Wall Built A Saskatchewan You Can’t Easily Leave

Saskatchewan Blogger Tammy Robert wrote about the bad governance of Brad Wall.

So Brad Wall had his Finance Minister write about the character of Tammy Robert.

Meanwhile, Wall’s Government has brought about a very justified human rights complaint by a Cree woman who wants to save the lives of people she hasn’t even met. That’s what the Premier should want to do, but clearly he’s more preoccupied with what’s written about him in Macleans.

3 years ago, a week before I died (temporarily), Regina City Council made illegal the Sask Party’s solution to STC’s closure. You can’t even thumb a ride to get away from Regina if you’re stuck here. WALL: That spells prosperity. Regina has a Wall, and you can’t walk, hop a train, or take a bus to get around it.

 

KCTMO – Playing with fire!

Frightening this wasn’t listened to in time.

Grenfell Action Group

fire

It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the  KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of  looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster.

Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation…

View original post 711 more words

The Core Of the Problem Is Austerity

In the Saskatchewan Legislature Thursday, Premier Brad Wall says a decision to stop STC bus service and lay-off 250 people did not come easy.

Wall says the decision was difficult but ridership had declined significantly.

“As ridership declines and the costs increase, that per-passenger subsidy is well up over 90-dollars,” said Premier Brad Wall. “Almost 100-dollars per passenger, Mr. Speaker. And at some point you have to ask the question; is that the core function of government? To subsidize to 90-dollars per passenger for the bus company?”

STC’s the very definition of a “sustainable core service“! It costs less than a municipal transit service!

@PremierBradWall March 22, 2017:
#skbudget outlines a 3yr plan to balance: controlled spending, sustainable core services, less reliance on resource rev & keep econ strong.

==

There is presently no replacement bus service as the Minister indicated there would be. People are being stranded daily now, in Saskatoon and Regina even, unable to directly get to the other city without desperately going through Winnipeg, hitchhiking (illegally in Regina) or flying on expensive airline tickets.

Today, and last week, Greyhound’s website indicates “no service available” between Regina and Saskatoon! I’ve been in contact with Greyhound perhaps more than the incompetent Saskatchewan Government, to try and fix this problem.

There are companies other than Greyhound applying to operate in Saskatchewan, but the government has dragged on with deciding, until after the deadline arbitrarily set for STC’s privatization closure and subsequent sell off.

“The province is confident many of the routes that STC covered will be taken over by other privately owned companies.
Minister Responsible Joe Hargrave says they have already received an offer from a major bus company to take over some routes that will be cancelled when STC is done and Saskatchewan is the only province that still operates a bus company like STC.”

The Highway Traffic Board is supposed to be independent but……
“The HTB is, according to its website, a “completely independent body” that consists of members appointed by the Sask. Party government.
Its chair, Bill Missal, is a long-time Saskatchewan Party supporter who has, according to Elections Saskatchewan, donated to the Sask. Party.
He has also worked with Sask. Party MLA and former Highways Minister Don McMorris at election time.”

You might also like:
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/weak-transportation-week/
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/transportation-not-meeting-demand/
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/stc-bus-shut-down-by-callous-saskparty/

Weak Transportation Week

Sent to a Saskatchewan Government employee who announced Saskatchewan Transportation Week immediately after STC bus and parcel services were closed to be sold off much later:

Dear Brandy Leippi:

Reading your press release citing the proclamation of this week as Saskatchewan Transportation Week, I was struck by how contradictory the Government’s messaging is in juxtaposition to reality.
http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2017/june/01/transportation-week
“this week is about recognizing the thousands of people who make it happen.””
Hundreds were laid off on Thursday at STC.

““Investing in priority areas like transportation infrastructure is a major part of our government’s plan to ensure the economy remains strong,” Marit said.”
Failing to invest in rural and inter-city bus service will have the opposite effect, obviously.

““An efficient transportation network is the key foundation of a strong economy; nothing moves until the roads are built.”
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/highway-near-cumberland-house-called-saskatchewan-s-worst-1.1307838
4 years later:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/highway-123-cumberland-house-sask-1.4132668

“Since 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested $7.4 billion in transportation infrastructure, improving more than 12,000 km of Saskatchewan highways.”
And has in that time also removed transportation options for people who don’t own a private car or cannot or will not drive for a variety of reasons.

If you’d like to turn this very obvious slide around, please help restore STC bus services at the very least until private sector replacements are in place. Investing in public EV charging infrastructure along major highway routes is probably a constructive means to work with Ottawa on improving Saskatchewan’s infrastructure, too.

Thank-you for your time.
Sincerely,
John Klein
Regina, SK

CC my MLA

The Sask Heavy Con comments in the press release were grating too. That association has been fighting the carbon tax with the Premier, instead of finding cost-saving ways to reduce their emissions, or lobby for ‘carrots’ to modernize their equipment as opposed to the carbon tax ‘stick’.

The Saskatchewan Government and SaskParty are really this obtuse.

First World Consumer Problems

This is going to be a very uninteresting blog post to most people, so skip it unless you’re fascinated by Bitcoin or consumer culture, or extreme couponing problems.

2 weeks ago the value of Bitcoin shot up significantly. What was a few hundred dollars in my spending account became over $1300CAD, so I thought I’d purchase some items I’d been meaning to get when I had a bit of money saved up. I asked my friend Jeff how I could spend it, and he sent some great charity suggestions my way, so I put $20C toward 3 causes I feel good about including Wikimedia, and others. Only 1 of my 3 donations processed, as I then learned the transaction fee for Bitcoin had also gone through the roof. Instead of a nickel being enough to have a transaction processed, 60¢ wasn’t even enough to have it be confirmed before my wallet client timed out and (thankfully) returned the funds rather than leave them in limbo.

Armed with this new spending knowledge, I found through a Google search how to spend Bitcoins on some electronics I both wanted, and didn’t yet know existed. I’ve put computers together for 22 years, but haven’t as much lately, and expensive modern components are now out of my realm of first-hand experience. A coworker had been telling me about m.2 SSDs, so I ordered one of those new hard drives and PCIe adapater card for it since my motherboard doesn’t have the required slot. And I wanted a Blu-ray burner to back up my photo collection again, which is well over 400GB for the last 17+ years of photos and videos. There’s an M-Disc blank available that’s estimated to last ~10-100 times longer than a typical Blu-ray burnable disc. They’re $6 each, but made to last a lifetime as a one time investment.

My first order was a failure, as my transaction fee I specified was again too low. I succeeded the next time with a smaller purchase of a burner, and the 3rd attempt worked with a bigger fee of about a dollar, for $267 more in equipment. Feeling accomplished and on a roll, I went back for more.

My Canon camera I got in 2008 had mostly broken on my vacation early this year, so I’ve been without a great zoom camera since then. Itching to get back into astrophotography, night photography, and things my phone doesn’t do well, I found a Canon SX540 for $400 on NewEgg.ca. It was $50 less at Amazon. I get things at Amazon too much, and they don’t take Bitcoin, so I contacted NewEgg.ca chat assistance who explained who to contact for a price match request. I contacted the Marketplace vendor ELECTRONIQUE HI-FI on Sunday and they agreed to price match the camera for me to the Amazon price. Yay, good deal, but the story isn’t over. I put the camera into my cart, and checked out, but Bitcoin as a payment option was greyed out. NewEgg.ca chat assistance then explained BTC isn’t available as a payment option for “Marketplace” items. ARGGHH!

Not one to give up too easily, I found coincards.ca, a gift card vendor who accepts Bitcoins. I looked at their exchange rate, and it appeared to be a reasonable 1 or 2 percent, so I made a plan to get one after waiting until the end of Monday when I anticipated the price of Bitcoin would go up further. I purchased a gift card for NewEgg.ca. It would take more than 2 hours to process once the Bitcoin transaction was confirmed by the Bitcoin network of miners. This delay put me into Tuesday morning. No big deal, I thought, I can wait.

I went to buy the camera on Tuesday morning, and found the one in my cart was now again listed at $399. I emailed the company and they explained they couldn’t keep it at the lower price on NewEgg, but could honour it at their website (where they could make a bigger cut of the profit). This didn’t work for me, since I was holding $400 in NewEgg-only money, not cash or credit card for their website.

So I’m using that money for other equipment on my list, and went back to coincards.ca to get an Amazon card to purchase the $350 camera there instead. I transferred the required amount of Bitcoin to them (with the $20C “convenience charge”, oh I can feel the convenience), and of course the amount would have been about 5% less BTC the following morning as it shot up again to a new record high.

The payment processed for a full day before my card arrived, and the camera I had been eyeing dwindled to 3, 2, then no cameras remaining at $350 with free shipping. I instead selected a camera with $12 shipping, and ordered. It shipped last week. It should be here by the time I publish this blog post.

Transportation Not Meeting Demand

It’s been kind of a bad year for transportation in Saskatchewan. Aside from the potential Supercharger for Swift Current, there haven’t been many tangible bright spots for Saskatchewan.

  • Premier Wall rejects the carbon tax plan to reduce emissions
  • SGI says they’re not considering a rebate on Zero Emission Vehicles, as they once had 5 years ago until Minister McMillian of SGI (now President McMillian of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Procurers) cancelled the rebate. Gee, no bad optics there, right? Just an oil industry lobbyist directly encouraging people to buy trucks over EV or hybrid vehicles.
  • The SaskParty closed and sold off the STC Crown, with no replacement for bus service apparently in mind. As a result, there’s no bus service between Saskatoon and Regina! I emailed a company reported in the news as seeking to offer service, and they replied:

    We have not been approved for scheduled passenger service yet

    Sincerely
    Mitch Blyth
    General Manager
    Carpe Diem Group featuring our new Land Jet mobile office division.
    Regina, Saskatoon & Yorkton Sk.
    []531-9626

  • Cumberland House still doesn’t have sufficient transportation to/from it.
  • Via Rail offered unlimited $150 passes and travel in July to youth under 25, then only to 1867 youth, then several thousand, but stopped before demand was satisfied, and failed to offer the pass for additional months, or add additional train service to meet the obvious demand. Saskatchewan only has Via service to 2 cities, Saskatoon and Melville. Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current are left out even though they are on the Trans-Canada as is Calgary in Alberta.

Considering I was hoping a passenger rail line between Saskatoon and Regina could one day be built, it’s especially appalling that the government has ended bus service between the major cities this year.

So what can one person do? I attended the large rally at STC headquarters in March. I’ve pushed on City Council several times encouraging them to have Regina Transit buy STC resources and operate it on profitable routes as a money maker for the City, while providing a valuable service the province has abdicated itself from.

STC Bus Shut Down By Callous SaskParty

Today is a terrible day in Saskatchewan history. The Brad Wall government has ended public transportation to most Saskatchewan communities. There is tomorrow no bus service between Saskatoon and Regina, a sort of event you’d expect after a major natural disaster, not an incompetent government decision poised to directly harm thousands of people, and inconvenience tens of thousands more.

Cody, who served as the minister overseeing STC back in 1978, argues the decision to shut the bus service down was philosophical, not economical.

“There’s no such thing as a profitable transportation system,” he said. “It simply isn’t there. They tell us you can’t afford $15 million or so over the next five years. If that’s the case, then why would you sell SaskTel, which makes $130 million? There’s a philosophy here and I don’t think it really has anything to do with the money.”