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Opinion

The cost of the Canada Winter Games?

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer/editorialist Garfield Marks.

The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is a beautiful building but a very costly one. In more than money.

Construction costs of $22 million is an expensive undertaking. Operating and maintenance and interest on debt compounds the expense. The city is paying $11 million over a 10 year period or $1.15 million per year. (2017-2026) The college and the province are covering the rest, right?

Employees at Red Deer College are paying, too, and some are paying dearly. With their jobs. Red Deer College has to maintain a balanced budget, and with the huge cost of building, operating and maintaining this facility, they had to make cuts.

Early retirement, lay offs, and hours cut are an unintended consequence of the Canada Games.  The Gary W. Harris Wellness Centre was only about 25% of the cost of the winter games and will cost some residents their paycheques, their livelihoods with no one available to top-up their incomes.  Every resident will be paying for this centre for another 7 years, how much are we paying for the other 75%? Will we ever know?

The CFR cost the city last year $151,000 and $50,000 so far this year. Last fall when council voted themselves huge pay increases, one councillor stated they were worth the increases because they brought these events to the city. 

Thank you for lightening our wallets and for some their jobs. Will we ever know the real costs of the Canada games, would we do it again if we knew the real costs? I don’t think so but I doubt we will ever know the real costs, will we?

​Garfield Marks​

Background Information:

Budget Requirements, Council Decision Points and Funding Sources: click reddeer.ca

“…Through a tri-party agreement with The City of Red Deer, the Canada Winter Games Host Society and Red Deer College, a contribution will be made to the College over a 10 year period totalling $11,501,000. This contribution represents about 50 per cent of the expected costs of the Olympic sized ice surface and squash courts to be housed within this facility. Payments of $1.15 million will be paid annually from 2017 to 2026 inclusive. The grants being given to RDC for this project are funded from debt and the Canada Winter Games grant...”

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Economy

Toronto, Vancouver named “Impossibly Unaffordable”

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Courtney Greenberg

Two Canadian cities — Toronto and Vancouver — have earned the title of “impossibly unaffordable” in a new report.

“There has been a considerable loss of housing affordability in Canada since the mid-2000s, especially in the Vancouver and Toronto markets,” according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability report, which is released annually.

“During the pandemic, the increase in remote work (working at home) fuelled a demand increase as many households were induced to move from more central areas to suburban, exurban and even more remote areas. The result was a demand shock that drove house prices up substantially, as households moved to obtain more space, within houses and in yards or gardens.”

Vancouver was the least affordable market in Canada, and the third least affordable out of all of the 94 markets observed in the report. The West Coast city’s affordability issue has “troublingly” spread to smaller areas like Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley, Kelowna, and markets on Vancouver Island, per the report.

Toronto was named as the second least affordable market in Canada. However, it fared slightly better than Vancouver when it came to the other markets, ranking 84 out of 94 in international affordability.

“As in Vancouver, severely unaffordable housing has spread to smaller, less unaffordable markets in Ontario, such as Kitchener-cambridge-waterloo, Brantford, London, and Guelph, as residents of metro Toronto seek lower costs of living outside the Toronto market,” the report says.

The findings of the report have “grave implications on the prospects for upward mobility,” said Joel Kotkin, the director at the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University, a co-publisher of the report along with Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

“As with any problem, the first step towards a resolution should be to understand the basic facts,” he said. “This is what the Demographia study offers.”

The report looked at housing affordability in 94 metropolitan areas in Australia, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The data analyzed was taken from September 2023. The ratings are based on five categories (affordable, moderately unaffordable, seriously unaffordable, severely unaffordable, and impossibly unaffordable) with a points system to classify each area.

The report determined affordability by calculating the median price-to-income ratio (“median multiple”) in each market.

“There is a genuine need to substantially restore housing affordability in many markets throughout the covered nations,” said Frontier Centre for Public Policy president Peter Holle, in a statement. “In Canada, policymakers are scrambling to ‘magic wand’ more housing but continue to mostly ignore the main reason for our dysfunctional costly housing markets — suburban land use restrictions.”

Toronto and Vancouver both received the worst possible rating for affordability, making them stand out as the most expensive Canadian cities in which to buy a home. However, other Canadian markets — like Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa-gatineau — stood out as well. They were considered “severely unaffordable.”

“This is a long time coming,” senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives David Macdonald told CTV News.

“We haven’t been building enough housing, we certainly haven’t had enough government investment in affordable housing for decades, and the chickens are coming home to roost.”

The most affordable Canadian city in the report was Edmonton, which was given a rating of “moderately unaffordable.” The city in Alberta was “at least twothirds more affordable” than Vancouver.

Overall, Canada ranked third in home ownership compared to the other regions observed in the report. The highest home ownership rate was in Singapore, at 89 per cent, followed by Ireland, at 70 per cent. In Canada, the rate was 67 per cent.

First published in the National Post here, June 17, 2024.

Courtney Greenberg is a Toronto-based freelance journalist writing for the National Post.

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Energy

Hydrogen is the most recent impractical green energy blind alley

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ian Madsen

Climate Crisis alarmists tout yet another avenue by which renewable energy could replace reliable fossil fuel-sourced energy:  hydrogen, ‘H2’.  However, typical with alternative energy proposals, there are numerous problems with the widespread integration of this option in future energy production, distribution and consumption.

The first problem is producing H2. The current, and most cost-effective way, is from natural gas’s main component, methane.  Natural gas, while not demonized like oil or coal, is still reviled by Climate activists, since the common byproduct is carbon dioxide, thus requiring expensive sequestration.  An experimental carbon-removal process – pyrolysis, produces carbon nanotubes.

With methane out, the next hydrogen source is via electrolyzing water; using electricity to separate H2O into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen would either be recovered for commercial use or released into the atmosphere. However, hydrolysis is costly.

The equipment is expensive, and the energy required to produce the electricity is not cheap either – even if renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro, are used. There are predictions that H2 produced this way could become cost-competitive with methane-derived H2 by 2030, but using methane is not costless.

Indeed, advocates argue that intermittent wind and solar output would become reliable – ‘smoothed’ – by using hydrogen, as a storage and supply-levelling medium.  The stored H2 would then generate electricity during dark or non-windy conditions. H2 has other uses, in smelting, or aluminumsteelcementglass and other high temperature industries.

Hydrogen seems feasible: it burns cleanly at a high temperature. However, that brings more issues.

The first problem is handling and transporting hydrogen.  H2 dangerously weakens most standard high strength steel alloys in existing natural gas gathering and distribution systems, pipelines, storage and tank farms, in a process called hydrogen embrittlement.  Hence, special alloys are needed.  These cannot cost-effectively be retroactively deployed in existing natural gas distribution systems and pipelines.  They would have to be entirely replaced, although these alloys are cheaper than legacy ones.

Hhas another problem.  To be stored, must either be expensively cooled and pressurized to liquify it; or, if still gaseous, use expensive high pressure vessels. If H2 is not highly pressurized, then the vessels could be much larger, but that would increase materials costs and require more costly land area.

A reminder: natural gas goes from wellhead to customers with minimal storage.  The goal of using renewables is to produce H2 for storage – and use during dark or calm periods – which could last days, as Texas and Germany discovered, disastrously.

Using Hin transportation is impractical.  H2 has low energy density, requiring, as noted, either highly-pressurized storage or expensive cooling, liquefaction and storage: unfeasible for motor vehicles.  There is presently no H2 fuel distribution system.  This would also have to be built, along with the aforesaid new pipelines.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are now invested in legacy natural gas pipelines, gathering and distribution systems.  Replacing them, or building a parallel system, would be profoundly expensive, for no real gain.

Hydrogen makes no sense now; it may never do so, as it is an expensive redundancy.  There are more details in a new Frontier Centre backgrounder “Why We Should be Skeptical of the Hydrogen Economy”.

Ian Madsen is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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