A Blog About Vital Ottawa Issues
Peter Karwacki is the managing director of the consulting firm Peer Metrics
The Ottawa Police Association says its flag is all sweetness-and-light while others complain that the use of the thin blue line smacks of racism, an unwoke mindset and is bad for the community.
The flag or uniform label, a black maple leaf with a blue line across it, is being worn by some police officers across the country as a protest or tribute of some kind. The meaning of it is vague, as our the explanations by the police about what it represents.
Let’s get this straight. The police work for the public, not the opposite. If the public says the symbol is unacceptable, then it’s unacceptable.
My concern is that police going their own way is never a good thing. When the OPS, RCMP, OPP and CSIS types think they stand alone against the wishes of public, they do a lot of damage.
Its bad enough that the police are telling the public when, where and how they can register their concerns and complaints at the Ottawa Police Services Board. Now the force wants to fly in the face of public opinion.
The public needs to yank their chains a bit more.
March 18, 2023
Our Councillors Fail To Lead
What do our councillors really do for us?
Councillors release streams of social media about good causes, none of them having anything particular to do with the work of councillors. They typically read: I was “pleased to attend,” or I was “pleased to receive” — it’s all feel-good fluff. On occasion, a councillor might report on road conditions.
Here is a list of recent posts on Twitter by Ottawa city councillors:
Orleans South-Navan Councillor Catherine Kitts: “Calling all quilters! “
Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor Rawlson King: “Very proud that the @OverbrookCA has established a GoFundMe.”
Beacon Hill-Cyrville Councillor Tim Tierney: “At City Hall today, @SafetyOttawa launched their digital RoadSMARTS4Kids program.”
Somerset Councillor Ariel Troster: “Daisy has really nailed the post-budget snow-day vibes.”
You get the idea.
However, there is hope: Here is a Capital Councillor Shawn Menard tweet.
“Thanks to council for passing my budget motion to increase bathrooms in #Ottawa and to open several geographically dispersed outdoor pools on July 1st and August Civic Holiday. In the future, these small quality of life changes should be accelerated in our city. #Ottnews #ottcity.”
Meanwhile, constituents will get notices of budget consultations. But where do constituents begin to understand, for example, the budget?
Without context, without comparables, no business intelligence and no targeted reporting, what is that consultation supposed to yield?
Bylaw Pulls A PR Stunt With Stunned Bird
Meanwhile, councillors are paid to participate in the budget process and make good decisions. Their general call to “listen in to budget talks” or “provide feedback on the budget” seems rather pointless unless that feedback is informed and directed.
So what does the zealous councillor do? And what is the conscientious citizen to contribute?
Perhaps our councillors can lead in that regard. Most aren’t now.
March 2, 2023
Should Ottawa And Gatineau Merge?
How do we deal with the pressures of growth? There is a novel and controversial solution.
If we try to predict the population of Ottawa 25 years from now, look to the past. We are up about 400,000 since 2000. We could easily have 1.4 million people by 2046. From this, we see pressures on health and social services, housing and many other civic resources.
Technological changes will streamline business resulting in slowing job growth and will cause problems raising enough taxes. Already, inflation and rising taxes are putting pressure on family budgets. Birthrates are down in the peak-earning population so the tax base is under yet another stress.
Fifteen-Minute Neighbourhoods Just A Fallacy
Accordingly, going forward work-force numbers will not support Ottawa’s aging population. Even now basic facilities such a simple public washrooms are needed. We don’t have enough garbage cans or park benches. Newcomers cannot find a doctor. Ambulances are in short supply and the police always seem to need more money.
So the status quo is not good enough. We need to find efficiencies. What can be done? The counter-intuitive approach might be to do the unusual. We could take advantage of economies of scale by making Ottawa drastically larger.
How to do that? The city might have to find more ways to work cooperatively and share more resources with Gatineau.
Ottawa as a city of 1.4 million might be more successful as the city of Ottawa-Gatineau with a population of 2 million.
February 19, 2024
Vigilunteers Shake Up The Complacent
A vigilunteer combines vigilantism with voluntarism. It is an odd combination.
Vigilantes take the law into their own hands, but a volunteer provides service.
Recently an unofficial city plaque was mounted on the Bank Street bridge to celebrate vigilunteer resistance to trucker occupation. The vigilante in them said the police were not doing their job. The volunteer in them said something had to be done.
The plaque was mounted, photographed, celebrated and quickly removed by less enthusiastic others. The message was clear and pretty humourous.
I wonder how long it will be before the next vigilunteer trims a hedge without permission, installs a skateboard ramp on a steep curb, or installs a trash can where one is needed but does not exist. Would the vigilunteer go so far as to torch a derelict building, fill a pothole with gravel or sweep away a homeless person’s tent site?
Vigilunteers are free radicals in a city that prides itself on the depth and breadth of its bylaws and services. The good or bad vigilunteer does disturbs the complacency of others who trust that the city will always work its magic at the dial of 311.
But we live in a time of diminishing returns, scarcity of resources and we might see more of this chicanery as time moves on. Some of it might be quite funny, such as a fake city plaque while other instances might reflect a growing dissatisfaction with a city grown too large because of all the impacts of suburban sprawl and the hollowing of the urban core.
Feb. 14, 2023
What Kind of Buses Do We Need?
The city will buy some new buses. But the question arises … should those buses have been battery-powered or hydrogen-powered?
I asked ChatGPT (a wildly popular artificial intelligence information bot) to answer this question.
Here are the responses from GPTchat:
Quiet operation: battery-powered buses produce very little noise, which can be an advantage in urban areas.
Low maintenance: compared to traditional diesel-powered buses, battery-powered buses have fewer moving parts, which means low maintenance costs.
Reduced emissions: battery-powered buses produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, making them an environmentally friendly option.
Range limitations: This can be an issue for longer routes or for routes with steep hills, as the bus may need to be recharged frequently.
Long recharge time: recharging the batteries of a battery-powered bus can take several hours, which can limit their availability for service.
LRT Suffers Another Overhead Wire Woe
Cost: while the cost of batteries is decreasing, battery-powered buses are still more expensive to purchase than traditional diesel-powered buses.
Hydrogen fuel-cell buses:
Long range: hydrogen fuel-cell buses have a range similar to traditional diesel-powered buses.
Fast refueling: refueling a hydrogen fuel cell bus takes a matter of minutes, which is similar to refueling a traditional diesel-powered bus.
Zero emissions: like battery-powered buses, hydrogen fuel cell buses produce zero emissions.
Cost: hydrogen fuel cell buses are more expensive to purchase than traditional diesel-powered buses and there is limited refueling infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Complex technology: hydrogen fuel cell technology is more complex than battery technology, which can result in higher maintenance costs.
Hydrogen production: producing hydrogen for fuel cell buses requires a significant amount of energy, which can result in emissions if the hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.
The cost of battery-powered buses and hydrogen fuel-cell buses is a key factor to consider when comparing the two technologies.
The cost of battery-powered buses is largely determined by the cost of the batteries and the cost of the electric drivetrain. As battery technology improves and the volume of production increases, the cost of battery-powered buses is expected to decrease.
However, battery-powered buses are still more expensive to purchase than traditional diesel-powered buses.
The cost of hydrogen fuel cell buses is largely determined by the cost of the fuel-cell system, the hydrogen storage system, and the cost of the hydrogen fuel.
Like battery-powered buses, the cost of hydrogen fuel cell buses is expected to decrease as the technology improves and the volume of production increases. However, hydrogen fuel cell buses are still more expensive to purchase than traditional diesel-powered buses.
It’s also worth noting that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a bus should be considered, which includes the initial purchase price, maintenance costs, fuel costs, and other factors. The TCO of battery-powered buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses can vary depending on factors such as the cost of electricity, the cost of hydrogen fuel, and the availability of charging and refueling infrastructure
Will e-Buses Need Diesel Rescue Vehicles? READER
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is an important factor to consider when comparing battery-powered buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses.
Battery-powered buses typically have a relatively good MTBF due to the relatively simple electric drivetrain. However, the batteries themselves can be a point of failure and might have a shorter lifespan than other components of the bus. Regular maintenance of the batteries is also required to ensure their longevity and performance.
Hydrogen fuel-cell buses, on the other hand, have a more complex system, including the fuel cell, hydrogen storage, and electric drivetrain. As a result, the MTBF for hydrogen fuel cell buses is generally poorer than that of battery-powered buses.
However, with proper maintenance and use of high-quality components, the MTBF of hydrogen fuel-cell buses can be increased.
It is important to consider the MTBF of each type of bus in the context of the specific application and operating conditions. In general, the MTBF of a bus will depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of the components, the operating conditions, and the maintenance practices.
Feb. 12, 2023
Closed Wellington Hollows Out Core
The talk on the street is about closing Wellington in front of the Parliament Buildings.
Meanwhile, the city said this week it is considering opening it. Closed minds want Wellington Street permanently closed to traffic like so many other decisions that are made in the name of security or liability.
A closed Wellington Street doesn’t benefit Ottawa any more than a closed Sparks Street. We will be left with a hollowed out city core … lifeless, bland.
That Deflection You Hear Is A Re-Opened Wellington
Please reopen Wellington. Sure study it to death and maybe in 10 years we will have a good reason to change but for now, let those cars and buses run.
And as an aside, we need a new bridge at Kettle Island. The sooner this happens the sooner we will remove truck traffic from King Edward Avenue and Nicholas Street. This is where the propeller-heads should be concentrating their attention. Protecting people at the corner of Rideau and King Edward is far more productive than obsessing over Wellington.
While we are at it, St. Joseph Boulevard, Montreal Road, Rideau, Wellington and the Macdonald Parkway are all one contiguous street. Maybe focus on that too while you are at it?
Feb. 9, 2023
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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)