Confederation College has let students down

Recently, it was announced that the new DFC boarding school would be built on land owned by Confederation College. The project was expected to start construction in 2015 if the fundraising went well and the money could be collected in time. This project was in response to the 7 deaths of aboriginal students over a 10 year period in Thunder Bay. It was also to protect young students who were being forced to live in boarding homes since their reserves did not have a highschool of its own. The land being set aside for the project is cleared parcel of greenspace that is consistently used by students and faculty as a rest or teaching area. While I feel that this is a important and needed project for the students coming from the First Nations communities; the college should have gotten more.

Not long after the announcement that this building would be using a portion of the college lands to build on the college announced it was looking at expanding its residences. The College president Jim Madder said that the 200 spaces inside the residence were full and had consistently been for a number of years. Confederation College was looking at different options to get international and domestic students off of the couches they had been forced to surf on and into a residence building. He felt that more rooms would allow for more students to come into the college from around the world and we would be better able to serve the students we currently have. No real work had been done to this time on expanding the facilities that students lived in or planning done to where they could live. This especially came to a head as the May flood causes many regular residences for students to be unavailable. One would think with the college giving away a huge parcel of land to DFC and the Wasaya group that the sale could help pay for items like this. This is where I believe the College is in the wrong.

The College didn’t provide a cost of selling the land to DFC/ Wasaya group but it did provide the income they would receive over the 21 year lease. The college would allow the land to be leased for $1 annually for the entire duration of the 21 year lease. Basically the college gave away the land for about 10 Tim Horton Double Double’s. I don’t believe its fair to students or staff that pay huge money to be in the college in the forms of tuition or residence costs that such a deal can go through. A student pays on average over $3,000 for tuition at the college annually. A dorm can cost anywhere from $5,000-$6,000 annually before the meal plan which is another $3,000. To give away a large part of the college property without any type of return to the college itself is ludicrous. The Wasaya groups feels that this project will cost $15 million for the 150 students and yet the College is looking at adding 200 more rooms with no plans to pay for the building. If the college is going to sell the property it owns then it should be doing so at a benefit to the users of the college and to the future students. Yes, this is an important venture for the community and will benefit the numerous students who attend at DFC but it needs to be a fair deal. The college cannot continue to live off the backs of students with ever increasing tuition rates. 3% increase last year in tuition costs and likely another increase this year are making it ever harder to attend post secondary schooling. Book costs alone were an extra $1000 in my first year of schooling and for the college to sell this away for a double double every 2 years infuriates me.

This should have been a fair market deal with a noticeable income to offset increasing costs at the college. Jim Madder should know that the rising cost of education is one of the biggest challenges that students and future students alike face when making that decision. Yet he gives away a portion of the land which students use to learn, relax and in general adds to the college’s curb appeal and gives it away for nothing. There could have been a deal made between the groups to make this land affordable for the school, made it a deal worthwhile for students and help pay for expansions that the college desperately needs. Very little in this world is for free but it seems that DFC/Wasaya found the golden egg. Good for them and I hope that this deal protects the children attending DFC but this is a bad deal for the college and in my opinion shouldn’t go through till its fair for both sides.

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Prince Arthurs Landing 2.0

When Marina Park opened to the public after years of construction in December, 2011 people were amazed. The area looked great and it has been much busier then any on city council or the administration team could have wished for. The area received a 65 million dollar investment from the City, Province of Ontario and Government of Canada through the Economic Action Plan. It was one of the largest projects that the city had undertaken and was one of the most complex. Originally, it had been designed to be completed over 5 summers but was condensed to meet the requirements for the project. Overall, this area has been a huge success for not only the city but the citizens who get to enjoy it and the people who are employed because of it. Because there are a lot of positives doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement both today and in the future. I spend a lot of time at the marina (due to employment) and have been in the area during all seasons. I have been able to see what works and what doesn’t during the different seasons and will lay out changes I believe would benefit the area.

Details in the description.

Details in the description.

The main entrance into Marina Park is via an overpass which connects to Water Street. People are able to come and go in both directions on this roadway (headed S) but are unable to make a turn (left) where there are a number of parking spaces available. I believe that merging the 2 roads into one big circle allows for much smoother flow and more parking. One of the biggest issues in the future of this area will be parking with the event center due to go into Downtown Port Arthur. Adding parking along the east portion of the road and along the west portion of the road for the loop will create additional parking for major events. The west portion of the loop is typically considered an unofficial parking area during events anyways. The east portion on the main road is parking for vendors during events such as BluesFest and Summer in the Parks. Making these spaces a regular parking area would only benefit the area and the city parking issue in general. The arrows show the direction that people would travel when coming into the area and how they would get around. The black dots themselves are security cameras or where I believe the security cameras should go. They are all in prominent locations which provide a safety net for the city but also provide the security company with eyes to the different areas. The dot on the far left is placed by ‘sally’s corner’ it is a hangout spot for drunks who make their way down to the marina. Placing a camera here will allow security to know when there are people in this area and catch unwanted activities such as public intoxication. The other cameras would allow for security to watch areas that are frequented by transients and help to catch criminals should someone attempt to break into the buildings. Security Cameras and parking are improvements for this area which could benefit more then just the Marina.

See description Below

See description Below

Simple upgrades here as was described by the original master plan for Marina Park. The roadway needs to be connected to the road instead of going through the parking lot. Too many times people have parked so far that vehicles were unable to continue through. Moving the parking lot off to the side will allow for easier access to the rest of the park and provide more security for people who leave their vehicles. The flow of the park will also be much better with a dedicated road through the development. Again the black dots are security cameras which I believe are placed properly to protect the money invested into the marina by all 3 levels of government. The building with a ? mark on it, is exactly that for me. The building was occupied during the summer by TJ’s Icecream which was a busy destination for people all around the marina. The problem with the building is that it didn’t have running water and didn’t allow them to sell anything other then pre-made icecream. The building was also designed to house a business who would use the pond as their main feature. This portion of the business hasn’t turned out any takers to date and likely never will. The icecream shop is also only available for 4-5 months a year and then the building stands as a expensive shed. In reality I dont believe that this building should have been put up and the money saved could be have been better used for other items. Seeing as it is up now, the city needs to work with TJ’s or other businesses to make this building viable. We cannot afford it to become an expensive shed as it currently is.

I believe that the city putting an electrical building in such a prominent location (on pier 3) was a mistake. The building blocks a potentially million dollar view and sticks out like a sore thumb. They built a waste/water facility off to the side of the development and this is where this building needs to go. When it comes time to replace this building with a new one; a new location would be the best option. The decision was likely made to reduce the costs associated with the electrical wiring but this was one thing they shouldn’t have cut corners on.

 

I believe that going with telephone poles and putting tiny lights on them was also a terrible design flaw. They look out of place and the massive size of the pole, compared to the lights makes the city look cheap. Investing in more stylish lights like those placed around the Baggage Building and the Water Garden Pavilion would have gone a long way. I understand the desire to use more wood in this development and make it look like the surroundings but it didn’t work. I feel sometimes like the city called Thunder Bay Hydro and asked if they had unused poles lying around. The vibe that the city is trying to bring across simply isn’t there and while a minor detraction the lights are one cause.

 
Again, I feel the need to talk about adding more security cameras to the park. While security cameras may not be the 1 stop option to stopping the vandalism that is going on in the park; it will help. Marina park is a huge area and its crazy to believe that a couple people can police the entire area on their shift. Adding cameras will allow security to see what it going on in different areas but also allow them to address issues faster. Adding cameras could help to deter people who are on the edge about committing crimes and will help to prosecute people who do damage the park. A 65 million dollar investment into the park without a security blanket is just simply poor management. A person can’t have eyes on every portion of the park but a number of cameras can. The money spent replacing broken items around the park would have easily paid for the security cameras that the city needs to have down at the marina.

 
I have stated what I feel to be improvements and changes that are necessary for this area. Overall, I truly believe that the marina is a great space for the citizens of Thunder Bay. Minor changes could improve the area significantly and make it just a step better. This area is a mecca for activity now with the improvement and its a great space to come down too. The splash pad is the single greatest improvement in the entire park and that fact is established by the number of people who come and enjoy it. I have had numerous people tell me how beautiful the area is and how happy they are to be enjoying it. The city did a good job along with the architect Brooks McIlroy to reinvent a space that was underused. This new marina will be a gem for the city to sell itself to the boom families who will look for a place to live in the mining era. I’m sure that the people employed by the development love it, the art community loves it and the people who get the chance to enjoy it love it.

The Thunder Bay Lives!

Back in 2012, the City of Thunder Bay was asked by Canada Steamship lines if they would allow them to use the name ‘Thunder Bay’ on one of their new ships. Council provided the approval to this company and construction was started not too long after. More recently, I emailed the company to see the progress on this ship and see if it had been through its sea trials already. Today I received my answer.

Dear Sir,

The Thunder Bay is the sister ship of the Baie St. Paul and as such, has pretty much the same specs.

I have attached a brochure about the new Trillium lakers which will give you more information.

I was also just advised that the Thunder Bay will be leaving China during the 1st week of May and that you should be able to track her movements on our website when she does.

No cargo has been assigned to the Thunder Bay yet so I wouldn’t be able to give you an estimate on when she will be coming to Thunder Bay.

I trust this answers your questions; do not hesitate to contact me again should you need more information.

Best regards,

Gwen Levasseur
Marketing Assistant

Going through the brochure that the gentlemen provided me it seems that this class of ship has been award winning. The sister ship to the ‘Thunder Bay’ was awarded the Bulk Ship of the year by IBJ which means that it is going into a good family of ships. Its also rather impressive that these companies are starting to renew their fleets and bring on line new ships. It means that the business is good and they expect that business will continue to be good. Its a good sign not only for the region but for our economy and our way of life in the north. While I’m saddened that the ship was built in China rather then a North American port; I am happy to see these ships being built. Below are some stats that I took from the PDF file that I thought were rather interesting about the ships.

Fuel Efficency.

Specs

So I’m sure there are some of you wondering what this ship is going to look like. Here is a picture of its sister ship and I will try to get a better photo of the Thunder Bay when it comes to port.

The Baie St. Paul along with another sister ship the Right Honorable Paul E. Martin. Likely the crew as well that helped to build the ship in the Chinese harbour.

The Baie St. Paul along with another sister ship the Right Honorable Paul E. Martin. Likely the crew as well that helped to build the ship in the Chinese harbour.

This will be an exciting development when the new ship comes to town. While I can only hope that the company decides to build more ships and build them in Canada for now I am content with the ‘Thunder Bay’ coming home. I will try and add another story when the ship actually does come to port and provide a better look at the ship for the viewers.

Blackberry should buy Kasai Labs.

Yesterday, BlackBerry world was graced with one of the most anticipated 3rd party twitter applications on the market. Blaq from Kasai Labs first came to the playbook but then was completely redone to use all the power of Blackberry 10. The work done by the development team is just fantastic and is utterly stunning. Instantly it shot up to the top of the top paid application in Blackberry World and it continues to sit there. This is just one of a number of applications from this company which are adding to the number of BlackBerry World. Obviously, I don’t believe that Blackberry should go out and buy every third party developer that makes a great app because then they would be broke but this app is different.

BlackBerry users are social beings, they typically spend more time on social media then any other platform. This is one of the reasons why they purchased Gist a couple years back when they were starting the transition to BB10. Gist allows all your platforms to be in one central area which lead to the creation of the BlackBerry Hub. This also allowed users of facebook, twitter and other social media platforms to be able to interact and check their social lives from one place. It allowed us to do more from a single area. With this push to create an ultimate social platform the product that BlackBerry gave us as a Twitter and Facebook client were lacking. While it would be expected that some features we had grown accustomed too in the legacy OS phones would be missing these apps were lacking. There were issues from the start and it wasn’t quite up to the snuff that users were expecting. So they started to look elsewhere for a application that could fill their social media addictions. Neatly was an application that filled a need for a while but now there is a new sheriff in town. So we know that the BlackBerry offering was lacking but is that enough to go out and purchase an entire company to make your application?

During the transition to BlackBerry 10 the company finally realized that it simply could not afford to do everything. It has tried beforehand to create all the apps that its users would need but simply overextended itself in the process. The company partnered with TomTom to develop a mapping application that would bring BlackBerry Maps into the 21st century. It also partnered and made agreements with other companies to try and relieve the load that it has tried to take on. Sometimes it is better to take something and put it under your roof when it is just that good. BlackBerry’s timeshift feature was one that stunned the crowd at Blackberry World Conference in 2012. It signaled that the BlackBerry phone was coming out of the dark ages and taking major strides forward. It showed that BlackBerry was 100% into the revitalization of the business and was focusing all its efforts to make a great consumer phone. Then came along Nokia which seen the same greatness of the feature and the mobile team that developed it and stole it from the world. They brought the company under their own roof and while they are still in a agreement with BlackBerry; there wont be much more done for the company. In my mind Kasai Labs and Blaq falls under the same category as the timeshift feature. The work they did was incredible and will draw the attention of the other major companies. BlackBerry needs to bring them under their roof and use Blaq as the native twitter for all BlackBerry devices. The competition between the native twitter now and Blaq isn’t even close. Blaq destroys native twitter in all facets and in every way possible. This is not meant to be an attack on the ability of the coding people inside of BlackBerry but to promote the great work done by Kasai Labs. In the eyes of focusing and reducing the amount that BlackBerry does this is a wonderful opportunity.

BlackBerry gains an outstanding twitter application to use for its users and the people behind the product. Selling it as Blaq on other platforms allows BlackBerry to bring in a new source of income and work to pay off the cost of purchasing the company. Having a great twitter application would allow BlackBerry to focus on creating great applications for the other social media sites and other projects it has under its roof. I believe that it would be well within BlackBerry’s ability to bring this company under its umbrella and take the knowledge for their own. When something this good is dangled in front of BlackBerry like this it needs to jump on the bandwagon. We can’t afford to lose great features like we did with the timeshift camera company. As BlackBerry has said over and over again, BlackBerry users are social people and we need to give them Blaq as the native twitter.

Please post your thoughts below. Post what you believe Kasai Labs would cost BlackBerry to buy up!

 

Failure of the Liberal Leadership

I will say that I am a right leaning Liberal. When it comes to financial issues I tend to lean on the side of saving over spending and I am very frugal with my money. I do believe that the Liberal party best represents the views and ideals that I have which is why I tend to vote for them. The issue that I have with this campaign for the next Liberal leader which I view as a failing of the media and the Liberal party is that it has been all one man. There has been no media coverage of the other people trying to take the top spot other then the bickering between 1 man and the leader. The entire campaign has been centered around 1 man since even before he announced his willingness to apply for the job. Justin Trudeau has been capturing the hearts of the media and girls aged 25-40. The media has taken every opportunity to tell his story and make every connection to how great a prime minister his father was in his time. As a voter who hasn’t really payed any attention to the race other then the odd media story I find it disheartening. I have seen no plan or ideas come from the man other then how to make my hair look if I want the ladies. There has been been limited to no talk about what the Liberal party will do for Canada if it wants to lead he country.

For these reasons I am completely disheartened and scared that this is not a campaign based on who has the best plan and the best chance to lead Canada but a popularity contest. Justin Trudeau should not win because his father was a great Prime Minister, he should win based on his credentials, his qualifications and his plan. I don’t personally care about how many women he can make faint with a flick of the hair. I want to see what kind of plan he will take into the campaign trail and see if that is the party that I can get behind. Politicans are in this game to improve Canada but too many are busy trying to improve their own position or their own interests. We need someone who is going to be able to take on Harper and remove their government from power. While charisma is an important part of the game and Justin has it, the lack of a plan leads me to believe that he is running on daddy’s card and his good looks. For that reason alone I don’t believe that we can approve of any leader until there is an actual plan to run on.

Mobile space needs to grow not shrink

There are reports out that Telus is considering buying Mobilicity and using the purchase to expanding their desperate need for more spectrum. Telus justifies the purchase by saying they serve almost as many customers as Bell and Rogers but yet have half of the spectrum available. While this purchase would allow for Telus to provide a better service for its customers there are larger negative effects for Canadian customers. The big 3 or Canadian Carriers Rogers, Bell and Telus own a significant portion of the Canadian mobile space. Because they own such a large portion of the population there isn’t a significant battle for new customers and in turn the prices of mobile are extremely high in Canada. Mobilicity was one of a number of new entrants into the Canadian mobile space. It was hoped that they would come in and reduce the cost that the average Canadian pays for cellular. The new entrants have made headway into the Canadian market and have helped to drive down the price if ever so slightly. The issue now is that the Big 3 are looking to swallow them up for their spectrum. Wind Mobile, Mobilicity are both up for sale with their customers/ spectrum on the dinner plate of the big 3. If these companies are swallowed up by the Big 3 then Canadians are back at square 1 and this experiment was a failure.

Telus should not be allowed to purchase this company simply for the the spectrum. The Canadian government is opening up 2 different spectrum sales upcoming in the next couple of years which will be beneficial for all companies. If its true that Telus has the same number of customers waiting for more spectrum then Telus needs to open up its wallets and purchase a large amount of the available spectrum in the next auction. Spectrum should also be made available at a cheaper price for telecommunications companies like Wind, Tbaytel, Sasktel and MTS to allow them more freedom to fight the Big 3 influence. Promoting these smaller companies will allow them to help reduce the price of cellular closer to the prices that customers of other G8 nations pay. The decision on the merge or purchase of Mobilicity will be one of the CRTC but I believe it needs to be denied. Hopefully a owner with money can be found to purchase Wind Mobile and a merger between Wind and Mobilicity can be undertaken. We need to grow our smaller companies and help them to reduce the price that Canadians pay for mobile service. Based on our country size and population we will always pay a higher amount but our costs are over the top.

 

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Thanks

Thanks to everyone who has kept coming back while I have been busy. My course load has lightened up a little bit and I should be able to write blog posts on a more consistent basis. Please continue to like and comment on the blog posts you feel are the best. Please comment on any post I make if you have a question, idea or don’t like what you see. I’d also like your opinion on what type of blog posts you would like to see. I’m not an expert so any post will be based on opinion and the facts I am able to pull together. Again, thanks for coming back. Enjoy your week.