Tuesday, 21 March 2017

"MOSAIC 2.0" EXPLODES OVER BUDGET WITH ZERO PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY

Hello Regina!!

Yes, you read the headline right. Remember that shiny, new stadium that we were all promised would come in "on time and on budget"? Well, thankfully, it does appear to be on time. However, as far as the on budget goes...well, as it turns out, anyone can easily follow through on that promise - when your granted the ability to remove key items out of that originally committed-to and promised-in-an-election budget

And, yes, believe it or not, that is exactly what is happening as we speak. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/stadium-maintenance-agreement-1.4028488

Regina City Council is set to discuss the authorization of an additional $9 MILLION of YOUR tax dollars for the Food and Beverage services at Mosaic 2.0. That is over and above the promised "all-in" price of $278.2 MILLION, and also over and above a further $12 MILLION of YOUR tax dollars that were previously authorized for this portion of the project - it is yet unclear as to who authorized the initial $12 Million.

If you're as upset about this as I am, SHOW UP AT CITY HALL on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 5:30PM

This is your money. You deserve respect. You deserve answers. You deserve accountability. 

Just some of the questions that I have for the City of Regina:
  • Who authorized the decision to remove the Food and Beverage services from the $278.2 Million price tag in 2014? 
  • Why have non-profit groups been lead on a leash in hopes that they might be lucky enough to continue their fundraising efforts in the new stadium, when it is clear that they are the last group that is truly being thought of here?
  • Why was the current Food and Beverage managing organization not given the contract for the new stadium, while the Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) were gifted it?
  • Who authorized the initial, additional $12 Million for the first part of this Food and Beverage operation?
  • Was this the reason that the former man-in-charge, Brent Sjoberg, was terminated? If so, why was it not discussed publicly? What kind of non-disclosure agreement was he forced to sign, and how much did it cost taxpayers when he signed that agreement?
  • Why should taxpayers be okay with further funneling a single dime of their tax dollars into this project, when they are told time and time again that the City is tight for money come budget time, which somehow justifies the need to increase our property taxes and utility rates?
These are just some of the questions that we deserve answers to. Will we get them? Well, that's up to you. 

You need to DEMAND answers from City Hall. 

Contact your City Councillor, the Mayor or Service Regina and ask these questions, or your very own. Show up at City Hall on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 5:30PM - remember, you don't have to speak, just being there shows that this is important to you.

Below, you will find my unedited, as-submitted delegation for next Monday. Chances are it will be severely edited by the City Clerk's office, as they typically don't like confrontational tones in these speeches. But, I'm still going to submit it and hope for the best! It is my sincere hope that they understand this is an emotional issue and we have a right to be mad.

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Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Chad Novak, and I am here representing the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, which is a grassroots organization proudly standing up for the rights of individual taxpayers. I am here to address the elephant in the room – no, the City – the projected $21 MILLION cost overrun for the Food and Beverage service at the new stadium, which I like to refer to as “Mosaic 2.0”.

Within this report, there are some concerning statements which I am hoping can be clarified for the residents of Regina, who entrusted our elected officials with the biggest infrastructure project in Regina’s history – even if it wasn’t really an essential item. Roads, sidewalks and water mains would have been better served by this kind of money, but that’s neither here nor there anymore, since the new Stadium is slated to open this summer.

What is most concerning to me is this statement from the report: “In 2014, the Food & Beverage (F&B) project was removed from the scope of the $278.2 million stadium construction project.” I’m really, really curious here as to who made that call? Who decided to effectively add an open-ended cost at that time (which we now know is AT LEAST $21 MILLION) on a project that was continually promised over and over again, to come in “on time and on budget”. Was this something that went through City Council, or was it negotiated by the former Chief Operating Officer, who was entrusted with such negotiations at the bequest of the Regina City Council through their vote to delegate that authority? Based on the report before you this evening (See Appendix A), it appears as though this was actually a decision put forward by the bidders – even though they ought to have known that they were required to come in on-time and on-budget, as had been publicly suggested. If they didn’t think the $278.2 MILLION would cover that cost, they (or better yet, the entrusted individual representative of the City of Regina) should have come right out to the public and said it at that time – and not wait a few years until we are at the point of no return and it’s either done or the stadium isn’t complete.

Honestly, I really don’t care how this story is spun by the City of Regina, because, at the end of the day, taxpayers are now paying $21 MILLION more for this stadium, which is entirely contrary to what many of you had run on in the 2012 Civic Election – remember that one, where it’s been claimed to have been the referendum on the stadium?

In the report, there are claims that this is exactly what the stadium reserve fund was designed for, to which I would argue that the very nature of a ‘reserve’ is for unexpected costs, and not ones that were originally included within the $278M price tag, and especially not one that is considered crucial to the stadium’s operation. Let me be clear, this isn’t a situation where it was decided half way through construction that we should maybe add a few more washrooms, or an escalator or two – this is an essential part of the project that was known to be required for the stadium’s successful operation. What you have effectively done here is tied our hands, where we have no choice but to say “well, if it’s essential to the operation, then of course, DO IT!!”

It is my sincere hope that the entire $21 MILLION (plus a hefty interest) will be fully recouped within a reasonable timeframe. Of course, no one knows if this is going to be a reality, because as per the report, this is apparently still being negotiated. Oddly, though, Evraz Place must have thought this was a slam dunk, since they already put the call out for quotations on at least part of this very agenda item before you this evening. Interestingly enough, that RFQ closed today (See Appendix B). I should add that – since this appears to be simply a financing transaction, why is REAL not funding that transaction? It’s no secret they can easily afford to, if push came to shove, given that they have approximately $60 MILLION in deferred revenues (See Appendix C), and seem to be in a good enough financial position where they could, at the very least, fund this portion of the project entirely themselves through self-financing.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is up to you this evening. It is obviously not a matter of whether it will get done, it is a matter of who will finance the food and beverage operation and construction. I would suggest that you vote against this motion and force REAL to finance at least the $9 MILLION being asked of you tonight.

Finally, there is something that, to my knowledge, is still up in the air at the stadium, which is the way this Food and Beverage operation will be run. For years, there have been some amazing local non-profits that have been granted a fundraising opportunity within the current stadium food and beverage services. Unfortunately though, as of the most recent media reports, it sounds as though this is still up in the air. I can’t help but wonder – why? How is this fair to our community in any way? How is this ensuring this is viewed as a “community asset” when we don’t even know if those most benefited by this service are going to be afforded the same opportunity they had in the current stadium?

Thank you for your time this evening, and I will gladly answer any questions you may have.




Thursday, 23 February 2017

Regina Recycling - Just How Well Are We Doing?

Hello Regina!!

Coming up on Monday at City Council will be an update on the Waste Plan Regina, or more specifically the "annual" update that was postponed from 2015, and then again in 2016 due to the election. What you will find in this report is something that many of us already know - Reginans are awesome at recycling and the City of Regina is only accepting a fraction of what they could be because it "doesn't make enough money". This became brutally evident over Christmas when the whole "should we recycle wrapping paper" debate came to head.

Below is my delegation for your consideration. I encourage you all to read and share, and provide your feedback. I also encourage you to read the full Waste Plan Regina (2009) report, and corresponding 2016 update, so you can get a better sense of how far we've really come in seven years. Spoiler alert: We haven't really come that far.

Regina City Council Delegation – Monday, February 27, 2017
RE: Waste Plan Regina 2015/16 Update

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Chad Novak, and I am here representing the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, which is a grassroots organization proudly standing up for the rights of individual taxpayers. I am here to address the item that is recommended to be removed from the outstanding list, that being the 2015/16 Update for the Waste Plan Regina.

I’ve spoken on this issue previously, and I’ve also monitored a lot of the online discussions that occur around this topic – specifically when questionable actions of the City take place. Like, for example, the recent revelation at Christmas time that the City of Regina would not accept certain types of Christmas Wrapping Paper. What transpired during that short time frame was the revelation that the Regina Residential Recycling Program is more about profits than it is the environment. This became quite obvious when the comment was made by Emterra that while it could recycle regular wrapping paper, it is lower quality and would not bring in as much money for the company or the city, which gets a share of the profit (See Appendix A). This was then contradicted by the City (See Appendix B) suggesting that these materials simply were simply “not recyclable” – which is concerning as it demonstrates a clear effort by the City of Regina to sway citizens opinions from the truth, which was graciously explained by Emterra. The fact of the matter is, these items are recyclable, it’s just that Emterra, and in turn the City of Regina, wouldn’t realize a reasonable profit – or possibly even experience a loss – by recycling the material. This is further supported by the fact that many of the items that we currently reject are actually recycled by many other cities (See Appendix C), and is included in the list of industry accepted recyclable materials in material the world over.

So, what first needs to happen is turning our attention away from the potential profit of a fully-recyclable item. Once we do that, then we can realistically expect to see our diversion rates increase. After all, the City of Regina realizes such a minimal return from Emterra for profit-sharing (Average $150,000 [approx. 2.5%] – see Appendix D), it’s almost meaningless to look to refuse certain items because of their profitability. I can guarantee when you go to residents and tell them they can recycle any material included in a generally accepted recycling list – not just the items that turn a tidy profit – you will realize a significant jump in your diversion rates. Not just because it’s going to make things a lot less confusing for residents, but also because you are actually diverting a lot of material that is currently going to the landfill now, simply because it’s been determined it doesn’t make enough money. The environment needs to be the #1 driver here – period.

It’s been suggested that it’s actually Emterra who is the one deciding what material gets recycled, but I’ve since found that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s right there in black and white in the legally binding contract with Emterra that they “shall receive all collected materials regardless of the level of contaminants” (See #36 in Appendix E). Further, that “it will be the operator’s responsibility, at it’s sole cost, risk and expense to dispose of all contaminants.” This confirms that Emterra must accept and process every single item that residents put in the blue bins, regardless of whether or not it can be recycled, let alone it’s profitability. With regards to what Emterra must contractually process, it is clearly stated that they “must accept and process any and all of the designated materials received.” (See #43 in Appendix F) As you will see in Appendix G, there is no differentiation of certain types of materials that the City of Regina has since designated as “non-recyclable” (or “non-profitable”).

What I’m saying here is essentially, the City has the ability to enforce this contract, and Emterra is legally bound to accept and process all materials that the City tells its residents to include in their Blue Bins. What residents deserve an answer to is this: Will the City step up to the plate and encourage residents to include any and all recyclable material (according to standard practice in many other jurisdictions, and as accepted by industry standards) in their Blue Bins, regardless of profitability? If not, can they please explain why? It should not be residents’ concern as to whether or not it costs Emterra more money to process certain materials, as that is something that Emterra ought to – and most likely did – take into consideration when negotiating the contract in the first place.
What you really need to come to terms with is that, until the City makes meaningful changes to our curbside recycling program (by increasing what is accepted), it’s going to be that much more difficult to increase that rate by any meaningful amount. Instead of coming back to residents in 2020 and saying “sorry, we tried”, why not proactively do something now to meaningfully increase that diversion rate?

Thank you for your time this evening, and I will gladly answer any questions you may have.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Subject to inclusion based on time and questions by Council):

The City of Regina continues to realize significant surpluses at the Regina Landfill of $15 Million or more. The actual cost of processing our recycling – aside from the collection of it which is a subject for another day – is only $1.5 Million (See Appendix H). Why are we not funding this program entirely from the continued surplus at the Regina Landfill, as the two would seem to be intrinsically linked.

Also, the City of Regina now realizes additional revenue of approximately $775,000 from the Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW) program, which is over and above what was originally considered in 2013 when introducing the curbside recycling program. The MMSW program is specifically intended to cover “up to 75% of the net costs for a municipality to operate a recycling program for waster paper and packaging.” Why, then, are residents not realizing a reduction in their recycling fees as a result of this new funding source, which is expected to last for the foreseeable future? Also, considering the goal of the MMSW program, it would directly contradict the intention of the program if we are not actually using that money to offset the operating costs of our recycling program, which is evident in Appendix I where it speaks to exactly what this money will be used for (taken directly from this 2015/16 Waste Plan Regina Update). For the City to use this money for further public outreach is effectively a slap in the face to that industry.

An added cost savings that can be realized down the road is implementing offset biweekly collection, so that we aren’t doubling down on the environmental footprint that is caused by the dual collection system as it exists today. (Loraas is contracted out to collect recycling biweekly and in-house staff collect garbage weekly) This would not only improve our environmental impact (which is consistent with the public feedback in Appendix J – also taken directly from this 2015/16 Update), but it would result in significant cost savings, furthering the call for eliminating the separate fee for curbside recycling.

While residents are being lead to believe that our diversion rate is steadily increasing, the statistics in your own report suggest otherwise, going from 16% in 2009 when the Waste Plan Regina report was released, to only 20% in 2016 (See Appendix K), or a 4% increase in seven years. Obviously, there are a few ways to impact that rate, including reducing our waste and increasing that which we recycle, but at the end of the day, the numbers are pretty consistent over the three years in this update, with the total tonnage of recycling actually decreasing over the years included in this report. It should be noted that in the 2009 Waste Plan Regina, there is no suggestion that anything beyond 40% could be attained without additional improvements (See Appendix M), so is the lofty goal of 65% by 2020 truly realistic, or are we just setting ourselves up for yet more failure?


 Interestingly, our garbage has reduced over this time by over 6,000 tonnes, without any corresponding increases in recycling or other programs, pointing to the fact that people are possibly consuming less? As well, considering that only 14% of what residents toss in the garbage bins ought to have been thrown in the blue bins (See Appendix L – again taken directly from this 2015/16 Update), it is not the fault of residents not knowing what to and what not to recycle – which goes against the idea that more public education is necessary. Contrary to what is planned, it is obvious that further public education is NOT required nor is it the solution – spending money on this kind of campaign is both wasteful and meaningless as it is clear that residents do fully understand and support a properly run recycling program.





Wednesday, 18 January 2017

City of Regina Shuts Down Land Development Talks

Hello Regina!!

I know it's been a while since I've posted on here, but it's certainly not because I haven't been active. Just check out my Facebook page and you'll know what I mean. Please go and 'like' the page if you haven't already, as you will find a lot more of my up to date postings on there.

There was an issue that came up today that I felt needed to be shared on this website. Another blatant disregard for public transparency, and honestly, I couldn't tell you why. Oh...wait. Yes, I could. But...for now, I'll let you do some digging and see if you can come to the obvious conclusion that I have, and hint at in this media release below.

Have a great January everyone!!

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 19, 2017

CITY HALL SHUTS DOWN TRANSPARENCY ON LAND DEVELOPMENT TALK

Regina – At a meeting held at Regina City Hall on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, the Regina Executive Committee voted against allowing a full and open, transparent public discussion on the possibility of a Municipal Land Development Corporation (MLDC). In a rare 6-4 vote, a recommendation by Ward 8 City Councillor Mike O’Donnell was rejected, which would have simply allowed the information report to be considered once again at City Council on Monday, January 30, 2017. This would have been an opportunity for further meaningful discussion in a public format, as a larger number of Regina residents are aware of, and participate in, these regular City Council meetings.

After a two year delay, the City Administration drastically changed their recommendation from supporting a MLDC to advising against one, suggesting that land development can be accomplished within the current Administrative framework. As per the documentation from September 10, 2014, the Executive Committee at the time asked for City Administration to further review their recommendation to support the creation of a MLDC. Included in this request was for Administration to provide a further report outlining a model to govern City-owned lands and to provide recommendations on whether a separate corporation is required to govern. In the report brought before Executive Committee on January 18, 2017, there was minimal detail included as to why the City Administration took such a drastic change in their recommendation, other than a vague reference to how “conditions have changed” since it was last talked about in September 2014.

Chad Novak, with the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, addressed the Executive Committee on the subject. “It is clear that there is a bias within certain council members that they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.” Novak references the significant campaign donations provided to a number of former and current City Council members that could be perceived as having influenced their decision to deny the development of a MLDC, which could negatively impact long-standing developers within the City due to increased competition. “I hoped to see a really detailed report come back – especially after two long years – and all the Administration provided was nothing more than vague commentary to support a position that some council members obviously feel very strongly about.”

At this point, there is no indication that the subject will be brought up again in the future, but those that support the creation of a MLDC didn’t seem confident after the commentary at the meeting. The topic of a MLDC has not been brought forward to the voting public in either a public consultation process or a regular City Council meeting. This is a direct contradiction to the assertion of providing open and transparent processes by the City of Regina.


For more information, contact:

Chad Novak – Spokesperson
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group
Regina, Saskatchewan
Email: chadnovak2012@gmail.com
Website: chad4regina.com  

Phone:   (306) 596-7685


Saturday, 3 December 2016

2017 Budget Coming Soon

Hello Regina!

I know it's been a while since I posted last, but well, I think I earned that break after the hard fought election. While I wasn't successful in my run for City Council, I am pleased with the outcome, as we have a new Councillor in this Ward, as well as a few other new - hopefully very good - councillors in other Wards.

This week, there are a couple Committee meetings that are happening at City Hall. Both are interesting in their own accord, but one that has really grabbed my attention is the Winter Maintenance Budget anticipated surplus for 2016. Thanks to Mother Nature and/or climate change (whether or not you believe in it, I really don't care), we've been granted with extremely little snowfall last year, and so far this year as well. As a result, there is a projected surplus of over $3 Million in this year's Winter Maintenance budget. What does that mean for you and I? Well, it all depends on what City Council decides. I'll be there this week to give my thoughts on this, and I hope that this new Council at least listens to my thoughts that should benefit all of Regina.

The 2017 Budget deliberations are still ongoing, but we, the general public, are being kept in the dark now until February 2017. Why is this necessary? Well, the public excuse is that, with the election, it wouldn't be fair for the new Councillors to just 'jump into' it so fast, which was originally scheduled for December 5, 2016. Of course, this doesn't seem to affect other cities, but well, we here in Regina, we're a special group, apparently. Anyways, it certainly would be nice of the City to at least give the public an idea of what is to come, at the very least let us know how the City is doing with regards to their 2016 budget. Given that every single year for at least the past decade, we've realized pretty big surpluses, it sure would be nice to know if that's the case again this year, as we could put that towards any projected increases in the 2017 Property Tax hikes. You know it's a given the Regina Police Service will ask for their standard 5-6%, even if they don't deserve it, and City Hall knows residents have become accustomed to at least a few percent increase in their property taxes, even if it's not needed. So, the question now becomes, how much, and how can it be reduced?

Only time will tell! Oh, and you really should tune into my Facebook page if you want to keep updated on breaking stories that I don't take the time to post about on here.

For example, did you know, Mr. Brad Wall is playing an interesting game of 'shuffle the deck' where he is (most likely) increasing your property taxes, due to the "Percentage of Value" for property assessments. What does that mean for you? Well, go check out my Facebook page to find out!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

REGINA VOTES 2016: MORE RESIDENT Q&A

Hello Regina!

After a very successful day yesterday, today I am so happy to see some more resident questions being sent along because it tells me that many are truly paying attention to this election. We held the (Para)Transit Rally yesterday, and I was extremely impressed with the turnout and the commitment by many Council and Mayoral Candidates to dramatically improve the Paratransit and Transit systems in Regina. You can see the video of the Rally on my Facebook page. I was very pleased to see current Ward 3 Councillor Shawn Fraser take some time to stop in and hear of the concerns as well, even though he is not running again. I feel it is very important to note, however, that not one current City Councillor who is running for re-election bothered to show up. This should be very telling to you in terms of their commitments to residents.

Also yesterday, City Council heard an application by Forster Projects and Harvard Developments to approve the Aurora Retail Complex in East Regina. While I am not opposed to this commercial development, per se, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to at least make a point and have this report delayed until next City Council meeting, where the new City Council will be allowed to vote on it. All it needed was one vote against the third reading of the Bylaw...and it happened!!!! I was so happy and excited to see this happen. While merely a formality, it sends a message to this Council that further public consultation was sorely lacking and the residents deserve a say. I want to thank Councillor Shawn Fraser for standing up for what is right here, as he was the lone voice voting against the approval.

Further resident Questions and Answers follow:

As per the resident: The literature of candidates, including yours, is vague to the point of being irrelevant.  Everyone wants “transparency”, everyone wants  “lower taxes”, no one likes “traffic congestion” ..and so on. What I want to know are your specific proposals in these areas.


-  on relieving traffic congestion?  Might you advocate  free public transit ( much like the Riders will be providing) at specific times in the day and/or on specific routes. ?

I envision more roads accessing the East End of Regina, most notably the long-planned-but-never-executed extension of Prince of Wales Drive to Wascana Parkway, and the extension from Ross Ave to Prince of Wales Drive in the North. Our current situation is absolutely unacceptable at the best of times, but when construction hits Victoria Avenue, Arcola Avenue, or Dewdney Avenue - or worse yet two or three at the same time - accessing East Regina is a gong show. Adding these two alternate routes will help alleviate that congestion and to me, they are common sense items that should have been done long ago. In addition, adding a third lane in both directions on Arcola Avenue, along with a proper merging lane from Ring Road onto Arcola Avenue that you don't have to come to a complete stop from 100km/h. Finally, in terms of Transit, what I want to see is increased ridership, and this can only be done by providing top-notch service. Current commute times can exceed two hours on the bus, and until this is remedied, it is futile to offer any other incentives to ride the bus. I think the solutions are there, we just need a City Council that is willing to invest in a viable solution. I have committed to having "Free Ride Fridays" as well, in order to increase ridership once we have a service that we can be proud of. Ideally, this will encourage more people to try transit, and hopefully that will translate to increased ridership long term. Any revenues that might be lost on those days could be considered research costs, or they could be offset by a corporate sponsor.



-  in terms of sustainable development, plastic shopping bags are currently not recyclable. Would you favour of banning them, as some communities have done,  if they can not be made a recyclable item?

I strongly encourage the use of reusable shopping bags as much as one can do. To me, they are the long-term, environmentally responsible solution. With that said, I know there will always be that time you forget your bag, and then we must look at an environmentally responsible alternative. It is my understanding there are plans in the works in the recycling industry to feasibly recycle plastic bags. However, until such time, what is the alternative? An outright ban? Paper bags? I think the financial 'penalty' is one solution that many stores have implemented. I would like to see this possibly be a higher fee, which can be diverted to local recycling initiatives. That being said, I know I don't have all the answers on this, but I would look to citizens like yourself for input on what you feel is the best solution to a problem that is growing, thanks to our awareness of the environment.

- in regard to ”...proper planning for our urban growth....” what are your views on urban expansion in the Regina bypass area?

I have attended City Council and delegated on this very issue, and I feel very strongly that public consultation has been extremely poor on the Southeast Neighbourhood Plan, and I have pushed for further public consultation before it got approved. I think we need to have a comprehensive plan in place where we know where the next group of residences will be built before we allow another subdivision to be built. There is no reason we cannot have a 5, 10, or 25 year plan for this as developers should be aware of the need for proper planning, both from a community perspective, but also from an infrastructure perspective. It is really concerning to me that the City Administration had clear warnings about their concern for the inability to service the 17,500 new residences along the new Bypass, and yet City Council had no problem rubber stamping the approval. This is both irresponsible and damaging to our City as a whole.

- in terms of “transparency”, would you advocate that any councillor recuse him or her self in any instance where a council motion would benefit a campaign contributor of that councillor?
I cannot tell you how much I support this initiative. I am a strong believer in transparency, and if a Councillor is in a position that the average person would perceive them to be in a Conflict, they should recuse themselves from the vote, no questions asked. As it sits right now, the reliance is on the Councillor to determine if they are in a Conflict, and even at that, the average citizen has to file a court application to express their concerns about any potential Conflict. I want to ensure that the public are aware of all major contributors to all current City Councillors and remind them of these at every meeting. While the general public may not push the Councillors to declare a Conflict, I would think this would add a layer of guilt to those Councillors, and they would be more inclined to recuse themselves as such.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

REGINA VOTES 2016: TRANSIT RALLY & FAIR TREATMENT FOR DAYCARES

Hello Regina!

Another very busy, yet productive week on the go. I have organized a small Rally at City Hall on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 5:00PM in order to raise public awareness to the issues that currently face users and drivers for Regina Transit and Paratransit services. I was shocked to learn some of the situations over the past few days, but unfortunately, it does not surprise me one bit. If you can spare a few minutes on Monday, your attendance would be greatly appreciated! You can find more information on our Facebook Event page.


Another issue that has come up in recent months is the unfair treatment of Daycare facilities in our province. Following up on some of that media coverage, and a great conversation with one of the directors, I issued the following Media Release to demonstrate my commitment to this cause.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DAY CARES DESERVE FAIR AND CONSISTENT TAX TREATMENT

Regina, Saskatchewan – In recent years, the City of Regina has reassessed a number of home-based not-for-profit Day Care facilities, in order to be consistent with other day cares operated out of commercial facilities. While this succeeds in levelling the playing field for Day Care facilities that are operated out of homes and commercial properties, it does nothing to address the significant cost savings that other Day Care facilities realize by operating out of the University of Regina or the YMCA, as they are currently exempted from paying Property Taxes. This results in a significant cost to these home and commercial property based Day Care facilities, even though they are providing the exact same service to consumers.

The Day Cares have recently joined forces to lobby the Provincial Government to introduce or amend legislation to correct this situation, but in the meantime, these not-for-profit facilities are left with significant operating costs that could otherwise go towards improving the level of childcare offered at their facilities. As a group, they have called upon the City of Regina to introduce temporary tax relief until such time the legislation is changed to accommodate their request. Unfortunately, however, the current City Council did what they often do, and blamed the Provincial Government for this situation. This does nothing to address this situation, and only further aggravates an already sensitive situation.

Ward 4 Regina City Council Candidate, Chad Novak, has been committed to fair and equitable treatment for all taxpayers over the past number of years, as evidenced by his continued delegations at City Council. Consistent with this approach, he feels that the City of Regina owes a duty of care to these organizations that provide a social good to all residents of Regina, and he is committed to pushing hard for these exemption requests if he is successful in his bid for City Council. “City Hall has had no problems giving tax breaks to big businesses that simply don’t need it, or other organizations that truly can afford it in their annual budget, but these Day Cares are having a hard time getting City Council to listen to their reasonable requests for a level playing field.” Novak continued, “I have long advocated for fair and equitable treatment of all taxpayers, and this is a prime example of where improvements can be made with minimal impact to the budget.”

Once these exemptions are legislated, assuming provincial approval, the City of Regina will be required by law to exempt all day care facilities, so this could be considered as a voluntary expression by the City in support of that legislation change, as well as demonstrating their support for working parents to fully utilize the day care facilities without fear of large cost increases.

-30-


For media enquiries, please contact Chad Novak (306) 596-7685 or email chadnovak2012@gmail.com .

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

REGINA VOTES 2016: MORE Q&A FROM RESIDENTS

Hello Regina!

Tonight is a special night for Ward 4 and Ward 5 residents, as it will be your first opportunity to meet the candidates in the same location, and grill us with the questions that you've been dying to ask us. In preparation for this evening, I thought I would share with you a (not so) brief questionnaire that Newstalk 980 CJME sent to all candidates last month that they should be publishing soon.

I also want to remind you that there is so much more to follow on my Facebook page that I don't get to publish on here, and it is a great opportunity for you to interact with me as well!

Why should voters hire you?
I am passionate about improving the quality of life for all residents of Regina. I have demonstrated my dedication to doing just that through my continued appearances at City Hall on a number of different issues over the past few years, and feel that should show residents that I am not just about words, I am a man of action. Our City is a great place to call home for some, but for others, they dread living here for a number of reasons, including crime, gangs, unemployment, housing costs, and so much more. City Hall can do so much to affect those issues and until we directly address them, and pretend they are not a serious problem, we are going to have a set portion of the population dreading living here.

Who should we call for a reference?
Pat Fiacco - Not saying he will give me a glowing reference, but he does know how passionate I am about this City.

What is your greatest strength?
Obviously, my ability with numbers. I'm about far more than a financial accountant who can tell you how much your business made last year, though, I can also tell you what things you can improve upon, how to improve, and lay out a detailed road map to get you there. Translating this to City Council, I've analyzed the numbers that get reported to residents each year through the budgetary process, and I am very confident that we have a lot of room to make all of the changes I've included in my platform and so much more, with absolutely no impact to residential property taxes. (Other than them going down as in my platform)

What is your greatest weakness?
I am a little too trusting in people that I have just met. It caused me to falsely believe the rumour of Pat Fiacco's father-in-law back in 2012, and I've put trust in some during the 2012 election that ended up burning me in the end.

What would be your priorities at city hall?
Improving the quality of life for all residents of Regina. This includes focusing on reducing water bills, reconfiguring residential and business property taxes, improved downtown and hospital parking, improved transit, increased recreational opportunities and so much more!

Where do you stand on city taxes?
I feel that residential property taxes are far too high, and an independent report by CFIB confirms this. For every dollar that residents pay, businesses only pay $2.12, compared to the national average of $2.83. This needs to change. Businesses should be subsidizing residential taxes, not the other way around. This can be done through a variety of means, including raising business taxes, lowering residential taxes, or a combination thereof.

Where do you stand on city debt?
Debt can be a good thing if it is managed properly, and used for essential infrastructure items. No, the stadium was not an essential infrastructure item. However, it is done and we can do nothing more than try to maximize the utilization of the facility now that it's been built. Thankfully, we have quite a bit of room to our current maximum debt limit, so if we did need to use it, it is there. However, we do have a significant amount of financial reserves, with nowhere to use it. As an accountant, it bothers me that we would rather borrow money than use money we already have, since you are going to pay for borrowed money, than the interest you would lose on reserves.

Where do you stand on downtown development?
I think the Regina Revitalization Initiative is an amazing opportunity and that should be the key focus of City Hall over the next four years. The Railyard Renewal Project is an opportunity that should not be squandered, and it needs to be done right. I don't believe any of the current alternatives that the City has considered are the right path. I have a plan that I have shared on my website that I feel residents would be more supportive of if they were given the option.

Where do you stand on downtown parking?
Downtown parking is horrendous. I can't tell you how many times I hear of people from out of town who avoid downtown like the plague, for fear of parking 0.1 metres too far from the curb, or outstaying their welcome at their meter by five minutes and getting a hefty parking ticket. This is the wrong way to encourage people to visit our downtown, and sadly, the Regina Downtown BID doesn't quite get it. I plan to address this issue by adding off-street parking options, including at least one major parkade, which will take the 9-5'ers off the streets. The Cornwall Centre has a 12 month waiting list for long-term parking, and this is completely unacceptable and well within the City's ability to address. Once the off-street parking options are addressed, then we need to reconsider the rates we charge and the time limits we have in force.

Where do you stand on roads and infrastructure?
I feel our roads and infrastructure are being horribly neglected, and the current Council just doesn't have a realistic plan to address this anytime soon. We have a situation where City Hall is paying $10 Million of taxpayer money on the Victoria Avenue overpass, while they missed out on the Federal and Provincial Government's funding any of it, as they had thought they would be able to obtain. The Provincial Government was apparently supposed to hand that over to the City about six years ago in "as new" condition, but apparently someone at City Hall screwed up and now it's basically a lost cause, at least per Mayor Fougere (if you watch the City Council video from September 26, 2016, you can confirm this). He "makes no apologies" for doing this, however, because apparently the overpass was now in such dire shape that it might have been risking lives to delay it any longer. Yet, this wasn't the #1 priority item in January 2015.

At the end of the day, we need a better plan to address this and without a City Council willing to focus on a realistic 5, 10 and 20 year plan, this will never happen.

Where do you stand on photo radar?
To me, photo radar is nothing but a cash grab. Mailing someone a photo of an offense they allegedly committed weeks, if not months prior, does absolutely nothing to curb that offense as it occurred. Maybe it might deter them from speeding in that area again in the future, but we need a system that punishes offenders as the offense is happening to have a real impact. When you add the fact that the photo radar has had major issues with its technology and the fact that only a portion of those offenders actually get a ticket, it really makes one question the validity of the enforcement process. Thankfully, touch wood, I have never been ticketed for speeding, either through photo radar or otherwise, but even if I had, that wouldn't change my opinion on this matter.

Where do you stand on environmental issues?
I'm not really a big environmentalist by any means, but I do believe that the City should do everything it can to minimize it's negative impact on the environment. One such item that I supported was the implementation of electric or hybrid vehicles into the City's fleet of vehicles. This would have a two-fold impact, as it would require charging stations to be placed at locations around our City which would help those that have electric vehicles and currently do not have a great selection of charging locations in our City.

There is absolutely no reason why we should have Parking Enforcement officers driving to the suburbs in GMC Terrain SUV's. This is a perfect example of what the City is currently failing miserably at.

Who inspires you and why?

A current person that inspires me is Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States. I feel he is a prime example of what a politician should be and we should all aspire to be like him. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. I feel the US would have been so much better off with him as a candidate, but sadly, the two left are an example of what is wrong with the format of the United States electoral system.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

REGINA VOTES 2016: Q&A WITH REGINA RESIDENTS

Hello Regina!!

I received an email from a resident recently that I wanted to share with you all. They posed a number of questions about Regina in order to determine their vote this October. I am extremely pleased to see anyone take the time to reach out to candidates, but to go to the extent this person did, I am speechless. This is the kind of attention and dedication that I feel all residents should put towards all elections, but most importantly, municipal elections, because after all, that is where you can have the most impact.

I will post the questions and answers below, and then add them to my "Campaign FAQ" page for future reference as well.

Thank you everyone for your continued support and attention to this election!

1)   Did you support the destruction of a functioning football stadium and its replacement with a new stadium at taxpayer expense?
I campaigned against this in 2012 when I ran for Mayor, for the simple reason that the current stadium is most certainly in decent enough shape to host the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Sir Paul McCartney as recent as 2013. It hosted the Grey Cup in that same year. While it is certainly in need of updating and repairs, I feel the City portrayed the cost of these in such a manner that made it sound like the new stadium was the cheaper alternative. With that said, the new stadium is now near completion, and while I still don't agree with the need for it, we must now find ways to make it used as effectively as possible. I only hope that the promises to redevelop the current stadium site and the railyard do not disappear suddenly.

2)   If unforeseen issues arise requiring more spending to make the new stadium functional, should the taxpayers pay, or should the Riders and their fans pay?
This is a good question, and as an accountant, I would want to know the full details of what would be required. If there are deficiencies that were promised with the construction, and it is within the contract, I would first want us to go back to the builders to honour their commitment. If there were things that the City didn't consider and realize now that it's either do it or the facility cannot open to the public, I would be hard pressed to simply rubber stamp it. I would want to ensure we are balancing both sides of the balance sheet, and the good thing is we do have the current facility still able to be used until such time the new facility is deemed ready for the public. I feel the Riders got a sweet deal in this entire transaction, as they actually aren't paying one red cent for this new facility. Contrary to Mayor Fougere and Fiacco's assertions, the Riders "contribution" is actually money funnelled through them from sponsors. Not one single dime comes from the Riders accumulated surplus, which I feel is a kick in the teeth to taxpayers.

3)   Regina has one of the highest residential property tax rates and one of the lowest commercial to residential rate rations in Canada. Would you consider shifting the burden to commercial property?
I am so pleased that you posed this question. This is actually one of the items that I am campaigning on. I had discovered this over the summer through some research of a report done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I was shocked, but not completely surprised, to learn that in Saskatchewan, businesses pay only $2.13 for every $1.00 that residents pay. Contrast that to the national average of around $3.00 and the highest near $4.00. I most certainly plan to address this situation, and it would have to be some kind of compromise of reducing residential taxes and increasing corporate taxes. I have found through my own independent research that companies in Regina pay 30% less than similar assessed properties in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. 

4)   The Regina Chamber of Commence supported the construction of the new stadium at taxpayer exense. Would you consider shifting the burden of paying for the stadium onto commercial property?
I will say this - the Regina Chamber of Commerce has been responsible for so many favours to the business community in our City. That is one of the reasons why they pay the lowest in the Country in contrast to residential taxes. I have personally expressed my frustration with the Chamber at City Hall on numerous occasions, partially because of their tendency to exaggerate statistics, such as "67% of businesses agree with so and so", when in reality they only represent 1,200 registered businesses, of which fewer than 15% typically respond to their surveys. So, in reality, it is 67% of 15% of 1,200 of how many businesses are in Regina. So, to answer your original question - I would do anything I can to ensure businesses are not being subsidized by residents and that would include the burden for the new stadium.

5)   Do you think Libraries should be closed?
While I have rarely used a library since I was in school, I do see the need for them and until such time that this becomes a global trend that libraries are closing, I would want to keep libraries open. I see them becoming about more than just books as people traditionally see them. With that said, if there are valid reasons anyone can provide to me for the contrary, or to possibly reduce the locations, I am always open to listening.

6)   Do you believe recreation facilities should be closed?
Absolutely not. On the contrary, in fact. This is one of my campaign platform ideas, and I feel that recreational opportunities are far too lacking in our City. We have a tremendous amount of greenspace, which is great, but not very many viable opportunities for our kids to partake in activities that don't cost much or anything at all. I want to see more skate parks opened and bmx parks (the city currently only has one of these along the grid road that is 13th Avenue by the airport), places for kids to spend their time productively, rather than resorting to situations that are less than productive like gangs or the like. Another popular item I have heard on the campaign trail (and over the past number of years) is a water park. Of course, to be most effective, this would have to be indoors. I think this is a great idea, as our current facilities really lack that "fun" factor that a water park would offer. As for the cost of it - we have a significant amount of room in our reserves and in our debt ceiling. Another viable option would be a P3 - which I don't normally support, but this is a good example of where that would probably be the preferred option.

7)    Do you believe recreation facilities in low-income neighborhoods should be closed? (the last administration attempted to do this)
10000000% no. As I said above, I feel offering recreational opportunities to kids are a great way to keep them from less appealing options, like getting involved and gangs and crime. While it may not be the ultimate solution, it is certainly a way to show them that the City appreciates them and knows they have a meaningful contribution to our City now and in the future.

8)   Do you agree that Wascana Park should be opened up for commercial development (ie: office building construction)
This most recent situation with the Conexus office building, I do not agree with whatsoever. I campaigned against this over the summer, and was adamant that the City should not donate land for this purpose. If the university were using it for their own purposes, then it would be a different story. Granted, Conexus is a great community partner, and I am a proud member, I do not feel this is the appropriate use of the space. There were options available, and given our 15% vacancy rate downtown for office space, and the fact it went against the Official Community Plan and Wascana's own plans, it just seemed to be a no brainer that it shouldn't have happened. I was disappointed to see the lack of community backlash until after it was approved, but hopefully that serves as a wake up call to all residents to always be diligent with anything City Hall is capable of, regardless of how we feel they ought to decide.

9)   Would you reverse the City’s decision to allow Conexus Credit Union to build office space in Wascana Park?
If it is possible, absolutely, 100% I would do what I can to make that happen. Worst case, I would want to work with the partners to possibly get them to move it over to where the Conservatory is being demolished (this should never have been allowed to get to the point of no return either), so that there is minimal impact to the current greenspace and trees that make our park so beautiful.

10)  Do you support P3s for infra structure projects?
As I said above, I don't normally support P3's in any way, whatsoever, but I do admit there are times when they can make sense. A recreational facility like a water park, which can traditionally be viewed as a commercial venture, would be a good example. A private business might have a tough go of it in Regina, but with a P3, the government and the private company can work together to ensure the community's best interests are met.

11)  Do you agree that companies from out of province or out of country should be involved in Regina P3s?
No. Personally, I would much rather see preference given to Saskatchewan companies first and foremost. I realize this may go against our free trade agreements, etc. (at least according to Brad Wall), but Saskatchewan workers should always be given first priority. If a company coming in from out of province (or out of country) can somehow do a project for cheaper than our local companies, I would have to question the validity of their bids and what are they compromising on that our local companies are not. Most importantly, as an accountant, I would want to know what specifically is affecting our local businesses that doesn't impact those from out of province or out of country. It has to be, after all, a level playing field for all.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Introducing your Ward 4 City Council Candidate

Hello Regina!!

Well, today was a great day, both in terms of the weather, and in terms of the big announcement I was telling you all about just a couple of weeks ago. I held my campaign launch today, and I am officially running for Ward 4 in the Regina City Election 2016. I could not do this without the ongoing support and following from everyone out there, whether it be on my Facebook page, in person, on the street, or at City Hall.

Below is the Press Release that was sent to the Media, along with a copy of my door hanger that is being distributed all over Ward 4 over the next few weeks. If you want to display a lawn sign, my team has plenty to go around, and your support is always appreciated! You will also be seeing a billboard or two going up in Ward 4. I am taking this run for City Council very seriously, and I am putting a good amount of money into my campaign this go round. If you would like to support, any amount of money is appreciated, but by no means will I be soliciting funding from anyone as I do not want to have any perception of undue influence in my role as your next City Councillor.

Thank you again everyone, and as always, please remember....

It's Your Money. You Deserve Better!

#VoteJOE

PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT CHAD NOVAK TO SEEK SEAT FOR REGINA CITY COUNCIL WARD 4

Regina, Saskatchewan - Over the past number of years, Chartered Professional Accountant, Chad A. Novak, has been advocating for individual rights at Regina City Hall on a number of different issues. Ranging from property tax breaks to water rate increases to the recent land donation in Wascana Park, Chad has stood strong toward the overall goal of equality and fairness for all taxpayers of Regina.

Knowing another run for City Council was inevitable, Chad had spent much of 2016 determining which areas of the City lacked reasonable representation, and what issues mattered the most to the majority of residents of Regina. After long deliberation with friends and family, Chad has decided that running in his own area of the City, that being Ward 4, would provide him with the best opportunity to win a seat on Regina City Council. However, in a unique twist, recognizing that many areas of the City are lacking reasonable representation, and noting that many issues are similar across the City, and thus impact residents all over Regina, Chad has vowed to be available City-wide for any residents that feel they aren’t being listened to by their local City Councillor.

Some of Chad’s recent advocacy successes has been bringing attention, and meaningful action, towards the dust problems along Winnipeg Street North and Pinkie Road, the Glockenspiel in Victoria Park and raising many questions with regard to land transactions surrounding the entire Regina Bypass, but in particular Tower Road, which is within his area of Ward 4.


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BACK - Zoomed In (Easier to read in person)

Friday, 26 August 2016

Big News Coming Soon!

Hello Regina!!
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UPDATE: OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULED FOR
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016
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It's coming to the end of yet another absolutely amazing summer in Regina, and what better way to end it than a celebration of all that is City Hall. What's that? You aren't as enthused about City Hall as I am? Oh, that's okay! I'll make up for your lack of enthusiasm this fall, I assure you.

Well, I've finally made it official - I am running for City Council in the 2016 Regina Election. I have chosen Council over Mayor for many reasons, including the fact that this gives you the opportunity to see what kind of a Councillor I can be, and what kind of Mayor I will be in the future. I plan to make an official media announcement in early September as to which Ward I am running in, and what my platform will be.

For now, I'll leave you with this little snippet that you can share far and wide.



Further to this, I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Star Newspaper out of White City for publishing my latest Letter to the Editor regarding the very questionable land transactions along Tower Road. This is further to the one they posted previously, which I will include below as well. I'll leave this for you to decide what should be done about it. I guarantee you, though, one way or another, this will be talked about publicly this fall in the election.