Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where are our “Priorities”... don’t ask the City...

When I step back and watch how our City is administered I am sometimes amazed at how they come up with their "priorities" when it comes to getting the best bang out of our tax dollars.... and I could be off the mark here so I put together a little survey to the left of my blog which may give us all a sense of where our City "priorities" should be with respect to spending money on improving the traffic flow in our City.... so I've used the $1,500,000 improvement to Allen Street as a example.... so should we spend our tax dollars on improving the flow and appearance on University Ave or should we spend it at the "Action Corner" which may soon be the "Action Roundabout" if Clifford and Mitch get their way... Please take a moment to share your view as my guess is it will be significantly different than what the City are doing....

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Plot Gets Thicker....

If you take a look at the following two recent news articles published in Ireland it appears that things are getting even uglier for the Oran Group of Company to the point that the Bank who loaned them the money to buy the Waterfront Mall is in serious trouble as well... also see
Revenue moves to liquidate Oran Group companies
20 September 2009
By Ian Kehoe
The Sunday Business News
The Revenue Commissioners have moved to liquidate two companies connected to the Oran Group, the property development business owned by Irish developer Richard Fitzgerald, in an effort to recover unpaid taxes. Petitions to wind up the two companies - Oran Properties and MDZ - were lodged in the High Court in recent days, and will be heard by the court next month. The Cork businessman, who has significant property interests in Ireland and Britain, controls both companies through a vehicle called Goldcairn Investments. Both companies based in the headquarters of the Oran Group on Grand Parade in Cork city. Fitzgerald was also a founding shareholder of the property firm Brendan Investments. The move by Revenue comes just weeks after Anglo Irish Bank, the nationalised lender, appointed receivers to two companies connected to Fitzgerald - Richard Finbarr’s Property Co, a property trading company, and the Waterfront Mall shopping centre in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Oran bought the mall in 2006 and subsequently announced plans for a major development on the site. Anglo’s security includes the Oran Group’s offices on Grand Parade, an apartment in the Castletroy area of Limerick, and shares in Wharfside Regeneration (Devon) Ltd. Fitzgerald has a number of other business interests. In May 2008, he sold his Scottish recycling firm to the Cork based Response Group in a deal that is reported to have valued the firm at more than €10 million.
State faces new Anglo cash call
20 September 2009
By David Clerkin, Markets Correspondent
The Sunday Business News
The government will have to inject several billion euro in fresh capital into Anglo Irish Bank, following write-offs at the bank after its loans are transferred to Nama. Banking sources believe that Anglo will need a minimum of an additional €4 billion in fresh state capital to continue to operate once the loans are transferred and say this could rise to€6 billion or more due to further write-downs likely on loans not transferred to Nama. The government will seek ways to stagger the significant extra costs on the exchequer which it will incur in keeping Anglo operational. Senior sources say that closing the bank would incur a bigger cost by triggering the state guarantee on bank bonds and deposits. Figures provided by the Department of Finance last week revealed that Anglo would transfer loans with a book value of €28 billion to the National Asset Management Agency( Nama). The transfer is expected to involve a discount of between 33 per cent and 38 per cent on its book value, higher than the average of 30 per cent across all participating institutions announced by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan last week. This could trigger losses on the loan portfolio of between €9 billion and €10.5 billion. These losses, coupled with further impairments on Anglo loans that will not be transferred to Nama, look set to erode Anglo’s capital base to such an extent that the government would be forced into a series of fresh capital injections. The government spent €3.8 billion earlier this year to repair Anglo’s balance sheet, based on reported loan losses of €4.9 billion and anticipated future losses of a further €2.6 billion. When the fresh capital injections likely to be needed over the next year are added to state funds already gone in, it looks set to push the total cost of bailing out the now nationalised bank to between €8 billion and €10 billion. The need to inject more funds into Anglo would place further strains on the exchequer’s finances, as the government, acting through the National Treasury Management Agency, would need to borrow the money, with little prospect of ever getting a return on it. The Department of Finance is likely to explore ways in which any payments necessary can be minimised and staggered, deferring the need for some of the capital requirement for a limited period. It also remains unclear what capital requirement the Central Bank will impose on Anglo.Among the mechanisms that will be examined are Anglo recognising further loan impairments over more than one accounting period. Unusually among Irish banks, Anglo’s financial yearend is September 30. This may give its board limited flexibility in determining the level of losses to be recognised in the current year, and in the subsequent period.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

City Council Making More Music.....

Although I'm away on vacation I couldn't help scanning some of the local news and lo and behold I see Council is back making music to the ears of their law firm..... and costing us taxpayers more money on something they should be supporting not trying to stop....

"Send in the Clowns" is a song by Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical A Little Night Music.
The "clowns" in the title do not refer to circus clowns. Instead, they symbolize fools, as Sondheim explained in a 1990 interview:

“I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song's about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she's an actress, but it's not supposed to be a 'circus'.... it's a theater reference meaning 'if the show isn't going well, let's send in the clowns'; in other words, 'let's do the jokes.' I always want to know, when I'm writing a song, what the end is going to be, so 'Send in the Clowns' didn't settle in until I got the notion, 'Don't bother, they're here' which means that 'We are the fools.'”
In a 2008 interview, Sondheim further clarified:

“As I think of it now, the song could have been called 'Send in the Fools.' I knew I was writing a song in which Desirée is saying, 'aren't we foolish' or 'aren't we fools'? Well, a synonym for fools is clowns, but 'Send in the Fools' doesn't have the same ring to it."

Maybe it might be time for someone to try a new version like "Throw out the Clowns"....

Charlottetown again refuses IRAC order
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
CBC News
The City of Charlottetown has again ignored an order from the Island Regulatory Appeals Commission to rezone a property to make way for apartment buildings.
'We have to decide whether we're going to compromise our values.'— Coun. David MacDonald
The land, owned by L&A MacEachern Holdings, is currently the site of the Idlewheels Trailer Park. L&A MacEachern wants to clear out the trailer park in favour of apartments, but council has twice voted down rezoning. The developer appealed to IRAC, and the commission overruled the city. That ruling was upheld on appeal in January.
Eviction notices have already been delivered to the 19 trailers in the Idlewheels Trailer Park.
City council was supposed to rubber stamp the IRAC order last week, but it did not.
"The fact of the matter is it is not necessary for us to pass a resolution to enact that order," Coun. David MacDonald told council.
"IRAC has the authority to do that themselves."
The provincial Planning Act states that if a council refuses to carry out an order from IRAC, the commission has the authority to implement the order.
MacDonald said it's about council staying true to its principles.
"Now we have to decide whether we're going to compromise our values by taking another decision tonight that disagrees with what we really think in the first place," he said.
MacDonald said council wants a legal opinion before it decides how to proceed. That legal opinion should be ready in October.
A spokesperson for IRAC wouldn't comment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Sign Of The Times.... only in Charlottetown..

Well here we go again... a good corporate citizen, Aliant who have a significant investment in Charlottetown and employ a lot people in Charlottetown wanted to erect a promotional sign on their building on Queen Street.... but the current signage bylaws which are silly at best wouldn't allow for the sign and the bylaws wouldn't allow for a variance... and the reason the bylaws won't allow for a variance is there were so many requests coming before Council that the Councillors decided they didn't want to deal with them anymore... so they redrafted the bylaw to "disallow" variances instead of redrafting the bylaws to allow signs that are in keeping with what businesses are looking for which would have solved the problem with too many variance requests... So Aliant ended up doing what hundreds of other Charlottetown businesses have done and just went ahead and installed the sign without a permit which the City has now asked them to remove... but Alaint have stuck to their guns and won't remove it so now the City is running down to their lawyers to rack up another bill for us taxpayers instead of trying to amend the bylaws to accommodate a well respected business... now the "don't get ahead gang" will be tickled pink to see the City defending their silly bylaws and they'll also be "aghast" at Aliant's stance but I'm hoping some Councillors will have the good sense to try and resolve this situation before it gets out of hand... and just maybe fixing the bylaws to suit business demands may be a good start...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where's PEI in the mix...

I noticed this press release put out by ACOA today and I skimmed through it to see where PEI fit in the picture and I was surprised that there was no mention of PEI's Bioscience Industry... but I'm sure we must have a delegation at this conference as the Government appears to be hanging their hat on a big Bioscience future. I think it's important to set up a yardstick to measure how we are doing on this job front and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have periodic reports as there doesn't seem to be a lot of activity as of yet. The Government has announced a new Bioscience Park at the Upton Farm site and they are proudly displaying their signage but there is still no activity. I realize every new venture takes time and involves risk but hopefully the business plan for this new Park is a little more sound that the outcome of the Atlantic Technology Centre... as just the other day the Tech Centre was showing rental space to Scotia McLeod an investment dealer which strikes me as being a far cry from who they should be renting space to...
9 September 2009
Halifax, Nova Scotia
The world's leading bioscience experts are coming to Atlantic Canada, and specifically to Nova Scotia between September 9 and 11, to forge strategic business and research alliances with their Atlantic Canada counterparts.

Nearly 50 international bioscience leaders will take part in a series of activities, hosted by each of the four Atlantic provinces throughout the month of September, including one-on-one business meetings, site tours, educational sessions and networking events.

The 2009 Pan-Atlantic Incoming BioPartnering Mission builds on the strong results of the inaugural visit by international companies and research organizations to Atlantic Canada in 2008. The incoming mission is funded by the provincial and federal governments through the Canada/Atlantic Provinces Agreement on International Business Development (IBDA).

"The Government of Canada is committed to the development of Atlantic Canada's bioscience industry," said the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). "Our investment in this business mission will help support the growth of this industry, which is important to Atlantic Canada's economy, by raising the sector's international profile, encouraging commercialization and attracting foreign investment."

"The bioscience industry provides a significant contribution to the Nova Scotia economy," said the Honourable Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development. "The continued growth of the industry in Nova Scotia is a reflection of our hard-working and innovative people collaborating and building partnerships with companies worldwide."

Atlantic Canada's bioscience industry is a hotbed of innovation research and business opportunities, consisting of over 100 companies and employing thousands of Atlantic Canadians. The industry's sales, employment figures, and research and development (R&D) are forecast to increase significantly over the next five years.

As a result of last year's mission, during which 26 foreign companies traveled to Atlantic Canada, researchers from Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador joined with St. John's-based Newfound Genomics, and Boston-based PGxHealth Ltd. to put Memorial's diagnostic test for a lethal heart condition within easy reach of doctors and patients. According to Dr. Wayne Gulliver of Newfound Genomics, the 2008 biopartnering mission served as a catalyst for bringing the parties together to complete this deal. "The biopartnering project gave us the opportunity to bring our partners from the United States to our location in Newfoundland to complete the details of our agreement. In turn, we were able to solidify our relationship and get our diagnostics test into the market much sooner than we had originally planned."

The 2009 incoming mission is being organized by BioAtlantech, the lead agency for New Brunswick's bio- industries, in partnership with its counterparts in the three other Atlantic Provinces. Creating awareness of Atlantic Canada's bioscience capabilities both nationally and internationally, finding outlets for innovative products and attracting investments to the region through R&D partnerships are important goals for these regional stakeholders.

The mission's events are designed to showcase Atlantic Canada's bioscience industry and to build focused international business and research partnerships. This collaboration can lead to new product development, licensing agreements for intellectual property, R&D projects and increased export sales for Atlantic Canada's bioscience companies and research organizations.
A total of $217,440 in funding for the inbound trade mission is being provided through the IBDA. The IBDA is a federal/provincial agreement between the Government of Canada (ACOA, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and Industry Canada) and the four provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, and is designed to help Atlantic Canadian businesses enter, explore and succeed in international markets. The IBDA is the leading component of a pan-Atlantic effort to foster business relations, attract foreign investment and nurture technological co-operation.

"Changeup"... maybe it's a cabinet "term"...

In baseball the term "changeup" is commonly used when a good pitcher appears to be throwing a fast ball when in fact he is making a subtle change to his grip to slow the speed down and confuse the batter in order to force a strike... smart PEI Politicians us a similar tactic midway through their elected terms and make some subtle changes in their cabinet to give the voter the impression Government is listening and then re-elect them for another term... well we're halfway there now and if you have a look at the recent poll results on my blog it would appears that 74% of those surveyed think Ghiz should make some Cabinet changes.... with 71% thinking Docherty should go followed by Greenan at 58%... I suspect in Docherty's case some blame can be laid on the slump in the Tourism industry as a whole but I suspect her leadership on issues like the golf courses and the Morissette concert have also been suspect with the public... in Greenan's case I think it's unfortunate but Gerard just doesn't handle himself in the media that well and his absence from the school closure debate has turned voters off but I think he might survive... Doug Currie fared the best of all the Ministers with only 8% of those surveyed calling for change which is a testament to his strength of character and hard work... Ron MacKinley also scored well in the survey as he has applied a lot of "common sense" to his decisions and has taken good advice from his strong deputy Steve MacLean... so I doubt if we'll see any changes in Currie's or MacKinley's roles but you can be assured that the rest of the caucus are front and centre looking for something to happen... I expect Carolyn Bertram to take over Education and maybe some tweaking among Kathleen Casey, Neil LeClair and Greenan... I would say that Alan McIcaas and Cynthia Dunsford are clambering hard for a job but my guess is that Rob Vessey, Janice Sherry and Robert Henderson have a much better “political” chance to move up the ladder at this time... with Webster out on a health leave George may find this a great opportunity to step away from Cabinet which would be a loss but it could open up more opportunity for others... of course what I think and know about what is really going to happen with Cabinet is not worth a hill of beans but I can bet you John Jeffery is out there stirring up the pot trying to break a story.... so it’s really a wait a see game now... and in the meantime there will be a lot of talk around the kitchen table wondering if Premier Ghiz has the courage to throw out the “changeup”....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Nice Work If You Can Get It.....

There's an old Island expression related to getting a Government job and it goes something like this.. "It's nice work if you can get it" and if they can sell the Avondale Golf Course for $3.6 million then let's put our Provincial courses up for sale... according to Mr. MacEachern he has 20 people interested so I could only imagine the line up for PEI's finest but it appears we'll never know unless the Premier lives up to his commitment and puts the courses up for sale... just maybe there are some real investors looking to snap them up.... I still don't understand why Government is so bent on operating a private business and competing with private enterprise and all the while losing "our" shirts... It's time to develop an exit strategy for these courses and move on to promoting the rest of the industry... there's plenty of opportunity to put the sale proceeds back into heath care and education...
Avondale Golf Club owner puts it back on the market
The Guardian
After initially going up for sale two years ago, the Avondale Golf Club has been re-listed for sale. Club owner Wendell MacEachern recently put the Vernon River course up for sale through Century 21, asking $3.6 million. The full-service course was initially put up for sale following the last provincial election, with MacEachern hoping he could market the course along with a number of other courses that had been put up for sale by the province. “I figured if the province was serious about selling their courses, (having) the best intermediate course on the Island, I thought there might have been an opportunity for me there,” MacEachern said. “That really was the method to my madness.” However, because of a passive marketing strategy the course never sold. Now two years later MacEachern is using a more aggressive approach and seeing serious results with some 20 interested buyers approaching him already. He said the course, which he’s invested serious money into fixing up over the years, is as marketable as it ever has been, adding for him, this is the perfect time to sell. “There’s no more need to spend a lot of money on infrastructure,” he said, adding while there are a number of reasons he’s selling, poor tourism numbers are the main one. “Owning a golf course is fun,” he said. “It’s a nice, clean industry, but you’re relying on government for promotion and we’ve been on a lull for tourism lately. Now is the right time for me because I can market it at a price that is reasonable.”

Mike Currie To Step Down... don't think so...

I'm sure the current member from Georgetown - St. Peters is as surprised as I am at this recent development... most potential party leaders need to put forward the perception of being able to win a safe seat before any delegates would take them seriously... and I wouldn't want to be the guy trying to wrestle this one away from Mr. Currie without his co-operation as I think Mike has some unfinished business in the House... maybe Mr. Llewelleyn knows something the rest of us don't as I can't even imagine how he would expect to make a serious run at the Tory leadership from Georgetown without some "deal" done with Mr. Currie to step down.... and I don't see that anytime soon.... I wonder why the media didn't ask Mr. Llewelleyn the obvious question of where he was expecting to run....
Llewellyn to run for P.E.I. PC leadership
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
CBC News
The former mayor of Georgetown is making a bid to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I.
Peter Llewelleyn says he's received a lot of encouragement to run for the top Tory job at the party's leadership convention next fall and that he has a lot to offer the party.
"I've been a volunteer all my life, and I've been involved in business and trying to make the areas where I live a little better … and it's tough going trying to push these balls uphill," said Llewellyn.
"I think I bring a lot to it, and I think … I'd like to try kicking some of these balls downhill and get some things done. I think it's just time, and I believe that the Island is ready for, maybe, a politician like myself."
Llewellyn said he would make an excellent contrast to Premier Robert Ghiz.

A Little Too Late... if you ask me...

Well if you ask me and they never do... I would have thought the spring would be better than the fall as it would give someone a much better opportunity to raise some money and at least put forward a 'game face" campaign as opposed to a fall "caretaker" approach... it’s a daunting task to expect someone to mount a competitive campaign with only a year to put a team together... if you look at the polls I don't think Olive has any traction especially with the party brass.... and I can't even imagine that Jim Bagnall would be serious about taking a run at it or any others from the former Binn's Team as the voters just wouldn't buy it... even as Party Leader Ballem couldn't knock Vessey out of his seat but this certainly could be an opportunity for the Tories to "engineer" a loss in order to have a caretaker in place that would step down after Ghiz wins his second term... it's my belief that the Tories need someone new who is "true blue" to unite the Party and the latter would rule David MacKenzie out as most see him as a red team player... the name I continue to hear is Mark Ledwell and it wouldn't surprise me if we see him appear out of nowhere next fall... I doubt if he could beat Ghiz the first time out but he's a capable guy and I expect the second time up he'd give the Liberals a big run for their money...
P.E.I. Tories set to pick leader in fall 2010
Thursday, September 3, 2009
CBC News
P.E.I.'s Tories are one step closer to picking a new permanent leader.
The Progressive Conservative party executive has decided the leadership convention will be held the third weekend in September 2010, CBC has been told by several sources.
Since last fall's annual meeting, Tories have been debating when to call a leadership convention — spring or fall of next year.
Some members argued it should be held as quickly as possible. Others wanted to wait until the fall, which would give the new leader a year to prepare for the next provincial election, set for October 2011.
The party is expected to formally announce the convention date in the next week or two.
Possible candidates
Interim leader Olive Crane is expected throw her hat in the ring when the leadership convention takes place.
Crane is said to have spent much of the summer travelling the Island, meeting with grassroots Tories and trying to form a power base there.
Montague MLA and Opposition house leader Jim Bagnall is said to be interested as is Jamie Ballem, a businessman who served as minister of both health and energy in the Progressive Conservative government of Pat Binns.
David MacKenzie, executive director of the Confederation Centre, has also been approached by the party to run as a candidate. He has a record of tight fiscal management and ability to leverage money from the federal government.
The party is also seeking a strong Prince County candidate. The name mentioned most often is Summerside lawyer Derek Key, whose father was Conservative leader in the mid-1970s.

What Else Is He Going To Say...

I find it a bit hard to believe that the director of the Aquaculture Association just happens to be an "expert" in bacterial contamination. But I might believe the Association gets some of their operating budget from the Federal Government and they just might be singing the same tune.... but if you talk to local fishers, producers and exporters everyone there seems to think it was a little "overkill" and it certainly hurt the small guy in their pocketbooks... I think the next time they come across this type of situation there should be a reasonable closure protocol with sufficient notice laid out for everyone involved prior to hitting the panic button... and I'm pretty sure there were a few people "put on the carpet" over this one...
Shellfish harvest ban in Maritimes justified: expert
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
CBC News
High levels of fecal coliform bacteria found in waters in the Maritimes justify the recent ban on shellfish harvesting, says the executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia.
Water tests conducted by Environment Canada and the Canada Food Inspection Agency revealed "major pockets" of contaminated water around the region, Brian Muise said.
"The potential there to harm someone was real," he said.
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans issued the temporary ban on Aug. 31 amid concerns of bacterial contamination from run-offs following two significant rainfalls — Hurricane Bill and post-tropical storm Danny.
Harvesting bivalves — oysters, mussels, clams and quahogs — within 1.6 kilometres of the shore of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of New Brunswick was prohibited. DFO has since eased the ban in some areas.
Muise said he understands the frustration that harvesters and fish farmers are feeling.
"It would be easy to say that some areas … that didn't receive the heavy rainfall, might have been able to stay open," he said. "But if you look at other parts of Cape Breton, all down the western shore here, south coast — absolutely, it's valid."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stratford's National Bird.... shoot 'em up.. I say

Surely when Stratford's Council get their Downtown Disney (remember the $200,000.00 study) underway they will find a special place on their "pier" for this fun loving "fish eater" the double-crested cormorant. In the meantime I know a lot of sport fisherman who would love to find a solution for getting rid of this menacing "trout poacher".... and I think I have one.... why not let our PEI "gun toting" conservation officers use them as target practice so when they come across a backhoe operator near a pond they won't "miss" him... and if the 20 or so conservation officers couldn't keep this "pest" at bay then I'm all for giving our "road flaggers" some guns as well... or as Environment Canada would say "there is a 60 % chance" that I'm pulling your leg..... but seriously let's get rid of "them"...
Smelly cormorants overtake old Hillsborough piers
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
CBC News
Wildlife officials say little can be done about the hundreds of cormorants that have taken over the old Hillsborough Bridge piers this summer.
The Charlottetown piers were home to a colony of terns, but the foul-smelling black double-crested cormorants have recently staked their claim.
"They're not a pretty bird. They're almost a pre-historic-looking bird," said Gerald MacDougall, the P.E.I. Environment Ministry's fish and wildlife section manager.
This is the first summer the colony has roosted permanently on the old piers.
Until now, the common tern — a smaller bird with smaller droppings — nested here.
In previous years, wildlife officials had tried to protect the terns by putting up wire fencing on the piers to keep out the cormorants. But the piers are slowly crumbling, making it unsafe to put up fences.
As well, there are fewer terns here and around the world, MacDougall said.
"If the terns were here, more than likely they would have prevented the cormorants from nesting here. They're very aggressive and they nest earlier than the cormorants," MacDougall said. "So, when the terns weren't here, the cormorants moved in, and seemed to have taken over."
A few years ago, officials allowed hunters to shoot cormorants on the Island.
But MacDougall said people kept shooting the wrong kind.
"People had trouble telling the difference between a double-crested cormorant and a great cormorant and our great cormorant took a huge hit the years that they had a hunting season on them," said MacDougall.
Meanwhile, Bruce Smith, president of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation, is disappointed the measures to protect the terns on the bridge piers haven't worked.
The organization has set up a few fenced rafts further up the river to help the terns, but Smith said more rafts might have to be floated.