Monthly Archives: July 2015

The $15 million effort to put Speedvale East on a road diet

Posted July 5, 2015

Let’s cut to the chase. Guelph has become a battleground for the political Left, composed chiefly of NDP and Liberal supporters versus the rest of us. The elections Canada bureaucrat who said that party politics don’t belong in municipal elections wasn’t paying attention to the national NDP policy of electing their candidates in municipal elections including Guelph.

That’s what the NDP, under the late Jack Layton, pulled off in Quebec in the 2011 Federal election. The party elected more than 100 candidates to Parliament including one who was on vacation during the campaign.

For eight years, when Karen Farbridge was running the city, she had a majority of Left wing supporters who pushed hard to reduce major road vehicle lanes in favour of bike lanes. An inventory comparing established bike lanes and the new ones show five-foot wide lanes in the new versions compared to three-feet wide in the older lane allowances. Compare resurfaced Stevenson’s new bike lanes to the Woolwich lanes.

Their shtick is to demonize cars, trucks or any motorized vehicle licensed to use major city roads. In doing so, they trumpet southern U.S. cities that rarely see snow, that have reduced vehicle lanes to provide for bike lanes. Cities such as Tampa, Florida, San Francisco, Sam Jose and Palo Alto are used for comparisons.

They use expressions such as “Active Transportation” or reducing fossil fuel damage to the atmosphere, protecting the world from man-caused climate change.

Believe it, or not

Yes, this bunch really believes they can reduce vehicular traffic in Guelph by forcing people to walk, to cycle and use public transit. The trouble with this is these people have disregard for a large segment of the city population, including those aged over 65 or less than 12, who are incapable of adopting active transportation theories.

Remember when former councillor Maggie Laidlaw said that in 20 years, there won’t be any cars on Guelph Streets? Maggie is an ardent cyclist and was defeated in the last civic election. Instead, the opposite has occurred. Today there are more vehicles on our thoroughfares than ever before.

Ms. Farbridge set the tone of the future of Active Transportation while in office. Even though she is no longer mayor, her policies are now being foisted on the city by the remnants of her regime plus some newcomers.

The battle of Speedvale Ave. East will unfold July 25 at city council. The City staff has warned that reducing the vehicle lanes from Woolwich east to Manhattan Court will create huge traffic congestion.

The Speedvale East section is in needs to replace aging infrastructure

There is necessity to rebuild aging infrastructure on that section of Speedvale.

It is interesting to note that Speedvale West from Woolwich was recently resurfaced and re-marked but with no bicycle lanes, no left turn lanes and, no reduction of vehicle lanes.

So, the controlling Leftists on council is now attempting to force expropriation of some 17 feet from either side of Speedvale East from the owners, to accommodate bike lanes. The cost can be as high as $15 million, including rebuilding the bridge over the Speed River.

There are four options to be debated. The Left has gravitated to reducing the four existing lanes on Speedvale East to three. One each way and a third centre turn lane and, bike lanes.

Does she ride a bike to work?

Coun. Leanne Piper can’t understand why it won’t work on Speedvale when it works fine on Gordon between Stone Road and Wellington. Note: Widening that strip of Gordon Street runs right through Ms. Piper’s University ward five. Also, there is no third lane for left turns. Riding a bike on that stretch of road is like taking your life in your hands.

Correcting the bad planning of yesteryears is a very expensive proposition. Forcing Active Transportation down the citizen’s throats as a means to an end, results in a situation that almost 95 per cent of the population oppose.

There are so many drawbacks to forcing this city to add bike lanes on major roads that are already congested. It doesn’t seem to matter to these advocates of social change.

With growth comes cars, get used to it

The real story is that if you believe traffic is bad today wait until 2020 when predictably it will be three times as congested. The effort to reduce traffic arteries to permit Active Transportation continues unabated.

Don’t agree? Try driving on Speedvale East between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays. Or experience Silver Creek, Woodlawn or Norfolk during the growing rush hours mornings and afternoons.

This is what happens when roads are restricted, lanes reduced and bike lanes are added these populated by unlicensed riders, some of whom ignore traffic rules and create dangerous situations for motorists.

Active Transportation proponents ignore the facts of living in our city. Only the fit and able are capable of particpating in Active Transportation. To now claim that Speedvale East should be put on a diet to reduce vehicle lanes to accommodate their chosen method of transportation is self-serving, wasteful and counter-productive to the public interest.

Guelph has invested heavily in off-street bike paths that riders can use and enjoy. The trouble starts when activists want full use of all streets in the city and don’t have to pay for it.



Filed under Between the Lines

The Weekender

This week: Burrowing under the rhetoric

Posted: Friday, July 3, 2015

A funny thing happened on the way downtown

After attempts to rewrite the script resulting in the resignations of the director and editor of her film, Premier Kathleen Wynne now says she will sign the necessary paper work to release her reality show documentary of life behind the scenes at Queen’s Park.

            Amazing! There is nothing like FrontPage exposure in the Toronto Star to experience a conversion of conscience. Unfortunately that horse is out of the Wynne barn. Now if she could only balance the provincial books.

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Don’t think Leanne gets out much

The determination of the bicycle crowd to install bike lines on Speedvale Avenue East, met with opposition recently. City staff has serious doubts about spending $14 million to move hydro poles and expropriate property to meet the cyclist’s desire.

One solution offered was to reduce the existing four lanes to three between Woolwich and Manhattan Court. This would reduce vehicle traffic to one lane each way with a left turn centre lane and…bike lanes.

Coun. Leanne Piper suggested that the city had re-marked major roads to accommodate bike lanes in several areas of the city and she claims: “They work.”

The increasing traffic congestion on these roads that Coun. Piper professes to “work” is the result of a hardcore minority lobby, supported by a majority of councillors, to force access by constructing bike lanes on major arterial roads.

           When cyclists accept responsibility for using the roads by meeting the same standards as owners of vehicles, then they might have an argument. The bottom line is they pay nothing toward the building and maintenance of the bike lane network, do not carry insurance and are unlicensed users of roads governed by the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Leanne, get off the bus and check out the reality of increasing daily congestion caused by the former council’s squeeze play to reduce vehicle lanes on major roads.

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Math was not one of her best subjects

Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, has gone silent these days as her days of remaining as CAO of the city could come as a close in the early fall when her contract expires. She is and remains a Farbridge loyalist who’s past declarations include stating that the Urbacon settlement would not increase property taxes. Her explanation was the funds would come from three reserve funds … ergo; it won’t cost taxpayers a dime. Really? Who supplied the money for those reserves in the first place? Santa Claus?

           Boy! Was she off base on that one. Regardless a majority of the new council in 2015 foisted a 3.94 per cent property tax increase on the taxpayers. It was the highest increase in 5 years. But council found $600,000 to install bike lanes on Woodlawn. Go figure!

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Finally, the strangle hold on basic food costs could be history

The days of producers setting the consumer price for their products such as milk, cheese, butter, eggs, poultry, beef and pork appear to be numbered as Canada moves to join the new Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone.

The participants in this new trade agreement are adamant that Canada gets rid of the various supply management arrangements that protect growers from foreign competition. Translation: Open the border for competition that will result in lower prices for food basics. The Federal Government is indicating it will assist the growers with subsidies but that could endanger other trade agreements the country has made that disallow agriculture support subsidies.

          My, my, my, as my aunt Gladys used to say. We currently have some of the highest prices on those basic products of most countries in the developed world. Why should consumers subsidize the operations of those agriculture producers? The dairy folks are so awash with money that they are nationally marketing their own brand of yogurt. Wonder how that’s working for them as thousands of litres of zero per cent fatless milk is dumped onto manure piles. But that’s another story.

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When I grow up I want to be a fireman

Are our firefighters now the King Kongs of the organized labour movement? There is stealth bargaining going on right now between the Guelph Fire Fighters Association (i.e. union) and the city to develop a new contract. Because the fireman cannot strike, their contracts eventually go to a third party arbitrator for settlement. The history of this sordid system is we are now paying many firemen more than $100,000 a year because the arbitrator inevitably compares what other similar sized department are getting. The arbitrator does not consult the city as to whether it can afford these increases.

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente describes firemen as part-time workers who are underworked and overpaid.

            Well are they? Incidents of fires breaking out have dropped dramatically in recent years. The introduction of smoke alarms, education and improved standards of construction, has reduced the number of actual fires to which the firemen must respond. Today theGuelph fire stations respond to vehicle accidents. The reason is the trucks carry oxygen bottles to treat the injured even though the firemen are not trained paramedics. The EMS medics on the other hand, are trained to use oxygen but their vehicles are not equipped. Go figure! The work schedules are another perk that permits firemen to work a special schedule that allows them more time off than any other public or private employer in the city. This offers opportunity for the more entrepreneurial among them to have another job or business.

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Are the Grits and NDP setting us up for a Pizza Parliament?

Adopting a proportional representation voting system is getting traction. Both the NDP and Liberals are claiming they will introduce the system if elected to form the next Federal Government. It’s a system that requires voters to rank in order their preference of candidates for the office. It is a system often described as electing a government of many parties. In Canada’s case, electing a “Pizza Parliament” composed of members of major and fringe parties with no majority winner. Two major examples where this system is in place are Israel and Italy, neither being towers of parliamentary procedures or effective government.

The proponents argue that coalition governments are more democratic and efficient. If the two countries above are any example, we’re in for a weird and inconclusive outcome if the new government approves the system following our election in the fall.

           This is a system that the NDP and Greens have been pushing for years. Can you imagine walking into the polling station and being handed a ballot with ten names on it and told to rank them in order of preference? It’s a voter turnout killer and a perfect way to “plump” by only selecting one name and ignoring the others. A spoiled ballot, you say? Well, you have expressed your choice and ranked them, not! This is more democratic and reflective of the people’s choice or intent. Bunk! I say. Fix the system we have. Imagine: Elizabeth May as Prime Minister with a little help from her friends in the new Pizza Parliament. Let the games begin.






Filed under Between the Lines