Oh city hall!
When the mayor gets so mad that he publicly lambasts bureaucrats for inane decisions, like a “renewal fee” to keep family-purchased memorial plaques on park benches, you know the bureaucracy has run amok.
Around city hall, “empowerment” has been in vogue.
Empower middle management to make decisions without approvals from the upper ranks. Theoretically decisions and implementation will be sped up.
Imagine the scenario.
Deep in the bowels of the Department of City Services, a low-level management meeting is taking place.
As always, junior managers are under pressure from the higher-ups to reduce spending and increase revenues. A young minion at the meeting comes up with the idea of increasing income from park bench memorial plaques by introducing renewal fees … in the thousands of dollars!
What a fine idea, the manager in charge of park bench revenues replies; a nice easy way of raising a few hundred thousand dollars! And thanks to “empowerment” policy, said manager was empowered to make minor decisions without the need for management sign-offs.
Nobody at this meeting – and it ought to have been a communications person – bought up the obvious, that this was not a minor decision, that city council would be crucified by angry plaque purchasers reacting to this unforeseen blackmail. Pay up, or down comes daddy’s memorial plaque.
After this embarrassment, top city managers will insist every departmental decision, no matter how small, be vetted and approved by her or his office. Decision-making, already tortoise-like, will rachet down to a snail’s pace.
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The plaques indirectly highlight a prevailing Edmonton City Council attitude. that existing users of city servers and property-owner rights can be trumped by righteousness decisions made for the “greater good.”
Let’s say you are buying a house or condo for $250,000 to $600,000.
It’s the single biggest investment you will make.
You check nearby zoning, zoning being as close to a guarantee as possible of surrounding neighbourhood quality.
If there’s existing industrial, commercial, or multi-unit dwellings, or if zoning is in place to allow such possibilities, you know what you are getting into. Buyer beware, and all that.
Then city councillors – AKA social engineers – decide densification is good for the city.
Zoning rules are changed in one quick vote. Suddenly “skinny houses” – tall, awkward-looking things distorting neighbourhood proportions, are being built like crazy in Edmonton’s older neighbourhoods, making mockery of zoning, making those neighbourhoods ultimately less desirable.
The same lack of respect for existing users or property owners, happens in so many other areas. For the Great Green LRT Goddess, LRT corridors, bike lanes, sidewalks and an ever-diminishing number of vehicle lanes will be squeezed onto the already-crowded Stony Plain Road. It’s for the greater good!
The “greater good” as defined by those we elect, is too often unfair to existing users and/or land-owning citizenry.
So let’s get cracking and elect city councillors with as much sympathy for existing service users and property owners as they have for the latest urban trends.
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Congratulations to EPCOR and the River Valley Alliance for the most successful on-the-water event in the city’s history.
On Saturday, August 11, the EPCOR RiverFest saw 3,000 Edmontonians float down the North Saskatchewan from Terwillegar Park to Laurier Park in over 200 EPCOR-supplied rafts and large canoes. EPCOR also supplied the shuttle service, as well as trucks to ferry the rafts back and forth. Sadly, the next days’ rafting at Devon and Fort Saskatchewan was cancelled due to inclement weather.
RiverFest was an awareness game-changer: Too many Edmontonians still believe the North Saskatchewan is hygienically unsafe due to pollution, toxic bacteria and storm sewer drainage.
The reality is the river has been cleaned up. Its brown colour is from harmless silt.
Families are now wading, swimming, sunbathing and boating at Devon, Terwillegar Park, the sandbar near Fort Edmonton Park and Accidental Beach.
For safety, signs could suggest the water not be drunk, watch out for currents and avoid swimming after storms.
Otherwise the river sandbars are as safe as any regional beach.
EPCOR and the River Valley Alliance gave a critical mass of Edmontonians a chance to be on the river, to see for themselves the cleanliness and beauty of our river valley.