31 Jul

A Little Perspective on Transit “Disconnect”

This morning, an interesting blog entry came across my Twitter feed. In it, the author bemoans the disconnect between Hamilton and Niagara from a public transit perspective. I can appreciate his point of view as someone who remembers when Megabus offered a more direct connection. But he lost me when he described the Stoney Creek/Barton connection, one I have used and by and large, find quite acceptable, as one of those options “not worthy of consideration.”

By way of comparison, consider the case of Winnipeg, the city I defected from three years to the day tomorrow.

Decades ago, you used to be able to take the train to Minneapolis. Not anymore.

There was also a train to Winnipeg Beach and Gimli. Stuff of legend in that part of the world. Long since gone by the wayside.

The trains were replaced by buses. A late as a decade ago, there was still regular bus service south of the border. Unfortunately, that too is gone. As is the service to the Interlake. Even the iconic Winnipeg to Selkirk route so capably handled by Beaver Bus Lines for so many years is hanging by a thread.

Things aren’t any better when trying to get to points east and west. Trains only come through the city two or three times a week and cross-Canada bus routes have been decreasing in frequency.

Even if there was some decent inter-city bus service available, simply getting to the bus terminal nowadays has become a Herculean challenge following the puzzling decision to relocate the bus terminal out by the airport. Though the airport is technically served by Winnipeg Transit, service there can be best described as abominable.

As someone who used to live on a flight path close to the airport, I would have had to have taken three buses to get there, two of which were low-frequency routes. The hour-long walk would have been faster, though hardly an option if you’re carrying suitcases. The old bus terminal was Ground Zero for indigents and a place where you had good reason to fear for your safety, but being centrally located in the heart of downtown , it was at least easily accessible from most points within the city.

The city could readily remedy the situation with a high-frequency shuttle service to the airport from nearby Polo Park, a popular transit hub. But they choose not to. Instead, they continue to shovel hundreds of millions of dollars into the so-called Rapid Transit project to shave a few minutes off a ride from downtown to the U of M.

Insert sound of a toilet flushing.

As much as people in this part of the world complain about public transit, consider the alternative.

You could be living in Winnipeg.

26 Jul

Random Thoughts – Scheer’s New Deputy, Dave Bell, Winter Cycling and More

1. Newly minted CPC leader Andrew Scheer appointed Lisa Raitt as the party’s new deputy leader. As I’ve noted previously, Raitt is a capable backbencher and she’ll make a good member of Scheer’s cabinet down the road. She’s definitely no empty-headed Barbie doll the likes of which fill Selfie Boy’s cabinet, but her appointment still reeks of affirmative action. Just because the Liberals and NDP are going hog-wild with gender-balanced cabinets, it doesn’t mean the Conservatives have to blindly follow along like sheep.

2. Though she is being hailed as some kind of role model, I had never heard of Julie Payette, who is scheduled to be our next Governor-General.

3. I can’t help but think that Ken Noakes’ involuntary departure as the general manager of the Meridian Center will be a good thing.

3a. I hope that his successor or successorette will soon be presiding over the historic first cleaning of the glass in the three-year-old building. At least I can hope.

4. Longtime Jets fans may recall that during the WHA era, the princely sum of $9.25 bought you an ice-level seat on one of the orange chairs behind either the north or south end goal. Today it gets you a jumbo hot dog at a Chipman game. How times have changed and not for the better.

4a. Are there really suckers out there willing to pay $9.25 for “meat” shoveled into a casing with a backhoe?

5. IceDogs head coach Dave Bell took everyone by surprise when he suddenly left to become an assistant with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Certainly no one can begrudge him for taking an opportunity to move up the ladder, as the OHL, after all, is all about development, and that includes coaches, officials and front-office personnel as much as it does the players. But leaving your team in the lurch with just over a month before training camp has a serious odor to it, an odor that may follow him all the way out to California.

5a. I don’t envy IceDogs GM Joey Burke. He sounded like someone who was completely blindsided by Bell’s announcement and now he has to scramble to find a coach.

6. This almost comical article on winter cycling penned by Anders Swanson came across my Twitter feed today. In it, Swanson, a Winnipegger, cavalierly states that, “in a city, the risk of being harmed by the weather while cycling is reduced to nil with a basic scarf and jacket.” Um, not exactly. As someone with thousands of miles of personal experience in this regard, trust me, you need a whole lot more than a scarf and a jacket when trying to get around Winnipeg on two wheels in January. Add a down parka, the thickest pair of mitts that money can buy, a couple of layers of socks, some longjohns and a good balaclava. Even then, you can soon end up with frostbite on your face and searing pain in your fingers by the time you get to where you’re going.

In his piece, he also stated, “Those -30C days do happen in Winnipeg, but they are pretty uncommon.” Sorry, Anders, they are quite common. And they last for weeks on end with the wind chill values reaching into the -40 and even -50 ranges.

7. Once again today, Mayor Sendzik sure didn’t miss his opportunity to bash Donald Trump. No doubt his Liberal masters are pleased as punch. I only wish he cared as much about his city as he did about being a good Liberal.

7a. A “good Liberal” is a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?

7b. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a municipal politician who didn’t run under a party banner pushing partisan politics as hard as he has.

17 Jul

Random Thoughts – Omar Khadr, Minimum Wage, Our Mayor and More

1. I don’t know what’s worse, Justin Trudeau giving $10 million of our money to a terrorist or those who still defend our adolescent prime minister.

2. As the Ontario Liberals prepare to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the silence from the mayor’s office has been deafening. If you may recall, Walter Sendzik campaigned on a pro-business platform and regularly posts selfies of himself together with small business owners, the group that will be hardest hit by an increase in the minimum wage.

While it is true that minimum wage is not a municipal issue, he never hesitates to add his two cents worth on Liberal-endorsed hot-button topics like climate change that fall well out of the scope of municipal politics. So it would hardly be inappropriate for him to issue a strong show of support for the small business owners in St. Catharines. Instead, he pleads the Fifth, proving once again that when it comes to sticking up for his city or sticking up for the Liberals, the latter shall prevail.

2a. In a recent edition of the sub-Standard, Doug Herod opined that he didn’t expect Sendzik to get any serious challengers should he seek a second term. I seriously hope he’s wrong. Sendzik used to be a great ambassador for the city. Nowadays, he’s just an increasingly annoying ambassador for the Liberals.

3. I find it interesting how Sendzik becomes so full of righteous indignation when Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris climate accord, a non-binding agreement that the U.S. government never even approved, yet he suddenly clams up when his BFF Justin gives $10 million to a terrorist.

4. In the latest issue of the Garden City Current, the city advises any citizen who witnesses someone in the act of painting graffiti to call 911. You can imagine the shock I felt as someone who has lived most of his life in a city where a pedestrian being hit and nearly killed by a car isn’t even deemed a reportable offense. Yes, I’m still bitter.

5. A rotund woman passed me on the trail north of Allanburg yesterday. As she went by, I thought I smelled cookies. Eau de Oreo, perhaps.

6. In the nearly three years since leaving the SPRM, I have put on over 8,920 miles on two wheels. In those travels, I have visited every Niagara municipality in addition to Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville and 14 different municipalities spread across two counties in the Great State of New York.

6a. Don’t ask me what that figure is in kilometers. I don’t do Trudeau-metric.

7. I recently reviewed the 43-page document the Region provided regarding the proposed GO hub at the St. Catharines train station. There were plenty of flowery pictures, but not a single word on making the station less inaccessible via public transit. As things currently stand, it would probably take me longer to get to the train station than it would to get to Burlington from there. I’m getting the feeling that this issue isn’t going to be seriously addressed until years after the first trains roll in. If, in fact, they ever do.

7a. I would have loved to have gone to the open house last month if it wasn’t for the fact that it was held near that same difficult-to-access train station.

7b. Has anyone on the committee looking at the GO hub ever used public transit?

8. Tell me that the Nevada parole board is not about to release O.J. Simpson. Please.

02 Jul

Random Thoughts – Being Canadian, NDP Logic, Steven Fletcher, NHL Signings and More

1. A couple of my Facebook friends recently posted on their respective timelines stating how proud they were to be a Canadian. I sure wish the so-called “refugees” currently flooding into the country via legal and illegal means felt the same way.

1a. If you want to keep Canada a country worthy of bragging about, for the love of Pete™, stop voting Liberal.

1b. If you absolutely must vote Liberal, at least have the good sense to vote for an adult.

2. Some weeks ago, I got a reminder to renew my CPC membership, which I dutifully did. Then I got another “urgent” reminder that my membership was expiring the day after getting my updated membership card. Sigh. Good help is hard to find.

3. One of my Twitter followers, who remains quite upset with GO Transit’s recently proposed 3% fare hike and the cancellation of the public transit tax credit, posted a public show of support for the NDP in next year’s provincial election. In other words, someone who strongly decries fare increases and the cancellation of tax credits is supporting a party that will shake her down for every last dime in her pocket. As they say, never underestimate the stupidity of a Canadian with a ballot in his or her hand.

Of course, fare increases won’t matter much to people like her under an NDP government, since many of them won’t have a job to commute to. But they will get generous welfare packages. Not quite as generous as those given to the “refugees,” mind you, but enough to keep such people happy they voted NDP. The party of perpetual dependence.

4. After being unceremoniously booted out of the Manitoba PC caucus, my former MP Steven Fletcher defended himself by posting a tweet proclaiming that the country and his constituents took precedence above all else. As much as I respect him, I wish he would remember that the next time he takes up a horribly misguided cause like presumed consent on organ donations.

5. I don’t get the attraction to fireworks.

6. Congratulations to the many former Thrashers who inked new deals yesterday, including defenseman Ron Hainsey, who signed with the Leafs. Having suffered under bad organizations during his years with Atlanta and the Chipman franchise, Hainsey has more than earned the opportunity to be with a good one for a change.

7. I don’t know much about Dmitry Kulikov, but the dude got some seriously bad advice from his supposed buddies. Sure, he got a fat contract paid for by the Manitoba taxpayer, but it won’t take long before he’ll be wondering if there was enough gold in Fort Knox to get him to sign with the Chipman organization.

8. I get the feeling that the Toronto Argonauts would draw better crowds if they moved to St. Catharines. Or just about anywhere else in the country besides Toronto.

9. Saskatchewan’s new football palace looks awfully similar to Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium. That is not a compliment.

10. Memo to CFL players: You play in a minor league. AHL players and maybe even a few of the IceDogs are closer to the NHL than you are to the NFL. Stop showboating like you’ve made the big time.