Resolving Timeline Issues

Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

The other night, I went to a townhall meeting with TransLink where they presented their Transport 2040 strategy.

Now, at the risk of sounding forgiving, you have to realize that they’ve been given a nearly impossible task. On January 1, 2008, some new legislation kicked in that said they had to have a plan of some sort by August 1, 2008. That’s an awfully short time to develop a comprehensive, 30 year plan. So what you’ll see on this link is a strategic plan – broad brush strokes that point the way to some future.

That being said, after the meeting (and there were a LOT of angry people there – more on that later), and I said to some guy that I thought the whole plan was a load of horseshit.

I live in an area that’s not well-served by public transit. There’s the WestCoast Express which runs only during peak hours. The result of that is this morning was a mad dash in time for last train to get me downtown. I’d planned to go into work late and I did – I got there at 9:15am. There’s the 701 to Coquitlam Station which is an “express” bus – with 30 stops. There are numerous community shuttles – which are unreliable. One 16 year old at the meeting told a story of how she waited for 45 minutes for a shuttle – late at night that never came.

There is little transit east of 200th Street. And Maple Ridge is supposed to be a city centre.

There were a lot of angry people at that meeting. TransLink wasn’t even going to come to Maple Ridge (probably because they knew there was nothing in that plan for Maple Ridge) until the Mayor asked them to come. They looked sufficiently chastised, especially when they were asked no more than 4 times if they’d taken transit out to the meeting (of course not? are you crazy? THEY IS HI POWERED EXECUATIVES!)

But none of that really fazed me – its part of the reality of living here. And I love this town.

What got me what what the accountant guy said:

To me, this isn’t a plan, because its not financially sustainable.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. And yet you want to keep increasing my property and fuel taxes, and we don’t get any benefit from it?

Other highlights:

  • investing $24M in cycling and $29M in WestCoast Express over the next 10 years (do YOU see a discrepancy here?)
  • West Van has half the population of Maple Ridge and twice the bus service to downtown Vancouver (I guess that’s what money can buy you)
  • people out here want to take transit but can’t; its offensive that TransLink believes all that’s needed is a behavioural shift (FOR SHAME. It goes without saying that in order for people to change their behaviour, you have to give them the resources to do so)
  • for what it costs to build one kilometer of underground skytrain (an oxymoron, really), you can build a line of light rail from Maple Ridge to Mission.

Did you know that there’s no bus service from Maple Ridge to Mission? And that people in Abbotsford have to go to Mission, then the WestCoast Express to get downtown?

So kudos to Mayor Robson for getting TransLink out here. And more kudos to him for wanting to get Maple Ridge out of TransLink. I can tell you which Mayoral candidate out here will get my vote in November.

Edit:

Oh and a couple of days later, I found out another interesting thing: TransLink didn’t ask any municipalities for input until the strategy had been created – they weren’t considered stakeholders.

This is crossposted over at WetCoast Women  where Nicole also rants sometimes.

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Climate action dividend cheques are arriving in the mail. Apparently, they’re to help people make green choices. And on Monday or Tuesday a new 2.4 cents/litre gas tax goes on (oh and it also goes on natural gas, so even if you don’t own a car, you’re getting hit with it anyways. So are the people who deliver groceries, so you’ll be paying for it anyways. Revenue neutral my ass).

But, back to the cheques. Mine arrived yesterday sometime and I got it (them, really, because I get one and Darren gets one) from the mailbox this morning.

This is the outside:

Hi! I\'m here to help you make green choices!I picked it up and noticed it felt really substantial. I could practically use it as a pillow. Its soft and puffy (although the biodegradable window in the front is sort of crunchy, but whatever). On the back though, it says its printed on recycled paper.

So I opened it. Because I wanted to see what was in it that made it so soft and pillow-like.

And here you goReally! I\'m green!. Its stupendous really. From left to right: a twee brochure on how you can most appropriately spend your Climate Action Dividend. Suggestions include:

  1. Switching to compact flourescent light bulbs
  2. Weather strip windows and doors
  3. Install a high efficiency hot water heating system
  4. Install low-flow showerheads and keep showers under 10 minutes
  5. tune up your vehicle and keep tires properly inflated
  6. Install crawl space insulation

Lovely. I already do 1, 2 and 5. I don’t have a crawl space – just a ground level lower level of my house which is insulated and weather stripped already. So fuck that noise.

I have a low flow showerhead. And I doubt that you can buy and install a high efficeincy hot water heating system for $100. 

Vehicle tune ups should be done regularly since it helps cars pass aircare (hey, look! Emissions controls that have been in place for YEARS) and you don’t generally have to pay $100 to inflate your tires – you can get a tire gauge for under $20 at Canadian Tire and air is free at gas stations.

Back to the contents of the envelope. On the English side (its printed in English and French), in the bottom corner it says “by using 40% post consumer recycled paper for this project we saved…262 trees, 10, 780 kilograms of solid waste, 98, 978 litres of water, 34, 105 Kilowattt hours of electricity, 19, 595 Kilograms of greenhouse gases, 50 Cubic Metres of landfill space.”

Whoa. Like, dude. So if you used more post consumer recycled paper, you could have saved even more! Right (I might be wrong, I really have no idea).

The second thing on the picture is the envelope itself (also printed on recycled paper).

The third thing with the mad paint skillz on it is the cheque itself. Big enough for a tri fold, along with a nifty note from our ever-lovin’ Premier who sends us his best regards. The cheque itself is somewhat less than the bottom third of the page.

Um. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but couldn’t they have saved even more ghg’s, etc (not to mention postage) if they’d just done direct deposit into my bank account? Now, I have to go to the bank to deposit this. Which I’ll combine with other errands, and I’ll turn my car off as I go through the drive through ATM, but still.

Do you see my point? They’ve probably created more waste then what people will save simply by issuing this cheque.

As for what I’m going to do – well, I have a web friend who lives south of the 49th. Her cat recently had a rather expensive surgery to remove a bladder stone. Its going to her to help pay the bill.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women

On Thursday, the BC Liberal government forced the adoption of 7 or 8 bills prior to the prorogue of the Spring session of the legislature, among them, the carbon tax and the election gag laws.

According to the Canadian Press:

The Liberals came to an agreement about three weeks ago with the Opposition NDP regarding the passage of 15 remaining bills, but there was no deal on eight others which the government has said will be passed “no matter what.”

So how can they do this? Well, in legislative procedure, there’s a little motion called “closure” which shuts down debate and forces a vote. Its designed to prevent prolonged sessions of the legislature (so that, you know, elected officials can have a summer vacation), while allowing government to take action as necessary. Its quite controversial as it limits any sort of meaningful representation in the legislature. In other words, using closure has a direct impact on your democratic rights. Closure effectively limits your MLA’s ability to advocate on your behalf. When a motion to close debate is moved and approved, all the opposition can do is vote against the item of debate.

I wrote earlier about the budget and the carbon tax (which is now recovered, minus comments) and how it’s a great big fuck you very much to BC citizens.

Apparently, the Liberal government has decided to fuck us a second time. Mike Farnworth (leader of the opposition in the House) said it quite well:

 “The government is ramming through eight bills, two of them particularly controversial,” he said, referring to the carbon tax bill and the so-called election gag law that places spending limits on third party advertising for the 28-day campaign period and for 60 days prior to the writ being dropped.

“That is just wrong, it is undemocratic,” he complained.

And it is unprecedented for a budget bill to be rammed through by the use of closure by any government in the history of this province,” said Farnworth. (emphasis added)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a particular fan of Mike Farnworth. In fact, I find him generally annoying. But he hit the nail on the head with this one.

In our rather messed up, toe the party line (or is that tow?) system, budgets are supposed to be free votes – this is a time for debate and to use knowledge and effective arguments to try to sway people to what you believe. By limiting debate, this isn’t allowed to happen. Whichever way you look at it, your rights are being eroded. And you should be angry about this.

Vaughn Palmer, in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun (page A3, Saturday May 31) has a couple of lines at the end of his column about this*

Gratuitous insults notwithstanding, the Liberals are surely guilty of reckless disregard for due process.

They set a precedent Thursday that could readily be abused by future governments of any political stripe.

Palmer’s column also includes a blow-by-blow of how it went down. In one hour and seven minutes, because of the closure motion, the following were passed:

  • Bill 20, Oil and Gas Activities Act (I really have no idea what that one’s about, but it ran over 200 sections and took 8 minutes)
  • Bill 21, Medicare Protection Amendment Act (took 6 minutes; a bit of squabbling here and there)
  • Bill 24, E-Health (15 minutes, due to a series of amendments)
  • Bill 37, Trade Investment & Labour Mobility Amendment Act (10 minutes)
  • Bill 37, Carbon Tax Act (runs 60 pages and 157 sections, 10 minutes or so)
  • Bill 42, Election Amendment Act or “gag law” (about 10 minutes, Minister Oppal had some amendments)

It started at 5pm and ended just after 6pm.

It is apparent this government, or maybe it’s the system, really has no regard for any sort of due process or democratic rights.

*the Canada.com website is currently down or busy or something, so I can’t link to it.

 A few weeks ago, the BC Liberal government had a press release – and it was huge. $14 billion dollars for transit improvement (you should say “billion” like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers).

 That’s nice. The Tri-Cities will get the long sought-after Evergreen line to extend rapid transit to that area. Great.

 Yesterday, Minister Taylor wore a pair of green Fluevogs while she delivered the budget. They’re calling it the “Green Budget” – green, not only in the sense of environmentally green, but green in the sense of putting money back in the pockets of consumers.

 Oh, and there’s a carbon tax. Come Canada Day, the price of gasoline will increase by 2.4 cents per litre. All fossil fuels get this tax, including the natural gas you use to heat your home. But don’t worry! The tax is revenue neutral: 2/3 of that will go directly back into the pockets of those who need it, and help reduce BC’s greenhouse gases by 5% by 2020 (or something). The remaining 1/3 goes to business.

 Nevermind that the largest polluters – particularly the gas business – aren’t affected by the tax. More on this later.

My first point: the government is passing the costs of greenhouse gas reduction on to the citizenry. Apparently, the government can confer with big businesses on this, but not the people who actually vote for them.

By raising the price of gas, the carbon tax could reduce B.C.’s GHG emissions in 2020 by up to three million tonnes. Go ahead and click that link to see pundit Michael Smyth’s take on it. I think he makes some really good points. Read the comments, too.

Instead of 3 million tonnes, lets look at something we can all understand. That decrease is somewhere around 5%. Which is somewhere around 0.06% of global GHGs.

Lets face it: in BC, we have largely clean energy thanks to hydro-electric power.

Back to the transit thing: this tax is going in before the new transit lines are put in. This makes it a cash grab, despite the fact that its revenue-neutral. Oh, and transit fares have just increased, and the new TransLink board just gave itself a HUUUUUUGE raise.

All of this boils down to: how does it affect me?

Quite honestly, this budget just further alienates me. I drive to work every day. Every month, I burn between $120 and $150 in gas. My West Coast Express pass would cost me $195 for 28 days. It runs in the mornings, and in the evenings, and that’s it. Then there’s the “train bus” on the weekends. And because I have several evening meetings per month, I lose anywhere from 4 to 12 days per month on the pass. You do the math. We live where we do because we simply cannot afford to own a house in the city.

To take the SkyTrain from Vancouver to Surrey is now a $10 round trip.

My second point: if you’re going to tax me for driving, you need to build the amenities on the other end. Start by lowering transit fares. Then we can talk.

Speaking of talking, remember the point above about businesses not being affected by the carbon tax? (Pardon me if I get ranty here – this is the part that gets me MAD) They’re part of a separate process. Representatives get to meet with the government to discuss what to do.

Now, I know a thing or two about democracy. And I know that one of the things about democracy is that people vote, not businesses.

My third point: who do you think you are dealing with big business and ignoring the citizens?

What a fucking insult. Every single citizen, whether you voted for the Liberal government or not, should be deeply insulted at a fundamental level. Not only because business is being consulted and citizens are not, but because this tax is going to hit you whether you like it or not.

My fourth point: I recycle: we throw out one bag of garbage every 10 days. I drive a fuel efficient car; it is as fuel efficient as many hybrids. I buy meat from local growers. We buy local veggies whenever possible and stock up from Darren’s mom’s garden in the summer. Even the beer and wine we drink is local and the wine is organic – well, the wine is from the Okanagan, but that’s local enough. And business doesn’t have to do this and still gets consulted?

Where’s my tax credit for doing what I can? Where are my chits for locally grown meats and vegetables? Why not start there where its something more tangible?

IMHO, this is a great big, “Fuck you very much” to the citizens of BC.

As a follow-up, you should read Crunchy Carpets’ post over at Wet Coast Women.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women

 

Just a bit, mind you. And I blame Bill Maher.

I put my oatmeal in the pot with some water and set it on the stove over medium heat. It was a small pot with not a whole lot of water in it (because I only eat about 3/4 c of oatmeal at a time).

And then I hopped online and started reading. I somehow stumbled across a blog that made reference to an issue that had crossed my radar a couple of days ago.

So I went back to the original site post to refresh my memory.

And then I remembered the oatmeal. I got to in time that it wasn’t so burned. I put it in a bowl, with some milk and peaches. Yum. Dairy, fibre, fruit, iron and grains. Wholesome.

And then I went back to Izzymom. Go read her post.

Then I did a Google blog search by date for anything to do with Bill Maher. And I came to this conclusion: Bill Maher can suck it. If he chooses to view breasts as solely sexual objects, that’s his problem. Its a free country – he doesn’t have to be in the same vicinity as a woman who is breastfeeding and its much easier for him to leave rather than her. And he caused me to burn my breakfast. So suck it.

Enough has been said on the breastfeeding issue and I won’t go into it any more than that.

What really bugs me is Facebook and what Izzy has to say about it. Since I haven’t contacted her and don’t have permission to quote her directly, here’s a summary of what she says:

  • Social networking utilities (such as MySpace and Facebook) have certain rules regarding the types of photos you can put up.
  • This is all well and good, for the most part; it stops things like child exploitation, pornography, etc. etc.
  • Both of the above-mentioned utilities have removed pictures and even banned a member because a picture of her breastfeeding her child violated obscenity rules because there was a fully exposed breast. (And really, if you can find where it falls under that really long terms document, you are a better legalese interpreter than I).
  • Facebook is host for over 350 pro-anorexia groups.

350 plus pro-anorexia groups, yet, this “social networking utility” is upset over a member posting a picture of breastfeeding?

Which brings me to the point of this post: body image.

David Wescott over at Its Not a Lecture has some really good points. You can read all of his correspondence with Facebook over this issue here (and prepare to be appalled at the form answers he gets from Facebook). His statement that these two issues represent a profoundly disturbing disconnect hits the nail on the head.

All I’m going to do here is ask a question: what would be so terrible about showing girls and young women that the female form, whatever its shape, is a profoundly beautiful and life-giving thing, and fought social media that gives the view that in order to be beautiful you have to be thin?

And since I’m opinionated, I’m going to answer that question: we might actually have some well-adjusted girls and young women that are comfortable in their own skins and bodies, and have the self-esteem necessary to make good decisions for themselves.

You saw my breakfast above. What about this breakfast:

Yum. Vitamins and immunity.

(cartoon gif used because I didn’t want to steal anyone’s pictures. If someone would like to donate a photo, that would be greatly appreciated.)

My point is, one is good for adults. The other is good for infants.

And what this boils down to is that my message for Facebook is the same as for Bill Maher: suck it.

Which is why, on Sunday night, I won’t be on Facebook any more. I cannot condone supporting an organization that openly talks out of both sides of its mouth, virtual or otherwise. Particularly when that organization condones a life-threatening illness on the one hand, and continues to stigmatize something that may actually do something to help body image and self-esteem.

A short update:

After writing this, I stumbled across Motherhood Uncensored, who is calling for the same thing: delete your Facebook account.

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone who felt enraged by this deleted their account? It gives a whole new answer to the age-old questions: What if you threw a party, and nobody came?

Or in this case, what if you built a social networking utility, and everybody left?


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