Paying for transit

The Ontario government is looking at new and improved ways to pay for transit, infrastructure expansion and looking to end the gridlock. Ideas from road tolls, increasing the gas tax and other forms of taxation have all been thrown around as possibilities to reduce the standstill. We are in the middle of a perfect opportunity to tell politicians how we want to pay for transit expansion. We can tell politicians how we want our infrastructure to look, handle traffic and where we want to see the expansion. I personally believe that people are sick and tired of seeing their hard earned money go into the general pot and be lost. People of this province would be unwilling to give anymore cash in the form of tolls, taxes or P3 funding if the money is just swallowed up. When the leaders of today ask us to start paying for the projects of tomorrow we need to be sure it will be safe and transparent. I believe that a dedicated fund where the money would go into is the best option available for the people of Ontario. A fund that would make it easy for residents to see how their money is being spent and show how it has impacted their lives. People are more then willing to invest and spend when it will help to make their lives a little bit easier. Ontarians know that we need to deal with the gridlock issue and that the less time we spend in traffic the increased quality of life we all will have. This is what I believe that we should do to pay for our transit and infrastructure expansion needs of the future.

I would like to see a dedicated fund to transit/infrastructure expansion be separated from any other government department budget. A dedicated fund would allow for money to be spent solely on the reason the fund was set up. My vision for the fund would allow the money to be spent on transit expansion, transit upgrading (shelters, buses, increasing routes) and repairing the road network we already have. I personally don’t agree with the expansion of road networks to address transit issues because I am of the belief that the car is in its slow demise. There also seems to be the issue where lanes have been added to roads to deal with traffic and it increased the level of traffic on the road. Making this fund available to repairs will allow us to make sure that the bridges we cross are safe and the roads are clear of potholes. This fund would take into account the way people in the 21st century get their information through the internet. The fund would be managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure the information, fund total and other information would be available on a interactive website. While this is a very basic view of the website this is what I would consider a good way to show off for the residents.

Fund for transit.

The total fund amount would rise and fall based on the collection of funding and fall based on the  spending for projects. The cash would rise based on the estimated amount of funds collected to provide the public with a clear idea of how much money is available for municipalities. This would also give the public a clear breakdown of how their money is being collected and where the money is coming from. The amount would also fall when a payment was given for a project and a notice of reduction would be provided for the public. It is fairly easy to imagine for yourself on how each different area could break down to show the public how their money is being spent. Comment below for what you would like to see a fund like this show.

Its all fine and dandy to have a fund dedicated to transit expansion and infrastructure repair but without a funding source its useless. I believe that the gas tax is great funding source to start the fund off properly. It already serves this purpose but can get lost in the general pot as another tax levied against the public. Putting this funding source into the new transit/infrastructure fund would provide a specific and up front place for the money. Currently, the gas tax on Ontario drivers is 14.7% which provides a 15.4 million dollar income for different projects. This money is divided up by the municipalities for a number of different transit related projects. The issue with this fund is that it is unavailable to municipalities that don’t have a transit service. Their residents pay for the service but the funds aren’t available to them for use. There is a real push to make these funds available for all municipalities to use on other infrastructure related projects. This new fund could make these gas tax funds available to these communities as well but preference would be placed on transit expansions. The current level of funding may not be acceptable to really pay for the transit expansions that are necessary to relieve gridlock. With thousands of new Canadians moving to our biggest communities the problem will only get worse if we don’t act. I believe that using the gas tax as a revenue tool will push more people into transit and create the necessary funds to pay for new projects. I believe that the government should slowly increase the amount of tax on the price of gas to 20% by 2020. Pushing the amount to 15% in 2014 and then around 1% each year till 2020 will incrementally increase the money we bring in. A 20% tax on gasoline would bring in 21 million dollars annually on consumer based gasoline alone (2011 numbers). If the government even hopes to have a chance at selling this increase to the people they will need to prove to them the benefits. They wont want to hear the typical political spin but needs to see results and see where the money is going. This increase in the tax wont create the amount of money necessary to see expansion projects like the Downtown Relief Line paid for but it will be a start. This will be just one of the tools the government will bring to bear on gridlock.

Purchasing the transit vehicles is one of the most expensive parts of the entire project. When Toronto purchased its latest version of LRT’s they spent close to 700 million dollars on 300 vehicles. The HST from these purchases would have provided a huge income to the province of Ontario. I propose that the money would go into the transit/infrastructure fund. While the initial loss of money from the HST would hurt the province it would be regained in construction contracts, incomes taxes and other work related taxes. If the new LRT’s contract was part of this plan the HST would have added 140 million to the pot which could be used for other projects. While this amount of money would be inconsistent and would start off slow, it could continue to build on itself and in turn fund the entire base fund. Again, this money could be used by any municipality and for any project which repairs infrastructure and expands/deals with transit. Another option for helping to make transit purchases more cost effective would be to reduce or eliminate the HST on these types of purchases inside of Ontario. I don’t believe that this is a viable option because cities are having trouble collecting enough money to begin with. Putting the HST back into the fund would give the municipalities the money they need to pay for these projects. These 2 forms of income alone will not be enough to really deal with the gridlock issue; Toronto alone would suck it dry in seconds.

I believe that when the government has a surplus that they should set aside a certain % of that surplus to dealing with the debt, putting aside a rainy day fund and putting money aside for this fund. Fighting the debt and making sure that we don’t get into debt if we need a stimulus will be important for the financial future of this province. Putting aside a portion of money for this other specific fund will help to relieve transit users and the average ontarian from having to throw more tax money into the pot. Pushing everyone to pay a little more would make this fund more acceptable to the public and could instill a little more pride in the transit serve knowing they paid for this service. Again this income for the fund would be inconsistent and would be based on the preference of the government in power. The fund may not see a dollar from this revenue source if a government party doesn’t prefer this option or there is a problem with budgeting in that day. This may need to be mandated that a fund like this is paid for by a budget stimulus in order to keep it at a effective level. A 5% transfer from the surplus could provide major benefits for the fund and infrastructure/transit in Ontario while making only a small dent in the budgeting of Ontario. Transit riders and corporations will also need to give up some goodies to be able to fund the expansions they need to make them profitable.

It wouldn’t be fair of transit riders to reap the benefits of a expanded and better system without paying a little cash in order to make it happen. A 5 cent fee of all bus riders province wide would be necessary to add to the pot of money growing in this new fund. 705 million transit rides where provided in Ontario’s 15 largest cities in 2009. A 5 cent fee on these rides would provide the fund with a $35,250,000 annually and that number would only increase as more riders jump on board and transit expands. Together with the increase in the gas tax to 20% it would bring in over $56 million dollars annually for infrastructure/expansion. While the fee would cause some harm to lower income or fixed income people the benefits to the system seem to outweigh the negatives. A better bus system would allow them to get to places sooner and more effectively adding a positive in their life and increasing their quality of life. For most people a nickel is nothing to worry about and wouldn’t make a dent other then in addition to the fund.

I believe that corporations need to find a way to be a part of this process of paying for transit expansion. Small to big all benefit from a happy workforce, a world in where there is less gridlock and the productivity that good transit brings to the table. With the introduction of a presto card it may be interesting to have the company in which a person works. Everytime he swipes his card between normal working hours is a charge to that company that goes to the fund. A 15 to 20 cent charge could provide a huge boost to the fund without levying a new direct tax against the company. The more the workers use the system the more the transit can be expanded. Adding a fee to parking lot permits for the fund could also provide a source of revenue that helps to promote transit by making parking and the vehicle a foreign object in today’s world. Moving to a more sustainable community and making transit the #1 priority will benefit all communities to the greatest extent.

I believe that none of this is possible if the government can’t lay out its plan and get the acceptance of the people. The people need to be consulted and they need to have their opinions heard. For example it might not be feasible to charge a larger portion of tax on gas heading to first nations reserves where prices are already high. If the government doesn’t create a fund that stands alone and it loses the money in the general pot then people will not be happy. We need to get this right and we need to try and get the approval of as many as possible. We need the transit expansion as the gridlock facing our cities are smothering our growth. From the common worker to the biggest of corporations we will need to pay in order to get the transit service we expect. Any ideas or comments please put them below.

Sources of information:
http://www.centreforenergy.com/FactsStats/statistics.asp?template=5,5
http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/results-based-plan/2011/measuring-performance.shtml
http://m.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/driving-it-home/ontario-drivers-pay-taxes-lots-and-lots-and-lots-of-taxes/article2246486/?service=mobile
288,257.3 Barrels Per Day -> 105,213,914.5 Barrels Per Day -> $15,466,445.358 Million dollars at 0.147% tax level <- consumer gas only

573,928.4 bbl/d -> 209,483,866 barrels per day -> $30,794,128.302 Millions per year at 0.147%

Advertisements

Tabacco Tax

Its finally starting to warm up in Thunder Bay and with the warming weather means melting snow. While the warm weather is great one thing that I notice every year is that there is a gross amount of litter left around. People have thrown wrappers, cups, needles and more all over the ground making any area look disgusting. One thing that I have noticed the most is that there are cigarette butts all over the place. It seems as if a large number of smokers believe that it is acceptable to throw their butts on the ground. Like the world is their ashtray and it doesn’t matter if they throw it on the ground. Not only are these disgusting to look at but they are terrible for the environment and the ecosystem. So how do we deal with the large number of cigarette butts on the ground that make our community look like crap? I believe there is a couple steps we can do to reduce the ugly.

1) Education: Educating people on the effects to not only the environment but the ecosystem that the butts have. If eaten by birds or other animals it can have sever health effects and can cause death. The toxins from the cigarettes can also cause damage to the water system is they are washed down into the sewers. Overall, it is a terrible end to a terrible habit and we need to explain this to people. Educating them on the effects for everyone and how it affects them will be a good start. This could be merged with the education to smokers on how to quit the habit. Its a perfect opportunity since people are on the topic and they are the only ones causing this issue(smokers).

2) Enforcement: The city has a no littering law that has been on the books for ages. This counts as part of the litter we do not want to see on city property or in the city at all. Enforcing this rule will be important to making sure that people know that it isn’t acceptable to do this in Thunder Bay. Giving out fines may not be the best option for people, forcing them to pick it up and throw it away along with a couple others may provide the biggest benefits. Schools could get involved with this as well as teacher make sure that their students throw away their butts instead of throwing them on the ground. If police and teachers were able to make their students pick up 2 extra along with the one they threw it would go a long way. Making sure that our community looks nice and has pride in the way it looks will go a long way to keeping it clean. If this is a city run program then being able to fine drivers or city employees who litter should also be an option. I don’t care if you smoke, I want to know where those butts are going.

3) Opportunity: One of the main reasions that people throw their garbage on the ground is because they don’t see an opportunity to throw it away properly. People don’t want to carry around their litter after it isn’t any use to them anymore. Putting up more garbage cans, recycling and ash trays will provide people the opportunity to throw their butts away properly. The more options people have the less excuses they can use to make our community look like crap. If the bins are there it would be expected that they would be used and this could give police the reason to give a ticket. Having them in strategic locations like city hall, the marina and other city owned lands will go a long way.

4) Clean up tax: I know smokers, I know your taxed out the bum but if you want to avoid this then stop smoking. This tax of 3% would be levied against the sale of cigarettes in the city of Thunder Bay limits. It would provide the city with a new income to pay for extra cleaners who’s job is to go around and clean up the cigarette butts. This tax would be used productively to make sure that the city looks nice and that it is presentable to the visitors and citizens. This tax wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the cooperation of Fort William First Nations imposing the same kind of tax. While this money could go to the FWFN to help keep their community clean the impact would save businesses from losing more sales. While it would be more expensive to purchase cigarettes it would serve a better purpose. The tax would provide economic opportunities for people and push people to have more pride in their community. I feel that this could be a great opportunity for both the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation to work together on tackling the major issue of cigarette butts.

These actions together could make our city look and feel much cleaner. The litter and the cigarettes butts make me wish that it was winter 24/7 sometimes. Its rather sad that people would have no pride in a community they call home even if it is temporarily. We need to work together to make sure that our community looks and feel great for all. 4 simple steps are all it could take for our community to look nicer and provide economic opportunity for more workers. While I am not sure the specifics on creating new taxes for a municipality if it is an option then we should go for it. The world is not your ashtray irresponsible smokers and you need to realize that your habit will cost you.

Chop Municipal

Thunder Bay’s golf game is again in the news as the committee designed to save Municipal Golf Course struggles to find new ways to make the game break even. The committee has brought forward the idea of lowering the price of a round to $13. This would bring the courses into line with the private sector golf courses around Thunder Bay. The issue with the decrease in cost is that golfers would need to go through another 4,200 rounds to break even. Anything less and the course is losing an increased amount of money. The committee has admitted that the costs of wages, benefits of city employees play a big part in the increased costs of city courses. There were thoughts that if the city reduced the price of the golf at its courses that it could lose a privately run course. So how does the city break even on these courses? Is it worth it to even be in the golf game anymore? How does the city keep the private courses alive and profitable?

My personal opinion is that the city should continue the 2 golf courses in the city limits based on the amount of money they pushed into them recently. Millions were spent digging the land up and putting in a new irrigation system. To spend that money and then tear it up a couple years later doesn’t make the slightest bit of financial sense. I believe that aspect alone spares these golf courses from the chopping block for the short – mid term but a sale of 1 could be in order in the future. Municipal is a short 9 hole course that is outside of city limits and actually costs the city taxes to another community. This course is extremely basic which is good for seniors and rookies but not the bottom line. The last couple seasons it has lost around $100,000 – $110,000 annually. Even with a decent playing season last year the course lost over $100,000. Overhead is much higher for a city run facility then it is with private courses. In my mind the only real option now is to sell municipal course to the neighboring municipality or a developer. The benefits for the neighboring municipality should allow them to add more homes and a larger tax base. The saving from the closed course and sale should go into reducing the cost of the other 2 courses for the next 4 years. If after those 4 years the courses are sustainable or more economically viable then Strathcona should be put up for sale. Based on the rules surrounding chapples it should likely stay as a golf course unless there is a viable option to turn it into a larger sports facility. We need to look at reducing the costs of golfing at city courses as this is the biggest reason for turning away new golfers. Reducing the overall costs of the service by reducing overhead and bureaucracy will be important in this.

While it would be unfortunate to see people lose their employment through the closure of golf courses it may be necessary. The wage of the workers are city courses are much higher then at courses around town that are privately owned. City courses are prime real estate for students who are working for the city. They on average make around $15 but that wage is increased because they do not have benefits. In some cases they make on average more then the city worker who is employed all year long. Reducing the wages of student workers to $13 an hour would still be higher then private courses but provide some financial relief to the city. Allowing more flexibility to city supervisors to send home workers when there is a lack of work but also call more in when work is busy should also bring some financial relief. Reducing the number of supervisors to cover more areas should also allow for financial relief and process streamlining. Merging the golf division back into the parks division and reducing the management accordingly will reduce the cost of running the service. It could also reduce the costs associated with paperwork, processes and streamline how golf runs. Creating a schedule for certain tasks like cutting grass could also reduce the price of golf. Purchasing 2 mobile lawn mowers could allow the golf division to move from 1 course to the other without a need for 1 at each site. Setting aside a couple days for each site with a repair day in between could reduce the cost of maintenance and general costs.

I believe that if we are going to take this route then we will need to get the public’s support behind the project. If the public truly believes that this is the best option for the city then they need to support the decision makers. I also believe that if we wait the 4 years it will allow us to provide a significant timeline for if the reduced costs were successful. It will allow for variables like weather, costs, information passing etc. to take effect. Municipal in its own needs to be chopped up and sold for scrap. Its a old course that has had its time in the sunlight. The population decline and the industrial tax base collapse don’t allow us to have the same amenities as before. We also need to look at the number of city employees that we have and the number of jobs that can be cut by attrition.

Return Home fund

You would figure that leaving jail after serving your time would be one of the happier days of life. The problem for many is that the person leaves a jail made of steel and brick to one of mobility issues. When someone completed their sentence they are shown the door and it is the responsibility of the person to do what they please. They are free and not a part of the judicial system anymore. The issue is that they really still are even if the Ontario Government doesn’t want to believe it. Once you are in the system you are more likely to be sucked up again into the system for a crime. Every time you get picked up the likelihood of returning increases. Typically, its a couple weeks for first time offenders but then it becomes days or hours from when a person returns to when they are back in jail. These people are stuck in the jail of The city of Thunder Bay with no way out. Many are released without any direction, any help and left.

The Thunder Bay District Jail serves almost the entire Northwest Region so the inmate population is rather well traveled. When a person is picked up and they are felt to be a risk by the courts they are remanded to the District Jail. Here they can stay for months or years while waiting on the court system to do its thing. When they are finally released from the jail, they are processed and kicked out the door. Many of these people don’t have an idea of the city life, they come from small towns or reserves and are completely overwhelmed. They are released at all hours of the day and may be left to roam the city without any directions or form of movement. The government needs to change the way it releases its inmates to avoid them becoming another stat and being picked up again. This chuck them out the back and an hour later they come in the front doesn’t work. There are a couple things that the government could be doing to make sure that these people return to their home communities.

A package of services available in the community should be the easiest way to get these people some help. Shelters, addiction services and directions to get their should be given to these people as they leave. Calling the nearest shelter to give them a heads up that the person may be heading their way. Providing the person with some basic information could help them succeed in avoiding a return to the justice system.

Change the release times. In the winter it is unacceptable to release someone when they have missed transit services and have to walk 30/40 minutes at a time with barely anything on. In the winter a inmate should only be released from 9 am – 8 pm. While this might be viewed as unacceptable by some inmates, its important to preserve life and release them when they have a better chance at transit services. Summer time could continue as normal since the elements aren’t as dangerous to the human body.

Create a fund to return these people to their home communities. It must be daunting to come from a town of 1,000 or less to a city of 110,000. The Ontario government needs to create a fund to help get these people home to their communities. Host communities of district jails are seeing huge increases in policing costs because of people who are now stuck in that community. Creating a fund would allow for that person to return to their home communities since the police wont return them home. While the Ontario government cannot afford to supplement this alone the inmate could be responsible for some as well. It could be a 60/40 split between the government and the inmate on their bus/plane ticket home. Returning people home helps to relieve the host community but also allows to the inmate a stable environment which they are familiar too. Again it will be important to give the inmate information on addictions and assistance agencies in their home community.

We cannot continue to swallow up people in the justice system. Yes, there are people that will never leave due to their addictions and poverty but there are people we can help. We need to help these people before they become institutionalized and get them back into the community. There is still an opportunity with most of the people in the institution to return them to normal society and have them become productive parts of society.

Go to the heart

The province is looking at new ways to get the money that it it owed. In the province of Ontario more then $669 million dollars is outstanding from Highway Traffic tickets alone. Normally, these fines are added to a renewal of a drivers license. When a person tries to renew the license after their current one expires the fines are added to the cost. The issue that the province is finding with this system is that people simply don’t renew their license. They continue to drive around on their old one avoiding the police as much as possible and also renewing their license.  The provinces new plan to add the fee’s to the license plate renewals should force drivers to pay up if they have a ticket. Thunder Bay Police board members feel that it should bring in more cash for the city as more payments roll in. The issue becomes that drivers who have avoided renewing their drivers license for the same reasons will avoid other things. Unless the police are allowed to remove plates completely from vehicles who haven’t paid up drivers will continue their daily routine. There needs to be a more severe form of punishment for those who continue to break the law and do so willingly. I have a couple changes in mind that I believe could help to get the province and the city its money.

A) Garnish wages: While this should likely be a last resort for the province when trying to get its money back. People who reach a certain threshold of money owed should have it collected through a wage garnishment. Drunk drivers can consistently come out of court with $7000-$8000 dollars worth of fines after just a first offense. Typically, people who have been drinking and driving are doing so also with a suspended license, and no proof of insurance. A level of $60,000 could be considered just and fair for an individual to be considered for wage garnishment. While this move could be viewed as detrimental to the persons ability to provide an income for themselves or others. The lack of compassion for the other drivers of the road should provide enough justification for the move. An amount collected could be determined based on the income, geographical area of the individual. This service allows the province and the city to recoop some of the most spent on enforcement, and incarceration.

B) Website portraying the person based on the amount of fine uncollected could be another push for them to pay up. It could be broken down regionally and show off a host of different information about the person including the breakdown of fines. This website could provide a deterrence for people who may only have a couple outstanding fines to avoid having their name in the spotlight. It could also provide awareness to drivers about the actual number of people who are driving without insurance/ under the influence. The website could also serve as a teaching tool for students and young people who have one of the highest death behind the wheel rates. While I’m not for embarrassing people when they make a mistake; to get yourself on this website would take occurrence after occurrence.

C) Community Work: If a person has multiple charges and the fines are racking up then he likely will be in jail. He could be in jail as an intermittent inmate or a full time inmate. In order to reduce the amount that this person’s cost to the system he could be provided to volunteer his time at a center like the shelter house or halfway house as repayment. He could be an inmate every second weekend with the other weekend being spent doing community work (sleeping at the jail). This service to the community could be used as a form of repayment for his debts if he is unable to repay those debts.

We need to get to the root cause of why these people aren’t paying their debt. If it is pure laziness or due to financial hardships. We need to do something different then what we are doing now because it simply isn’t working for the system or the people.

Simcity thoughts

I’ll first start off by saying that I was so excited when I heard that there was a new Simcity. I had been a huge fan of the series for years. It was one of my favorite games growing up along with GTA and Silent Hunter. So now you know how much of a nerd I am; I pre-ordered SimCity a couple months before the launch. I paid a full 59.99 for the limited edition version and this was the first game I had ever pre-ordered. I was super stoked and it seemed like the time was going really really slow. Around the same time I was waiting for BB10 to launch so it was even slower. I had so many expectations of the game, so many personal visions for the game. So far the game has met my expectations in certain areas but fallen pretty far behind in others. Below I will try and showcase some of my likes and dislike of the game.

Small size land parcels: The land that the game gives you to build on is fairly small. While this forces you to specialize your city in a certain aspect (trade, education etc) it sometimes doesn’t leave you the mass to provide the income for those projects. The lack of space forces you to make smart decisions when it comes to urban planning which while good for experienced players may cause issues with newer ones. It would be nice to see some different sized parcels of land for larger cities to try and recreate cities like New York or London.

Transit Fail: The biggest first blunder I seen is that the base Simcity transit model isn’t buses. Its airport carriers more commonly known as bus shuttles. Yes, the humble bus shuttle is the main mode of city transit for users to start off with. It hold 40 people apparently and basically never meets the demand that grows in your city. The level up is the big greyhound buses like you would take if you were traveling regionally. Yes, the designers of Simcity apparently completely forgot about the most common form of city travel the bus. I find this omission from the game rather a large blunder and incredibly stupid. This game pushes progressive social features like wind farms, solar farms and sim’s who put solar panels on their roofs but don’t have buses? They seemingly also forgot that there are ways to travel underground in the form of subways. It would seem that they felt since the parcels of land aren’t big enough the density wouldn’t have been able to justify the addition. In terms of transit Cities XL is far superior to Simcity and provides a much more accurate portrayal of how to move around people. City buses, subways are all something that I need to see in the near future of this game to view it as even a decent city based simulator.

Drivers are drunk: If you have ever followed around your dump truck for more then 3 minutes you will find that its incredibly stupid. Its not uncommon to see a vehicle do the same street 3 or 4 times only to loop to the next street and come back. It has to be some kind of glitch but its rather a big one. Picking up garbage will likely be your sim’s #1 complain for a while. The issue it seems is that the trucks are spending more time in the same 15 feet then actually doing anything. The game also doesn’t allow you to set aside certain portions of the city for garbage pick up on certain days meaning the whole city has to be done. Your city could stretch the entire map but all 8 of your trucks are close to each other. It really doesn’t work and it really doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t take 12 trucks to pick up 12,000 people trash and still not be able to do the job. Same thing goes for the shuttle buses. You aren’t able to set a transit route for them so they drive all over the city in no reasonable manner. Instead of having 50% of your buses go to the west side and then to the factory area; all 100% are there while the east side gets 0 service. The buses don’t seem to realize when there is a desperate need for people to get picked up either. Consistently, they stop at bus stop were there is not a single sim but in other areas there could be over 100 waiting. Its incredible to see the wait at some stops because of how broken the transit system is. This is a major downfall of the game that I find brings the level of gameplay down.

Retarded sized buildings: I remember watching a building being put up in my city. I had around 30,000 people in the city with another 4,000 people in the region and this thing was being built. When it was completed the building was around 50 stories tall. In what city of 30,000 people are there buildings of 50 stories plus. To make it worse when that building popped up then a couple more of rather intense height followed. No city of 30,000 has 8-10 commercial buildings that are super sky scrapers. If this game was even 1/10 realistic these building would be maxing out at like 10 stories and there would only be 1. I think its incredible that simcity is pushing the game as if its missing a 0. If this game was even slightly realistic then the buildings should represent this fact.

These are some of my gripes withe the game. I have more but am feeling under the weather and will have to add them another day. Comment below what you think of the game.

People just want the truth

It seems as everyday passes its another attempted cover up by different levels of government. Big spending mishaps to trying to push projects by lowering the price are all things that governments seem to be growing accustomed too. It seems that they are unwilling to even consider being truthful with the general public for fear that they wont be reelected. It seems as if the duty to do what is best for their people has gone by the wayside in its place is electability. Government have come such pretentious liars that even when they speak the truth no one believes them. Why is it so hard to come out to the average Canadian, make your pitch and then see if it works. It’s rather incredible that governments are so willing to take interest in the views of Canadians only around election time or when there is mass demonstrations. Why can’t we simply have the truth when it comes to decisions made by government. We elect a government because we believe that they will do their best in the best interests of Canadians. We put them there and a little honesty would go a long way in order to restore the trust between the average Canadian and a politician.

For example, the F-35 purchase by the government has been a mess from the start. The government touted that it would be a 9 billion dollar purchase for 65 aircraft but forgot about the 12 billion in operational costs. Telling Canadians that all choices had been searched, tested and they believed that this was the best option would have been a better choice. We understand that things need to be replaced, the average Canadian wants their military servicemen and women to have the best equipment possible. What they don’t want is a price that jumps by more the double because the government is simply unwilling to tell Canadians the truth. This F-35 fiasco is much bigger then it should have been because the conservative government has lied to Canadians over and over again. This 9 billion dollar purchase is now closer to 40 and completely unacceptable in the eyes of Canadians. It seems the only people that view this purchase as rational, acceptable and prudent are the Lockheed Martin sales reps and the conservative MP’s. This isn’t the only mistake that the conservative government has made on its core program: The defense department.

In late 2004-2005 the Liberal government had put together a plan to buy new supply ships for the Navy. These ships were desperately needed as the ones we were using were 50 years old and rusting out. The plans were all there and ready to get going until the election of 2006. The conservatives came in and said that the bidding for this project was way over what was projected and scrapped it. They started fresh because it would be too embarrassing to use a Liberal project for their own sake. Here comes 2010 and they finally announce that they have the wants for this project. Fast forward to 2012 and we have another issue. The ships they designed and the money they put aside wont do nearly what the navy needs them to do. It seems as if they will need to return to the drawing board in order to have these ships to the specs that the navy needs and the best part. If they had gone along with the original specs and costing of the ships in 2004; we would already have them. Its expected that the ships will be another 5-6 years away and that they will cost more then the original Liberal pricing. If the government has stowed its pride and told the average Canadian why we needed these ships it likely would have gone over better. Now we are almost 10 years behind where we could have been because of political posturing and ego’s.

The federal conservatives aren’t the only level of government who are pulling out all the stops to bullshit people. Ontario is mired in the middle of a new expensive scandal with these power plant closures. The government decided to go ahead and start building 2 new oil powered power plants to the dismay of people in the area. Come election time and when it seems that the government is going to lose those seats because of those power plants they cancel them. Fast forward and the government has saved their seats but they are now trying to tell everyday Ontarian why they cancelled these plants and burned 600+ million dollars. This one might be beyond telling the truth and trying to sell it to the average taxpayer. This is a mess that will likely take down the government and it rightly should. The excessive amount of waste is causing the government to be reckless and lose its vision. While I commend the new Premier-elect for coming out and saying that it was a ‘political decision’ the waste of money is still unacceptable. The government needs to be more open in the future and more transparent as to why things are done. The government works for the people, it doesn’t work for itself.

We need the decision makers in our communities and our higher levels of government to be honest with us. Most people are rational and more then willing to compromise when it comes to different topics. Ego’s shouldn’t determine what a ministry buys or doesn’t because another colour party made the decision. We need leaders who are open and willing to get back to communication with the average Canadian. We need people to be honest with us.