Weeknote Oct 20 – Oct 26 2020

On Tuesday, October 20th we learned that the Ford government intends to remove the ability for a municipality to use ranked ballots. I’m a bit gutted about this.

There is still time to register for a 60 minute session on Monday October 26 at 7:30pm from Unlock Democracy about the success of Ranked Ballots in London, Ontario.

Where there is still time to save Ranked Ballots remains to be seen.

“During the past two weeks, 3,647 residents participated in five telephone-enabled town hall meetings hosted by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and all members of Windsor City Council.” The recordings of these town hall meetings are now on YouTube:

The results of all the polling from these Town Halls are also available. There are some interesting bits of information but there is no statistically valid basis to ground any conclusions.

The Windsor Star decided to give a “highly placed city hall official” the cover of anonymity so they could freely blame Federal MP Irek Kusmierczyk for two City of Windsor projects that did not receive federal funding.

When I moved to Windsor, I was shocked by which how many local officials openly expressed an *entitlement* to provincial and federal funding, including Conservatives. The City of Windsor didn’t win two bids for federal funding that it applied for. Rather than resolve to improve, our mysterious source tells us that the mayor and some city councilors are outraged at the lack of government interference?

(Knowing this, what does this tell us about the fairness of any competitive process that might originate from the City of Windsor?)

Judging by the whinging and petulance expressed by the direct quotations in this piece, I’m going to chose to believe that the source is the mayor himself. I DOUBLE-DOG-DARE all journalists from other media outlets in the city to ask the mayor if he was the source.

Or perhaps a journalist could confirm — as the Canadian Heritage ministry official alluded to — whether the application actually fit the program guidelines. Or we could consider that the proposal to spend millions of dollars to encase a streetcar in glass and place it beside a riverfront was never a good idea in the first place.

Here’s another idea. Maybe the City of Windsor should take responsibility for falling short, take the time to find out what were the characteristics of the winning federal bids, and take the steps to build its capacity so that its next applications will be stronger.

But that’s not going to happen. Because while Detroit might hustle harder,

On October 4th, Frazier Fathers made this observation:

Maybe this one is just me, but on my computer(s) Google maps has updated to have a green default colour on maps when zoomed out…

Here’s what a map of our green space should look like:

On a less depressing note, Essex County has a property called Green Dragon Woods.

Green Dragon Woods is a 32.8-ha site located along the Canard River, upstream of Canard River Scout Camp. The significance of this site is that it contains a number of rare species, including the rare Green Dragon, which grows on the floodplain. There is also hydrologic significance associated with this site. The site is composed of the channel and floodplain of the Canard River. The floodplain is approximately 200 m wide and contains oxbows and braided flood channels that provide flood storage capacity and reduce main channel velocity

Town of Amherstburg Water Master Plan Update & Environmental Assessment Final Phase 2 Report

Last week Toronto Life published an article with an Windsor angle: “I’m 25, live with my parents and own 20 rental properties. Here’s how I did it.

I have a personal aversion to talking about real estate and taxes which puts me at odds with almost all other adults I know. Rather that properly address the potential serious problems that comes to mind from the Toronto Life profile, let me draw your attention to one real-estate reform that sounds most promising to me:

Housing policy should be based on three important principles. First, we should value housing for its use-value, not its exchange-value. Second, housing policy should be part of community and neighbourhood building. Third, housing policy should promote social mixing and sharing, rather than stratification.

Let’s unpack the guiding  principles that  should apply to both house ownership and rental?

The first is that we should regard housing for its use-value. Too often we value housing for its exchange-value. We need to decommodify housing. We must build houses to provide ourselves and others with shelter, comfort, a place where we can grow as individuals and a base from which we can develop as full members of society. We must avoid regarding houses as instruments of exchange as is so often the case today with taxation incentives for investment in housing for short-term capital gain. Housing policy should not be influenced by the quest for wealth accumulation. Older people like me have benefitted from increased property values through no particular virtue on our part. But in the process we have frozen new home buyers out of the market. A fall in property values would  be socially very desirable. But the media keeps us focussed on how we must protect our unearned property gains.

Houses are becoming commodities to buy and sell and not homes. By John Menadue, Pearls and Irritations, 25 September 2020

And from waaaay back

If we really wanted housing to be profitable and plentiful, we’d tax owners on the annual rise in value of their property – a Land Value Tax. This has two benefits: First, you’re taxing a non-productive source of wealth, whereas income and corporate taxes can stifle innovation and risk-taking.

Second, because buyers and sellers know the tax exists, property values stop rising quickly. This makes it easier for newcomers to enter the property market, and for homeowners to buy and sell based on the desirability of housing.

It also means that investors make their profits from land not by pocketing its increase, but by improving its income value – collecting rent, increasing the quantity or quality of housing on it, pressuring government to allow better or more intensive use of the land.

When people can live fairly well, in large numbers, close to their places of work, the economy functions far better. When a few of us are making useless paper profits from our homes and the rest are stuck outside the market, it hurts everyone.

“A housing crisis of global proportions”, by Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail, April 28, 2012