City of Thunder Bay Budget 2016 – Wants/Wait and Toss

Editors Note: Updated on 01/24/2016 to make some changes, grammar/spelling and introduce some more lines of content to add clarification

Want:

EIRP Program reinstatement

– The EIRP program was introduced in order to reduce the amount of infrastructure deficit that the City had under its belt. Every city has a deficit and many have followed Thunder Bay’s lead in reducing this through a designated tax allotment of between 1 – 1.5%. We have seen much progress towards reducing the infrastructure deficit with the Thunder Bay plan. We saw the negatives associated with it last year when council and administration decided to defer the program. Road projects were delayed, scrapped or seen their scope reduced in size. I want this program to return and start to invest in the Infrastructure that the City of Thunder Bay needs. Many projects have been put off for years and we need to see them finished; every year delays means a huge increase in the cost in the next year. I would like to see a change where the program focuses on more complete projects for example: when your ripping up a road your changing the sewers, storm sewers, internet lines, roadbed, sidewalks, beautification and then the resurfacing. These total projects get the most amount for the money when we look at these projects. It also avoids the issue of ripping up roads only to redo it a couple years later for sewer or water issues.

Transit Operational funds/pilot project/transit land use

– Transit is one the of the best ways to get more for your infrastructure dollar and help to improve the environment. Thunder Bay is a very large city with very low density which means that it takes more money to provide a reliable service to Thunder Bay transit users. I would like to see more money allocated to Thunder Bay transit in order to help make the system run better and improve the way it operates. A more reliable services means more people will use it and create a cycle of use.
– Transit A) Thunder Bay transit uses a lot of fuel and per person it takes on average 6 people on the bus in order for it to be environmentally neutral. Thunder Bay also has very high cost associated with fuel which means that City of Thunder Bay operations can be negatively impacted quite heavily by rate hikes. Thunder Bay transit alone spends $44,000 for every penny that the cost of a litre of diesel goes up which steals money from the service as a whole. I would like to see Thunder Bay Transit run a pilot project on electric buses in order to reduce this cost. While they have a higher initial price cost the savings in the end in diesel will more than make up for the cost.
– Transit C) Thunder Bay has a very low density meaning that it has to stretch farther and work harder to get people to ride these service. Working with the planning department the City should work to create reduced tax zones around transit routes which would be available for high ride, medium rise and higher density buildings. These people would be more likely to take transit and would increase the ridership numbers for Thunder Bay. It would also increase city density and reduce the cost to the city’s infrastructure.

Sports Assets

– The City of Thunder Bay needs to commission a report on how it can be improving, replace or eliminate some of its venues like baseball diamonds, arenas and other sporting venues it operates. Many of the rinks for example are built to 1960’s standards, standalone facilities, are extremely cost ineffective and don’t meet the needs of their users. Grandview and Neebing arena are too small, costly and don’t meet the needs of its users. A 2006 report on city venues recommended these 2 for closure and replacement as they were costing the city almost $1 million dollars between the 2 of them. We need to see venues are that are more flexible to the needs of the residents, meet accessibility needs and work with city growth into future. Looking to other cities like Orillia where their venues are multipurpose. The rotary club has 2 sheets of ice, space for a resturaunt and other related shops but it also has attached on the land other sporting facilities to act as a draw. If the ice is down then the sports field bring in people to keep the facility active and full of life.

Consumption Tax:

– We have all hear people say “I don’t use that facility why should my taxes go up in order to pay for that service” etc. etc. They are in some means right why should they pay the full cost of a service which they neither use or benefit from. Someone out in McIntrye doesn’t likely benefit from an improvement to a ball diamond in Westfort and someone in Neebing doesn’t benefit from a rink improvement in Grandview. I believe that the people who get the most benefit out of a venue or an asset that the city owns should pay for it repair and operations. While there is the cost to rent the venue it doesn’t pay for it annual costs. I believe that the city should implement consumption tax to help with repairs. For example, a rink rental is roughly $200, we would reduce this price by 5% on the operational side of the budget. This would leave the cost to rent ice at $190 and if we were to use the consumption tax of 15% this would bring it to $218.5 of which $28.5 would be directly saved for that venue. The cost would bring down revenues to the operational city budget but reduce the capital city budget by 10% more than loss of revenues. Which would be a positive for the city budget to reduce capital costs. This concept of adding money to these specific venues will reduce the capital cost at these specific venues and they would free up money for other venues that maybe are not as often used. If the city rink runs 6 am – 11:59 pm which is 18 hours a day and the rate of $28.5 I saved up per hour. After a day of use the consumption tax has added $513 ($28.5 x 18) and a month they add $15,390 ($513 x 30). Which means every 2 months they make enough money to purchase a new scoreboard and the $185,000 a year the tax generates for the venue goes into much needed repairs and upgrades.

Electric power:

– The City of Thunder Bay through Thunder Bay Hydro have invested a lot of money into solar power production. Yet, the city itself still relies on traditional gas/diesel engines to power its fleet of vehicles. Not every vehicle needs to be electric but it would be a good investment for the city too look at green vehicles and introducing them to the fleet. Introducing charging stations in parkades, city sites, parks and other items to increase their use by the public. The money saved through electric vehicles reduced non-renewable energy resource consumption would be huge and provide the savings necessary for the city to reinvest in other items. Many charging stations have a small cost associated with their use and this can lead to revenue for these items but it also allows people who may be considering green vehicles more peace of mind when it comes to the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles.

By law Enforcement Officers:

– If you knew that come 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, you wouldn’t get a ticket for parking illegally; would you pay? Most people likely wouldn’t and most likely don’t. We need additional parking enforcement and bylaw enforcement to make sure that the city is getting as much revenue as it can from these infractions and fines. It’s not acceptable to have the city unregulated come a certain time because you don’t want to pay people to do a job. The revenues from the tickets would be much greater than the cost and would keep people honest. Businesses in the downtown cores rely on available parking for customers and we cannot have people sitting for hours in specific spots. We also need more bylaw enforcement officers to reduce the amount of time police are spending with silly items like noise complaints, parking, clutter and more. A bylaw officer is paid less than an average police officer and they are better suited to be dealing with these issues. Additional bylaw enforcement officers means more revenue, you free up police officers reducing OT and provide a better service to the city. On that note the city ticket office also needs to stop being so lenient when it comes to traffic tickets and who pays/doesn’t. More often than not tickets were reduced or eliminated by people working the ticket booth. Accidents happen where it is the mistake of the ticket writer, clerical errors and more. We need to hold people accountable for their actions; what’s the point of writing tickets if they get ripped up. If $1000 worth of tickets walks out the door every day because you’re being nice that works out to $365,000 annually. Its unacceptable to be paying people to do a job and not benefit from the proceeds of these tickets. These funds could be used to pay for new services or maintain the ones we have.

Wait:

Road Expansion:

The City of Thunder Bay is a very vast and large landscape meaning the cost of delivering service, infrastructure renewal and more is greater. One item that has come to mind is how the City has been so prudent on expanding exterior roads making it easier for suburban drivers to get around. The people who want the joys of the city life but also the joys of living rural. We cannot afford to continue these policies of expansion outwards and providing additional vehicle capacity on rural roads. Valley road is just one example of a suburban road that was expanded to meet capacity which is helping to promote suburban living. The additional road use is coming from people who are living in newly developed residential out on the edges. This is neither beneficial environmentally, tax wise or smart city planning. We need to do better than this and build our city up rather than out. Urban density and renewal allows us to build on the existing infrastructure that we have and bring in additional revenue. I applaud the city for allowing in late 2015 a project to advance that would eliminate a single house and replace it with a much larger house on the site. The difference in tax revenue is around $15,000 and only benefits the city as it sits on existing infrastructure.

Urban-Suburban costs

Residential Development in the burbs:

– While there may not be large chunks of land in Thunder Bay established that can handle new subdivisions we need to be doing a better job to reduce the amount we are allowing expansion into forested and swampland. Northwood is one example of city planning gone bad, we continue to develop into a swampland which helps mitigate floods, collects runoff and promotes wildlife. Yet, we wonder why these areas get so badly hit in storms and then also end up spending millions upon millions for flood reduction and mitigation. Smarter city planning is a must. Looking to other cities and planning we need to try and find ways to make higher density structures and planning easier to process and easier to get through the approval process. If that means they are assigned priority or we create incentives for these projects then we need to do that.

Conservatory expansion:
– Recently a story came out that the city put the conservatory on its list of projects for the Canada 150-year birthday fund. I must say that I instantly face palmed at this news, the conservatory use numbers is very limited due to its poor hours, lack of maintenance and general issues. The city recently installed a counter to determine how many people are coming to this site and how well it is being used. That money should be held onto if it is given to the city in order to determine if this facility is something we want to hold onto. If a viable business plan can be brought forward with this new building to market the facility, have it become as revenue neutral as possible and meet more citizens needs then we need to do that. If we can’t then this facility needs to be looked at for the cutting block. Its been years since I have personally been to the conservatory but I must admit its a very beautiful site. We have allowed it to degrade to a point where the costs may be prohibitive to continue and operate it.

Editors Note: I must give credit where it is due. There is a citizens action group that has worked very hard to make this facility a more enjoyable and prosperous place along with a lot of city workers. I commend them for this action.

Assets:

– I would love for the city to keep everything and do everything but unfortunately we can’t so we as a city need to have the discussion on what we can and can’t do. We have assets that we don’t need and we have assets that we cannot afford anymore. We need city hall to look at its assets and make the tough decision to cut items. It will not be politically easy and it will not be clean but we need to make these decisions. I would much rather have the city offer 4 services it does exceptionally well rather than 10 it does mediocre to ok. Items like campground are in my mind not a city service we should be in. That is something that can be offered by the private service and done for a profit. If we can shed some of these items that are on the fringes of city services then we should and reinvest that money in things we are already doing great on.

Lack of Technology use:

– We live in an age where there is so much technology available that we could save the city millions by doing this more effectively. I am no expert at snow plow operations but we have all seen how a sidewalk plow pass and clean off the sidewalks only to have the road plow come an hour later and undo all his good work. Doing a job twice doesn’t make any sense, doesn’t help productivity and burns money. If we were using more effective tracking services, we could know that Section A is done its good for the sidewalk plows to go through and they won’t have to come back to clear it off again. Or Section C is still a work in progress hold off the sidewalk plows till they are able to finish. Crews could be on the road and receive information on storm sewer work or other work that needs to be fixed with the right technology we could have these crews provide up to the minute updates, do their paperwork in their vehicle and then onto the next call without ever having to come to the office. We need to invest and the workers/admin need to get on board with these changes. Instant communication between the boss and the employees on work that is being done. This could then be passed on to citizens and provide a more transparent and open government. The Government of Ontario has started a program to introduce tracking for snow plows so citizens know when and were they are on the roads. We need more opportunities to improve all our city operations by introducing the right technology in the right hands.

Lakehead University’s Parking Problem:

As lakehead University – Orillia has grown there has been an increase in the number of students who have had to drive to the campus in order to attend classes. The Orillia campus is situated in a farmers field which allows for cheap future growth potential but makes it a commuter based school. This means as the school grows it needs to provide additional spaces for students to park in order to attend classes which is a costly venture. This has become increasingly challenging as Lakehead University wants to keep it LEED diamond status of which adding parking stalls would negatively affect. I believe that there is an opportunity to address the concerns of Lakehead Students and Lakehead University through a number of different means by working with the community. This article will focus on a number of different initiatives that Lakehead could take in order to address its growing parking issues.

Carpooling:

Lakehead University currently has 2-4 car stalls set aside for people who carpool. Carpooling rules at Lakehead University include vehicles with 2 or more people in them which allows them to use these stalls. These stalls fill up fairly quickly and there is no real means of policing the vehicles as they come in. Lakehead Security can’t accurately determine if someone is using it for their own spot regardless of the rules or if it is being legitimately used. I believe that Lakahead could address these issues by expanding its offering of carpooling and providing students with perks to carpool. Carpooling is a great way for people to reduce the environmental damage they create, build social relationships and still use a vehicle. Here are a couple thoughts on how Lakehead can promote carpooling.

1. Add more spots for carpooling vehicles to promote its use.
2. Place a security camera by the carpool spots for the vehicles protection but also to find out if people are using the spots illegally.
3. Fine those who use these spots without merit.
4. Create a carpooling website for all Lakehead students to use in order to find rides and reduce traffic.

The program could work as such: when registering for your parking pass the website would ask if you plan to carpool with friends. If yes, it sends out an email to those people and to your lakehead University email asking to sign up. If the 3-4 friends confirm his email then you received a 10% reduction on your parking pass costs. Using a mobile application or the website you check in to the spot and how many people you came with and it gives you a points system which unlocks prizes. After 2-3 months of consistently carpooling with other students it gives you and your carpool mates a $10 voucher to the café. The program would be available to students who would regularly drive to school and who because of this program don’t drive to school anymore. The costs savings to Lakehead could be enormous and would prevent them from having to build additional parking lots. If using this program we could eliminate 15% of cars coming and going to campus it could save a lot of gas, time and money.

Off-Campus Parking:

Lakehead University has consistent access to Orillia transit but for many students it’s not a viable option because they either live out of town or need to drive in order to get to school. Lakehead has already partnered with the City of Orillia to purchase parking spaces for students at the Rotary Place for a cheaper cost. The students pay Lakehead and then they pay an annual fee of roughly $10,000 for the spaces to the City of Orillia. I would like to see this program expanded with the partners in the community and with the City of Orillia. Lakehead students pay for a yearlong bus pass in their tuition which means they can take the bus for free at any point in that year. There are a couple opportunities I see for Lakehead to look at community partners to fill its parking woes. There is a call center, movie theater and the City of Orillia all of which have lots with quick and easy access to Orillia transit. Based on their proximity to campus one could have a reduced fee and consistent access to parking.

The Call center has a large parking lot that is rarely full and could easily accept 20-30 vehicles that belong to students. Based on its proximity to the school you could charge a little less than the rotary place spots but add to the available spots without having to add parking on your own property. That business makes good use of its available spots and it provides an additional source of income for the business. The photo below shows one of the parking lots that could be used for additional parking and the bus stop going to the school and coming back are very close to the site.

Call Center Lot

The Movie theater again is another business which I believe could benefit from the additional access and money coming into its business. The movie theater is often empty during the day so its lots are open and available for students to use. As movies start to come close to starting is when its lots become a little fuller and a little more challenging to find parking. I believe the area shown in the photo could be set aside specifically for Lakehead University students from a 8 am – 5 pm basis and then after that they would be fair game for patrons of the theater to use or students with late classes. As the distance increases between the school and the parking space the cost would decrease for the students. This could be attractive for students who don’t want to pay for $400 for a parking pass come September but might be more willing to pay $250 or 300.

Movie Theater Lot

Finally there is a lot of opportunity for Lakehead and the City of Orillia to work together to find a use for the municipal lots that are owned by the City of Orillia. I believe that the city could set aside areas in these lots for students who are driving in and pay a fee $100-150 to park there for the school year without fear of being ticketed. This would not only bring in additional revenue for the City of Orillia but it would also allow students to use Orillia transit and show just how valuable of a tool it is for the community by raising its ridership numbers. Orillia bylaw could continue to ticket vehicles in this area as normal and take in those revenues while accepting the additional revenue from those vehicles. If students don’t have the pass in their car window then they can be ticketed as if a normal vehicle failure to pay. The benefits are there for both Orillia and for Lakehead to mitigate the parking disaster that continues to happen at the school.

Downtown Lots

Enforcement and additional rules

Lakehead University would need to make sure that people who are parking in the areas that have been designated for students are in fact students who have paid. This would mean that they would have to go to these areas and check on the vehicles to make sure they are registered and have paid. This would mean that Lakehead would be allowed to ticket on other businesses property and those revenues would come back to the university in the form of parking tickets. This would keep the students in line with regards to stealing spots designated for paying students and would keep these spaces available for students from other individuals. The City of Orillia could continue its bylaw enforcement of its parking stalls as it does currently depending on the agreement. If those spots were designated for specifically Lakehead vehicles they would fine those without a pass which may require bylaw amendments. If they allowed students who paid to park as long as they had a pass anywhere in the designated lots then they could continue on as normal.

Signs designating the spots would need to be put in to show that this was a designated area and allow for proper implementation of the rules and conduct. There would also be a fee associated with being able to park in other lots. So if you purchased a main campus lot spot you would pay nothing to park in the other 3 lots (downtown, call center and movies) where as if you bought a downtown spot you would pay $100 and only be able to go up as close as the call center. You can always go down and further from campus for free.

Hopefully with full implementation of these plans Lakehead can address the constant concerns of students about a lack of parking without having to spend millions on parking lots that sit empty throughout the summer and 3 of 7 week days. Carpooling and working with the community partners are just a couple ideas I had in order to address the issues at Lakehead’s commuter campus. The campus needs to do more to get people out of their cars and into transit, carpool, buses or alternative means of transport.

Blackberry is Alienating its last loyal fans

Announced today is another round of cuts to the people who have worked and toiled to make BlackBerry products the best on the market. Tragic for the families and the people involved as it allows other companies to poach highly talented people from the company. We have seen almost 10,000 employees (roughly) leave the company in the last couple of years alone. Most of these people have been cut from positions that were once Blackberry’s heart and soul; the hardware division. Blackberry phones used to be one of the hottest ticket items on the market, it was impossible to get one and harder to avoid the marketing around them. Years later and after multiple delays and downsizing we are at the company we see before us. Under John Chen who’s leadership has helped to return the company to before tax profitability and refocus the company. Blackberry has moved to becoming a security oriented software company with a major focus on enterprise and government. Yet, it does not have a clearly defined plan for its hardware division and because of this is leaving many Blackberry fans alienated and left behind by the company they so effectively supported through tough times.
Blackberry doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with the hardware division in today’s modern Bring you own device (BYOD) world. It continues to make phones with an orientation on very small niche segments of the market or directly targeted towards businesses. It has failed to properly produce a phone that is designed for those of its loyal fan base that continues to support the company and I believe that we will see these people start to wither away. I myself am one of those people who pushed the Blackberry Brand, I own Blackberry stock and I have purchased a number of different phones through the company (up to 4 now) but yet I feel left behind by the company. I am using a Z30 currently which when released in September of 2013 was a high-medium tier phone at best. I purchased it because of its battery life, the screen and its size as compared to my Z10. I do like the phone (minus the issues I am having) but I feel that Blackberry does not care for me as a target audience anymore and doesn’t want me to continue to purchase phones from them. In the last 6-12 months we have seen BlackBerry release 3 phones; The Passport, The Classic and The Leap. The Passport is the only phone of the 3 I would consider getting because of its specifications and its build quality (along with a couple other items). The Blackberry Classic is designed for the 9900 user that couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to the Q10. It’s extremely affordable because it cannibalized the same parts from the Q10’s that were never sold. It wasn’t designed for me as a consumer, it was designed for the CEO or the 40 year old who likes what he likes (or she). The Blackberry Leap isn’t again designed to surpass the Z30 it seems to be actually designed to replace the Z10. Again it uses many of the same parts as the Z10 and is no upgrade over the Z30. As a consumer this leaves me in a predicament; I have become accustomed to the full screen touch phones and would like to replace my Z30 with one such as that. It appears that BlackBerry has no plans to do something like this though and intends to focus on the small niche portions of the market.

This plan to focus on the niche portions of the market as an investor infuriates me because millions of dollars goes into research and development and there is limited to no return on that investment for the company. John Chen himself said that if he can get to 10 million phones annually that he will be able to make the hardware division profitable. Focusing on small market phones will not get BlackBerry to that number and nor will it help to make the company as a whole profitable. The small number of CEO’s and 40 year olds hanging onto their 9900’s were only worth investing that money into because of their influence in the decision making process of their companies. The Bring Your Own Device Market means for BlackBerry that many CEO’s have given up on providing employees with company phones for pleasure reasons and cost. This means that BlackBerry is going after an increasingly shrinking market with its enterprise and business oriented designs. This mindset leaves us the regular consumer and the Blackberry loyalists that the company is leaving behind. This is the largest portion of potential purchases and yet they have no plan oriented for them. How can you as a company leave this segment and not even makes the slightest attempt to target it. I understand as an investor you do not have the money to beat an Apple or a Google but I want you to at least to try. The Z10 sold incredibly well when it first came out because it’s what the market wanted. Lack of support, marketing and an immature operating system are what caused it demise. After 2+ years of growth we are seeing the BB10 phones operating system become more advanced, more stable and feature filled for more than your CEO or CIO. Yet the market has no idea of these advances and continues to think of BlackBerry phones as the one from 2008 that required excessive reboots and was slow.

Blackberry needs to come out with something that is going to entice the market even if it is just one or two people out of ten that walks into a carrier store or pops online shopblackberry.com. I know a number of people who would consider going back to Blackberry if they produced something that was worth having and was what they wanted. For example: A friend was ready to go out and purchase a new Blackberry phone and come over from an Iphone because she liked my Z30. The issue was that I wasn’t going to stick her on a 2 year plan with a phone that was 2 years old and going to be unsupported in the near future. The fact that Blackberry has no plans for a mainstream market phone also meant she crossed BlackBerry off her potential phone list. I would love to see BlackBerry support its fans and the market better than the way it has and appears to be doing so into the future. Provide the market with the reason to like you and your company again. If I was John Chen I would work this in a 2 year cycle now that North American carriers are off the 3 year plan bandwagon. BlackBerry could bring to market a large (5-5.5 inch) all touch with high end specifications which would appeal to the mass market. Along with that release a low end keyboard phone for the business world and the emerging markets. Year 2 release another phone like the passport which caters to the business market and release another lower/middle end all touch to replace the leap. This allows the market consumer to be catered too and allows an effective development and testing time. This also allows the business market to be catered to at a proper life cycle. When the original business phones start to die off then you release that new one after 2 years and companies know what to predict. I believe that this cycle could help Blackberry regain market share in both the enterprise and the consumer market. It would provide the employees of these enterprises with a proper option for their work and personal phones and make the company money. Blackberry needs to continue to develop its operating system in order to continue to keep its fans happy. This could easily be achieved with proper management of the inventory system making sure that excessive units are not produced.

A reply is a simple thing to do on your Facebook, most mobile phones are able to do it and it’s an important part of the social media experience but yet Blackberry 10.3.2 cannot. There are so many parts of the experience in Blackberry operating system that should be there and aren’t it’s surprising when you remember how old the operating system is. Blackberry continues to take members of its software team that would be used to keeping the operating system experience fresh, the apps new and feature filled and the experience exciting and cutting the positons or putting them elsewhere in the company. The experience on the phone lags down as it ages and it becomes less enjoyable for those who have the phone or want to buy one. I really do hate how much effort that 3rd party application developers have made to create their apps and make them look stunning to have the company give up on the consumer market. Blaq and Igrann are two of my favorite applications because they do the job so well and they serve the market perfectly but they have limited support from BlackBerry. What is the point in building for Blackberry when it seems that the company itself doesn’t even want to put the time or the effort into it. How do you expect to keep customers or to expand your customer base when your phone looks old, feels old and acts old. BlackBerry faltered because its other operating system aged and couldn’t keep up with the market demands and with a lack of investment we will see that here as well. Bugs within the system are ruining the experience for the customer in both enterprise and the consumer base. For example with regards to calling where the call screen glitches and takes its time to switch over; only to have the person calling hang up because they don’t realize that you don’t know that they are connected. I talked to my carriers support staff and this affected more than just me it was affecting businesses running the same phone. Businesses with 20+ phones running BB10 that were dropped because of these bugs. The company can always be more nimble but when you gut the software division that makes the phone tick and makes it look nice it takes a massive toll. No matter what you do to the security and the safety if the phone in today’s BYOD world if people don’t like it then they won’t want it. A pen and paper is an extremely safe way of keeping information but people don’t use it as much because it’s not convenient for most tasks and it’s a hassle to use.

I understand the reasons behind the move to the enterprise and the government. Its BlackBerry’s safe zone but that zone is getting smaller and smaller as companies look to reduce costs by allowing their employees to use their own phones. We need to see some type of investment into the other side as well here in order to try and keep the fan base happy along with entice new people. The company doesn’t need to compete with Apple or Google and nor should it. It does need to keep the fan base that is keeping the company alive though and try to expand itself by producing what the market wants even if it is only in smaller quantities. Today’s acquisition of AdHoc is another step in making sure the company is strong for the enterprise and governments in emergencies. This is a good buy as it entices them but you already have their confidence and their money. You need to find new money that you started to lose after 2008-2009 consumer base collapse and try to win some of that back.
Blackberry I have owned 4 phones from you now. I have been with the company through the transition from BBOS to BB10. I supported you with the Z10 and the Z30 but you are leaving me to dry here with this nonsense of the enterprise and software only idea. I want to support you but you have to give me a reason to and at this point there isn’t much reason. If it wasn’t for the fact that I purchased my Z30 only 6 months ago and I lack the funds required for a new phone; I would be gone and so would my money. I want to see this company survive and see it flourish but killing off the reasons I as a consumer can support you doesn’t do much for me. Your loyal fanbase is more than just the enterprise and governments. It’s regular people who love the phones you produce for their build quality, their battery and the operating system. If you are going to kill it then do so and put us out of our misery of waiting but if not then give us something to look forward to. The consumer market is the enterprise market and you need to realize this. As a fan, an investor and a blackberry owner you need to do better, need to be better and need to support those who have supported you; enterprise and consumer.

Open Letter to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities: The State of our Post-Secondary Institutions.

Post Secondary education is one of the most prestigious and challenging times of our lives. This is where many students expand their knowledge, grow as adults and meet new and diverse groups of people. The idea of a university or college education comes associated with the idea that it will provide you with the tools in order to get a much higher paying job and life style. Our universities used to be a challenge to get into, it used to mean you had accomplished something in order to get in. Unfortunately the idea of a small select few getting in has been left to the sidelines for the idea of mass production education. Universities across Ontario (with the exception of a few) are taking everyone and anyone into their programs in order to fill their seats. As a university student myself I have wondered how some people were accepted into university. Their marks and work ethic have left so much to be desired and it provides me with anger to potentially see someone bottom feed their way through to get a degree the same as mine while I put so much effort into getting top marks.

One of the issues surrounding the new mass production education is the individuals that they let into the facilities. It used to be a challenge in order to get into university you needed to get the marks in order to succeed but this has changed. Individuals with a 60% average in highschool are being admitted to these courses in order to fill the seats. I was a 60% average student in highschool, I did as little as possible throughout highschool because I hated it. My parents wanted me to go to university in order to get a education but I knew it was a bad decision because I wouldn’t put in the time or the effort. If we are accepting students who clearly do not care and don’t want to put in the effort then we devalue the institutions that are supposed to be for higher learning. The mass production of education means that every year that university degree is worth less and less because the standards are lower. To me it is unacceptable to allow students who don’t want to put in the time or the effort into a post-secondary institution simply to take their cash. We should not be allowing universities and colleges to take on students simply for the purpose of using them as cash cows. With Canadian household debt at 163% of income this is not something we should condone, we should allow or practice.

We do need to make an exception in some cases to allow lower income individuals and those from visible minorities to enter these institutions. Education is an important factor for improving ones life and if we can lift lower class individuals and visible minorities into the middle class we are benefiting ourselves for years to come. Individuals who can show that their marks were as a result of something other then their own laziness like family responsibility, poverty, income issues should also be provided with the opportunity to show their work ethic in these institutions.

A post-secondary degree or diploma is something that used to be hard to achieve and used to be something one felt proud of getting. As time goes on I feel less and less proud of my ability to achieve a university degree; I felt the same way with my college diploma. Post-secondary institutions make way too many accommodations; allow for to many students to continue on when they should have failed long ago. I know in my college courses that there were numerous students who should not have been there till the end. Their inability to academically succeed, progress as students was noticeable by more then just the students. Often times weaker students were paired with stronger students for activities and scenarios because the teachers knew that they would be able to pull the weight of the weaker student. In my mind this is unacceptable, a business would not accept a weaker employee who slowed down the others. This would be considered dead weight and let go but yet the college continued to allow them to progress on while barely; if at all meeting the requirements.

I have seen this again in my university experience; teachers and the university allowing individuals to progress when they should have been let go. Teachers allowing for extensions past their set deadlines and then stopping their percentage penalty after a short period. This often does not properly provide consequences for the students and means that they can wait till after that period to to hand it in. If a paper is 2 weeks late and still accepted it but only loses that 1 weeks penalty; what is the pressure to finish after that first week. The university also allows students to continue on under academic probation which because of so much bureaucracy has 0 true consequences. I personally believe that if a student is unable to consistently meet a base requirement of -5% of their course minimum that they should be let go. We need to protect the students who are coming out of the university and their degree. The mass production education is negatively harming students who have provided effort for their degree. In the end a degree of a 50% and a degree of 90% is the same piece of paper. This is extremely damaging to the reputation of the institutions, the students and employers who look to these institutions to provide high quality workers.

University professors may be good researchers, they may be good at bringing in research dollars and notoriety but often they are poor professors. The system of tenure where a university professor cannot be let go for poor performance in academics is a travesty to students. I can name a couple of professors myself who I feel and many others feel are unworthy of teaching. They are simply too poor of educators to do the job and should be let go. Yet, due to tenure and other bureaucracy they continue to teach and provide a poor level of knowledge to students. A perfect example of this is a teacher (who I will not name) who was under scrutiny for sexist, racist and other comments before we attended his class. He provided sexist comments in that class again, called a student multiple inappropriate comments and after a complaint to the head of the department with 50% of that class as signatures of his poor performance he continues to teach. He does so because he has provided the school with a large amount of money in terms of research grants and other funding. Its a terrible thing to see universities focus solely on money rather then the quality of education that they are providing for their students. Universities need to look to individuals in the field of the topic to teach classes much like colleges do. A university professor (Who I feel is a very good teacher) who has never completed a law degree shouldn’t in my mind be teaching a course on criminal law. I would have personally preferred a recent law school graduate or a lawyer/police officer. This real world education is much more valuable then what a teacher reads from a book and then regurgitates to students.

University semesters are simply too short for their own good. Often times professors are forced to condense their teachings in order to meet the demands placed on them. 12 weeks of 3 hour classes doesn’t provide in my mind enough time to truly learn in enough detail the items we need to know for the future. I would like to see if expanded by another 2-4 weeks and expand classes from 1.5 to 2 hours. This would allow us to truly get an understanding of what the topics are we are supposed to be learning. I want to hear every detail; I am paying for it and I hate to see teachers cut content because of time restrictions; in the end students lose. Those that are dedicated to going to class consistently and doing their homework would in my mind be ok with spending the additional time. It would expand our knowledge of these subjects and make us better at the things we do. The lost money for students during this time would be a major drawback but the expanded knowledge would in itself be a valuable tool and provide for future income growth.

Universities and Colleges are filled to the brim with ineffective studies; students and the economy are paying dearly for it. Thousands of students each year come out of university or college and start to look for a job often times with ‘useless degrees’ or into fields swamped by new applicants. The government and universities need to do a much better job of offering degrees into careers and job fields that have significant growth or are going to have high rates of turnover. I can name 4-5 fields of study at the university I am currently at that are irrelevant. A significant portion of the studies in this university are surrounding education and providing Ontario with more teachers. Ontario simply doesn’t need teacher and thousands of students are being pushed out into the world with a degree that while valuable is overpopulated. We need to offer more programs and services to students that will help them enter the job market right away. Technology is a big field for Ontario and it is continuing to grow. A technology based business program would be beneficial as our society moves online. It would also have the added benefits of allowing students to have a business degree which could be used to start up technology companies. These kind of real world studies need to be implemented by more universities, students are drowning under a wave of irrelevant studies. These students are also causing the way in which people look at degrees to be of a lower category since so many people have them.

The process of applying and getting into graduate school is simply put: stupid. Every individual school has their own process, their own system and their own requirements. The government needs to come together to make this process simpler for students who are looking to get a Masters or a PHD. The process does not need to be easier but the government needs to make it simpler to apply and to find the proper schools. The current process as it is; is way beyond broken and is desperate need of repair. The process of going through each individual school’s website, finding the proper information from different ends of their school and then trying to find a professor is pushing away intelligent students. Attempting to find all this information has taken me hours which other students who have a 2nd job, a family or other responsibilites don’t have the time to lose. Changing the way that we can apply to graduate school and the collection of information will make these programs harder to get into because of increasing applications. This increase in applications means universities can pick and choose who they take and the research they conduct. All of which would have valuable aspects for the individual, the economy, knowledge bases and the university.

University and College can still be a important part of a students life but they need to change and learn to say no. They need to let lose students who simply do not care about their studies. They need to reduce the number of people they bring in to these courses because they want to fill seats. They need to change the studies they offer and be more closely related to the needs of the economy and the market. They need to do a better job of protecting the integrity of the degree in which they provide. Not everyone deserves a degree, this thinking is killing students and causing them to take on insurmountable levels of debt. Its time that the government takes this issue seriously and works on fixing the university and college system.

University Education: Individualism at its finest

Annually, student unions and University board of directors come to blows (figuratively) over the cost associated with a university education. The student boards believe that a tuition freeze is necessary to protect the ability of students to get an education. Board of directors believe that tuition increases are necessary to protect the financial flexibility of the institution, expand and provide more services. In this case, both sides have a valuable argument; students needs to be able to attend university with limited debt and universities need to be able to fund their programs at an effective means. I see the problem in Ontario specifically as one of individualism. Individualism in the form of micro level demands, micro planning and more. This is my student union and these are my problems or this is my university and this is my problem. In reality, these problems are facing both groups across Ontario and across the post-industrial world. There are better methods of dealing with the costs of university while being able to protect the institutions into the future.

Universities all offer different programs with different focuses and different teachers. Some teachers use one publisher for a course while other teachers use a different publisher for the same course at a different institution. While tuition costs are the #1 concern of student unions and students there are a number of other costs that also combine together to raise the price for students. University textbooks are an expensive proposition for students and can be a major detractor from students ability to learn. In the first year of school I paid roughly $900 for textbooks and in second year I have paid roughly $600. $1,500 over 2 year for textbooks of which I will use for one 3 month semester. This is a result of publishers dividing and conquering techniques to win over different institutions. Textbooks are limited publishing which means that their end cost is higher to recoop the cost and make a profit. If universities were to collectively purchase books they would be able to lower the price of a book for their students and make it more accessible. We all know that university stores are there to make a profit for the university. With larger purchases there would still be the opportunity to make that profit and then benefit the students with a smaller price tag. This could result in more students purchasing textbooks from the book store and increase university profits. The problem with this is that Universities don’t seem to work together on this topic and their micro level decisions are negatively affecting our students. Universities aren’t the only ones making micro level decisions though.

Student unions also provide in raising the cost of university for students in their own ways. Many student unions hold votes to pose a question to university students on if they would approve of a facility’s operation or to construct a facility. Often times this may be done without doing an accurate report as to if the facility is needed anymore and if it continues to be beneficial to both the university itself and the students who pay for it. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay recently posed the question on if they students would approve of a $50 fee to keep their pool open. While the students said yes, one has to wonder if it wouldn’t have made more sense for the students to close the facility and strike a deal with the City of Thunder Bay. The Canada Games Complex is a underused city run facility that easily could have met the demand of Lakehead University students and is only a 10 minute walk from campus. The City of Thunder Bay and Lakehead University have worked together to provide city services at below market rate for a number of items. Closing the pool and bringing the members over to the Canada Games Complex would have provided the city with extra funding, the students would save $50 annual or $200 over the course of an undergraduate degree and saved Lakehead University money as well. One has to wonder why Lakehead University Student Union didn’t look beyond their borders to meet the demand by students. There are bright students who lead the student unions and create a positive environment for others but sometimes these decisions can be extremely negatively financially for future students. With student unions and board of directors at odds the individualism negatively affects both as a collective voice in larger matters is more important then thousands of smaller voices.

Universities and Student unions need to come together on a number of other topics with regards to the provincial government. The province provides the majority of funding for universities but this funding has been stagnating in the last 20 years. The provinces way of making sure that universities are well funded has resulted in excessive tuition increases of 8% from 2003-2008. Each university has their own plans for future development and their own desires to fill their spaces. There is only so much provincial funding to spread around; in modern Ontario, universities shouldn’t be planning their future on their own. Universities should be working together to present a plan on how to grow their universities while not infringing on another’s major of study. Lakehead University – Orillia has a large investment into biology and forestry and it wouldn’t make sense for York or Laurientian to do the same. Imagine if Ontario universities came together and presented a plan on how they would grow and build off of each other. For example: Lakehead University and Laurientian University coming together to form the Northern Ontario School of Medicine but on a grander scale. Money would be better spent because each university would know what the other plans. A plan like this would improve the way money in spent and increase the notoriety of Ontario as a education powerhouse. Institutions could also benefit from this information sharing in terms of mass tendering of construction projects. If in 2015, 20 new residence buildings were to be built at university campuses across the province they could tender as a single one and get the price down significantly for each unit. They could also allow schools to foster a couple topics in which they are provincially renowned. Improving the quality of education within Ontario and making the existing space better used by students and the Ontario government.

In terms of expansion, there needs to be a moratorium on new campus development around the province until seats are taken up in the existing buildings. Universities in northern communities like Thunder Bay are seeing major declines in their enrollment and are having seats open up and stay open. “For the first time in 15 years, there are fewer new high school grads starting at Ontario campuses this fall: 2.9 per cent per cent fewer at universities and 3.5 per cent fewer at community colleges, according to mid September figures from central application centres in Guelph. Schools with a focus on the arts were among the hardest hit, from the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) in Toronto to humanities-heavy Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo and the University of Windsor, plus schools far from the GTA hub like Lakehead in Thunder Bay and Nipissing in North Bay”. (Brown, L., 2014) In a proper environment this wouldn’t be the case, seats would need to be fought for and only then would expansion be allowed into these areas. If we continue to underutilize our current facilities we will see money being wasted while the government already tries to stretch the dollar. Student unions should be protesting this fact as it will end up resulting in higher tuition costs, higher education costs for less service. Universities should be advocating for a reduction in new campuses until there is a legitimate case for expansion by means of private investment, enrollment and sustainability. We cannot continue to see expansion on the outskirts while we are hallowing out the core. Coming from the north it is hard to see people from the South/Central/East say things are spread apart when there are multiple options for them only a couple hours away. My trek to school was 15 hours and while far away I don’t regret it. This is a great opportunity to prop up the communities in which we currently have existing facilities and see surrounding communities that also benefit provide some financial incentive.

OSAP has provided students with the ability to attend school with the promise of paying back the loan provided. As of right now there is a 6 month grace period where an individual doesn’t have to pay back their loan which is interest free. As it stands there is a 3.5% interest rate on the loan provided by the Ontario government (1% ON and 2.5% CAN). If I was a student with $40,000 in debt and wanted to pay it off in 4 years I would be paying $951 a month to achieve this. There are a couple options here that student unions should be banding together to help students. University leadership should also be playing a role in making this beneficial to their own campuses and their students. Collectively, there should be a push to extend the grace period from 6 months to 2 years. Many students will be working in lower income jobs and looking for careers by the time their current grace period ends. The added time will allow students to get their feet under them in terms of housing, career and future planning. The added time will also reduce financial stress for students, financial stress can increase the chances of dealing with a mental health issue. Universities should also be looking at the interest associated with the loans as a potential means of income. First, the government should be asked to reduce this to a more manageable number or eliminated like in Nova Scotia. If this is unable to be achieved; universities should look to gain a % of the interest in order to fund programs. These programs could consist of mental health services, sexual assault help, campus security and protection along with other student needs (gym, pools etc). This could be a way to maintain or reduce costs associated with university students moving into the future.

These are just some of the ideas that I have had to reduce the cost associated with a post-secondary education. It is expensive and it is a long process but it is doubly so because our facilities are completing when they should be collaborating. This individualism by student unions and by universities has created a system where its one versus the other. While organizations like the Canadian federation of students are valuable they need the university leadership to come together as well. Our system in the end is about lifting up the average Ontarian and improving the community. Who gets research funding or who has the biggest facility matters not in the end game. Working together will promote Ontario as a better place to come and be educated. It will help the Ontario economy and will help lift individuals out of poverty. Education in today’s world is beyond important it is a necessary tool for survival.

Imagine if instead of $1,500 I paid $750 for textbooks; that extra money would be extremely valuable when it comes to food, rent, financial flexibility and more. We can do more but we need to be a collective rather then individuals going forward.

References:

Brown, L., (2014), Ontario university enrolment down for first time in 15 years. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2014/09/22/ontario_university_enrolment_down_for_first_time_in_15_years.html

The 800 million dollar question

The idea of putting Tbaytel up for sale is one that has been in the community for years. Proponents of the idea say that the sale of Tbaytel would rid the city of a potential liability and bring in a huge amount of cash to the city. People against the idea feel that selling would cause a huge increase in the city’s tax base (Tbaytel current subsidizes the tax base by 17 million or 12%) and that losing control would mean higher prices for consumers. Both sides have positives and negatives to them but I will look at what a potential sale of Tbaytel could mean for the city. Someone who works within the telecommunications industry believes that the city could fetch $800 million to $1 billion dollars for Tbaytel and its assets. Now these numbers are estimates and guesses but the $800 million is an interesting talking point.

So if we were to say that the sale has been completed; the government didn’t intervene in the sale and Tbaytel is now a private entity. Where do we spend the money and how do we go about spreading the wealth to the community. I believe that the city needs to look to the long term with this investment and take a page from Fort William First Nation and what they are doing with their land settlement claim money. A sudden investment of $800 million if not managed properly could easily be spent and gone in a matter of years. Making sure we have the right people in charge to make these decisions and involving the community are going to be incredibly important if we are too do this right.

If we were to sell Tbaytel we would lose an annual investment of $17 million dollars that are currently subsidizing the city budget. In order to reduce the burden on the city taxpayer some of the money would need to be used to pay down the city debt completely. Current the city debt stands around $180-$190 million dollars owed. Paying this off would allow the city to completely eliminate debt servicing charges and debt payments from its expenses. This means that we could reduce the burden of Tbaytel loss making the tax increase more manageable for the community. For ease of numbers sake we will say that the debt is $200 million which means that our total is now down to $600 million overall.

After the debt for me it gets a little murky on what we should do with the remaining money. We shouldn’t use it to subsidize our tax base to keep taxes low. We would simply burn through this money and then only delay the inevitable. We saw this with Mississauga who was forced to raise taxes 7% after burning through their reserve funds. I do believe that we should be setting aside a portion of this money to invest into our infrastructure and maintaining what we have. Roads, bridges, sewers, parks, sports facilities are all items that have been overlooked for years and are in desperate need of attention. If we were to set aside $100 million over 10 years over and above what we already spend we could effectively upgrade and maintain what we have. Making sure that fields like Chapples which are used by the Thunder Bay Chill aren’t unavailable for a majority of the season due to poor conditions. Managing effectively this money will be important to avoid the price increases that occurred with the marina. Of we throw a lot of money into a short period of time we may receive less then anticipated. If so this may need to be pushed back to a 15 or 20 year plan. We now have spent $300 million through this plan to invest in infrastructure and eliminate the debt.

With $500 million left it leave us with a lot of choices as to what we want to do with the money. I believe that if the sale of Tbaytel were to happen it should result in an improved quality of life for citizens in the community. The question then becomes how much money should we set aside and how should we be spending that money. I believe that $100 million over 10 years could be a fair number to not only the citizens of today but tomorrows taxpayers. $50 should be earmarked to increasing the size and scope of green spaces within the community. Investing in new playground equipment for children, bringing in new sports like Disc Golf, Cricket to the community and making these spaces enjoyable. The other $50 million should be earmarked for remediation of industrial land for future public use and removing dilapidated buildings in the community. These could include the industrial areas along the waterfront, removing grain elevators and old business/homes that are devaluing neighboring properties. After this additional investment into the community we are now down to $400 million in which to use.

This final $400 million should be split into two savings account where it can grow money through interest and benefit the community even more into the future. I would like to see $200 million go into the city reserve funds for future use and to help prop up the city’s reserves. This increase in reserves and a reduction in debt will increase the city’s credit rating and allow the city to take out loans at much lower interest rate. This will also allow the city some breathing room if the city goes over on snow removal in that budget year. Money in the reserve funds also grow interest which means the reserves will grow at a faster rate. The other $200 million should be put into a bank account where it cannot be touched for a 20 year period. This will allow the money to grow untouched for that period of time and increase the total amount available to the city in the future. When that 20 years is over there should be a restriction applied to the amount that can be taken out annually to protect from large project spending by the council members.

With this being said I have my own personal thoughts about selling Tbaytel. I believe that it is valuable asset to the community and is a good fit in our hands. Now it will be up to the council and community to decide if they want to sell the company or continue to hold onto it. I do believe however that the City of Thunder Bay needs to remove itself from Tbaytel’s annual contribution and allow the company to keep that money. With regards to the current dividend that the city is receiving from Tbaytel over and above that initial $17 million I think this should be up to the board. Successful companies provide a dividend to their shareholders when they are profitable and expanding. This money could continue to be pumped into a fund like ReNew Thunder Bay for projects such as the Event Center or Golf Links Expansion.

So this is what I believe we should do with the $800 million we got from a potential Tbaytel sell if we received it. What do you think we should do with the money?

Editors Note: The assessment value was provided by someone who works in the Telecommunication industry based on his assessment of the company. He didn’t have access to financial statements or asset values which would be necessary for a true costing of the company. This number was his belief.

Blackberry’s Open Letter

Today, BlackBerry released an open letter to the millions of fans and customers around the world. Many who have been waiting and watching to see what will become of the one mighty smartphone maker. Times are truly rough for this company, they are cutting another 4,500 people from their staff and wrote off 1 billion dollars in the last quarter. Add onto that the sales of Blackberry 10 devices have been soft and subscribers numbers continue to decline and it seems like a death spiral that the company can’t get out of. Even bringing BBM to Android and IOS was a mess with a failed launch. The one thing that BlackBerry has going for them is a strong a dedicated fan base which is standing behind the company. #TeamBlackBerry is a rather large and important piece that can’t be accounted for in stats and sales numbers. Its this group of people along with those sitting on the fence that I really hoped the company would grab and pull onto their side. After sitting quiet for weeks while the media bashed the company into submission with horror story after horror story this was lackluster. It felt like a memo to the staff; one that you would take, crumple up and forget about. It didn’t have the heart needed to really appeal to the fans and to the potential clients. It doesn’t have that oomph like Mike Lazardis’s video apologizing for the NOC outage.

Below I will take portions of the address that I feel needed to be more detailed and changed.

We have substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free. We are restructuring with a goal to cut our expenses by 50 percent in order to run a very efficient, customer-oriented organization.

The first part needs to address the current amount of capital the company has to offer. We know that BlackBerry had 2.6 billion but it lost around 1 billion in the latest quarter. Its great to say that its strong but what is the actual number. Many companies probably wouldn’t consider 1 billion in cash reserves strong for the next couple years. The restructuring portion is rather important for companies who are business oriented which is BlackBerry target market. Putting a number to the restructuring cost will help businesses to see where BlackBerry stands financially. With rumors the number will swell from 100 million to 400 million putting this to rest would give one less bullet to the media. “Customer oriented organization” for god sake, your going after the enterprise market tell them that. Customer oriented sounds like they still want to play the consumer market even though they have stated that they cant compete. Its confusing the message!

We have four BlackBerry 10 devices – two all touch and two hybrid (touch and QWERTY)

BlackBerry shortened the names of its devices in BlackBerry10 the least you could do is lay out the phones you will be relying on for the turn around. We know that the Z10 has been a major flop (Hence the inventory paydown) so will this be one of the phones it rely’s on or is it a too be announced device. The Q5 and Q10 are likely the phones they mean when they’re talking Qwerty but both devices have had lackluster sales and are aging. Again, will BlackBerry be relying on these devices or 2 new ones to power them through the next couple quarters. Some more insight will help investors and consumers figure out what tools BlackBerry will be using to play ball with. Even if they had stated 2 new upcoming devices then we would know that we can expect some changes in the future. Obviously, the company wont put up release dates for new phones but a little more insight into the products would have been nice.

And our customers know it. Over the past quarter, our BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 server base grew from 19,000 to more than 25,000. Corporate clients are committed to deploying and testing the latest enterprise technology from BlackBerry. We are committed to evolving with our customers. That will never change.

BlackBerry should have talked about some of the things they plan to bring on board for business to make their lives easier and some update schedules. They have announced a private beta for a cloud based service which will inevitably come online in the future. Talking about this and how it will make life easier for business would have made sense to companies who are on the fringe about BlackBerry’s future as a company. Showing the annual growth will provide a positive note for people reading this letter and show that it is not all bad in BlackBerry.

We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM™ launch for Android™ and iPhone.

The failed launch on September 22/23 was a huge mess for the company. Now its brought this back up in the letter it needed to provide a date in which it would launch the serve 150%. The CMO stated that the launch will likely be in a couple days which could be the 18/19 but until then we don’t know. One of the big things that CEO Thorsten Heinz stated when he took over was that when they made a deadline they were going to stick to it and launch a fully featured product. They didn’t do that and since they brought it up in the letter they should have provided the latest date.

There were a couple things that I hoped would have been in the letter that they didn’t put into it. 1) Where is the thanks to the thousands of employees that you have let go and are letting go. To leave them out of this letter without thanking them for their time, effort, sweat and tears is unacceptable to me as a shareholder. These are the same employees that only months ago you were getting to work 6 days a week in order to get BlackBerry 10 to market. To not mention these people publicly as they look for work elsewhere seems shallow and shows that the management in disconnected from the struggles of the average worker (Maybe its the potential 55 million dollar payout if they are fired). 2) They needed to address the companies who are sitting on the fence about whether they should invest in BlackBerry 10 or not. Its been reported that major companies and governments are making plans for a post-BlackBerry era and are withholding purchases till the future is better known. BlackBerry didn’t address this in my view.

Again I feel that this wasn’t from the heart. It felt like something half baked which seems to be a signature of this company.

What are your thoughts on the letter? below is a link to the original message on the BlackBerry website.
http://ca.blackberry.com/message.html?CPID=SOC_C_WW_Blog1381788584