Archive for February, 2009

Pondering The Shape Of The Green Energy Act

Hoping for the best as the Liberal government unveils their Green Energy Act. Their efforts to start dismantling coal fired power in the province do more than clean the air and improve the health of residents. The flight from socially costly sources of fuel and energy should carry on. Renewables like wind are not “always on” but can definitely minimize the demands placed on other sources of power.

The real challenge is updating our antiquated policies and bylaws that discourage residents and farmers from becoming part of the green energy solution. Better city and rural planning would also minimize waste and maximize our ability to deliver power where and when it is needed.

The concern. Worse than the bailouts for auto dinosaurs, nuclear power, especially talk of refurbishing antiquated (dangerous??) power plants will cost taxpayers billions and for little benefit. If real gains are to be made from investing in our energy infrastructure renewables will be the key. Some groups like Renewable is Doable have long outlined a prudent phase out of Ontario’s current structure and building a real future in Ontario. The abundance of Uranium in Canada is but a small consolation. Uranium is correlated to Oil and yes that means that the cost of going nuclear power has skyrocketed in much the same way as natural gas and gasoline.

Ontario doesn’t need to go big to go far. Reduce demands on the grid and provide incentives for the little guy (businesses and individuals that sell back to the grid) and you’ll see that green, from hydro, wind or solar, can improve or trump our current energy mix. Investing in infrastructure that reaps benefits of “free” sources of energy is simply investing in Ontario’s future.

Feds And Ontario Give GO A Boost

Earlier today Premier McGuinty and PM Stephen Harper announced that GO Transit will receive an additional $500 million in funding. This funding is to be split between the province and the federal government and targeted on station parking lots and upgrading rail lines to increase service reliabiliity.

It would be nice if local municipal transit could be better integrated into GO Transit (so many of these city systems work outside the realm of the big transit picture). Sadly few offer service that can meet up with evening trains let alone most rush hour trips. For now more spacious parking lots will have to be the incentive for car happy commuters connecting to Toronto via transit (rather than local buses). I’ve seen the huge surge in GO ridership over the last year first hand due to high gas prices. These are baby steps sure, but steps in the right direction.

Here Comes The Hike… OUCH

It was only a matter of time. The Federal Budget, while providing some stimulus, falls short of funding many of the Province’s and Toronto’s needs. Premiere McGuinty shrugged off the Fed’s budget since he was already thinking of running defecits as well. The buck stops in Toronto as it can’t spend in excess of taxes collected.

The result was predictable, taxes can’t be kept at inflation as hoped, the budget is here. Toronto now faces tax increases. Predictably the city has opted for increases to taxes (an average of $89 per year mostly through property taxes). Why? Four major cost drivers for the city’s 2009 budget are significant improvements to TTC, increases to the Police budget, increased snow clearing costs, rising welfare caseloads during this recession and labour cost increases after recent TTC and Police labour settlements. What to do?

Cry? Moan? Scream?! Well not about everything. Programs to waive or defer tax increases for seniors and low-income earners will be expanded. Best of all TTC fares are FROZEN and not cut as they have been in the past during tough times. There’s small comfort that the increases are being made to balance the budget and maintain services. It still hurts though.

Bad For Business + Sex Tape – FRIDAY NIGHT!!!

Whoa. An “extreme” one two punch coming at you this Friday night. Lewis Cruise and Love Skateboards with back to back video premieres. Good times will be served. BYOB.

The Nature Of Cities

Toronto Star columnist Christopher Hume is featured on the Nature of Things tonight. Tonight’s episode, The Living City, will focus on what is wrong and going right in Canada’s urban centres.

Taxpayers and politicians should take note. This show is timely and tack on. City planning seems too often to be in the hands get rich quick developers. This kind of thinking/debate could improve our city, economy and standard of living. The talk of Infrastructure is everywhere. With 80% of the population living urban areas planning how and where we spend millions is the key to maximizing effectiveness and benefit to residents.

Sleeping Giant – Art With A Punch

Sleeping Giant Gallery had their grand opening just one month ago. Time flies. This Friday they celebrate yet again with a group show featuring Wes Loates and Jimmy Decaire among others.

A Black & White Affair – Opening Show
Sleeping Giant Gallery

789 Dundas (two blocks West of Bathurst)

Doors open at 8pm and close at 2am

Tonight – EVERLEA At The Mod Club

Kingston’s Everlea are in Toronto tonight. I was first introduced to them through their work with amazing photographer Brooks Reynolds on WE ARE SLEEPING GIANTS.

A Brooks Reynolds still from WE ARE SLEEPING GIANTS, a collaboration with Kingston band Everlea.

A Brooks Reynolds still from WE ARE SLEEPING GIANTS, a collaboration with Kingston band Everlea.

Everlea
Tuesday February 3, 2009
at Mod Club (722 College Street)
w/ Secondhand Serenade + Meg and Dia
Cost: $20

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