Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 15, 2010

Year-end Musings

Just some left-over thoughts from 2009 to be cleared out.


  • OMERS plan to manage deficit

    There may be indications that the recession is coming to an end, but its effects are still being felt.

    At the end of 2008, the OMERS Fund posted a -15.3% total rate of return, and reported a $279 million funding shortfall. This funding deficit could grow to more than $6 billion over the next few years, as the full impact of 2008 is reflected in the funding balance sheet...

    Like all pension plans, OMERS is required to eliminate any funding deficit...

    To address the existing funding shortfall, OMERS SC has approved an increase to both member and employer contribution rates, effective with the first full pay period in 2010.

    “These contribution rate increases will help address the initial $279 million part of the overall funding shortfall. More significant contribution increases or changes to benefits, or a combination of both, will be required in the next several years as the remaining $6 billion is recognized on the balance sheet of the Fund,” said Marianne Love, SC Co-Chair.


That is how Nicole Laidler is described in a number of articles I read about her. She has a company called Spilled Ink Writing & Wordsmithing.

She wrote a lovely piece about Edgar (aka Eddie) in the Unversity of Western Ontario Alumni Magazine in Fall, 2008.

Do you think Edgar gave her some inside info about his future:

  • "Francis is non-committal when asked if he plans to run again in 2010. “Never say never, but I’ve always said there’s more to life than politics.” His priorities have changed since the birth of his 14-month-old daughter, Sienna, he says.

    Besides, there are plenty of young people capable of taking over. “I hope more young people will get involved with community groups and municipal, provincial and federal politics,” the 34-yearold mayor says. “At the end of the day, young people have a lot to contribute and a very important stake in the future.”

Wow, did Edgar ever age as mayor..."young people!"


A concurrent resolution to support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge and to urge the Michigan Strategic Fund and U.S. and Canadian authorities to take certain actions regarding this project.

Rep. Cushingberry offered the following concurrent resolution:

  • House Concurrent Resolution No. 11.

    A concurrent resolution to support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge and to urge the Michigan Strategic Fund and U.S. and Canadian authorities to take certain actions regarding this project.

    Whereas, The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor exemplifies efficiency and solid security practices that a private and public partnership can provide to the citizens of Michigan, the United States, and Canada and has been recognized by the United States Federal Highway Administration as the most efficient international crossing; and

    Whereas, The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) crossing plan to develop an enhancement span of the Ambassador Bridge would provide for an additional crossing between the cities of Detroit and Windsor as anticipated by the Gateway Project to efficiently meet the traffic needs of the region for years to come; and

    Whereas, The DIBC will work with the state of Michigan to leverage the private investment used in the creation of an enhancement span to help garner $2 billion in federal matching funds to be used to improve Michigan’s roads and bridges by qualifying DIBC expenditures as toll credits under federal law; and

    Whereas, The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study, being carried out by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, documents the need for an additional span, and continues to study alternate sites for a new bridge, while private investors are willing to build the Ambassador Bridge enhancement span without expense to the taxpayer; and

    Whereas, The state of Michigan has made a significant investment to improve the traffic flow to the current Ambassador Bridge through initiatives such as the Gateway Project to address traffic flow from the freeway and interstates to the Ambassador Bridge and accommodate a second span at that location to facilitate international commerce; and

    Whereas, The Ambassador Bridge has upgraded the Customs inspection facilitations and plazas in both Detroit and Windsor, more than doubling the number of commercial inspection booths; and

    Whereas, The Michigan Strategic Fund has previously approved an inducement resolution for Phase I – Ambassador Bridge private activity bond funding for $212 million in December 2007 and will consider Phase II approval for $787 million; and

    Whereas, Constriction of the Ambassador Bridge enhancement span project will create nearly 4,000 jobs during construction and support 20,000 jobs over the next 2 decades; now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That we support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge the Michigan Strategic Fund to immediately approve an Inducement Resolution for Phase II Private Activity Bonds for the DIBC enhancement span and Gateway connections to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge both the United States and Canadian governments to expedite the necessary actions to complete the DIBC enhancement span to allow for the second crossing to become operational in a timely fashion; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge that the DRIC study conclude after completion of its Record of Decisions with no further activity until border traffic in the corridor reverses its decade-long decline and returns to previous 1999 levels; and be it further

    Resolved, That we recommend that the Canadian government finish the improvements to alleviate traffic flow concerns in Windsor from Canadian Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Ontario Parliamentary delegation, the Mayor of Detroit, and the Mayor of Windsor.


In case anyone forgot who voted in favour of the deal with Vindella since it was 3/4 of a decade ago:


  • "South Unionville Square could be a model for future suburbs

    I do not usually write about individual projects. This week I am making an exception.

    The reason is simple; this one is an example of where cities should be going.

    During the past two weeks I have looked at the direction urban centres - the GTA especially - must head to ensure livability and a certain quality of life for their residents. They have to go up instead of out; they have to mix residential, retail and office in neighbourhoods; they have to get away from the need for gas-driven vehicles to handle daily errands, and they have to substitute public spaces for private yards.

    The project I want to take a look at here is called South Unionville Square. It is in Markham on the east side of Kennedy Road between highways 7 and 407 and it incorporates almost all of the features listed above, as well as a couple of others worthy of a round of applause.

    First, the entire project - shopping mall, offices and residential tower - is geared toward the GTA's Chinese community; second, every square inch - save for the supermarket that anchors the mall - is condominium space.

    Merchants get to own their stores - some as small as 10 feet by 10 feet - residents get to own their own suites, and the dentists, accountants, hairdressers and small-business people who take over the commercial space get to own their own premises.

    In essence, South Unionville Square recreates the ambience, atmosphere, ownership model and lifestyle that Chinese newcomers to Canada thrived on for centuries in cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

    A few facts about the project:

    Mady Development Corp. is taking a 7.5-acre site and building a 300,000-square-foot, two-level shopping mall with 300 stores and 80,000 square feet of office space, and an adjoining 11-storey residential tower with 200 suites.

    The mall will be anchored by a T&T supermarket, the Chinese food-store chain recently acquired by Loblaws. There will also be parking for 1,500 cars at grade and in an underground garage that connects all the structures.

    To provide vital public space for relaxing, entertaining and recreation, there will be a 20,000-square-foot rooftop terrace accessible from the fourth floor of the residential tower.

    "What we had going for us from the start was a Chinese partner," says Charles Mady, president of the Mady Group. The partner, however, prefers not to be identified.

    "He showed us things and gave us insights we just would never have had otherwise," Mr. Mady says. "He helped us arrange a feng shui expert to make sure everything was properly sited and aligned. He explained small things like making sure we had gas ranges and high-speed vents in the residential units.

    "Our buyers will want to cook with woks, and gas is necessary to get the right heat from the ranges and the ventilation is essential to get rid of the steam that rises from the woks."

    The project has proved a commercial as well as critical success. The retail stores went on sale first and are 85 per cent sold. The office space is half gone and the residential suites are about 70 per cent sold...

    there is the public transit stop right next to the residential tower and Highways 7 and 407 minutes away by car.

    "Frankly, if I could find a site and a similar community need, I would do it again in a shot," Mr. Mady says."

Too bad that Chuck was not asked to bid on an urban village for Windsor years ago before we had a canal mind vision that will go nowhere other than an election platform.


From Detroit's Mayor Bing:

  • "How important is his business experience in running Detroit? "A city is a business," he replies. "It's a $3 billion plus business. The past administrations didn't understand that, and I think that's got us where we are." Voters realize that private "businesses create jobs," he says. "That's where wealth is come from, and for too long we've treated them like enemies."

    He wants to make the city "more business friendly,"


  • "Newspaper website seeks voluntary donations

    The Miami Herald is asking online readers for voluntary donations to support its free-to-air website.

    The Miami-based daily, whose history stretches back to 1903, is a typical case study of decline in the newspaper industry. Sales of the print edition have collapsed by a quarter in just the past year and it has cut hundreds of jobs. Not surprisingly, it has been doing a lot of thinking about how it might make money from what is now its main way of delivering the news: publishing on the web.

    It has started putting a link at the bottom of each online news story, asking readers to click to "support ongoing news coverage on" and then to enter a credit card donation. Only a few people have done so to date, but it is not hard to imagine this snowballing. Public radio stations and public television in the US sustain themselves on regular pledge drives, appealing to listeners' and viewers' desire for unbiased factual information."

Oooops. That won't work. People want "unbiased factual information" not the Star's kind of journalism.


It seems he may time to do that for the first little while.

  • "Orr said he will be reporting to city clerk Valerie Critchley and helping market and promote the services available to Windsorites.

    "I'm not yet fully aware of what my duties will be," said Orr. "I imagine we'll have that meeting and discussion once I start work.

    "I just know I will be joining the communications unit which I understand is one of city council's strategic priorities going forward," said Orr."

Didn't they have a job description? Why would Gord just take any old job with his background? Fortunately, as I Blogged, we know now what he is to do.