Yesterday’s guest post from Jeremy Stewart prompted a small discussion about other places people miss including Cafe Voltaire, the Copper Pig, Bubba Balloos, Pho U And Me, Shiraz, College Heights Pub and more. But somehow no one mentioned Sgt. O’Flaherty’s, a pub/bar that used to be in the basement of the Coast Inn of the North downtown (it’s office space now) and hit that sweet spot between dive bar and respectable establishment. It had pool, live music, dancing, darts, food and was the last place I remember to hold onto the separate indoor smoking section before that whole thing disappeared.
Today we have another guest spot courtesy newsletter subscribe Christine Callihoo who reached out after I had this to say about a proposed new subdivision in the Hart:
Each of those subdivisions represents more roads to clear, more bus routes to service, more underground sewers that we’ll have to pay to repair in a few decades. Yes, they also represent more property taxes but I’ve personally not seen the cost/benefit analysis of the cost of maintaining infrastructure for a new set of single family homes versus the additional tax dollars they will contribute.
Anyways, council approved first two readings of the project which means it is going to a public hearing which doesn’t mean they’ll approve it, it just means they’ll hear more about the case for — and against — it from the developer and surrounding neighbourhood.
Christine Calihoo is a planner and adjunct professor at SFU who studied at UNBC and here is what she has to say about the tradeoffs when it comes to new subdivisions.
The cost of new subdivisions
As a registered professional planner who places emphases on asset management planning, the above posting “hit home” in terms of the quest for transparency on the costs of councils continued decisions to approve subdivisions that we then all pay for, regardless if we actually live and enjoy the development.
There is approachable information “out there” that provides the rationale as to why communities cannot afford to approve and maintain low density subdivisions (especially in greenfield / undeveloped areas that have no current infrastructure to “tap into”).
For example, the approachable book by Dr. Blais, “Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl” details the costs to all for the comfort of very few by way of flawed public policies and mispricing that then creates hidden, “perverse” subsidies and incentives that promote sprawl.
There is also Wally Wells, the knowledge holder in Canada regarding asset management (check out Asset Management BC) and his astute mantra regarding the “20/80 Rule." Only 20 per cent of a new asset, like an entire greenfield subdivision (vs infill development) as we see moving up the hill towards UNBC and throughout Prince George, is the upfront capital cost. The remaining 80 per cent is operations and maintenance costs over the duration of the subdivision.
In other words, we (the taxpayer) all pay for the 80% despite not potentially benefiting from paying these costs.
Dr. Blais, Wally, and I all encourage greater transparency in the actual costs for taxpayer investments like subdivisions. In doing so, the taxpayer would be far less likely to support these types of developments. Rightly so. It is indeed perverse subsidies for development with such significant costs — to both the community and the natural environment.
Note: transparency + accountability + equity (good governance) can be achieved at the local government level by way of strategic, ongoing asset management: https://www.assetmanagementbc.ca.
My wish is that more people had an interest to learn about and actively engage in our community’s asset management process — we pay for it …. in so many ways. We can do better – with the community and political will to do so.
Christine Calihoo is a Registered Professional Planner with more than 25 years of experience in a diverse range of planning areas including land use and community planning, climate change mitigation and adaptation planning, community safety planning. She is Adjunct Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University teaching community planning / climate adaptation / community resiliency with a specific focus upon integrated asset management (including natural assets and climate change.
MLA Mike Morris is retiring
This news gets its own section because of this:
CKPG had the scoop on this one. Shirley Bond, on the other hands, says she fully intends to run again.
Big cities like Toronto and New York often have electronic billboards advertising new music releases but I’ve never seen it in Prince George… until now. Yesterday I saw a new song being advertised on the electronic signs along 5th Ave. and Central — I was hoping that it would be for a local band but it was for the Rockyts, an Ottawa-based project that is garage-pop along the lines of the early Beatles or, maybe more accurately, the Oneders (the fake band from That Thing You Do). I have no idea why they’d be advertising here but whatever, I enjoyed it!
In other music news, Britt A.M. has a new banger out today:
About that “Prince George is the worst place to study in B.C.” headline
Whether it’s good news or bad, it’s always a little iffy to publish stories based on “the best/worst places” category — particularly when it comes from a private company that’s just trying to build brand awareness. In this case, a few publications did do that for HelloSafe’s best places to study (post-secondary) ranking, which put Prince George last in B.C, and 38th out of 47 in Canada. What is HelloSafe? It’s an insurance calculator and now you know so their strategy worked but you might also wonder why an insurance calculator comparison website would have any expertise in ranking places to study and the answer is they don’t, they just scraped together some rather random criteria and used it to make their list. For example:
Factor n°1: Number of big cities (more than 500,000 inhabitants) in a radius of 500 kms.
Criteria "Quality of life":
Factor n°1: Monthly cost for the rental of a studio in the city center in January 2023. Source: Numbeo
Criteria "Academic excellence and cost of studying":
Factor n°1: Number of universities within the city. Source: universities' websites
I mean… it’s not a major metro area! And that’s certainly a downside for some people but for others that’s the attraction. I’m not sure not being able to take the train to your downtown studio apartment in a multi-university city would necessarily make things better? Anyways, just some context.
I did some old-fashioned reporting last night, heading out to the Highway 97 closures. Sad situation: B.C.'s police watchdog investigates after fatal police-involved shooting on highway south of Prince George.
Canada’s federal housing advocate has compared Prince George’s centralized homeless camp plan to an prison, tagging several local councillors in her criticism of the policy on Twitter.
Fresh off of their failure to get a trial in French, Lambda wants a trial with a bilingual judge.
Valemount is competing in the international Strongest Towns contest.
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Great comment Christine! As a recent transplant from southern Ontario, I can attest to the major battles going on between well-established rich developers in places like Hamilton and Toronto will need to continue expanding the cities and suburbs and taxpayers will see the expenses coming down the road and want to preserve the essential, green spaces, wetlands and farms. I hope we can see that wisdom and develop inward and upward
Thanks for your insight Christine! Great guest post.