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Opinion

Incumbents and wealthy neighbourhoods prefer “at-large” – poorer prefer “Wards”

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  • Red Deer keeps saying they want to be treated as a big city but campaign as a small town.
    Elections for city councils are held through either a ward system or at-large system, depending on the location. Vancouver is the largest city in Canada to use the at-large system, while most other larger cities use wards.
    Wards versus at large: Niagara Falls (population of 88,071),candidates discuss. If you want to get in the game, some say a ward system is helpful. … Now, more than a decade into an at-large system where eight councillors are elected to represent the entire city, some candidates are calling for a return to the ward system.
    It may better represent the city, but some people find it confusing. One political scientist says we should consider bringing back the ward system with the civic election one week away.
    A ward system, essentially, has an elected representative from varying neighbourhoods around the city.
    Langara College political scientist Peter Prontzos says it’s a little more democratic and things won’t be rushed through council because there are more voices to be heard and more issues brought to the table.
    But he warns there are cons.
    “It may be a little more confusing in some ways and there may be occasional gridlock on city council, but I think that’s relatively minor.”
    He says right now those who run for office are people with money who only represent wealthy neighbourhoods where something like public transit may not be issue.
    Today, 8 out of the 9 current incumbent city councillors and mayor live south of the river and east of Gaetz.

    This blog was posted on Todayville.com a year ago. How far off was I? Please read and consider next week’s vote and should we ask ourselves the same question now.

    “At Large” versus “Ward” municipal governance.

    A year from now, October 16, 2017 there will be a municipal election and the citizens of Red Deer will vote for (1) mayor, (8) city councillors, (7) public school trustees, and (5) separate school trustees.
    Red Deer uses the “At Large” system for voting so you have the option of voting for all positions mayor, councillors and school trustees either public or separate. 16 spots or 14 spots respectively.
    The last election in 2013 we had 5 people running for mayor, 30 people running for council, 14 people running for public school board and 7 people run for the separate school board, 56 people in total.
    How many people can remember all the candidates, anyone? Let us make it easier. How many people can remember , everyone who won, anybody?
    The huge advantage of the current “At Large” system falls to and gives advantage to the incumbents and then to the more wealthier campaigns,
    It takes money to advertise to every household in the city, so naturally you will find that the wealthier candidates more often than not live in the wealthier neighbourhoods. It is less expensive and easier for the city staff and management to deal with councillors, at large, in bulk than it would be to deal with the ward system and on individual basis. There is I have been told less infighting among councillors, perhaps because they have more in common, under the at large system than under the ward system.
    The advantage of the “Ward” system is that poorer neighbourhoods get equal representation. The citizens are closer to their elected officials and poorer candidates have smaller areas to cover. The city staff will have to refine their method of dealing with councillors in regards to neighbourhood issues.
    There are pros and cons to both system, and we had a plebiscite on the issue during the 2013 municipal election. 71% voted to remain with the “At Large” system, feeling that Red Deer is still small enough to stay with this, the current system. The city council incumbents voted to budget $30,000 to inform the electorate of the issue, which was heavily in favor of the current system. They held an open house with a heavy leaning to the current system with just one local person, Larry Pimm, speaking a popular former councillor, known for and speaking for the “At Large” system.
    I believe that by looking at the city today, the current system has systematically and historically failed one third of our city.
    One third of our city lives north of the river and they are represented by 1 person out of 9 at city hall. Out of 7 indoor ice rinks and 4 aquatic centres in Red Deer, they have 1 north of the river and the latest buildings are being built or planned south of the river. When it comes to school boards, the city has, is building and planning 6 high schools, all on the south side and 5 high schools are unbelievably along 30 Avenue. So 1/3 of the population gets shafted and has been since merging with the city nearly 70 years ago.
    Let us get back to voting. In 2013 we had 56 candidates for 21 spots and naturally most incumbents who ran won. How can anyone know and understand the positions of 56 candidates. Many would like one or 2 newcomers, vote for them and fill the rest with known incumbents. They are sabotaging the chances of newcomers by voting and electing their opposition.
    I have been advocating for 4 wards within city limits. Each ward would have 25% of the population, give or take 5%. 100,000 residents would mean that each ward would have between 23,750 and 26,250 and the boundaries would change with the population growth.
    Each ward would elect 2 councillors, perhaps the school boards would adopt the ward system, so the public school board could for example. have 2 trustees from each ward, and the mayor would be elected city wide.
    Using the 2013 ballot, you would elect 1 mayor out of 5 candidates, you would elect 2 councillors out of 7 or 8 depending on the ward and the public school voters would elect 2 trustees out of 3 or 4 candidates, again, depending on the ward.
    Perhaps under the ward system, with representation at the table, using my previous arguments, the residents living north of the river will actually get a new indoor ice rink, swimming pool and perhaps (dare I dream),their own high school. One can only dream.
    The incumbents will say no to the ward system, stating the small size of Red Deer, omitting the fact that most incumbents are relying on their constituency of voters that are spread across the city and may not their constituency of voters may not be strong enough in only one ward.
    Lately, there has been some voices out of city hall, demanding to be recognized as a big city and to be included in the “Big City Charter” and the extra money and power associated with it. Incidentally the cities covered by the big city charter currently use the ward system.
    Should we hold another plebiscite, asking that our councillors represent their neighbours, should we ask that school board trustees represent the neighbourhood families, should we take the step to recognize that Red Deer is now a big city and not that small town anymore, and prepare for and govern like a big city.
    2017 will see a few candidates run against the incumbent mayor but we may see in excess of 30 candidates run for city council and in excess of 20 candidates running for one of the 2 school boards’ trustee positions. Under the current system we will again see governing concentrating their attention in the same areas like downtown or the east hill. We will continue to ignore the needs of residents living in neighbourhoods like those north of the river.
    “At Large” is an ideal that fails when reality is involved, the “Ward” system is a flawed ideal that may best represent our reality. What would do you think? It is your home. Thank you.


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    Opinion

    Someone Needs Replacing at Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

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  • Once you put children safety at risk… I can’t be silent any longer.

    From charitable tax receipts not being issued correctly… to having private information of your child’s educational performance being stored and “pushed” to you by foreign apps that you must agree to their terms saying that information is processed by foreign servers, to hearing wasteful spending radio ads, to leaving an entire bus route of elementary school children stranded for nearly an hour while their “bus status app” says “all buses on time”.

    Yes, this is what the RDCRS has to offer you in just this past year alone.

    I ran for trustee in 2013, so sure, some might try to spin this as sour grapes, but when you are tired of administrators that have stopped focusing on children and have become more focused on child recruitment, you have a problem. I ran for a trustee position to prevent this very type of thing going on, and here we sit.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the teachers, their assistants, and staff doing everything to help the children. But something needs to be done at the top.

    Charitable Receipts

    To be eligible for a charitable donation credit, all tax receipts must have the Registered Charity number on them. This is a 9-digit number followed by “RR” and then 4 more digits. Every single RDCRS receipt received by my accounting firm this past tax season was missing this number. This was raised by yours truly to their office on behalf of my clients. They did not reissue replacements until I pushed back repeatedly and individually per client. They said over the phone they would not be mailing out replacements for everyone. So, if you donated this past year, enjoy your reassessment.

    Performance Reports

    We all want to know how our child(ren) is(are) doing in school. This past year RDCRS decided to launch the use of PowerSchool LLC. They say all of your child’s information is held on Canadian servers. However, when you go to sign up for the app it says that the app uses foreign servers for you to access, view, and receive notifications on, your child’s performance. This is how a foreign app works.

    While you may store information in Canada, it is being sent through other connections and servers in a foreign country like the United States. While I’m fine seeing pictures on social media or getting the quick note from a teacher about what “little Johnny” did today… when it comes to academic performance and review, privacy and security steps should be taken. When I raised this concern with the superintendent, his response is that commercial privacy laws do not apply to them.

    In my request I stated:

    “Further to my previous e-mail: although PIPEDA may not apply to RDCRS directly, by engaging a corporate entity, you are required under FOIP S.38 and 39(1) to have proper controls in place which would require our consent. The corporate entity PowerSchool LLC is to be bound by PIPEDA as well as the stricter Alberta version, PIPA, as it is not a government agency. The app from the Canadian version of the app store that you have instructed parents to use to access is warning us upon installation that the data is being routed via PowerSchool LLC’s US resident servers. This is not a violation of PIPEDA by PowerSchool LLC directly, as they are requesting our permission on installing the app. This warning does not exist unless you are in Canada. This is not a “default”, this is a requirement by PowerSchool for any notifications to Canadian resident users.

    However, the letter sent to parents states that we are required to sign up, or we will not receive information. Requiring parents to use the app in order to access report cards and information on our children is not allowing for our consent, it is being forced. A government department forcing a parent to accept a foreign corporation’s “terms of service agreement” is in violation of FOIP.”

    His response:
    “In your message you reference Sec. 38 and 39(1) of the FOIP Act. Our school division is in compliance with these sections of this Act as we have proper controls in place because our student data is housed on our servers. We protect personal information by using reasonable security arrangements against risk of unauthorized access. As a result parent consent is not required.”

    So parent consent is not required with the school division, but yet parent consent is required by the corporate entity, which then routes the data from Canada through their U.S. server. However, if you don’t consent, you don’t get updates other than a final report at the end of the “reporting term”. Sounds like forced consent to me. Why would I want to have my child’s personal and private information sent through a foreign country?

    Radio Ads

    Instead of focusing on children that they have, they would rather recruit more children instead. During the 2013 election, I was amazed how a former trustee chair stated, “if we convert just one child to Catholicism then it [advertising] is worth it.”

    Apparently, conversion is more important than the education of the children already there.

    I have asked how much was spent on advertising but the only response I received was “fill out a freedom of information request. There will be fees associated with it because it is not your personal information.”

    How many textbooks could we have purchased for the amount they spend on advertising in a year? I’m sure many parents would like to know.

    This brings me to today.

    Transport

    An entire bus route of elementary school children did not get picked up today. Instead, they were sitting outside for 45 minutes when my children contacted me in panic tears and said the bus didn’t come. Like any parent, at first, I was questioning my kids… then worried for other children… then mad.

    Why did I get mad?

    Well, you see the RDCRS has a wonderful “app” that is supposed to notify parents if a bus is canceled or running late. But the status for the route said “On time”.

    So I asked my kids if they missed the bus, they said no, because the other kids at their stop were there too.

    When I picked up my children (and one of the neighbour’s kids after getting permission from her parent) we continued along the route and saw many more children waiting along the route. We pulled over to tell them to contact their parents as it appears there is no bus.

    When I arrived with my children at the school I informed them of the issues. Now, to the school’s staff credit, the school responded quickly and the vice principal drove the route to check the safety of the kids.

    However, when I called the transport office, which is owned and run by RDCRS, they stated that they “had a no-show and only found out now.” They still did not update the bus status on the app and this was one hour after the route was to begin.

    Every employer has some sort of attendance system. Couriers use radios and GPS to track vehicles and routes. But somehow the RDCRS transport office doesn’t have a way to track if a driver showed up to work or not? Or if a bus is on a route or not?

    Then what is the point of an app to notify parents if you don’t use it?

    I’ve been relatively quiet publicly on these things, but today, when you put children safety at risk, it was the last straw.


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    Opinion

    If Canadians believed in Gender Equality why in 151 years have we not allowed a female Premier a second term.

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  • If Gender Equality is so important to Canadians, why do we not allow female Premiers a second term?
    Many argue that historically parties in decline and doomed to electoral defeat elect a female leader to clean up their mess. When the mess gets tidied enough for a possible electoral win they replace the female with a male.
    2 recent examples may be highlighted with British Columbia’s Christie Clark and Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne. Were they desperate measures for parties in decline? Yes according to polls at the time of their taking the reins.
    Alberta’s Allison Redford could be another example but not Alberta’s current Premier, Rachel Notley.
    With most cases, the women were elected leaders of governing parties, but not Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley. She became a party leader then became Premier through a provincial election.
    She outshone her competition that was split on the right and many of her MLAs rode her coat tails to victory.
    She cleaned up a lot of messes and unfinished business, so is it time to give the office back to a man? According to many talking heads on the television, it looks like we are.
    So is gender equality really important to Canadians or are women here for cleaning up the messes of men and only arm candy for political parties desperate for the next win?
    We have been slow to give women the right to vote, we have yet to give them income parity, we are still trying in some circles to control a woman’s right to control her own body, so will we ever allow a woman to have a second term as a Premier in Canada? I hope so.
    I have argued with various ministries of this government, on issues like no high schools north of the river and plans for 5 high schools east of 30 Ave. in Red Deer. Basically thinking that they were identical to the previous 40 years of Conservative governments, on these issues.
    Now it appears that this government has made progress on many other issues like minimum wage, environment, and pipelines, they are very different from the previous Conservative governments.
    Based on skills, accomplishments, direction and many other things, I will consider voting for giving for the first time in Canadian history a second term as Premier to a female. GASP.


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    Community Events

    june, 2018

    wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

    sun10jun - 24jun 1010:00 amjun 242018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - 4:00 pm (24)

    sun17jun - 1juljun 1710:00 amjul 1- 4:00 pm2018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - (july 1) 4:00 pm

    tue19jun7:00 pm- 11:30 pmSebastian Bach w/ Guest The Standstills & Sweetgrass- June 19th7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

    tue19jun - 15juljun 198:00 pmjul 15Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 15) 10:30 pm

    wed20jun9:00 am- 11:00 amAlliance MeetingsTopic: Red Deer’s Community Safety Strategy9:00 am - 11:00 am

    wed20jun5:45 pm- 8:00 pmRed Deer County Eco-Buffer and Shelterbelt Workshop5:45 pm - 8:00 pm

    thu21jun - 3juljun 216:30 pmjul 3THE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

    fri22jun - 1juljun 227:30 pmjul 1- 9:15 pmEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

    fri22jun - 23jun 229:00 pmjun 23A Weekend With St. James Gate I Bo's Bar & Stage9:00 pm - 1:00 am (23)

    sat23junAll DayRed Deer Highland Games(All Day: saturday)

    sat23jun4:00 pm- 8:00 pmOlds Beer Festival4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

    sun24jun11:00 am- 2:00 pmOne Eleven Jazzy Brunch11:00 am - 2:00 pm

    mon25jun - 3sepAll DayRip ‘N Rec Summer Pass returns for youth in Red Deer(All Day)

    tue26jun5:00 pm- 6:30 pmUnited Way Central Alberta Annual General Meeting5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

    tue26jun - 22juljun 268:00 pmjul 22Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 22) 10:30 pm

    wed27jun - 1juljun 279:00 amjul 1- 8:00 pmWestern Canadian Breeders Championships9:00 am - (july 1) 8:00 pm

    wed27jun2:00 pm- 3:30 pmMayor’s Garden Party2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

    sat30jun9:00 am- 12:00 pmRed Deer Roundup 5k/10k/15k Run9:00 am - 12:00 pm

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