Blueberries from Chile, Peru and Brazil may soon be heading toward U.S. tables via Savannah, Georgia, opening another shipping market in the city
Blueberries from Chile, Peru and Brazil may soon be heading toward U.S. tables via Savannah, Georgia, opening another shipping market in the city
There is a city in Ontario that is well on its way to reimagining the role of local government. And it’s not Toronto.
Earlier this year I wrote in this space that the Toronto mayoral candidates were missing the point. I argued that the city is on the cusp of profound changes and needed a mayor with vision and an ability to lead.
The networked age provides new opportunities to reinvent our local infrastructure and institutions.
All the Toronto mayoral candidates ignored the advice. So imagine my surprise when an email from Mayor Karen Farbridge of Guelph arrived, saying that her community is actually working hard to implement the transformations I outlined in the article.
I’ve looked into her claims and have concluded that the city’s elected officials, public servants and 120,000 citizens are well on their way to reimagining the role of local government.
So Toronto mayoral candidates please take note. My vision is achievable. Here is what Guelph is doing in seven key areas I outlined in my original article.
1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity
I argued that when it comes to jobs, entrepreneurship is key, as close to 80 per cent of new jobs come from companies five years old or less, and technology enables little companies to have the capabilities of big companies.
Innovation Guelph is the Guelph region’s central institution for the support of entrepreneurship. Since launching in 2010, it has coached more that 500 companies and helped channel more than $12 million into client companies.
Guelph’s urban planning includes the development of mixed-use residential and business districts, including the Guelph Innovation District. This envisions a large tract of land close to the city’s core being transformed into a vibrant community that will mix residential and business development.
Guelph is collaborating with entrepreneurs and neighbouring communities to create a unique innovation super-cluster corridor, stretching from Toronto through Guelph to Kitchener-Waterloo. The cities of Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo partnered with financial and technology sectors to create a business case for provincial and federal investment in all-day, two-way GO commuter rail service. Working together, these communities landed a commitment to increased service and two-way GO train service in the 2014 provincial budget.
2. Open Government
Guelph City Council unanimously approved an ambitious open government plan that had been co-produced from the outset with engaged citizens, local business and community stakeholders. Guelph’s vision for open government is a public service that grows into an “open by default” culture matched by citizens who regularly participate in government decision making.
The city is releasing data sets as public assets and has a vision for including data from community partners, such as businesses, educational institutions and agencies.
Here’s fresh thinking: the orientation manual built traditionally for councillors’ orientation has been turned inside out into an online user guide to local government, so that the public has the same information as new councillors.
The city and University of Guelph are in the early stages of launching a Civic Lab to bring design thinking approaches to address difficult issues affecting local communities.
3.Turning Public Safety Inside Out
Policing is moving into a new paradigm, where police focus on engaging citizens rather than delivering services to them. Already one of the safest cities in Canada, Guelph has launched Guelph Enterprise — a model for innovation in human services. The model asserts that cities do not have a policing problem but a marginalized people problem. To maintain safe communities we need more than just great policing — we need strong health care, education and social services working together.
In a few short months since its inception in May 2014, the group has shown this collaborative approach has tremendous opportunity to free up resources and capacity for stretched service providers.
I saw no evidence that Guelph is preparing for intelligent transportation systems and autonomous vehicle systems that are just around the corner.
However, the city council has made affordable, alternative transportation a priority for Guelph’s growth. Guelph’s cycling master plan has nearly doubled the city’s bike lanes over the past six years and is adding bike lanes as part of all road reconstruction. Guelph now has more than 100 lane-kilometres of bike lanes with another 110 kilometres in varying stages of approval. Guelph residents enjoy an additional 110 kilometres of off-road trails for pedestrians and cyclists.
Transit use is growing. Guelph Central Station was built in downtown Guelph to bring together Guelph Transit, GO trains and buses, VIA Rail and Greyhound buses. Guelph also introduced an affordable bus pass program.
5. Creating a Sustainable City
Amazingly, Guelph is building North America’s first city-wide district energy network.
The Community Energy Initiative is a kind of central heating and cooling system to serve industrial, commercial and residential buildings across the city. The system is designed to draw energy from multiple sources: solar, geothermal, biogas, waste heat and traditional fuels.
Since 2006, Guelph’s population has increased by 10 per cent while greenhouse gas emissions per capita have declined 10 to 15 per cent.
Since 2006, water conservation efforts have reduced average daily water production by 6.1 million litres per day. The average Guelph resident uses 20 per cent less water than the average Ontario resident.
According to Waste Diversion Ontario,Guelph’s innovative organic waste processing plant has led to the highest residential diversion rate of any municipality in Ontario.
The Guelph processing plant was built with additional capacity to be able to receive organic waste from neighbouring municipalities to subsidize the cost paid by Guelph taxpayers for the service.
6. Transforming Social Services
The digital revolution enables cities to better integrate social services, reducing cost and improving value.
Over the years, Guelph social services have decried the “business as usual” siloed approach to delivering public services. Recently, the city formalized this community philosophy with the creation of Guelph Wellbeing. Guelph used the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, developed at the University of Waterloo and rarely used at the city level, to survey residents to assess overall well-being.
The Guelph Wellbeing Leadership Group was formed to champion the initiative and includes 22 community leaders from different sectors, agencies and stakeholders within the city. They agreed to work together using shared performance indicators to tackle tough issues such as of affordable housing, social and physical connectivity, and food security. Instead of duplicating efforts and wasting tax dollars, they are pooling resources inside and outside government to find solutions.
7. Reinventing Local Democracy
Leaders in Guelph, whether at the city or university or in business, social services and community groups, have big ambitions. Events like Hackathons, Health Jams and Change Camps demonstrate a community approach to redefining the relationship between citizens and their local government. If successfully implemented, the open government and Guelph Wellbeing initiatives can go a long way to building trust among community stakeholders, to redefining the role of citizen and government.
Through its work in environmental sustainability, Guelph has demonstrated that cities can innovate. Through its fresh approach to problem-solving and open-government principles, Guelph is challenging the traditional industrial-age approach to local government and democracy. Shared ownership, decentralized decision-making, community engagement have the potential to shift the relationship from “us vs. them” to “we’re in this together.”
I travel the world speaking with and advising government and business leaders. Few communities demonstrate the ambition and discipline of Guelph. And I see no reason why the initiatives in a community of 120,000 can’t be replicated in a city the size of Toronto.
Oh: and to reiterate a final note to Toronto candidates. “Please stop calling me a taxpayer, dammit! I’m a citizen. And I want to live in a 21st century city! Which of you has a vision and plan to get us there?”
The Indian government has announced rules for setting up real estate investment trusts, vehicles that may spur $20 billion of property development. None of the money will be spent unless the country
Canada is bracing for a dispute with Germany over whether its newly agreed free trade pact with the European Union should be reopened to erase arbitration clauses.
The final text of the accord, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, was sealed Sept. 30, after five years of negotiations. Germany’s late call to question dispute settlement clauses has left Canadians puzzled, Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said Wednesday in Berlin.
Canada wants the rules embedded in the free trade accord “to stay in,” before the pact’s ratification, said Verheul in an interview in Germany’s lower house of parliament, where he was due to “explain Canada’s position.” Legal regress clauses that are outlined in the CETA agreement mark “considerable improvements on flawed arrangements of the past,” he said.
New German objections threaten Canada-EU trade deal
Stephen Harper plays down German concerns about Canada-EU trade deal
CETA a much-announced trade pact of dubious value: Walkom
The incoming EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstroem, is lining up with Canada to defend investment protection in CETA, while German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, is adamant he’ll seek support for removal of the clauses before planned ratification of the accord next year.
Reopening the agreement means it “risks falling apart,” Malmstroem has said.
Wrangling over arbitration rules belies a surge in popular misgivings in Germany over the outcome of efforts to clinch an EU-U.S. trade accord, for which CETA has been perceived as a model.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who champions free trade with Group of Eight partners, is faced with divisions in her own coalition over arbitration rules as well as wider concerns among the general public.
Gabriel, in comments made on Sept. 25, blamed the European Commission for agreeing to the CETA clauses in 2011, and said Germany must “urgently” work with its EU partners to have the legal facility removed as domestic laws are adequate to address investor disputes.
Merkel has touted free trade deals with North America as a “mini-stimulus program” that would create thousands of jobs. That tallies with the hopes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who hopes CETA will create 80,000 jobs.
CETA promises to abolish as much as 98 per cent of customs duties between Canada and the 28-nation EU trade bloc.
Remember that idea about electing a mayor we love, one who loves us, one who is prepared to engage the city in an adult conversation about a glorious future, one who’d emerge following a year-long examination that is a municipal election?
Forget it. Not happening. Not this time. Too much division. Too much distrust. Too much angst. Too much of too much.
On Oct. 27 Toronto will be electing a mayor who can get us beyond the most exhausting, debilitating, divisive and demoralizing period of our civic history. We may grow to love each other, mayor and people; but survival, not romance, is what’s driving this relationship.
That’s the painful reality less than six weeks from election day. This election is not about a vision for Toronto’s future; it’s about washing away the recent past. It’s not about policy and the public good; it’s about politics and public cleansing.
Then, after the healing, the city can look to dream again.
Even that undertaking will be strained and extremely difficult. So much had transpired for so long between the guardians of our democracy and the disenfranchised masses that neither side care to talk about the genesis of the fracture. And, more recently, so much has happened in so short a time that neighbours wonder if they know each other at all; families view each other with distrust, unable to fathom divergent perspectives on what was thought to be bedrock values and issues.
Just to mention names and issues is to break open raw wounds, so let’s keep it generic as much as possible and not point fingers.
Transportation is such a pressing and critical issue that nothing could keep it off the agenda. But just about everything else fades into feeble talking points. There’s a civic restlessness that mutes real and vigorous wrestling of the issues of our time — lack of housing, poverty, joblessness among youth, the excruciating marginalization of so many communities and demographics. Even the most ardent advocates have taken pause.
People are not stupid. Sometimes they are selfish and vote for their own personal self-interest. Mostly, they don’t pay attention. And yes, they do seem to want it both ways — subways for nothing, increased services but no tax hikes.
But stupid, they are not. Forced to pay attention, they get it — even if they don’t let on. Probe below what seems like selfishness about taxes and government and a complex construct emerges.
Just before the last election, a little-known opinion poll showed the complexity of the voting public. Asked what should be done with any savings found in the city budget, respondents chose “pay down the debt, fund more services, build infrastructure, cut taxes” in almost equal increments.
Yes, they want to stop government waste, but that is not fuelled by some anti-tax, anti-government movement no fax payday loans. Faced with cutbacks and a jobs squeeze and a cash crunch in their own lives, they want the fiscal behaviour at city hall to reflect their everyday reality. Upon further review, really, it seems like they would pay, if they somehow felt the person asking for added taxes has taken good care of the taxes already paid.
Everything depends on fiscal credibility.
Several elections ago, a city administration looked for ways to spend money and — placed in the most positive light — to improve city services. That was replaced by the current regime that looked for ways to curtail spending. One regime, in effect, spawned the other.
I don’t detect any desire to countenance another debate about waste. The raw anger of four years ago has dissipated. But there is no desire to splurge. With the history of the last 10 years, fiscal discipline is the essential starting point. A first principle. Prove that and citizens will travel with you down the road to more taxes. But they must be convinced. And once they are, this big adult discussion — all the wonderful stuff about a livable metropolis — can take place.
Focus groups tell the campaign managers that voters want attention to infrastructure — build something, subway, LRT, just get on with it. They are not aching for a grand vision for a great city by the lake.
They do not relish a campaign message promising more taxes; and it’s not that they want to be lied to. It’s more complex than that. Give them the unvarnished truth and you won’t get elected. But, get elected; show fiscal responsibility; earn credibility; and they’ll consider taxes you recommend.
How do we know?
The current mayor promised subways without taxes. He levied a subway tax. And nobody revolted. There was barely a peep of protest because citizens felt he saved them money so if he is levying taxes it must be unavoidable in order to deliver something the citizens desire.
As such, on October 27 we are electing a mayor that gives us a general comfort that he or she understands our angst about the cost of government. And someone who understands the second inviolable requirement: a mayor who can govern the city and lead city council — without the drama.
People aren’t stupid. Essentially, they want a mayor with three basic characteristics: fiscal credibility, personal integrity, and ability to unite suburb and downtown, left and right, rich and poor in constructing a great city. Current circumstances prevent them from getting past the first two.
That’s all this election is about. The vision will have to wait.
When Oakville’s Paul Benoit, a stay-at-home dad formerly of Toronto, donned a Mayor Rob Ford mask he bought at Malabar’s costume store for $26, he dived straight into the deep end: the mayor’s re-election campaign office in Scarborough.
Toronto Police say an altercation ensued, with the accused allegedly kicking a camera out of Benoit’s hand, and escalated outside the office.
Some of this is shown in shaky YouTube footage.
The altercation continued beyond what the video shows, with police alleging Benoit was punched in the face.
The men continued to fight, “until they were stopped by people in the area,” police said, adding Benoit’s microphone was allegedly taken from him. Benoit was initially arrested in the incident, then released.
Ford campaign worker William Byers, 60, has been charged with assault, mischief and theft, police said. He is set to appear in court Oct. 7.
Wednesday night, before Byers was charged, Ford communications director, Jeff Silverstein, relayed his sense of the event.
“My understanding is that (Benoit) did get into the office on three occasions. He returned a third time, and at that point he was escorted out,” Silverstein said. “On being escorted out, just outside of the office he assaulted a volunteer.
“He was punched, I believe, in the stomach. He fell to the ground and bumped his head. My understanding is he’s OK.”
The Star is continuing to seek comment from the campaign Thursday.
The Star spoke to Benoit, 43, about what followed his dramatic entrance and the resulting YouTube video that he says aided in his release from police custody. The following is his edited and condensed account of events, which have not been proved in court.
What were your intentions?
It was for humour. Jimmy Kimmel would probably think it’s pretty funny.
What kind of response have you received from posting the video?
A lot of comments stating “Way to go, you did the right thing.” And then a whole bunch of negative comments, almost menacing comments.
The video stops suddenly at 40 seconds. Can you explain what happened after the video cuts out?
Basically, the gentleman, the Ford campaigner, kicked my hands and kicked the camera out of my hands. The camera went flying 15 feet in the air and then it landed on the sidewalk behind four Rob Ford staffers. At which point, when I got hit, I was like, “OK I need to defend myself and I need to protect myself and I need to get my property.” So that’s when fists started flying.
What did you want to happen when you entered the office?
I was just looking for a funny reaction short term personal loan. I was not expecting any kind of violence. I was expecting somebody to come up to me and say, “Hey you can’t be filming in here, you gotta go,” at which point I would have been like, “OK, no problem, sorry about that.”
I like to call the style of journalism that I do “Hunter S. Thompson style journalism.” I want to tell a story in a funny way, in a clever way, and in an intelligent way. I don’t want to be stupid, I don’t want to be violent … I want to let the story tell itself, which it clearly did yesterday.
What kind of damage was there to your equipment?
My camera was smashed and damaged. My microphone was stolen, which is why he’s being charged with theft as well. I have a 1200 HD camera which has been kicked and smashed into the cement.
Were you surprised by the response?
Oh yeah, I was not expecting any kind of violence. When I was hit, I went into defensive mode. I needed to get that camera back. The story would be totally different if my footage had not been released, and if the police had not seen my footage. If my camera was destroyed, I would be sitting in jail right now and I would be looking for a lawyer to defend myself against being assaulted.
You’ve been to Ford events before, stood outside his office with reporters — have you had confrontations before?
No, but I would like an apology from Rob and Doug Ford for their campaign workers’ activities yesterday. I would like an apology in person and in writing. If Rob and Doug Ford want to sit down and have a conversation about this, I’d be more than happy to do that.
Some people might say you were irresponsible or “asking for it” — how would you respond to that?
A lot of people have said that online today, that “You got what you deserved.” You know what, nobody deserves to be assaulted. Nobody deserves to be hit. I didn’t want anything to escalate like it did, but it did, and now there are consequences. I think I’ve done more damage to Rob Ford’s campaign than any single person. I think every single person in Toronto that wants Rob Ford to resign owes me a Heineken right now. So that’s like 5 million beers.
How long have you been in Oakville?
I moved to Oakville one crack video ago, after the first crack video was released.
MONETT, Mo. • The Environmental Protection Agency has begun an investigation of Tyson Foods’ role in a discharge of a food supplement that allegedly led to pure ammonia flowing into a southwest Missouri creek, killing more than 100,000 fish.
The discharge on May 16 allegedly caused the wastewater plant in Monett to fail and allowed a chemical to flow into nearby Clear Creek, The Joplin Globe reported.
The EPA did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press Tuesday.
The company revealed the investigation earlier this month in its quarterly notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We’re cooperating with the Environmental Protection Agency in its investigation, as we have with state and local agencies regarding this incident,” company spokesman Worth Sparkman said Monday.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources found that Tyson’s pre-treatment plant in Monett treated wastewater containing Alimet, a liquid animal feed supplement, that it had received another Tyson operation in Aurora. After the water was pre-treated, it was discharged to Monett’s sewage system. The compound killed the bacteria that process the wastewater effluent in Monett’s plant, causing virtually undiluted ammonia to flow into Clear Creek. It is unclear how much Alimet was discharged.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a six-count civil lawsuit against Tyson after the spill, seeking fines, compensation for damage to the stream and reimbursement for the costs of the state’s investigation.
Koster said at the time his lawsuit was filed that he did not pursue criminal charges because he had no evidence that Tyson knowingly dumped the chemical into the water. But he said, “there was negligence involved, and people will be held responsible.”
The DNR issued notices of violation against Tyson Foods and the city of Monett after the spill but the department said it believed Tyson was responsible for the discharge.
FERGUSON, MO.—U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on the body of a black Missouri teenager whose fatal shooting by a white police officer has spurred a week of rancorous and sometimes violent protests in suburban St. Louis.
Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon cited a request by family members and the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in explaining decision.
“This independent examination will take place as soon as possible,” Fallon said in a statement. “Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.”
The Justice Department already had deepened its civil rights investigation of the shooting. Officials said a day earlier that 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door gathering information in the Ferguson, Missouri, neighbourhood where an unarmed Brown was shot to death in the middle of the street on Aug. 9.
David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights section of Miami’s U.S. Attorney’s office, said a federally conducted autopsy “more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises” might help that investigation, and that the move is “not that unusual.”
He also said federal authorities want to calm any public fears that no action will be taken on the case.
Holder’s latest announcement followed the first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, which ended with tear gas and seven arrests after police dressed in riot gear used armoured vehicles to disperse defiant protesters.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said protesters weren’t the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday morning after the midnight curfew took effect, but a report of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and taken to the roof, and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armoured vehicles approached the crowd of protesters.
Also overnight, a man was shot and critically wounded in the same area, but not by police; authorities were searching for the shooter. Someone also shot at a police car, officials said.
The protests have been going on since Brown’s death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Missouri’s governor to put the Highway Patrol in charge of security.
Ferguson Police waited six days to publicly reveal the name of the officer and documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store before he was killed, though Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer did not know Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.
Scott Olson / GETTY IMAGES
People wait for reaction from police after they refused to honour the midnight curfew on Aug. 17.
Gov. Jay Nixon, who imposed the curfew after declaring a state of emergency as protests turned violent to start the weekend, said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” that he was not aware the police were going to release surveillance video from the store where Brown is alleged to have stolen a $49 box of cigars.
“It’s appeared to cast aspersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street. It made emotions raw,” Nixon said.
In announcing the curfew, Nixon said many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully but the state would not allow looters to endanger the community. Johnson, the Highway Patrol captain, had said police would not enforce the curfew with armoured trucks and tear gas and would communicate with protesters and give them ample opportunity to leave. Local officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters.
As the curfew deadline arrived early Sunday, most protesters left the streets, but those who remained protesters refused to leave the area as officers spoke through a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately.”
As officers put on gas masks, a chant from the distant crowd emerged: “We have the right to assemble peacefully.”
A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd. Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press they also used tear gas canisters.
U.S. Bank has closed on more than $77 million in several tax credit financing packages for the redevelopment of the Arcade building downtown.
The Minneapolis-based bank, which announced the closure of financing Monday, invested $77 million in the century-old building at 800 Olive Street, through federal New Markets Tax Credits, federal and state historic tax credits and federal low-income housing tax credits. The bank’s U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation subsidiary is based in downtown St. Louis.
Dominium Development, the Minneapolis-based developer on the $116 million project, is converting two lower floors of the 18-story, 500,000 square foot building to classroom space for Webster University and upper floors into 282 market rate and affordable-housing apartments for artists no credit check payday loans. The project also includes more than 13,000 square feet of artist studio space.
“Tremendous persistence, commitment and a deep desire to support the emergence of downtown St. Louis as an arts and innovation community kept our team motivated to make this development come to fruition,” Zack Boyers, chairman and chief executive officer of USBCDC said in a statement.
Webster University will move in as early as December 2015 and construction on the remaining space will finish in January 2016, U.S. Bank said.
The Ontario Securities Commission has permanently banned the former chief financial officer of Sino Forest Corp. from serving as a director or officer of a public company.
David Horsley, who served as CFO from 2005 until 2012, has also agreed to pay a $700,000 fine and testify in the ongoing Sino Forest case.
Sino Forest once had a high-flying stock that traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of more than $6 billion, until in 2011 short seller Muddy Waters suggested the forestry company’s sales were a fraud.
The company, which was listed in Canada, had all its operations in China, selling standing timber.
“This is a significant settlement and a significant admission by Mr. Horsley,” said OSC lawyer Hugh Craig at a hearing on Monday.
“This should serve as a message to CFOs operating in unfamiliar business environments” of the need to be vigilant, Craig added.
“He simply didn’t do his job,” he said. “Operations may be over there, but they are regulated under the Ontario Securities Act.”
Panel vice-chair James Turner said chief financial officers play a critical role in the financial reporting of companies.
Horsley failed in his role as CFO, and failed investors and capital markets, Turner said.
In approving the deal, Turner said it was contingent on the settlement of a separate class action lawsuit involving both securities and bond holders.
Judges in Ontario and New York state are scheduled to hear that settlement proposal that Horsley has offered to pay $5.6 million.
Horsley’s lawyer Peter Wardle noted that OSC investigators concluded that his client is not accused of perpetrating any alleged frauds involving Sino Forest.
“These sins, if I can put it that way, are sins of omission as opposed to sins of commission,” Wardle added.
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