When writing my column this month I found myself stumped for a central theme because of the wide range of different happenings going on.
I’d start to write and then mid-way through I would toss the column into the computer’s “trash” folder.
So instead of trying to write a column about one topic, I thought I would get my thoughts out of the way here and write about whatever was on my mind right now. It turns out a lot of these thoughts are sort of municipally-related in one form or another.
First thought: crime is out of control. No, I’m not saying crime is out of control in the Battlefords – I am saying it is out of control everywhere.
There was a downtown killing in Saskatoon in which four people were implicated. There were the attacks on the University of Saskatchewan campus that a Battlefords-area man was implicated for. Then there was the gruesome discovery of bodies of a young family of three in the St. Walburg area, a case highlighting the grim impact of depression.
But nothing tops that awful dismemberment story out of Montreal, with body parts sent in packages to political parties.
These stories are just plain depressing, and it would be easy for me to sit here and say I have the answers, but I don’t
Second Thought: Speaking of crime, Toronto is in shock over the terrible weekend shootings inside the food court at the Eaton Centre that left one dead.
I used to live in Toronto. I’ve also eaten at that particular food court in the Eaton Centre many, many times. That food court is probably one of the busiest ones in the whole city.
I’m as shocked as anyone over this because it is not the type of place where you expect any crime to erupt. If you want a North Battleford comparison to the whole situation, imagine if someone walked into Territorial Place Mall and started firing at everyone in the cafeteria.
If that notion shocks you, then you can imagine how Toronto feels right now.
Crime isn’t a local or regional problem – it’s a national problem. The whole country is experiencing it, so the whole country should address it.
Third thought: North Battleford is thinking of instituting criminal record checks for candidates to council, an idea floated by Councillor Ron Crush at a meeting.
I wonder if this talk is related to what we’ve seen going on at some area First Nations such as Poundmaker, where two elected officials pled guilty to theft charges — and yet still ran in and won the recent election anyway.
A lot of people on area First Nations have called for a big clean-up at the top. I think they’d be interested in all possibilities out there, not just criminal record checks, to clean out the crooks and prevent them from holding high office.
Fourth thought: Crush had another idea. Why not post attendance of councillors on the City’s website so the public will know whether their elected officials are showing up to council meetings?
The idea has benefits, such as letting the public know who earned their council paychecks.
But there are many people who are never happy with the decisions at council, especially if the tax bill goes up. Who will they blame? Of course: the councillors with good attendance!
They’ll point to this list and say “this councillor needs to attend fewer meetings!” So they’ll vote them out!
Be careful what you wish for.
Fifth thought: I’m glad North Battleford council voted to not hold municipal services committee meetings in July and August.
I know what these meetings are like in the summer – most everyone in the city is on vacation and has put things off to the fall, so there’s really nothing pressing for the committee to deal with anyway. Any important items can be dealt with during regular council meetings that still go on.
Or maybe you prefer your councillors to work extra-hard like those in Saskatoon, whose discussions delve into such topics such as red light districts or banning drive-thrus at Tim Hortons.
Some of you will have to admit sometimes the best thing councillors can do is fire up the barbecue and quit while they’re ahead.
Sixth thought: Speaking of sports, the latest proposal out of Regina city hall has been to scrap the idea of a retractable-roof stadium and go with a more modest outdoor stadium. I had supported a retractable roof because of the things you could do with the facility in winter, but Regina simply doesn’t have the money to make it happen.
The more I think of it, a retractable roof would really have made no difference for football. Think of it – in Saskatchewan it’s pretty dry and there’s usually sunny skies. The weather only starts to get bad around November, and football season never gets past November anyway. It’s different from Vancouver and Toronto, who need roofs all year because they can get some miserable wet weather in summer and fall.
You might use the roof once or twice a year for football in Saskatchewan. The rest of the time it would have been open anyway, so football fans here can live without a roof.
Anyway, it’s time to just get on with a new stadium and for the province to help fund it. The current stadium has to go; it’s cramped, the seating is terrible and its washrooms are a toxic waste dump.
Seventh thought: I’m glad it’s June and CFL season cannot start soon enough. Go Riders!