Tag: Victoria

Murray Langdon and the Role of Government

Murray Langdon of Victoria area radio and news outfit CFAX talks about municipal golf courses and tries to connect the Municipality of Saanich’s role in running a golf course with a much larger question around government, and “money”.

I’ve already been inundated with a ream of people who have stated that rec centres, garbage pick-up, landscaping, etc, has always been done by the municipality. That may be true. What I’m asking is should cities and towns be doing that. For example, we know that rec centres lose money each and every year…

via Murray Langdons Comment

The role of government, whatever level it might be, is to maximise the welfare of the people it serves, not some of its people, but most of them. So, looking at government “costs” alone in deciding the role of government is dangerously incomplete. What you actually have to do is to total up the costs for government and the people being served by the government, and judge whether there is an overall benefit to a municipality providing a service. Trying to be pragmatic about it, here are some of the things I look at:

  1. Is the good/service provided discretionary? Meaning, would I be able to live a reasonably satisfactory life without the service?
  2. If the good/service is non-discretionary ( I need it for a satisfactory life), then does it show characteristics of moral hazard (if some people don’t participate, it affects everyone), and would the provision of the service benefit from risk pooling (it works better if we’re all in it together) and mitigate issues of adverse selection (people who need services most are least able to afford them)?
  3. Is the good/service market amenable? (despite what free market fundamentalists may have you believe, Adam Smith did not think that every good/service could fit into a free market paradigm). If market worthy, is there any additional benefit to having a “public option”?
  4. What parts of a good/service are a natural monopoly, and what parts are amenable to market based competition (highways vs. cars)?
  5. When looking at costs and benefits, it’s not enough just look at direct costs like construction, salaries, etc, but also at more intangible measures like decision fatigue,(after a certain threshold, every decision you take degrades the next one) social capital (community relations, cooperation and confidence), creative capital (the ability to attract people to your community), environmental capital and so much more.

Immediately, dumping golf, recreation, and water and sewage services into the same pot makes no sense.

Let’s look at golf, it’s discretionary, and given the proliferation of golf courses in the area, a reasonably competitive good/service (disclaimer: I don’t golf). If Saanich stopped providing golf services, some people would end up paying more, but this would not affect a vast majority of people in the area. So, I wouldn’t shed a tear if Saanich’s golf course was privatised (I would be happier if it became a park, but that’s a different argument!).

Let’s look at recreation centres – Murray Langdon says this:

For example, we know that rec centres lose money each and every year. But we have examples of private recreation facilities, (in Langford for example) that are not only affordable but actually make money. For some reason, people assume that if it’s not run by a municipality, it will be expensive. Well, I have news for you. It is expensive and it may be because it’s run by a municipality.

I am confused, what Langford recreation centre is he talking about? (I don’t live in Langford, or hardly ever visit) The Westshore Parks and Rec Society runs the recreation centres, and it appears to be a joint effort by Westshore communities.

West Shore Park & Recreation is governed by the West Shore Parks & Recreation Society’s Board of Directors  Each municipalities contribution, through tax requisition, assists in the operation of the parks and recreation facilities.

Putting Langford aside, clearly, the public health benefits of increased physical activity make exercise a non-discretionary item (some may disagree!) Community based (whether run by the municipality or not) recreation centres have many benefits that are not measured just by their profit-loss statements. They are often the only option for family-centric, community centric (as opposed to individual centric) recreation. I can’t go to a private gym with my partner (real) and kids (hypothetical), and have all of us participate in  activities at the same time. My partner and I would have to schedule different workouts, then enrol the progeny in a separate swimming or soccer class, find/take turns in baby sitting, etc. So, not having community based recreation increases costs to society + government, while possibly (and not always) reducing government “costs”. The social capital of having community recreation centres, the public health benefits of encouraging exercise, I could go on, the intangible benefits are high. The YMCA, which I am a member of, is a non-profit community run recreation centre, and this model works as well.

Water and Sewer – These are non-discretionary, monopoly driven services not really market based. Construction, some maintenance, value added services, may be amenable to competition, but not the management, oversight and long-term stewardship. While the BC provincial government and various Federal governments have been trying to privatise various commons resources, third-party evidence points to no cost savings.

Here’s a test: Talk about BC Liquor!

The job of a public policy analyst is to consider the costs/benefits of the society as a whole. One does not read government balance sheets the same way one would read a corporation’s balance sheet.

Photo from GibsonGolfer Flickr photostream used under a Creative Commons License.

Help Cleanup Invasive Plants in Victoria This Saturday


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Are you interested in helping the Lekwungen and WSANEC Nation remove invasive plants? Here’s a press release about the event.

You and your family are welcome to join us for an orientation to removing invasive plants in Chekonein family territories, facilitated by Cheryl Bryce, this Saturday January 22nd. We’re meeting at 1pm at Camas Point (Cattle Point — at the higher side, on Scenic Drive where there’s a few parking spots by the entrance, just in from Beach Drive).

Please bring a water bottle and wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.

If you have some extra tools handy (like clippers, gloves, shovels), please bring them with some sort of label so you get the correct ones back. Many thanks!

Bus tickets available; the 2A bus goes fairly close:

For the past 150 years Lekwungen and WSANEC families have been responding to the impacts of colonization in their homelands. This project creates more spaces for local and visiting peoples to collaborate on long-term decolonizing of the land. Through the community tool shed project, local Indigenous families are providing guidance on priorities and the where, when, and how for visitors to join in this work collectively and respectfully.

The Community Tool Shed & Mapping Project is associated with the Xaxe Tenew Sacred Land Society. Currently we are fundraising so that we can buy tools for invasive species removal and reinstating native plants, including GPS equipment for mapping invasive plants in local “parks” to help plan removal and track effectiveness of different methods over time.

To get involved, or to donate tools or funds to the tool shed, please contact Cheryl <chers_canoe@shaw.ca> or Joanne <joanne.cuffe@gmail.com>.

Thank-you!

Invasive plants are a big problem in BC, and one that requires labours of love to remove, no carpet bombing with herbicides, no industrial solution here, just lots of hands needed!

Feminists’ Rock Camp Showcase and Jam

Hey! Want to watch a bunch of cool feminist folks rock out and play some original material from the first feminists’ rock camp in Victoria? Want to watch them jam with some cool musicians?

Then come to the Fort Cafe, Sunday August 22nd. Doors open at 6. Also, look for the fabulous Galen Hartley, Athena Holmes from Montreal and Victoria, Tina Pearson, Anne Schaefer, and some Reverend Owl goodness!

Look forward to seeing you there! Download the flier if you’d like to put one up on your fridge, or your work fridge, or anywhere you fancy.

Tickets at door and in advance; contact Feminists.Rock.Camp(at)gmail(dot)comma

And so it begins

The dreary Victorian winter is here. The temperature will drop a little from what it is now, but not much, rarely below zero, but we’ll see the sun every other week for a short while, maybe once a month!

Oak Bay goes electric

Oak Bay has found the vehicles that fit its green policy and low speed limits — electric cars that top out at a maximum speed of 50 km/h.The municipality is drafting a bylaw that would allow electric cars on its public streets, making it possibly the first municipality in B.C. to take advantage of new provincial legislation that expands where the innovative vehicles can be driven.”I don’t think we’ll see any speed differences in Oak Bay just because we have slower-moving vehicles like electric cars,” Coun. Nils Jensen said yesterday of the impact on traffic movement in the notoriously slower-moving community.

Oak Bay nears electric-car nirvana

 gv.gifFor those not in the know, Oak Bay is a municipality that is part of the Greater Victoria area. We have 11 separate municipalities, which makes for some serious inefficiencies and redundancy in administration, but does tend to preserve local character. Oak Bay, in my humble opinion, is insufferably British and proper, very wealthy and quite beautiful. And yes, it is a slow moving town, perfect for 50 kmph vehicles.

But Oak Bay is not an island, it is flanked by Victoria and Saanich, and the boundaries are not always clearly demarcated. What’s going to happen when someone randomly wanders into Saanich?

Except for the stretch of 17 going up to Sidney and the stretch of 1 going West and North out of the area, 50kmph ought to cover most of the area. I suspect Victoria will follow suit soon.

Victoria, not so quiet after all

One man is dead and two others are in hospital after a shooting near a popular downtown Victoria nightclub early yesterday.Officers were called to the scene around 2:50 a.m. after a report of shots fired outside 751 View St., between Douglas and Blanshard streets.Yesterday morning, forensic investigators inspected the body as it lay covered by a white tarp on the edge of the sidewalk in front of the exit to the View Street city parkade, about two buildings down from the Red Jacket nightclub.

One dead, two in hospital after shooting outside bar
Yikes…