes are higher (in some cases much) for these services, the cost is not only paid for by those people but by the city base in general. We as a city need to reduce the amount of height restrictions to allow for higher buildings and more density. There are many lessons that can be learned from Toronto and places with higher density about preparing for the increase in people. Lessons like making the area transit accessible, providing green space for residents in the area and having a proper traffic flow plan. Density would also make our transit system more stable, provide more revenue and allow for an increase in ridership. Density doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as its properly planned for. There are a number of people I imagine would love to live in a condo or high rise apartment but we need to start allowing these to happen. In saying that, certain areas should be protected from high rises to keep the sight lines available.

“Transit is for poor and drunks” – Now, I know the transit system in Thunder Bay isn’t the best but wow is all I can say. There was a news article about the expansion of the transit system in Thunder Bay and how it would eventually add over 2 million more rides a year and provide a better service. The comments that followed made the system look like it was for drunks, poor and that no one with an brains would take transit. Yes, there were a couple comments that said that transit was for socialist babies who couldn’t afford insurance or a vehicle. Now transit is a very good and extremely necessary form of transportation for people who can’t afford a vehicle, the daily operating costs or for people who wish to be more environmentally friendly. The idea that its only for the poor is extremely misguided since in many major cities, transit is the most effective, cost efficient and best way to get around. The system is used by people of all social classes and all ages to get to there destination. The problem for Thunder Bay and the reason the service here is slower is because of how stretched out the population is. 2,000 km of roads in which transit travels on a fair amount of these. A trip from one end of the city to the other will take someone around 1.5 hours one way. The transit system also has to deal with the fact that people here enjoy relatively easy traffic flow and a majority of people already own 1-2 cars. Density, generation shift away from vehicles and more awareness will likely add to transit numbers. The addition of transit mileage and availability will also have a positive impact on the system.

Business No Way! – There was talk of bringing a Ferochrome smelter to Thunder bay, the facility would hire around 500 workers and bring in a stable industry to the beaten tax base. Some of the first comments that people expressed was that we didn’t want it here in Thunder Bay. People sited that it would be dirty, smell bad and would be bad for the environment. These comments made me think and I kind of shook my head. Smelters have become increasing less dirty, less environmentally dangerous and are not as big of an eyesore as the 1900’s smelter. If the city was really that worried about the environment and the smell then almost all the industry built it Thunder Bay would be gone. This type of attitude has come up again and again in Thunder Bay when it comes to business trying to open up shop. We have seen it with the Windfarm, Bell’s cell towers, Flying J’s truck stop, private development at the marina and more. Things like this give us a black eye when it comes to business and being business friendly. It makes it extremely hard to try and progress as a city and create a new tax base. Thunder Bay needs to be more welcoming of businesses and work with them instead of instantly shutting them down because they don’t want it in their backyard or close to there house.

Any stereotype I missed that makes you madder then hell in Thunder Bay. Post it in the comments below.