Sault Transit, as everyone knows by now, has always been my pet cause. I launched Sault Transit Reform in March of 2011 to educate the public about City Transit, and the Facebook page serves as a (unofficial) transit website. Sault Transit Reform is more accessible and more popular than the Transit page on the City's website. Of course, STR is responsible for reporting to the citizens of the city any changes to the transit system.
“A municipal budget is a financial plan that details the level of spending required to bring municipal services to our community and to maintain our municipal assets.”
“Municipal services” includes Sault Transit. Sault Transit is integrated into the City's Department of Public Works and Transportation. It is the responsibility of the city of Sault Ste. Marie to keep Sault Transit funded. The province of Ontario does not HAVE TO provide money to fund Sault Transit. The revenue from the people who pay property taxes within the municipality is the revenue that is supposed to fund the public transportation system. Money from the provincial and sometimes federal sales taxes, they are spent more on infrastructure and defense and social services and natural resources.
In this year's Municipal Budget, expect the government of Ontario to be funding the City's transit system more than the municipality. It's not property tax dollars that buy new buses, it's the government of Ontario. Our City Council, if they take credit for 'improving the system,' they are liars. It is the provincial gas tax and the OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) that buys our city buses. All the City Council does is vote. They vote to approve giving the PROVINCIAL DOLLARS to the transportation department to purchase buses.
Though the budget only mentions “transit” twice, once claiming that the transit system will be improved, and once showing that the OMPF is pouring $1.8 million into Sault Transit, throughout the year we'll see transit-related items. A bus needs to be purchased once or twice a year, some bus stops need to be upgraded from a sign on a pole to a bus shelter, a route needs to be changed. These matters are not dealt with during the budget meeting, but all year round there will be requests asking for funds to improve the system.
To summarize my point, the Sault Ste. Marie budget will allocate money to transit. The bulk of the money, however, comes not from the City, but from the province. It's not that big a deal, and it's good that SOMEONE is funding the system, I just think that the City (which is much more financially stable than MOST municipalities) should invest a bit more.
Oh, one more thing. Look this year for fares to increase. It's been a while since a fare hike happened. I have a gut feeling that this year will be the year that additional revenues will need to be generated by Transit. Maybe a $0.25 increase. Something we can all live with.
FINALLY. Spring took it's sweet ass time to get here. March 21st there were snowbanks in some areas that were eight feet high. Now some banks are completely gone, or drastically shrunk. But as Spring takes hold, there are some big questions: Will there be flooding? Will city parks look like little lakes? Will all the potholes be filled up? And more importantly, is Sault Ste. Marie ready for another cold and snowy winter? Are we prepared? Can we deal with it?
Before I talk about future winters, let us think about the present. Spring. Is. Here. Which means it's time for construction season. And I expect that this will be the most expensive season in the Public Works department's history. I'd call anyone who says that there's less than a thousand potholes in Sault Ste. Marie a liar. It's likely that there's well over a thousand potholes on streets that haven't been paved in the last five years or longer. The question is, will the City fix them all? And I mean a REAL fix, not a half-ass patch-up. Some streets are so terrible that drivers need to stay in the middle of a two-lane road just to avoid damaging their vehicles. I expect that a large majority of the holes will be filled up, but the city will be deep in debt because of the expenses associated with maintaining the roads.
Will there be flooding? No. The snow isn't melting quite as fast as most years. Water levels will be high, there's no question about it, but we will not see the horrendous flooding from fall of 2013 that left the underpass unpassable and Old Garden River severely damaged. Parks won't flood as badly. I remember when I lived on South Market Street, Sutton park was flooded so badly one year, that I was chest high in water sometimes, and I was 5 ft 10 inches at the time! The city put a new drain in the park and that will of course prevent flooding.
With those two major issues answered, let's look to next winter. Are we ready for another long, white, freezing season? I think that we Saultites are now more aware of the damage winter can cause. Northern Ontario was always known for its terrible winters, but the 2013-2014 one is by far the worst in DECADES. With the right amount of planning, insurance, and tools such as roof rakes, ice breakers, good shovels with metal blades, I think we can manage. :)
As I reported in a previous post, Sault Ste. Marie's unemployment rate is still high, and jobs are hard to find. So many people have left this city for bigger communities such as Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, or Ottawa. It's terribly unfortunate that no businesses are drawn to a market of close to 80,000 people, but we have to make do with what we have now. Getting hired is a rather difficult task.
Even with a distinguished resume like mine (Blogger, Production Assistant, Shelf-stocker,) people expect fancy pieces of paper in the form of college degrees or university diplomas before they even consider the idea of hiring you. So sad. Anyway, here are my 5 tips:
That number alone just goes to show how absolutely horrible our employment market is in the Sault. Being the PERFECT candidate isn't easy in this town like it is in bigger cities. But if you follow my steps, it's less unlikely that you'll find employment.
A year ago, an Angus Reid poll, the latest poll conducted on the subject, showed that a solid majority of Canadians, 63%, were in favor of re-establishing the death penalty for murderers. In the United States of America, this year, 55% of adult Americans support the death penalty. The U.S. number is actually lower than previous years, but still, most people do prefer murderers being put down. And I consider myself one of those people.
When someone asked me whether I supported the death penalty or not, I thought of this scenario: Someone killed me. Do I forgive the sick person that pulled the trigger of the gun? No. No I don't. The death penalty is about forgiveness. Would you rest easier knowing that a person who took the life of another person was still breathing? No.
I say I support the death penalty. Along with a majority of the people of Canada and the United States. But only for murderers. Murderers do not deserve to live. In other countries, however, people are killed for the silliest reasons. In Africa and Asia, the governments of some countries support killing gays. Killing women who don't kneel to their man. Killing people rapists. Of course, rape is a serious crime and the punishment should absolutely be long and harsh and painful, but death? No.
The point: A majority of Canadians and Americans support the death penalty. For murderers. Kill the killers. Nobody else. Not druggies, not gays, not rapists, not robbers. Kill those who have taken another person's life.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.