Time to invest in some more protection from the water.

Water is something that we need to survive, we are made up of 75% water and without it we are nothing. Water is key to our survival but also can be extremely dangerous and cause death and destruction. While we have not seen any death today (Happy about that) we have seen a lot of destruction and damage to homes. This damage is wide spread and had caused a state of emergency in Thunder Bay, Oliver-Paipoonge and Conmee township all off which have experienced flooding and road washouts.

In Thunder Bay, the state of emergency was declared after the Atlantic ave Sewage treatment plant was flooded by a huge increase in water. Normally it deals with around 60 mega litres a day but by 2 am was dealing with closer to 650-750. This flooded the building and will likely caused million in damage to the brand new building. This also forced the city to ask that the residents not shower, flush or do anything with water for the time being. While the crews have worked to reduce the amount of water in the building it is still another 24 hours before an idea of the damage is known. Lots of residents also had there basements flooded some up to 4 feet. Whole sections of town were forced into the dark due to the risk of electrical shock and the chance it could fry the whole system. Rivers that normally creep along were rushing ever higher and in some cases touching the tops of bridges normally 10 feet higher.

Other areas also has the same problem but the problem included washouts of roads. Roads which has been built not 3 years before hand had sections washed away causing huge traffic problems. While some people were hurt no one was badly injured. Crews have been out repairing the roads to make them passable again but there is a lot of work to be done and time is of the essence. Crops, houses, fields and more are all damaged now because of the water and the threat is still there as more rain is expected to fall.

The city acted in the past after the major rainfall flooded these areas before and now with these becoming more and more valuable it might be time to do it again. I have a list of proposals that should help to alleviate the problem in the future and make it less a burden for people to deal with. If we can help to save these people person items and homes then they will become more affordable as there home insurance rates go down.

1. In low lying areas a system of large pipes should be installed to deal with a increased level of water. One of the problems that faced these areas was that the plant was full and the water had no where to go. A large pipe would be able to move the water away to another area which would allow for less water to pool and sink basements.

2. When the floodway gates are in need of replacement, we should build them bigger to allow for more water flow to be diverted into the floodway. The replacement of this would also allow for better technology to be implemented into the building which would allow for quicker and faster responses. 2A) Widening the floodway is something else we should consider when we are dredging the floodway next time. Giving it more depth and width will allow for better flow and more water to be diverted into the lake.

3. A holding pool should be added by the sewage treatment plant which would basically work the same as a tailings pond. When the plant is getting too much water (like it did today) a switch would be flicked and the pipe would cut off half of the flowing water. It would sit in the pond until the plant was able to clean the water and return it to lake superior. This likely wouldn’t have stopped the flooding of the building itself but the damage would be less and residents might not have been asked to stop using water. A holding area might only need to be used once or twice a year but it could provide a very helpful tool for the city in this case.

While it may cost money to do these jobs it might not be something that is overly expensive in the long run. If we can bring down the homeowners insurance for these people by working to protect these buildings then we can provide a monetary help to home owners.

 

Time to change the definition of not criminally responsible

In the Canadian legal system a person can be found not criminally responsible for a crime because of a existing or previously unknown mental condition. While this has to be proven to a judge or jury that the person was incapable of making a proper decision at the time it usually results in the person being convicted but sent to a hospital instead of jail. Due to monetary and lobbying from mental health groups the government has allowed that people should be released back into society after they have been ‘fixed’. Usually it is a slow process and has takes years but the system is much easier on a person found NCRDMD (Not Criminally Responsible due to a mental disorder) then someone of sound mind.

This has come into the public light recently as Vince Weiguang Li was allowed to have short escorted trips into the town surrounding the mental institution. Vince Li was charged with murder in the beheading of Tim McLean on a greyhound bus in 2008. Mr. Li was a undiagnosed case of schizophrenia which caused him to believe that Mr. McLean was an alien and voices (which he claimed was “God”) told him to kill the alien before he could hurt anyone else. He was charged and convicted of murder but sentenced to a high security mental institute to get treatment and where many thought he would forever be locked up. It is said that Mr. Li has responded well to the medication and he understands the gravity of his actions. He has shown no anger towards the staff and has been progressing well towards the ultimate goal of freedom. The trips into town provide a social reconnection but also can be dangerous for the public and the patient himself/herself.

Just recently in Halifax a patient was allowed to go on a day leave unescorted into the neighboring town. When he didn’t show up that night, the police were called but there was little the hospital could do to find them. The police found the patient the day after but it was already too late. The patient was found to have committed another murder after he went to the bar and got intoxicated. This patient was a known violent drunk and the alcohol didn’t mix well with his medication. The patient was again charged with murder (found to be NCRDMD) and returned to the hospital while the investigation continued into the murder.

The people of the town surrounding the mental institution are also fearing that something like this could happen if the trips go on longer and eventually are unescorted. While trips may start out as short (30 minutes) if he continues to progress then he will eventually be allowed to go out for 1 hour, 1/2 day and then a full day as a socialization plan. While I think that we need to be careful in making sure that these people are actually ‘healthy’ to return to society and not a risk. Some people likely should never be let out and we can’t push them out due to monetary reasons. We need to make sure that people are safe and they will continue to take the medication that makes them healthy to return to society.

That is where I believe that a change needs to be made when it comes to mental disorders and the legal system. The system releases people that they feel are safe and ready to be able to contribute to society. They usually are ready to return when the medication has helped to calm there brains and make them function more ‘normal’. The problem occurs when a person who feels that he has been healed and doesn’t need the pills anymore and recedes into the pattern that got them into trouble. This is often the beginning of a return to legal issues and sometimes can result in harm to not only themselves but other people. When a person returns to court they are seem to not have the mental capacity to be able to make the proper decision against the act. They are usually deemed to be NRCDMD but when they are released with there pills the hospital views them as ‘able to properly function and make decisions’. So should this not be considered to be the same issue as alcohol where ‘the action of consuming the liquor was made when the person was of sound mind’ and the act should be considered as if he/she is of sound mind. The person was of sound mind when they made the decision to remove the pills from there system and in such there punishment should be made to fit the crime.

While its very likely that someone would be at a much higher risk to re-offend in a correction system it needs to be taken into account the sentence that a normal person would get. The sentence should be served where they could get the proper help but be in a safe place away from the community. The original sentence (murder) should be 10 year sentence with the tools provided for the patients to get them into the work force when they are released, get them into a system where they always take there pills and help them to recover. A second sentence should be minimum 20 years and serious consideration given for the change of re-offending. If the threat to the public is medium + (even for 1st offense) a person should be held until the level is lower. The community safety is priority and with the ‘releasing’ of hundreds of mental disorder patients from places like the LPH without proper life training it is a recipe for disaster.

We can work to rehabilitate people with mental disorder so that they can live long and prosperous lives but we need to make sure that they are ready for there release and we need to change the system so that going off your medication is the same as drinking. If these people can’t be trusted to stay on there medications then they can’t be trusted in the community.

Strength in numbers

Northern Ontario communities have been struggling to survive as there main industry shuts down and the forest industry moves away from the area. Thousands have been laid off and are either working/living somewhere else or struggling to make ends meet in the town. The communities themselves are struggling just as hard; many of these where built around the mills to provide the labor force needed to keep them running. Without the mills the towns have been forced to cut staff and raise taxes on struggling families. While the provincial government has helped to try and reduce the burden on these town even they are now struggling to keep there deficit in order and have cut help.

I recently went through the town of Beardmore and Nipigon and noticed something interesting. These 2 communities have both been hit hard by the forestry downtown, have struggled to make ends meet and are roughly the same number of population (1,700 Nip, 2,000+ Beardmore). Beardmore seems to have struggled more as the buildings all along the highway route (except the new municipal office) are in rough shape. They are being lost due to the struggles by the community and the lack of funds by government and families. These two communities are relatively close to one another and likely ask the provincial government and federal government for funds for identical projects. The though came to my mind that merging the two communities might help to provide for a better community for these people. It could help to provide a economic boost to the area, provide a stable tax base and help to strengthen the position of the community. A single community of 4,000 would be much easier to fund then multiple smaller communities, it would provide a better economic plan for private industry.

My idea would be for Beardmore to merge into Nipigon based on a number of reasons. 1. Chokepoint – Nipigon is the area where the road splits and all traffic has to go through this area. This increases visibility for businesses and economic potential and there has been an increase in the number of private businesses opening up along the highway. 2. Economic Development – Nipigon has a better chance of getting development and its already seeing it. 3. Potential for population growth. Nipigon itself is a smaller town but close by there is another community of around the same size which could help to promote the area. If the Beardmore homes where built in the middle and the 3 towns merged it could create the 2nd biggest city in NWO.

There are many small communities that were built to feed the mills. Its likely that the forest industry will never come close to what it was pre-recession. If we can start to merge these communities to make them strong by having more people and more economically viable then it is good for the north and Ontario. We need to look ahead and stop looking at the past, while this is just an idea its something we may need to look at.

What is success in Afghanistan?

What is success in Afghanistan? Is it the destruction of the Taliban? Is it a country which looks and acts like the countries who took it over? Is it a country who doesn’t erupt into civil war the second we leave? The real answer will likely never be known and the measure of success will likely be defined differently in different countries. Canada could say that the country isn’t a  poor country anymore and America could say that its not a safe haven for terrorists anymore.

We as Canadians, how do we define when we have won and it is time to remove our soldiers from the country and out of harms way. It’s now 2012 and it looks as if Harper will extend the training mission on which 900 soldiers are on. Canada is under increasing pressure from NATO and the US to keep its trainers in the country. They are also under pressure to provide more cash for the Afghan National Army and Police force. That cash payment could be around 100 million on top of the 14 billion its expected to cost Canada for the war itself. These all add up to the growing distaste in the country for this war which has raged on from 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. This is now the longest war that Canada or the US has ever served in and will continue for another 2 years minimum. We have lost 158 Canadian soldiers lives in this war and had one of the highest deaths rates of any NATO country.

One thing that Canadians didn’t hear about enough with this war was the good that Canadian soldiers and reconstruction teams were doing. The Canadian government focuses on health, women and energy as its main pillars for the project it would help to rebuilt. The government helped pay for a number of school’s only for girls who were prevented from attending school under the Taliban government. While these schools took a while to get going they were eventually filled and lots of little girls have been getting there education to try and get a better life. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for these schools though, they have been targeted because they teach girls and on one instance they were gassed by the Taliban. These have been blemishes on the overall impact that these schools have made for these girls. Is that a victory for Canada then? A new generation of women being able to attend schools and provide a better life for themselves and there families. Likely yes, but is it enough to call the whole war a victory?

Healthcare was a big issue for Canada in this war. They wanted to provide more doctors and health to the people of Afghanistan. They sent out missions to villages that likely had to walk hundreds of KM to see a doctor when sick. Canadian soldiers took in wounded afghans when they came to the bases and treated them for free. They helped to train afghan doctors and nurses to replenish the healthcare system. Before the Taliban government 30% of doctors were female and 50% of teachers were female. All kicked out of their jobs because it didn’t work with there reading of the Qur’an.The missions that Canadian troops went out on to provide medical aid was also dangerous for the Afghans. Many times they were told not to accept help from the western troops for threats of torture or death. Many areas received healthcare that normally wouldn’t have and likely many people were saved because of Canadians actions. Is that a victory for Canada? I would say its a small one but overshadowed by the number of afghans killed by accidents or Taliban killings.

Energy was another pillar for the Canadian government to help try and bring the people of Afghanistan out from the ‘stone age’ and bring them into the 21st century. The government took on a number of programs like the Danha dam project and funded a number of smaller companies which provided solar panels for businesses and houses. The Danha dam was built in the 1950 but left to rot during the years of war and corrupt government. The Canadian government seen this as an opportunity to rebuild the dam and provide not only hydro electric power but irrigate the farm lands below. This has been a major project for the Canadian government and been a top priority. Having spent around 50 million on this the dam is close to completion and should be providing energy and irrigation for the area. This should help the local farmers provide a more bustling crop output and help them to bring in more money. The energy will also help to modernize the area and keep the lights on in Kandahar. One of the smaller companies that they funded helped to install solar panels on people’s homes. This brought electricity to areas which had never seen it in there lives. One house which received the solar panel was a small company that built rugs from their homes. They usually were only able to build by the light of the sun but with the energy they were expecting to build longer and provide more money for the families and workers. Is this a victory? I would say yes, it will likely have a impact on these people lives way beyond when Canadians leave.

The real questions still need to be asked. Will the country collapse into civil war once the NATO countries leave and erase all which has been done. This is always a possibility, the Taliban would more then love to take over the country again and bring it back into sharia law. I think that they would be up for a fight with the Afghan national army growing stronger each day but that the leadership at the top is the weak point. Corruption has been a big issue and they could likely be working with the Taliban to keep themselves in power. Its possible that it could be a short return to Taliban government if the top is weak but a battle between the ANA and the Taliban would likely be a Taliban loss. The Afghan economy is really dependent on foreign aid and that is a huge problem. While there was a boom in the area or housing construction and construction funded by the NATO countries. The Afghan government will need to find a way to fund projects and the police/army to keep things from falling apart. There is suspected to be a large amount of mineral wealth and possibly oil which if developed could help to keep the economy running.

I think that a country that looks and acts like us isn’t something that we can expect and that if we try that it will fail. Afghanistan is a country with a long and violent history and 10-15 years will not change a lot but we can help to change a little. We can instill democracy and fair/free elections and rights for all people including women. I think if we try to model them after us then it will lead to a failure.

This war is one that is hard to measure success because its a whole new type of war. Its not defeating the German army or removing Hitler, its not defeating communism or USSR. This is trying to rebuild a country and bring it from thousands of years of fighting to a calmness. I think that you would consider this war a success by the fact it can handle itself, fight for itself and feed itself. So if that is the case then this war has not been won and wont be for a long time. We would likely need to stay for hundreds of years and keep pumping money into this country to keep it going on the right path. 11 years isn’t enough to rebuild something of this magnitude.

So should we extend our mission in Afghanistan from 2014? I would say yes but it would need to have a number of checkpoints in which we could leave if they haven’t been attained. The Canadians are in Afghanistan to rebuild the army and the police force, they are trying to attain a number if which they feel could safely control the country. So if we were to stay till 2018, they would need to control a majority of the country and reduce the amount of dependency on foreign aid by 50%. I would support the continuation of the training mission if they can provide real targets for the future and be able to meet them. Allowing companies from Canada to come in and develop the area would also be a good thing for keeping our troops in there. I think i agree with keeping our troops in there and making sure Afghanistan doesn’t collapse because of what a soldier said “If we don’t do the job now, and do it properly then my kids will be there in 30 years and I don’t want that”

What do you think?

Plebiscite on what?

There has been a lot of people calling for a plebiscite in the city of Thunder Bay on the multiplex decision. The question that I have and a number of other people are having is what would the plebiscite be about? Would it be on location, would it be about funding, would it be about if we want it or not?

In the dictionary a person who is an leader is: “a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.”

An elected official is: “official who won the office in a free election”

In 2010, we held an election in Thunder Bay. A majority of the previous council was elected but there were a couple new additions including a new mayor to the city. We elect someone thinking that they will make the best decisions on our behalf and do what is right not only for us but for our city. We believe that the person we elect will make decisions that benefit everyone, not a few and these decisions will be made even if they are unpopular, divisive and against the vocal minority. These decisions will help to direct us to a new light and help to move the city forward. An election is a mode to support someone and give them the power to make decisions.

We have a huge decision coming up in Thunder bay. We are looking to build a new multiplex that likely will come with a bill in the 80-100 million dollar range. This will be a big undertaking for the city and its elected officials and has seen a huge amount of press for both sides. There is a large number of local supporters for both the waterfront and the downtown site which has caused a divide in the city. After the second open house there was more momentum towards a plebiscite from the people who supported the Innova site but the question stood. What would it be on?

Location – Maybe but then its likely a popularity contest over which is actually the best site. Kinda like picking king and queen at prom the popular kids got in but there were likely other candidates which were much better suited for the positions. While this project needs to have support from the people it needs to be economical first. We need to get value for the money, economic spinoff, enjoyment, etc. I keep saying that if parking is the issue then it can be worked out but its much harder to fix an economic problem. I would say that location should be one picked by council then shown to people (do you support building at site A, yes or no)

Funding – The ReNew Thunder Bay plan has set aside 25 million for this project already which is in the bank. The city will be going to the province and the federal government to try and make up a portion of that and then going to the private industry to bring in even more. There still is a chance that the city might need to look at asking for a loan to bring in the final amount of cash for the project, that could be a question asked for a plebisite. Would you support the city in debenture X million of dollars for this construction, but we wont know till we pick a site and get all our money in order.

Want it or not – I think this one is a waste of time because I feel there is major support for this project. More people have paid attention to this then the waterfront development and almost all of the city held events. Almost everyone in the room was supportive of the city getting a new arena. I have heard lots of support for building a new arena in the city and only a small number of people saying that they didn’t want it. The problem I see is that the Fort William gardens is 60 years old and has about 20 years left before it needs major money. This process will take 3-4 years an then on top of that construction would likely be 2-3 years. While it leaves us some room for delay it doesn’t leave all that much and a lot can change in that time. I think either we build it now, plan to build it in 5 years or we let the building end and lose the Thunder Wolves. I think that this has been put off by the city councils and residents that it needs to be done now.

Overall, I likely wouldn’t support a plebiscite on the arena unless they were asking for money (adding debt). We put people in power to lead us and make decisions that are hard and sometimes unpopular. If we challenge there ability to make decisions every time we have to spend a little but of money then why don’t we have every person over 18 making the decisions as well. Let council and administration made the proper decision with the information that is made available and use past cities mistakes and make sure that we don’t make them.

 

Quebec Students have lost Canadians student support

Tuition costs are a major factor when people try and figure out if they can attend post secondary schooling or not. In 2012, a post secondary degree is a must if you want to have a decent wage and any type of financial freedom. For the past couple months students in Quebec have been protesting the purposed plan to raise the tuition fees over the next 5 years. Cost would rise around 300 dollars a year till it basically doubled cost for the average Quebec student. This is the first rate increase in 40 years that a Quebec student has seen and the cost will still be 40% lower then the average Canadian tuition.

All that aside, i support a person right to protest and to fight for what they believe in. Things likely would be the way they are today if people didn’t stand up and say that this was wrong. I don’t support the violence that has coming in these protests and demonstrations. Violence is not only from the police but the protestors as well, no one in this mess has clean hands. Together the two groups need to figure out a way that students can protest and show off there message but when the protest is deemed to be ‘done’ it needs to be dispersed. There needs to be a give a little, take a little attitude that is accepted by both sides.

One thing I really can’t stand is that classes were supposed to open today for hundreds of students who have paid there tuition and other expenses and they were blocked by other students. Around 100 went throughout the campus and went into classrooms that were being used by students to learn. They disrupted the classes and vandalized some of the classrooms. Students attending were insulted, taunted and had books thrown across the room. Protestors stood and yelled while students tried to push them out of the room, many classes were cancelled because of these ‘thugs’. In other cases they blocked the doors as students trying to attend class entered the building. While today was supposed to be a return to normal day it was just a normal day in montreal.

I agree with the students right to protest, maybe not the reasons behind the protest but the right to do it. I disagree the way it has been handled (violence, vandalism etc) and I now have 0 support for the students in a whole because of what occured today. Even blocking fellow students from attending classes who have paid there tuition and paid for these expenses. That is simply not right, many people in the message boards agree from cbc.ca, globeandmail, thestar etc. The students are losing the little support they had across Canada and now they are on there own.  What they did today was simply wrong, and i hope the other students gang up on them and remove there masks.

Time to act is now

There is a boom coming to the city of Thunder Bay, much like the boom that came to Alberta when the oil sands started becoming fully opened up. The city will likely see a increase in traffic, business, people, prices and much more. The last decade the city should have been spending on getting ready to take in these people and prepare the infrastructure to move them around. I think that the plan is starting to show itself slowly with different little bits being shown at a time. When the boom comes it will strain the city’s infrastructure, its housing market, transit system and more but we need to be prepared. While some of the money being spent by council right now may seem of reckless spending and a ‘waste of taxpayers dollars’ there is very likely a plan for the future behind it.

Transit: The system is currently in a upgrade mode from the overall plan to the buses. Recently the city purchased 6 new buses from a manufacturer in Winnipeg that builds buses that run on biodiesel and are more fuel efficient then the previous versions. The city looks to purchase another 9 of these new buses to replace the fleet of older ones and bring the growing fuel costs down. The addition of these buses will also help the city to meet the demands of the expanded transit system. Currently, the city of Thunder Bay along with Genivar consulting is undergoing a process to figure out the best way to increase the number of riders on Thunder Bay transit and its reach. The master plan as presented to council will see transit run to areas currently unreached, run more often and run later into the night. This will allow more riders to use the system and reduce the load on other systems like HAGI and taxi services. Ridership will see a boost from the expanded service but there will also be a cost to running the extra lines. The current cost of transit is around 6 million dollars, under the fully expanded plan it would be closer to 9 and increase of 50% due to increased buses, wages, gas etc. There is also a need for a terminal that will act as a anchor for the system to bring people in and out of. This new terminal is expected to cost around 7 million (one time cost) and would likely be built in the intercity area. This expansion in service will help the local citizens but it will also likely help to move around the increased number of people when the mining boom hits. Its very possible that Thunder Bay grows to around 130-140,000 people and a increased system would help to ease the burden on the road system.

Infrastructure: The city is finally starting to invest properly in its infrastructure and repair the roads/sewers/parks that have been allowed to deteriorate over time. They have started a ERIP or infrastructure tax to tackle the infrastructure deficit which has been growing with time. The results are being seen now with a 2 million dollar increase in the spending for roads and sewers. When the program is completed the city will be spending an average of 12 million a year on roads compared to the 5 million they spent just a couple years ago. There is also a big push to widen roads which are getting close to capacity, one such road is golf links which will see a 18 million dollar cash infusion to widen to 4 lanes. This road is near capacity and with the housing development and expected population increase will be a burden to drivers across the city. Increasing infrastructure spending is also a sign that the city is expecting that it will be stressed in the near future and that they are really pushing to have old/ broken items fixed. Spending in this area is also important for the citizens who are here now (quality of life) and for the future.

Housing: 6000 houses is what one report said the city would need to built if the mining boom headed to Thunder Bay was as big as planned. Last year was a boom year for Thunder Bay when it came to building houses, they put up 250 new houses and this seemed to stretch the builders. Putting up 6000 houses in the next couple of years will be a big push by not only the local building companies but also by the city partners to work together. There is currently a huge sellers market in Thunder Bay which has caused the amount that people will spend on houses to rise substantially along with rent. Even with people building record breaking number of houses there is a substantial gap. These companies will need to expand to meet the growing demands and these expansions will likely see the cost of houses continue to rise. What we will need to do it try and control the rise in cost to prevent a bubble from forming when the boom slows down. We will also need to provide enough houses for when the people come to the city so that they can move in and start working. This will be a major problem for the city and we will need to take lessons from places like Fort McMurrary in trying to keep our prices reasonable. While prices will continue to go up we need to make sure that there is a reasonable growth (inflation+ a little) but not too much to force people from homes and into shelters.

The city needs to get the proper people in place to make this happen. We need strong leadership that wont hold us back and wont allow people to hold us back. We need to be able to make the hard decisions and allow people we elect to make those decisions. We need to plan now and then act on those plans because if its true what they say, then we are in for one hell of a ride.