Category Archives: Transit

New, Better Jobs Building a Green Energy Infrastructure

Let’s go post-carbon and transform Big Carbon jobs into green jobs!

We are so addicted to carbon-based energy: oil, gas, coal, LNG plants, fracking, pipelines, tanker spills.

It gets so discouraging sometimes.

But something that the post-carbon energy infrastructure advocates are missing out on, I think, is promoting more of a response to Big Carbons squeal about job loss by keeping tarsands oil in the ground, etc.

Green energy requires an infrastructure. It requires land, capital and LABOUR to create and maintain it and evolve ourselves off of our Big Carbon addiction.

We can even transform lots of Big Carbon jobs into green jobs. After all, the skill sets involved in creating an energy infrastructure overlap between carbon and post-carbon.

And Mosaic, as a business initiative, is very intriguing to me. I like the model. I’m going to have to look more into it and others working to get Big Carbon out of the way. And so should you.

After all, we have passed 400ppm in GHGs, and if we are going to get back under 350, we need projects like this.

#SpinAlert: Light Rail for the Valley Instead of a UBC Subway

Who Framed Roger Rabbit reminded us all of the Great American Streetcar Scandal: cars over mass transit. Now, in the lower mainland we have the UBC tunnel over light rail to the valley.

This week, we start with a transportation spin alert.

Last week, Allen Garr wrote an interesting piece about the seemingly obvious idea of running a Skytrain subway to UBC [see below]. One possibly contentious issue would be whether it would be bored or made with the disastrous cut-and-cover debacle that broke Cambie Street, and its socio-economic fabric, for so long.

But I think there is a larger issue here. With the Evergreen Line finally on-stream after being hijacked by the Canada Line to help secure the Olympic bid, we should be thinking about extending Skytrain or preferably, light rail into the valley.

I haven’t done the math, but I’m thinking that we could improve the lower mainland’s carbon footprint more by getting those suburbs onto mass transit since UBC is already served by a fleet of buses that consider UBC to be their hub.

I can see both Langleys, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Surrey, Delta, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Burnaby expressing serious joy with fewer cars from the valley pouring into the city every day.

This is an inspiration for what rail in the valley could look like.
This is an inspiration for what rail in the valley could look like.

So while I agree with Allen Garr that I don’t think there will be much Vancouver-based opposition to a UBC subway, Vision Vancouver is running this campaign of support to shore up its argument at Translink and Metro Vancouver to again neglect critical suburban transit development in favour of another upgrade in Vancouver’s transit infrastructure.

I suspect there will be only incremental carbon footprint improvements of a UBC subway, compared to much larger improvements by sending light rail east from the Skytrain line. It would also be far cheaper, freeing up more funds to run more buses on the Port Mann white elephant and more 99s, 25s, 41s and 49s to UBC.

Don’t expect any political opposition to UBC subway

By Allen Garr, Columnist March 14, 2013

If you think you can find any significant political support in your effort to stop a subway being built along the Broadway Corridor, you had better think again.

via Don’t expect any political opposition to UBC subway.

How To Resolve The Transit Fare Evasion Problem

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is bringing in new legislation to crack down on fare evaders, allowing collection agencies to go after people who don’t buy tickets. If Lekstrom really wants to deal with fare evasion, then he needs to realize why people don’t pay the transit fares.

If people can’t afford to buy a transit ticket, then how can you expect them to pay the $173 fines for not paying the fare? Now he wants to legislate collection agencies to further harass these people who can’t afford to buy a bus ticket. He further wants to prevent fare evaders from being able to renew their drivers licence or buy car insurance. But Lekstrom does not realize that if people can’t afford to buy a transit ticket, then how can the afford a car let alone buy car insurance.

Mayor Gregor Robertson who didn’t pay a $173 fine during his 2008 election campaign for accidentally riding two SkyTrain zones on a one-zone fare said he wanted to draw attention to what he called unreasonably high fines. He finally did pay the fine. BC NDP leader Adrian Dix also forgot to pay his fare and had to pay the fine. But people forgetting to pay the fare are not the problem. They can afford pay their fines. Now Lekstrom wants to go after those you can’t pay their fines.

The problem is that low income people, particularly those on social assistance cannot afford to pay the fare which is why the evade the fare. The fare really becomes a problem when those who can’t afford to pay the fare for three zones, so sometimes they only have a one or two zone fare to cross three zones, and then they get hit with a $173 fine. Low income people have to pay the same one, two and three zone fares as those who are working.

After years of hard work and campaigning, concession fares were offered to post-secondary students to pay only a one zone fare to cross all three zones if they had a valid student card. But they were not afforded the same concession fare as high school students and seniors. University and College students now get a U pass as part of their student fees which makes transit accessible and affordable to them. The rationale given for this is that students are not able to work full-time. People with disabilities can access an annual pass a low annual fee. So fare evasion is not a problem for them.

How can low income people, especially those on social assistance pay the same fare are those who are working? They should also have access to concession fares or they should be given a transit pass with their assistance or both depending on their situation. This would solve problem of fare evasion and all so-called cost for cracking down on fare evasion with extra security costs and installing turnstiles. This type of legislation that goes after the poor is extremely counter productive and does not solve the problem of fare evasion.

Liveblog – BC Civic Election Returms

Translink: It’s the policy, that policy won’t change, and there’s no one you can speak to about it.

Pardon me for a rant about my commute. And about Translink.

I hardly think it’s acceptable for a public organization that trumpets public consultation, taxes us, is governed by an unelected appointed board, and so on, to say “it’s the policy, that policy won’t change, and there’s no one you can speak to.”The bus apologizes.

I’m currently living in the far eastern suburbs of Vancouver – as I try to move closer into the city. It’s quite a change from living in the downtown core of Toronto, and then on the slightly eastern periphery of the downtown core.  Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the difference in transit service – in Toronto, I could step outside my door, or walk down the street, and there’d be streetcars and subways. Rarely more than a 3-15 minute wait.

It was some kind of transit heaven, out there. Rumbling, grumbling streetcars. Murder-on-your-ears subways. But they worked, more often than not.

Enter a change of situation for me. I finished a graduate degree, was offered a pretty good job back in Vancouver, and wanted to move to be closer to a person incredibly important to me. I have a place to live, temporarily, while I pay off debt incurred as a student, and so on.

However, this entails a commute through Vancouver’s public transit system. One that I’ve often had an incredibly rough relationship with.  Say what you will about the mountains, oceans, and rainy weather (and I’ve missed it, over the -35 magic that is most of the year in Toronto, with the sole exception being the +50 summers) and say what you will about the TTC (and boy, did Toronto like to complain about that system), Vancouver’s Translink is absolute and utter crap once you’re out of the Vancouver/Burnaby zone.

And if you have a problem – and you dare to phone Translink and complain about it – you’ll be told what I was told tonight, that the source of your problem is a faulty policy, and… “that policy won’t change, and there’s no one you can speak to about it.” And I hardly think that’s acceptable for an unelected public organization that taxes us and claims to value public consultation. And I think, perhaps, we need a change.

Here’s the story. Continue reading

Policy Wishes For Harry Lali and Mike Farnworth

As the BC NDP leadership race ramps up, it’s time to see how we can improve the candidates’ posture when it comes to policy.

Maybe they’re waiting until after the opponents choose their next leader before rolling out real policy depth, but it would be a mistake to wait. There was a consistent criticism of the BC NDP in the 2009 election that they didn’t campaign enough on policy, and on clear and measurable policy, and on actual BC NDP policy. It’s one thing to criticize the opponents, but to offer no substance to an alternative is the kind of thing that makes more than 50% of voters stay home.

Ultimately, candidates need to demonstrate the direction they will lead the party and how they will do that differently from their competitors. Insufficient information will not help us choose who to vote for as leader.

So to start, here are some of my hopes for Harry Lali and Mike Farnworth when it comes to policy.

Harry Lali:

Like Moira Stilwell, he might just be running for leader to address a cause, like internal party equity, or to support his re-election. It’s certainly healthy to debate internal party policies like this that are designed to advance the state of demographic diversity in politics, but it’s important to actually engage with people so that conversation could take place. Twitter and Facebook are missing his presence and he hasn’t engaged with the rest of the party on that topic, and a website articulating his views would help keep it looking like he is not just phoning it in.

Mike Farnworth:

Before examining what is on his webpage, I would like to know what his fair tax policy is. The last ten years of tax policy has been a core vehicle to destroy much of the social fabric of our province. I expect that will change with an NDP government, so each candidate should be articulating their view.

Mike’s vision includes:

* A strong, dynamic economy where government works as a partner to produce the jobs and development we need to succeed. That includes a particular focus on rural economic development, recognizing that much of the province’s wealth has come from its natural resources. We need to continue to support our resource-based communities while making ongoing investments in the high-tech, green economies of the future.

  1. What kind of jobs and development does BC need?
  2. What is the place of a steady state economic model in BC that recognizes that the myth of endless growth, bubbles, rampant consumerism and rising consumer debt create unsustainable economies, don’t serve the needs of real people [as opposed to corporate profits], destroy our environment and maim our ability to build resilience to climate change effects?
  3. Where does a green economy look like beyond each individual’s notion of green, however uninformed it may be?
  4. How does sustainable, green energy-fueled, bioregional economic development fit in to build our resilience to climate change effects?
  5. How will he articulate Sustainable BC principles in defining what his policy stance looks like?
  6. Half the province lives in rural BC, so development there matters, but what does that look like in terms of sector priorities, renewable versus non-renewable resources and what to do about the problematic carbon culprits like oil, gas and coal?
  7. There are dozens of groups and NGOs in BC working on sound agricultural and food security policy for BC right now; what is the best policy for BC?
  8. What kind of investments should be made in high-tech, green economies? Should government, individuals or corporations make those investments. How should they be funded? Should we welcome provincial, national or foreign investors? Why?

* Restoring honesty and integrity to government. The public is increasingly disenchanted with government and our democratic institutions. We need to reverse that trend and it starts by rebuilding trust. That means saying what we mean, meaning what we say, and delivering what we promise.

  1. This sounds great, but what does it mean?
  2. Will he strengthen the scope and increase funding of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, the Auditor-General, the Ombudsperson’s office, the Child and Youth Commissioner?
  3. Will he rewrite freedom of information legislation so that release of information is the norm and openness is the standard, not something to fight for for months?
  4. Will he add more independent offices that also report to the legislature, like a Seniors Advocate?
  5. Will we see improvements to union and corporate funding rules?
  6. Will we see better behaviour in the legislature, more independence and thereby accountability for MLAs, and proportional representation? After all, since political parties practice more legitimate voting systems than first-past-the-post for their leadership races, the citizens deserve the same clarity in voting.

* Protecting our province’s natural greatness. From both an economic and moral standpoint, we have a duty to protect and preserve the environment for future generations. That means making sustainability a key lens through which we examine public policy decisions.

  1. This sounds like using Sustainable BC principles in defining policy. As above, what will that look like?
  2. Since Sustainable BC was unanimously endorsed at BC NDP conventions in 2007 and 2009 and only in 2010 has it begun to be implemented, what has he personally been doing for the last 50 months to prepare for this new paradigm of policy formation?
  3. Does he have an example of what a policy process would look like using the Sustainable BC lens to create a specific policy?

* Tackling the big issues. From public safety and transportation to the environment and the long-term financial health of the province, British Columbia is confronted by big, and often complex, issues. It’s time to address these issues in a determined and pragmatic way that achieves real results and delivers the real change British Columbians want.

  1. True, these are complex yet largely undefined issues here. What needs to happen so the public understands the demands and options of acceptable solutions?
  2. What does determined and pragmatic look like? We’ve seen some pretty determined and pragmatic approaches to these issues in the last ten years, much to the detriment of our society. What is the better inspiration and set of principles that should inform a new focus and pragmatism?
  3. What change does he think British Columbians want?
  4. What are the real results that we can use as benchmarks to evaluate success, in any of these sectors from public safety to transportation to the environment to the long-term financial health of the province?

* Strengthening public services. British Columbians are proud of our public services like the health and education systems, but, we need to find new and creative ways to enhance them to better meet the needs of our communities and shifting demographics. The provincial government needs to look at communities as co-governors and work together to find cost-effective solutions. We need to move away from the command and control management style BC has been under for the last 10 years.

via Ready to Lead BC » Mike Farnworth for Leader, BC NDP.

  1. What are some of the new and creative ways are currently available to enhance public provision of key public services in BC?
  2. What targets should we set to restore high quality, universal, publicly-provided human services?
  3. Enhancing local government participation in policy setting and targets is inclusive, but what kind of participation needs to happen, and to what degree?
  4. Command and control has been an effective decision-making model in the last decade to undermine the public service capacity of the province in favour of private, for-profit delivery of services and corporate welfare, but what tangible changes will happen to demonstrate more authentic consultation?

It is the job of all party members who expect to vote in the leadership election, as well as supporters and citizens, to ensure that we are satisfied that we know where candidates really stand on issues. Broad, over-arching statements sound good, but walking the talk requires enough substance so that we have specific answers to our questions.

I’m hoping that very soon we will see far more clarity in candidates’ policy posture so that we have more than just superficial whims to decide who should lead the party.

Shame on You, You Ugly, Narcissistic Consumer

"If you had a secret wish, would you make it beautiful?" - False Creek Plastic Surgery Centre

Some days it’s hard to make it through the day without something like the [theoretically] “public” transit system trying to shame us as ugly narcissistic consumers with their adcreep, just in time for Christmas!

Because we are not beautiful, we need plastic surgery. But we should not brag about it or openly discuss it with our peers: it needs to be a secret wish. Ads like this one from the for-profit False Creek Plastic Surgery Centre abuse us into thinking we’re ugly, then shame us into secretly wishing to be beautiful.

Priceless. We’re beautiful already, but the ad’s job is to convince us of the lie that we’re ugly.

"Our World Revolves Around You" - The Perfect New World of Technology: The HP Store in Vancouver

And then we have the new HP Store in Vancouver. Its goal is to let us know that the world revolves around me. I truly am that special. Except I’m a mark. HP is modelling its narcissism-inducing relationship with its customers after the Apple Store’s worship/exploitation of its cult members.

And perhaps the worst thing about this particular ad is that it appears to be on a bus shelter on Burrard near the SkyTrain station, but in fact it’s the same physical structure of a bus shelter ad, but it’s just sitting there on the street for people to walk into. It’s a TransLink billboard plunked right there on the sidewalk in our way when we’re walking, a billboard outside the transit system.

Adcreep takes a new angle.

So what is our job this Christmas?

  1. voluntary simplicity
  2. reject affluenza
  3. recognize we already have enough stuff
  4. remember that we’re all beautiful
  5. get over yourself if you think the HP world actually revolves around you, or that anything does
  6. know we are loved, honoured and cherished as human beings regardless of how much plastic surgery we’ve had or how big our hard drive is.

It’s hard to have a merry Christmas if you let the adcreep brainwash you into perceiving yourself as ugly, shameful and narcissistic…all at once. It takes decades of psychological work and training to get us to be all those things simultaneously.

Break out of that and suddenly you’ll notice the homeless teen 75 feet from the HP ad who also deserves the dignity that the adcreep is trying to rob from us all.

Now go give a hug to someone you love.

TransLink’s New Electronic Fare Card’s Guaranteed Crappy Name

It’s too bad that TransLink has chosen four sad, bland, uninspiring, pseudo-clever names for us all to vote on for the name of their new electronic fare card.

In the pre-Expo early 1980s we had a similar naming contest for the Skytrain. Hundreds of amazing suggestions were sent in to government. Grace McCarthy said she didn’t care for them and just picked something she liked: Skytrain. It got mocked almost immediately.

It’s also too bad that TransLink is the 21st century version of taxation without representation, whereby the organization is empowered by provincial legislation to take municipal tax money to spend on whatever it wants, then it is not accountable in any political way to its funders. The council of mayors is presented with budget options each year and must pick one. If they don’t TransLink just picks one.

And to think, the Americans fought their revolutionary war over this very thing.

So now we have saccharine pablum name options for a farecard instead of TWR, my contribution that clearly didn’t make the short list [from 56,000 entries, 5 of which were mine]. TWR=TaxationWithoutRepresentation.

Maybe TransLink just doesn’t get irony.

Or more likely, maybe they do.

Just How Galling is TransLink’s Taxation Without Representation?

I wince in pain every time I board a Skytrain car and see this sign reminding us to keep our transit system clean. The TransLink board is a 21st century example of 18th century taxation without representation as the draconian BC Liberal government altered TransLink’s existence to ensure an appointed board is not accountable to the civic officials who fund it with billions of dollars.

“It’s your transit system too, help keep it clean.” I like the sentiment, but it hurts to think that while we all pay for the transit system, we do not have authority over it.

Every time I see this sign, I am reminded of what the BC Liberal party has taken away from all of us.

So I’d like to begin a campaign to encourage TransLink to name its new electronic fare card “TWR: taxation without representation”. If you would like to leap on this bandwagon, please cruise by their website and enter that idea for the card. Vote early and vote often. You can enter the contest as many times as you like until November 8, 2010. And you can win an iPad or an electronic fare card with a year’s worth of transit on it. In fact, I’m going to go put in another entry right now. OK, I put in 3 entries.

And for you enterprising students out there looking for a class project, I submit this for your consideration. Let’s see if we can plump the votes up so that all other suggestions get voted off the island. But of course, there is no democracy in TransLink so even if some enterprising person built a little app/script to enter TWR until it gets billions of votes, I’m sure we’ll still get something embarrassing, or at the very least anti-democratic.

And while I’m remarking on how surreal it is to live in a world like before the American Revolution, I’d like to ask you if you have noticed how those expensive TVs on Skytrain platforms are full of adcreep, but they are missing the most essential piece of information in a transit system: the time.

Perspectives on Point Douglas: The Dean Koshelanyk Interview (Winnipeg Votes 2010)

The weeks and months leading up to Winnipeg’s 2010 civic election have been nothing short of a three-ring media circus. High drama, contentious issues, diametrically opposed mayorial candidates locked in a dead heat, scandals: Winnipeg lacks not for schmaltzy political showmanship. The downside of constant pre-election melodrama is that media attention is focused on reactionary and emotional events and players as they go off.  Histrionics and turmoil sell papers and bring viewers to the television set.

Take the ongoing brouhaha in the ward of River Heights – Fort Garry: It involves ill-engineered traffic calming measures , a deceased predecessor, and a vitriol soaked letter sent out by an alleged grass-roots resident’s group to usurp the incumbent. This gong show has garnered more cameras, ink, airwaves and snorts of indignation and disgust than any other ward, topic or person involved in the 2010 race.  Sadly, the spotlight on the soap opera that continues to unfold in this affluent area of Winnipeg has detracted from less entertaining issues in other wards, such as extreme poverty, sky-rocketing crime, ethnic clashing and crumbling infrastructure.

In my wanderings around the internet, via heated discussions with other Winnipeggers, and intake of the local news, I found there was a decided lack of media interest in the Point Douglas ward. Point Douglas is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and is steeped in important Winnipeg history.  Point Douglas currently is home has the most ethnically and economically diverse population in all of Canada. From unimaginable poverty in inner city areas to middle class McMansions in the suburbs, Point Douglas is about a bi-polar a geographical area as one could conceive. Problems that plague parts of Point Douglas (drugs, prostitution, crime, transience, property abandonment) are irrelevant in others where the priorities shift to rapid transit needs, community centre funding, taxation. Representing this socioeconomic Molotov Cocktail fairly (and effectively) requires super-human effort. This election, three individuals are vying for the challenge:  Mike Pagtakhan (incumbant); challengers Herman Holla and Dean Koshelanyk.

I had the good fortune of having the opportunity to catch up with Dean Koshelanyk, who is looking to usurp Pagtakhan this week. Koshelanyk agreed to let me fire some questions at him, and share the conversation with Politics Respun readers.

TE:  Dean, thanks for taking the time to let me pick your brain about the Point Douglas ward, it’s specific issues, your stance on them, and some general Winnipeg politics. I realize you are a  very busy man, so I will keep this as brief as possible. For those who are unfamiliar with the Point Douglas ward boundaries, what neighborhoods are a part of this assignment?

DK: Interesting question!

  • South Point Douglas
  • The Exchange
  • Centennial
  • China Town
  • West Alexander
  • Burrows
  • Central
  • Robertson /Sinclair Park
  • Shaughnessy
  • Northwood Park
  • Tyndall Park
  • Garden Grove
  • Meadows West
  • Frank Whyte
  • Inkster Industrial Park

One of the bigger issues with identifying the area is that many areas go by many different names.

TE: What sets this ward apart from other wards in Winnipeg?

DK: Point Douglas contains some of the oldest areas of the city, and extends to the far north, far west, then on to the very edge of the city in one of the newer and rapidly growing areas of  Meadows West. We have the most soup kitchens and homeless shelters, we have City Hall, we have college campuses, we have Manitoba’s premier hospital. Then we have manufacturing, trucking, some of the most beautiful churches, a casino. Heck we have everything!  You name it, our ward probably has it. There is no more ethnically diverse civic ward in Canada, and it’s possible there is no more economically diverse ward as well. We are one of the primary areas in Winnipeg that recent immigrants from other countries are highly concentrated in,  as well as people who have recently arrived in the city from other areas in Manitoba. (TE’s note: There is a very large aboriginal population in this area, living off of the reserve.) No other Winnipeg ward contains so many distinct people, jobs, housing (ages and styles). The crime ranges from the violent crimes in one area, to major amounts of car theft to minor petty crimes such as graffiti in another area. Again, when it comes to crime, no other local ward has the many different types and levels such as we do.

TE: What are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed in Point Douglas by their representative to City Hall?

DK:  1) Crime.  We need to get cops on the streets, now. We need to get people interacting with the cops so that the officers can start to be trusted more and so that they in turn start to trust and respect our residents more.

2) Traffic Flow. Our residents vary greatly in the methods they chose to move around our city.  Many of us take the bus, many drive, most do a combination of the two.  No matter what, we find it difficult getting to other areas of the city directly, especially by bus during off peak hours. Little consideration or planning seems to be evident in construction project planning.  My son’s school actually recommends that the kids be dropped off more then two blocks away from the school because of the massive traffic problems caused right now by construction near by.

TE: Tell me a little bit about yourself, Dean.

DK: I’m 38 years old, and have married for 15 years, to my “sorta okay wife, Dennae.” This is an inside joke, she will love it, honest… I hope! We have 4 kids, ages  17,12,12,3. They are all boys, much to my wife’s dismay. I am currently an “Automation Specialist – Test Software”, which means I write computer programs that test the programs our other developers write.  I can think like a developer, and test like a QA.  That sounds way better if you have the “float like a butterfly sting like a bee” comment in you head at the time! Educationally, I have a Computer Programmer Analyst Technologist  Diploma(Honours) from Keewatin Community College. When I graduated I received the Lt . Governors Silver medal for my excellent GPA, my volunteer work on student council, and my constant willingness to help my fellow students. Over the course of my career, I have been a rock picker, farmer, road construction labourer, tree faller, tree planter, pine cone picker, lumber mill worker, short order cook, cashier, adult education teacher, call centre employee and probably more that I no longer remember! I have coached soccer, baseball, ice hockey, ball hockey and track and field and I am certified in all.

TE:  Tell me about some of the community activities you’ve been involved with both in Pt. Douglas in in Winnipeg. I’ve seen you in the news paper at various times for other projects you have been a part of.

DK: Well…all that coaching and sporting activities I mentioned prior, as well as mini-soccer convenor for local community centre, hockey convenor for local community centre, mini-soccer director for all of NW Winnipeg. I’ve also been the President of the local community centre, which involved being all the other tasks which we had no volunteers for. Recently, I organized at 1400 person skating chain Guinness World Record Attempt. I was also a part of the GCWCC (General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres) Plan 2025 committee, which charted the growth and expansion from Winnipeg community centres to the year 2025. This process was very detailed, and even went in to the expected growth patterns of population througout the city. A number of the ideas that two of our mayoral contenders used this election were created during this process, and came out of the NW area which I was part of. Most notably, Judy’s (Wasylycia-Leis) plan to pay for shared positions for accounts and coordinators that would be shared between 3 centres, and Sam’s plan to bundle the community centre grant. Beyond that, that but my esteemed opposition,  Mike Pagtakhan, has decided to use the growth of community centres as his main platform. Pretty much all of those were concurrent, or close enough to concurrent to make me wonder if I somehow had a time machine.

TE: I feel like a lazy slacker just reading that!  What is your primary motivation for involvement in civic politics?

DK: Dealing with crime, street repair, community centre up-keep etc. should be things that are dealt with on a day-to-day basis, not just every four years when an election comes around. Rarely in our elections, and especially in this election, do you see anyone talking about new and exciting ideas. This concerns me. People should get a chance to see the great city we can once again become. New ideas are needed and I have some.

TE: Point Douglas seems to be a recent victim of poorly thought-out gerrymandering. When the new boundaries were created, a hodge-podge of wildly divergent socio-economic, cultural and political forces were drawn together. This Ward has the highest concentration of new Canadians in Winnipeg, a large number of working class and middle class families/home owners, and a sizeable low income/transient/unemployed and Aboriginal population. The needs of these groups are so vastly different, and all are important. How would you able to effectively and fairly represent them in City Hall?

DK: By simply being involved in and around our ward on a daily basis, speaking with and dealing with residents from all walks of life. Unlike many people I don’t shy away from anyone based on their looks or state of dress.

TE: The mandate of is to “Despin the political, and to respin it for social, political, and environmental justice.” You have a reputation for being a straight shooter who doesn’t pander or mince words. How will you lend you voice for everyone who lives and works in Point Douglas?

DK: People know that when they talk to me, they will get the truth, no matter how difficult that truth is to swallow. When I commit to bringing their issues forward, or when I tell them their issues are total bunk, they will know full-well where they stand. Unlike some people, I will not ignore anyone. One thing that a local provincial MLA (who will be running for federal office by time this article gets out) does is every single Thursday evening, is sit at a local restaurant,  and invites constituents to come to speak to him about whatever it is that they want, in a comfortable, non-confrontational manner. I will strive to provide the same level of accessibility.  Given our extremely diverse ward, if need be, I will schedule translators to be involved.

TE:  The media has been caught up in the more sensational aspects of the 2010 mayorial race, the political cesspool in River Heights, and focusing on the colorful past of some of the candidates that are running for council. Point Douglas has been largely neglected this race, which is highly unfortunate because it stands to lose a lot of potential voters through a lack of awareness and apathy. How will you provide these people with information and resources that will allow them to become more involved and aware?

DK: Many great ideas for communicating with residents have been brought forward during this election.  We need to capitalize on some of these ideas. Online streaming of meetings, robocalls to get information out there, virtual town halls and even Facebook and  Twitter. While they many not have been perfectly executed, they give a very good idea of the potential we have for communicating with our residents. Imagine how many more people would “attend” an active transportation meeting if they could do it in the comfort of their own home! These new methods, coupled with traditional newsletters,  partnered with our local community centres will encourage and engage residents in a more meaningful manner. Once people realize how much of an impact they can have on something as simple as a local street repair project, they will be greatly encouraged to take part in the political direction of our city as well.

TE: City council should be more than cutting ribbons and ceremonial shovel holding. What kind of access will members of your ward have to you once you’re elected?

DK: Not only will my office door always be open, but I will try to have at least one night per week where I am at a local place where residents can just drop by. I will also be setting up a Facebook site where residents can directly voice their concerns. Twitter or some other “instant access” page may be set up as well. I will continue to be involved in coaching sports and will always be available to our residents.

TE: is read by people from all over Canada, many of whom may not be intimate with Manitoba or Winnipeg. In a nutshell, what is the current political climate like here?

DK: Crazy bordering on not making sense? *laughs*

TE: Thank you for confirming my suspicions! I have been trying to suss out rhyme or reason since moving here in September, and thought I was getting soft in the head.

DK: Winnipeg has many areas that have a NDP councilor, a Conservative MLA, and Liberal MP or some other very odd combination of the three. We also have some die hard NDP, Liberal and Conservative areas that ALWAYS vote one way, regardless of issues, or who is running.We have Liberals that have NDP campaign workers!  Much like my ward being the biggest mixed bag, our city ends up being such a mixed bag politically often it hinders the moving forward of major projects.

TE:  If anyone wants to get a hold of you, or show their support, how can they contact you?

DK:  I can be contacted in any of the following ways:

Phone:  204- 269-3071

TE:  Dean, thanks for taking some time away from the home-stretch in your door-knocking and campaigning to bring me up to speed on Point Douglas, your platform, and some of the quirks of Winnipeg’s political stew. Best of luck to you on Wednesday.