Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Executive Council slams door on request for SK-AB Steering Committee and BC–Alberta–Saskatchewan economic partnership agreement records

The Brad Wall government is committing Saskatchewan to closer ties with Alberta and British Columbia by signing agreements with its Western neighbours but is refusing to release any information related to them other than what’s already been made available in official news releases.

On February 19 and March 17 access to information requests were submitted to Executive Council for the following records:

1) Copies of the agendas and minutes for any meetings of the Saskatchewan-Alberta Steering Committee held since September 9, 2008, and also copies of any briefing notes or memorandums, including attachments, from September 1, 2008, to February 19, 2009, regarding or relating to the Saskatchewan-Alberta Protocol of Cooperation.

2) Copies of any agendas, itineraries, reports, briefing notes, memorandums or letters, including attachments, regarding the trilateral provincial meeting that took on March 13, 2009, in Vancouver; and, also copies of any agreements or memorandums of understanding or cooperation that were signed at the meeting.

On April 21 Executive Council responded saying that access to all records requested was denied. Not one scrap of paper was released. In both cases the ministry cited the same sections of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as the reason for denial:

– S.13 Records from other governments
– S.14 Information injurious to intergovernmental relations or national defence
– S.16 Cabinet documents

Furthermore, Executive Council failed to apply section 8 of the Act pertaining to severability which is mandatory and states: “Where a record contains information to which an applicant is refused access, the head shall give access to as much of the record as can reasonably be severed without disclosing the information to which the applicant is refused access.”

In Lloydminster, on September 9, 2008, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach signed a protocol of co-operation committing their governments to working more closely together.

The news release said the signing of the protocol came at the conclusion the inaugural joint Saskatchewan-Alberta cabinet meeting. The provinces agreed to forge closer ties on energy, the environment, trade, education, health care and transportation.

A Saskatchewan-Alberta steering committee, co-chaired by the provinces’ Cabinet Secretaries, will ensure the intent of the Protocol is fulfilled and will recommend future agreements to the Premiers, the news release said.

Aside from the text of the protocol the only information released by the provincial government about the joint cabinet meeting was contained in the news release. Nothing further has been reported on the work of the steering committee. The public has no idea when and where the committee meets or with whom.

British Columbia and Alberta signed a similar agreement at the first joint cabinet meeting of those two provinces on October 8, 2003, in Calgary.

Section 3.1 of that protocol states: “An Alberta/British Columbia Steering Committee, chaired by the provinces’ Cabinet Secretaries, will be responsible for ensuring the intent of the Agreement is fulfilled, and for recommending any subsequent agreements to the Premiers.”

On September 4, 2008, the Edmonton Journal said that the BC-Alberta protocol “led directly to the signing of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement between the two provinces.” [Alberta and Saskatchewan’s first-ever cabinet meeting will focus on energy issues (Edmonton Journal, Sept. 4, 2008)]

On September 11, 2008, The StarPhoenix confirmed that the Saskatchewan Party government was pursuing a TILMA-like agreement with Alberta and maybe B.C.

“What we lacked before was clarity; there just wasn’t a clear answer about the impact of TILMA on those things. It’s becoming a little bit more clear and I think you’ll see . . . we have a couple of options: A broader agreement or file-by-file agreements with Alberta to reduce trade barriers and increase labour mobility,” Wall told reporters at a community-based organization funding announcement.

Wall downplayed the possibility of an agreement including B.C., although he did not categorically rule out having TILMA on the table if all Saskatchewan’s concerns are dealt with. [Sask. pursues TILMA-like agreement (StarPhoenix, Sept. 11, 2008)]

The assumption is that the newly formed Saskatchewan-Alberta Steering Committee played a key role in what would transpire six months later.

In Vancouver on March 13, 2009, the inaugural Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan joint cabinet meeting was held. It was believed to be the first of its kind in Canada.

According to The StarPhoenix Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart, Justice Minister Don Morgan and Corrections Minister Darryl Hickie accompanied the premier. [Provincial cabinets meet (StarPhoenix, Mar. 11, 2009)]

In a press release the Western premiers announced that the three provinces will begin discussions to create a new western economic partnership that will establish an open, efficient and stable domestic market encompassing Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, to be concluded by fall 2009.

“A new agreement would address the interests of all provinces, including our interests related to Crown corporations and municipalities,” said Wall. “As I indicated two years ago, we would be interested in pursuing a trade agreement with Alberta and British Columbia if our interests could be addressed.” The operative word here is ‘new.’

Wall was likely referring to his party’s June 28, 2007, announcement that it would not sign TILMA “in its present form.”

At the time, Wall said his party’s own research and the TILMA hearings conducted by the NDP government raised specific concerns about three areas which are not clearly addressed in the current TILMA agreement:

1. The protection of Crown Corporations;
2. The exemption of provincial new growth tax incentives; and,
3. The potential loss of new growth tax incentives at the municipal level.

“Our goal would be to negotiate trade agreements with BC, Alberta and other provinces that reduce trade barriers while protecting these three important areas,” Wall said. “We know that Alberta and BC officials have indicated that having Saskatchewan sign on without any revisiting of the agreement would not make sense for those two provinces either.”

It would appear that the governments found a way around the problem – sign a new agreement.

After the meeting the premiers talked about breaking down trade barriers but as usual failed to say what they were.

Neither the news release nor the premiers’ op-ed that appeared in The Vancouver Sun on March 14 said that an actual agreement was signed at the meeting, but Sun reporter Derrick Penner put that mystery to rest in the article 3 provinces to study joint remand centre for gangsters: “The premiers signed an economic partnership agreement in which they agreed to work cooperatively on a wide range of issues from labour mobility between provinces to infrastructure development, fostering technological innovation and boosting trade in the Asia Pacific region.”

The question is what is in the agreement that the three governments don’t want the public to know? Clearly there must be something otherwise why keep it a secret?

BC and Alberta signed TILMA on April 28, 2006. This was done behind closed doors with no public consultation or legislative debate beforehand. Premier Brad Wall appears to be dragging Saskatchewan down that very same road.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mendel Art Gallery rejects freedom of information request, refuses to disclose records; federal government part of covert plan to move gallery

The organization at the center of Saskatoon’s latest River Landing controversy is refusing to release records that could shed light on the current efforts to have it moved.

On April 9 a request was made under The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to the Mendel Art Gallery for copies of any letters or emails between the gallery and the City of Saskatoon since February 1 regarding or relating to River Landing and/or the proposed new Art Gallery of Saskatchewan. The request also asked for a complete copy of the agenda and minutes to the Mendel board of trustees March 14 meeting.

It was at that meeting when trustees allegedly unanimously approved in principle pursuing the construction of a new art gallery at River Landing. Rumours have been circulating, however, that the vote by trustees was not as unanimous as people think. It has been suggested that at least one trustee abstained from voting. Another is that one trustee couldn’t attend the meeting because of scheduling conflicts. Of course only those present at the meeting know for sure but, unfortunately, the organization is refusing to disclose any information.

In a letter dated April 17 Mendel director and CEO Vincent Varga said, “While I appreciate your request for information, the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon Gallery and Conservatory Corporation) is exempt from this legislation and therefore not compelled to respond to your request. I would recommend that you contact the City of Saskatoon if you wish to pursue this further.”

A follow-up email to Mr. Varga on April 23 asked, even though the gallery might not be subject to provincial legislation would he consider releasing the information requested anyway. The answer was still no.

“I appreciate your second request for releasing information as described in your earlier correspondence. Consistent with good governance practice, this material is considered to be private and confidential and therefore the Gallery cannot release it to the public,” Varga said in a reply later that day.

It is disturbing that Mendel management feels the public has no right to know its business. The Mendel is a publicly owned and taxpayer funded institution. According to the city’s 2009 preliminary operating budget the gallery’s operating grant for this year is $2,064,900. This is up from $1,864,000 million in 2008.

The Mendel Art Gallery opened on October 16, 1964. The event was made possible, in part, by generous donations made by Saskatoon businessman Fred Mendel.

On June 17, 1960, Mendel announced he was making a $75,000 gift to the city to help fund the construction of a new art gallery in Saskatoon.

The StarPhoenix reported that the gift ‘was one of the largest of its kind ever given to the citizens of Saskatoon.’ [$75,000 Art Centre Gift to City (StarPhoenix, June 17, 1960)]

In making the gift Mr. Mendel said, “Over 20 years ago I came from Europe to make a new life in Canada. Today I am celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of my business in the city of Saskatoon. In that period of 20 years, my business has prospered. Saskatoon has been good to me; it has become my second home.

“To express my gratitude for the privileges of Canadian citizenship and for the friendliness and goodwill which my family and I have found in this city, I want at this time to make to the citizens of Saskatoon a gift that will help to enrich the quality of life in our city for years to come.

“Among the things that have made Saskatoon the cultural centre of the province, are the Saskatoon Art Centre and the work of local artists. For many years I, too, have tried to encourage original talent in art and the public enjoyment of art. It seems appropriate, then, that at this time I wish to give to the citizens of Saskatoon a sum of money sufficient to erect a public art gallery in this city, and I also wish to donate a group of paintings to form the nucleus of a permanent art collection in that gallery.”

Later realizing the initial donation wasn’t enough Mr. Mendel made another one the following summer.

On August 14, 1961, Mayor Sid Buckwold announced that Mr. Mendel was donating an additional sum of $100,000.

In his letter to the mayor, Mendel said: “It has become obvious that an Art Centre which will do justice to the city of Saskatoon and its citizens cannot be built with the present amount of money that is available. The building would be much too small, and a small building would not warrant a location suitable to the character of an Art Centre of which Saskatoon could be proud.”

Mr. Mendel attached five conditions to the gift with the second being: “The city will set aside for the building a plot of land on the river side of Spadina Crescent north of the Twenty-fifth Street Bridge, at the intersection with Queen Street.”

“It is my firm belief that the citizens of Saskatoon in the years to come will prize an Art Centre such as I visualize,” Mendel said.

City council, at its August 14, 1961, meeting approved the condition in principle and instructed the mayor to negotiate the matter further and report back. The rest is history.

Mr. Mendel died in 1976 at the age of 87.

At a press conference on April 3, 2009, Mayor Don Atchison and Art Knight, chair of the Mendel Art Gallery board of trustees, in a stunning act of betrayal and breach of trust to the gallery’s namesake, announced plans to move the gallery to a proposed new $55 million building located at the city’s troubled River Landing development.

The plan included stripping the Mendel name from the building and instead calling it the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan. (Apparently, Mendel will be honoured somewhere in the new gallery).

The Mendel name was also callously omitted from the official news release, glossy brochure and board chair Art Knight’s op-ed that was published in The StarPhoenix on April 4.

The covert plot to move the gallery was developed in total secrecy only becoming public when the story was leaked to the media and reported in The StarPhoenix on April 1. So far along were the plans that a four-page brochure had already been printed and press conference booked.

In the news release Atchison tried to justify the despicable plan saying separate and independent projects for a River Landing destination attraction and an expanded art gallery ultimately don’t make as solid economic sense as a joint project.

“There simply aren’t enough dollars from either governments or private donors to fund many different riverbank projects. A co-operative approach – where the gallery is the destination centre is a more elegant solution for Saskatoon and the people of Saskatchewan,” he said.

What goes unsaid is that River Landing, which is fast becoming an endless money pit, was hatched behind closed doors shortly after Atchison first became mayor in October 2003. The concept plan for the area was developed quickly and shoved down the public’s throat in April 2004. That problems exist is the city’s own fault (i.e. the mayor’s obsession for a hotel).

Moneywise in the January 14, 2004, article ‘How federal cash will be spent focus of mayor, Goodale meeting’ (StarPhoenix, Jan. 16, 2004) Atchison confirmed that he wasn’t interested in spending public money on the former Gathercole site (River Landing Phase I), as some have suggested.

“For the life of me, I can’t believe we would take federal, provincial or municipal dollars on a site where the private sector has been knocking at the door,” the mayor said.

To date at least $21.65 million in taxpayer money has been either spent or committed to the site. The only thing to show for it is roads, some expensive public art and Persephone Theatre’s architecturally challenged battleship gray facility.

Another reason Atchison and Knight give for moving the gallery is that blowing $55 million on a new building makes more sense than spending $24 million renovating and expanding the current site.

“Construction of a new and expanded art gallery makes more financial sense, and delivers a better end result, than wrestling with renovation,” Knight said in the news release.

Neither the city nor the Mendel has released a business plan or drawings for the new gallery.

The strange thing is until just recently both the city and the Mendel continued to support the renovation and expansion of the current building. The excuses we’re hearing now were nowhere to be seen.

In late October, Varga told The StarPhoenix that the Mendel board reaffirmed its position in June 2008 that the gallery would remain at its present location. [Mendel forced to look for alternative funding (StarPhoenix, Nov. 1, 2008)]

In the city’s 2009 capital budget (approved December 15, 2008) page three states: “The Mendel Art Gallery Renovation and Expansion project was re-budgeted in 2009. The total cost of this project is $24 million with $12 million budgeted in 2009. This project is now into the development of detailed drawings stage in preparation for going to tender. The next stage will be the contract administration and construction; projected to take begin in 2009 as a Federal grant and Mendel Capital Campaign funding is secured. This project is subject to the confirmation of the Mendel fundraising campaign as well as senior government funding and Public Notice for borrowing.”

The budget document notes that a grant application has been submitted to the Buildings Canada Fund in excess of $7 million. There is absolutely no hint that moving the gallery was being contemplated.

Then on January 6, 2009, the Mendel posted a message to its blog with the heading ‘Advocacy on behalf of the Mendel Art Gallery.’ The open letter from board chair Art Knight and director Vincent Varga asked the public to show its support for the renovation and expansion plan by sending a message to Saskatoon’s four Conservative MPs: Kelly Block (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar), Bradley Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt), Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin) and Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap).

“The Mendel needs your help!” Knight and Varga said.

“The Federal government is poised to make important decisions with respect to investment in infrastructure as part of its economic stimulus package. The Mendel is seeking $ 7.1 Million from the Federal Government. The Mendel Art Gallery invites you to support the gallery’s renovation and expansion initiative by sending an email to your local Member of Parliament within the next 24 hours. It is critically important that the government hear from you how essential this investment in the Gallery is for our community, at this time.

“We understand that the City of Saskatoon has included the Mendel project on its list of priorities for the Canada Builds program. Also, the Gallery has recently learned through Kindrachuk Agrey, the project architects, that this project can be tender ready by March of this year! Once the Gallery has achieved approval from the City to proceed with the project, the Mendel will make arrangements for an interim location to maintain an effective presence and assure service to our community during the construction period.”

The pair suggested that email letters of support might include elements of the following text: “[Fred Mendel’s] vision remains relevant today and the Mendel is poised to enrich its commitment to service to community through a rejuvenation and expansion of its ageing physical infrastructure.”

Or perhaps this: “The Mendel is seeking $ 7.1 Million from the Federal government for completion of this project. Federal government funding is essential to the success of this project both in terms of the funds themselves and as a necessary prerequisite to the success of the Mendel’s fund raising efforts by providing the momentum to leverage private sector support. The Mendel Art Gallery’s transformation is “shovel ready” and can serve as an effective beacon signaling the gallery’s commitment to this place and its contribution to our fabric.”

Like the city’s capital budget document there is no suggestion whatsoever that moving the gallery or removing the Mendel name from the building was being discussed. Even better is the fact that Knight and Varga clearly admit the current project is “shovel ready” which is something the new gallery is not. It has to be built from scratch.

At the end of their letter Knight and Varga ask once again that emails be sent to MPs “within the next 24 hours.” The reason for the extreme urgency is not fully explained. It begs the question, what happened after January 6 that the public aren’t being told? Did the city receive word from the federal government that it would not receive funding for the Mendel’s renovation and expansion? If so, why hasn’t that information been shared with the public?

The federal government is clearly up to its neck in the plot to relocate the gallery.

The snazzy brochure that was distributed at the April 3 press conference notes the following: “We’ve fully explored the implications of expanding our old home. With our partners in the City, Provincial and Federal governments, we have come to the conclusion a new building is the best fit for Saskatoon’s expanding future and our city’s amazing new urban riverfront.”

The problem is no one bothered to let the public, or the Mendel family, in on the secret until well after the decision was made.

The federal government isn’t talking. Of all the news stories and columns that have been published in The StarPhoenix since April 1 there has not been one quote from federal officials. Why is that? Furthermore, even provincial officials seem to be silent. Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan and Tourism, Parks, Culture, and Sport Minister Christine Tell were at the April 3 press conference and both spoke, but The StarPhoenix didn’t report it. Why? Does the newspaper know something that the public doesn’t? After all, reporter Lana Haight appears to have spoken with an unnamed ‘source with knowledge of the project’ on or before March 31 just prior to when the story first broke.

What is certain, though, is that the idea of moving the gallery and changing the name is not supported by members of the Mendel family.

According to The StarPhoenix the plan came as a total surprise to Mr. Mendel’s grandson, Chip Mitchell.

“This is a complete shock to me,” Mitchell said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

“I think it’s a big mistake.”

“That’s definitely not the kind of pact that the city and the province entered into with my grandfather,” said Mitchell. [Mendel eyes move (StarPhoenix, Apr. 1, 2009)]

In a story published on April 2, Camille Mitchell, Fred Mendel’s granddaughter, said she was “outraged” when she got word of the proposal.

“It’s so short-term and disrespectful to the people of Saskatoon and the history of Saskatoon for a select few who want to line their pockets,” she said. “There are sizable funds that will be donated by my family if it stays at its current location. If it moves and the name of the gallery is changed that implies very strongly to us that we are, as a family, and my grandfather is being disrespected and his memory is being trashed.” [Mendel plan ‘travesty’ (StarPhoenix, April 2, 2009)]

The Mendel Art Gallery does not belong to the mayor or to federal and provincial politicians looking to further their political interests. It belongs to the people of Saskatoon. It’s time those peddling this misguided plan are reminded of that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AEEL refusing to release Construction Industry Labour Relations Act records; secrecy rampant as freedom of information denials continue

The Construction Industry Labour Relations Act (CILRA) can now be added to the list of labour legislation for which the Saskatchewan Party government is refusing to disclose records.

In March an access to information request was submitted to Advanced Education, Employment and Labour (AEEL) for copies of any briefing notes or memorandums; and, copies of any reviews, analysis or reports conducted by or for the provincial government regarding the CILRA since May 1, 2008.

On Apr. 2 AEEL deputy minister Wynne Young denied access to the records requested in their entirety pursuant to sections 16, 17 and 22 of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) pertaining to cabinet documents, advice from officials, and solicitor client privilege.

The ministry violated the FOIP by not applying section 8 regarding severability which is mandatory stating: “Where a record contains information to which an applicant is refused access, the head shall give access to as much of the record as can reasonably be severed without disclosing the information to which the applicant is refused access.”

On Mar. 10 the provincial government introduced amendments to the CILRA it claimed “will expand freedom of choice for workers and employers and help sustain Saskatchewan’s economic momentum.”

“Our construction industry requires fair, flexible and effective labour laws to help keep Saskatchewan’s economy strong during this time of uncertainty,” AEEL Minister Rob Norris said in the news release. “This legislation will lead to increased construction activity by giving employers and workers the freedom to establish their own collective bargaining arrangements.”

Norris said the existing legislation was an impediment to growth in the province’s construction industry. He said the amendments will attract additional companies into the province to help build Saskatchewan’s infrastructure.

Norris said the government will solicit public feedback on the legislation and conduct consultations with key stakeholders during the summer.

It seems, however, that at least one key stakeholder had the government’s ear three months ago.

The Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) said in its Nov. 2008 newsletter it had “received confirmation” that Premier Brad Wall and the provincial cabinet would meet with the lobby group’s board of directors on Nov. 26.

“These meetings offer the construction industry a huge opportunity to have influence on government programs, polices, and spending priorities,” the newsletter said.

In its Dec. 2008 newsletter the SCA called the private meeting “a great success.” An issue the board “raised directly” with cabinet was that the government “must provide more balanced and fair labour legislation.”

When it comes to the Wall government you know what that means.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich had this to say about Norris’s Mar. 10 announcement: “Assistant Deputy Minister Mike Carr confirmed in a stakeholder briefing that the construction and other unions in Saskatchewan did not ask for this and that none were consulted prior to its introduction. The government says it’s about so-called freedom of choice for employers and employees. We say it is about opening the door to certain employer-dominated unions to do wall-to-wall certifications of construction projects.”

Trades unions have long argued that wall-to-wall certifications, rather than the current system of certifying on a craft basis, will lead to deskilling and lower wages, the news release said.

“Once again, the government is gutting legislation that affects thousands of workers without consulting them in advance. We saw this with last year’s essential services legislation and the amendments to the Trade Union Act. Now they’re doing it with the construction trades. This government is obviously intent on breaking unions in every sector,” says Hubich.

It should be noted that in 2000 the aforementioned Mike Carr, a Saskatchewan Party supporter and contributor, served on the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s labour committee when the NDP government introduced amendments to the CILRA. The chamber, according to the Leader-Post, was part of the Saskatchewan Alliance for Economic Growth, “a newly formed coalition of business groups” that said labour laws, like the CILRA are “anti-business and anti-democratic” and should be changed or scrapped.

The alliance, which included the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Saskatchewan Construction Association and Prairie Implement Manufacturers Association, were calling on the government to put the amendments to the CILRA on hold and meet with business groups to discuss alternatives.

Manley McLachlan of the SCA said the government was proceeding with the amendments, despite lack of consultation with non-unionized contractors who represent most of the construction industry.

But the labour minister at the time, Joanne Crofford, said there had been over 100 meetings on the CILRA. [Business coalition slams the province’s labour laws (Leader-Post, June 13, 2000)]

In contrast the Wall government held no talks whatsoever – at least with labour.

AEEL’s refusal to disclose records relating to the CILRA isn’t the only freedom of information request that was denied recently.

On Mar. 24 deputy minister Wynne Young refused to grant access to an unspecified number of internal AEEL communications regarding an earlier request for information the ministry had denied.

A request dated Oct. 29, 2008, was submitted to AEEL for copies of any reviews or analysis conducted by or for the provincial government since May 1, 2008, of The Trade Union Act and The Labour Standards Act. The ministry received the request on Oct. 31.

On Jan. 19, after 81 days of stalling, Wynne finally advised that access to the records requested was denied. The ministry had violated the FOIP by not making its decision within 60 days. Wynne provided no explanation for the delay.

A follow-up request (dated Jan. 22) was submitted to AEEL asking for copies of any internal government correspondence, paper or electronic, regarding the application that had just been denied.

On Mar. 24, AEEL released 60 pages of information. Fifty of those pages consisted of multiple copies of the original request form submitted by the applicant, several copies of Wynne’s Jan. 19 refusal letter, and numerous copies of emails sent by the applicant asking for a status update on the request.

Wynne’s cover letter said access to some records was denied pursuant to sections 17 and 22 of the FOIP: advice from officials and solicitor client privilege, respectively. This was the 9th time since May 2008 that AEEL had denied access to records.

In short, the ministry was refusing to release any internal correspondence containing information that might explain how and why the decision was made to deny access to the Oct. 29, 2008, request for records regarding The Trade Union Act and The Labour Standards Act. AEEL’s desire for near absolute secrecy had risen to an absurd level.

The lone piece of information released by AEEL that offers any interesting insight into its freedom of information process is an Oct. 31, 2008, email from access and privacy coordinator Gary Brown to Wynne Young, Mike Carr and Kelly Murphy, the manager of AEEL’s correspondence unit, advising that the Oct. 29 request for information had arrived. What this email does is confirm that the top people in the ministry are aware of what’s going on and are clearly involved in the ugly culture of secrecy that plagues the ministry.

Below are the other eight requests for information that AEEL has denied since May 2008:

Mar. 24, 2009: Access denied to copies of any reviews, analysis or studies that have been conducted by or for the provincial government since May 1, 2008 of The Occupational Health and Safety Act and The Workers’ Compensation Act.

Feb. 23, 2009: Access denied to copies of any reviews or analyses that have been conducted by or for the Government of Saskatchewan since Nov.1, 2008 of The Trade Union Act and The Labour Standards Act; and also copies of any briefing notes and memorandums from May 1, 2008 to Jan. 22, 2009 regarding The Trade Union Act and The Labour Standards Act.

Jan. 20, 2009: Access denied to any briefing notes and memorandums, including any attachments, from Feb. 1, 2008 to Nov. 30, 2008 regarding the essential services legislation.

Jan. 20, 2009: Access denied to any memorandums, including any attachments from Nov. 7, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2007 regarding or relating to essential services legislation.

Jan. 20, 2009: Access denied to any briefing notes, letters and memorandums, including attachments, from Oct. 1, 2008 to Dec. 23, 2008 regarding or relating to the minimum wage regulations and the amendment to allow workers age 15 and older to obtain employment in hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, hospitals and nursing homes.

Jan. 19, 2009: Access denied to any reviews or analyses that have been conducted by or for the Government of Saskatchewan since May 1, 2008 of The Trade Union Act and The Labour Standards Act.

May 22, 2008: Access denied to the daily appointment and meeting schedules for Minister Rob Norris and Deputy Minister Wynne Young from Dec. 1, 2008 to Mar. 14, 2008.

May 13, 2008: Access was denied to the contract and any correspondence between the Government of Saskatchewan and management lawyer Kevin Wilson from Nov. 8, 2007 to Feb. 29, 2008. Wilson was hired to provide advice on the government’s essential services legislation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

EMS Review: Saskatchewan Health censors committee meeting minutes; SEMSA and health regions “will directly shape” final report

Saskatchewan Health has disclosed the minutes to four meetings held earlier this year by the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Review Committee. The unfortunate thing is they’re heavily censored.

In February a freedom of information request was made to the health ministry for copies of any briefing notes or memorandums from Dec. 16 to Feb. 19 regarding the EMS review along with copies of the minutes to any meetings conducted by the review committee since its inception.

In its Mar. 23 response the ministry provided partial disclosure of the minutes to review committee meetings held Nov. 28, Dec. 11, Jan. 8, and Feb. 12. No briefing notes or memorandums were included. Health officials said that none were created during the time frame requested.

The province-wide EMS review was announced at a news conference in Regina on Dec. 11, 2008.

The committee is mandated to review pre-hospital and interhospital EMS in Saskatchewan and provide recommendations for a strategic vision and 5 year plan for EMS. The review was completed March 31, 2009.

Don Cummings, an Edmonton-based consultant, was appointed chair of the 7 member review committee. Other members include:

Mike Redenbach, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region
Rod MacKenzie, Saskatoon Health Region
Duncan Fisher, Saskatchewan Health
Patrick O’Byrne, Saskatchewan Health
Ron Dufresne, president of SEMSA
Trevor Dutchak, vice president of SEMSA

The ministry’s Mar. 23 cover letter notes that the EMS Review Final Report could be published by Apr. 30.

The minutes to the four meetings show that information regarding the following agenda items is being withheld from the public:

– EMS Review Committee Chair’s suggestions on approach (Nov. 28)
– Road ambulance issues for considerations (Nov. 28)
– Minister’s announcement debrief (Dec. 11)
– EMS Review Committee working document (Dec. 11)
– Opening remarks (Jan. 8)
– Committee report document (Jan. 8)
– Further Developing the EMS Review Report draft (Feb. 12)
– Other items (Nov. 28, Dec. 11, Feb. 12)

At its first meeting held on Nov. 28, the chairperson suggested that the committee meet approximately 7 or 8 times.

“The focus will be on aligning visions regarding solutions to known challenges within EMS,” the minutes state.

The chair suggested that the content of the committee report document would need to be developed by Mar. 15, with the remaining 2 weeks until Mar. 31 left for handling the logistics of submitting the report.

The minutes reveal that the “primary stakeholders” of the review committee will be the Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services Association (SEMSA) members and the health regions.

Secondary stakeholders will include:

Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities
Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association
– Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology
Saskatchewan College of Paramedics
– First Responders
– Provincial Emergency Services Practices Committee
Saskatchewan members of the EMS Chiefs of Canada
Saskatchewan Medical Association
– Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (possible)
– Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (possible)

“The Chair suggested that the above two “rings” of stakeholder groups, along with a third, will have distinct roles in shaping the work of the Committee. The primary stakeholders will directly shape the final document. The secondary group will provide input that validates the work of the Committee on provincial issues. A third group of stakeholders will be called upon to deal with select, specific issues discussed by the Committee,” the minutes state.

Conspicuously absent from the list are labour unions that might have an interest in the review, such as the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, Canadian Union of Public Employees (Saskatchewan), Service Employees International Union and Saskatchewan Government Employees Union. It would appear that input from these groups was not much of a priority.

At its Dec. 11 meeting the committee determined that it would meet on Jan.8, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, Mar. 5 and Mar. 26. According to the minutes the chair “supported connecting the Committee to work from the EMS Chiefs of Canada including a scan of what Chiefs are doing following the release of the EMSCC white paper.”

The reference to the white paper is important since it appears to confirm the significant influence the EMS Chiefs and SEMSA had on the direction and outcome of the review process.

It should be noted that Cummings, according to an Oct. 28, 2008, health ministry briefing note released earlier this year, “was instrumental in the development” of the white paper.

The Future of EMS in Canada (Sept. 2006) report is a strategic policy framework. It describes six strategic directions and provides 11 recommendations that the EMSCC say will help enhance community-based EMS across Canada.

The EMSCC envisions EMS “as a mobile health care service” and believes “that the future of EMS in Canada is at the centre of the community, providing primary health care in a mobile setting.” It feels EMS’ role must be broadened beyond the traditional model of providing pre-hospital emergency care.

Page eight of the white paper explains a bit of this stating: “EMS has the potential to increase the level of care it provides through greater training and enhanced technology. In addition, EMS has significant resources and knowledge that should contribute more to health care reform by easing staffing and emergency department space shortages. Expanding EMS’ scope of practice, using its reserve capacities, and increasing the amount of mobile health services such as augmenting home care and other primary care areas are part of this contribution.”

A Dec. 2, 2008 briefing note indicates that during the afternoon of December 11, 2008, members of the SEMSA board were scheduled to have a separate, private session with Mr. Cummings to highlight their viewpoints regarding the development of a strategic vision and prioritized recommendations within the review. It will be interesting to see how much of what they and the white paper had to say appears in the review committee’s final report.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Uranium Development Partnership report addresses Wall government’s “three measures” test for nuclear support, public consultation a sham

In the Leader-Post on Apr. 7, Premier Brad Wall said ‘the government won’t rush into decisions on any of the [Uranium Development Partnership’s]recommendations, but he acknowledged the province needs to chart a course for future electrical generation “relatively quickly” due to looming power needs.

“The nuclear power piece has to make sense. There’s been three measures for us -- affordability, environmental sustainability and also the safety factor,” Wall said, maintaining the government has not already made a decision.’ [NDP believe public input is ‘token’ (Leader-Post, Apr. 7, 2009)]

The government’s “three measures” are outlined in a Jan. 28, Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) briefing note, entitled Uranium Value-Added Opportunities, that was released on Apr. 1 in response to an access to information request.

“Our government supports the addition of nuclear power to the provincial generation mix if it can be shown to be a cost competitive alternative to other clean energy options and if issues of public safety and environmental protection are fully addressed,” the note states.

The UDP, which the government established on Oct. 20 and stacked with pro-nuclear individuals and organizations, released its final report at a press conference in Saskatoon on Apr. 3. To no one’s surprise the group recommends that the province pursue nuclear power in a big way.

What’s gone unnoticed, however, is that the report also appears to address the Wall government’s “three measures” test for nuclear support. Evidence of this can be found in various passages scattered throughout the document. The information can easily be used by the government to justify moving ahead with nuclear power.

The partnership report will form the basis for public consultation that is set to begin in early May and wrap up in June. It appears that any alternative viewpoints will not be considered.

On Apr. 9, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart announced the appointment of Dan Perrins as chair of the public consultation process reviewing the findings and recommendations of the UDP report. The question is, why? The exercise now seems more pointless than ever.

It’s interesting to note that the Minister’s Order establishing the UDP does not specifically mandate the group to research and report on cost-competitiveness, public safety and environmental protection issues. It’s not mentioned in the Oct. 20 news release and backgrounder announcing the formation of the panel either. But the material is in the group’s final report nonetheless. It appears as follows:

Cost competitive

Executive Summary: “And – although it has high upfront capital costs – over its full life cycle, nuclear energy has proven to be cost-competitive.” (p. 1)

Chapter 4: Power generation
Key findings: “Given consensus estimates of long-term CO2e (equivalent carbon dioxide) and natural gas pricing, nuclear is a cost-competitive and low-emission power generation option.” (p. 55)

“In Alberta’s deregulated power market, nuclear will consistently compete against other power sources, accepting a price that varies with the constantly changing market supply/demand dynamics. The market price for power in a deregulated market is set by the marginal electricity producer, which is typically natural gas. Nuclear’s low operating costs will ensure it remains a competitive source once it is built, but the average expected market price of power in Alberta will determine whether a shared power agreement is attractive.” (p. 58)

“On a pure cost basis and with realistic assumptions on future carbon pricing, nuclear power is a competitive baseload power alternative. Exhibit 4-6 depicts the relative competitiveness of the three alternatives [nuclear, natural gas and coal] under varying CO2 and natural gas prices. The competitive analysis suggests that above a carbon price of roughly $30 and a natural gas price greater than roughly $6.00/mmBTU, nuclear emerges as the most competitive option.” (p. 60)

Recommendation #12: “Saskatchewan should… Include nuclear as part of the Province’s long-range energy mix, given its cost-competitiveness as a baseload power alternative and the economic value it would generate within the Province.” (p. 68)

Small reactors: “Commercially marketed nuclear reactors are of significant scale, with capacities greater than 1,000 MW. At these unit sizes, the costs of these reactors are competitive with alternative baseload options, including large hydro, coal, and natural gas generators.” (p. 81)

Public safety

Chapter 2: Exploration and mining
Key findings: “A strong and effective licensing and environmental assessment process is paramount to ensure the safety of workers and the public, as well as to protect the environment.” (p. 37)

“The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has primary responsibility for ensuring that the public, the workers, and the environment are protected from the potential risks of nuclear activities. One aspect of the CNSC’s mandate is to review all license applications for the construction and operation of uranium mines and milling plants in Canada. If the proposed activities entail a potential risk to people or the environment, the applicant has the burden to demonstrate that proper mitigation measures will be implemented to reduce this risk below an acceptable threshold.” (p. 37)

Appendix A: Health and safety considerations of nuclear power
Key findings: “Modern nuclear power plants are widely regarded as an extremely safe means of generating electricity.

– In terms of operational safety, nuclear is 10 times safer than natural gas, the next safest form of electricity generation.

– Under normal operations, worker radiation exposure is near naturally occurring levels and presents no known health risks.

– Public exposure levels from nuclear power are significantly below naturally occurring levels and come with no known health risks.

– Mitigating the threat of accident in the reactor core has been the primary focus for the industry since Generation I reactors were first introduced in 1950. Today’s Generation III(+) reactors are designed to be even safer than those in operation.” (p. 95)

Worker safety: “The nuclear power industry has the lowest direct fatality rates among power generation technologies (e.g., hydro, coal, and natural gas). One of the most comprehensive recent studies on the comparative operational safety of energy systems was done by the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland in 1998. The Institut has a database of 13,914 severe accidents across all industries – 4,290 of which are energy system related. Commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, the study examined severe accidents for major power generating facilities, including coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, and nuclear.

“The study’s findings reveal that nuclear is the safest form of energy generation in terms of loss of human life and is 10 times safer than natural gas, the next safest form. In Canada, there have been no fatal accidents from the operation of nuclear facilities.” (p. 95-96)

“Exposure to ionizing radiation is a risk facing, nuclear power workers; however, thanks to strict worker health and safety protocols, numerous studies have shown that radiation exposure for workers in nuclear power is near naturally occurring levels and presents no health risks. The globally observed radiation exposure for workers in the uranium value chain is no more than 6 mSv per year.

“These levels are significantly below the CNSC threshold for nuclear workers set at 100 mSv in a 5-year dosimetry period, with no more than 50 mSv in any single year. No health effects from radiation have been observed in humans below about 100 mSv of exposure.” (p. 96)

Public safety: “The variation of doses over time and by geography make it difficult to summarize the average dose to the public. The UN Scientific Committee, however, suggests that the average annual dose from natural sources is 2.4 mSv. Less than 0.1 percent of radiation to the public comes from the nuclear industry.

“Despite low levels of exposure, the effects on civilians living near nuclear facilities have been the subject of extensive research. These studies, conducted in Canada and other countries, have focused on the stochastic or long-term effects of low levels of radiation. Thus far, no adverse health effects have been observed. Two important North American studies are often cited:

– A 1990 study by the US National Cancer Institute examinig 62 communities with major nuclear facilities whose overall results showed no evidence of any increase in cancer.

– In Canada, an ecologic study was conducted to determine whether the health of residents in the vicinity of Ontario-based nuclear facilities differed from the provincial average. Overall there was no evidence of excess health effects.” (p. 97)

Environmental protection

Chapter 4: Power generation
Environment: “Nuclear power is a low-carbon generation option, whereas even a newly designed 1,000 MW coal or gas plant will respectively emit 5.4 million and 2.5 million tones of CO2 annually. Using a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant instead of a coal plant has the equivalent effect of removing 700,000 cars from the road.” (p. 59)

Appendix A: Health and safety considerations of nuclear power
Key findings: “The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is an independent governing body that provides a regulatory framework to manage all nuclear activity in the country. The CNSC also co-operates closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that international standards are followed.” (p. 95)

“In Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is responsible for ensuring the public, the environment, and workers are protected from any potential effects of nuclear energy and that all international industry guidelines are followed.

“The CNSC operates as an independent agency of the Federal Government that reports to Parliament (via the Minister of Natural Resources). The agency has no role in promoting nuclear power and is split into a decision-making Commission Tribunal and a staff organization including technical experts in nuclear safety and controls.

“One of the main responsibilities of the Commission Tribunal is to run the nuclear licensing process. Before being granted a license or renewal, licensees are required to prove to the CNSC that their facility or activity is acceptably safe. The CNSC approach to safety assumes that nothing is 100 percent risk free, but that risk can be minimized through multiple layers of verifiable protection. When a facility is licensed, the staff organization supports the compliance activities (among other things) and ensures that domestic nuclear operators provide quarterly reports highlighting radioactive discharges.

“The CNSC has responsibilities outside Canada and is charged with implementing the Canada/IAEA safeguards. The IAEA, using CNSC-supplied reports, inspects and monitors nuclear activities, verifying material flows and inventories as required under Canada’s safeguards agreement. The CNSC also cooperates with the IAEA to develop new safeguards approaches for Canadian facilities.” (p. 99)

Of the three issues discussed cost-competitiveness and public safety are without question addressed in the UDP report. As for environmental protection this falls under the purview of regulatory bodies like the CNSC and IAEA, which the UDP explains in detail, and is something the Wall government knows quite well.

Now that the “three measures” test is out of the way perhaps the Wall government will finally come clean and confirm the province’s two worst kept secrets: that it is indeed going forward with nuclear power; and, that the public consultation process is a sham.

In the meantime, information continues to trickle in regarding the UDP and Bruce Power’s efforts to bring nuclear power to Saskatchewan.

A Jan. 28 briefing note with the heading Update on Nuclear Activities in Saskatchewan states: “Bruce Power is now in the process of identifying a suitable site for a proposed power station of two 1000 megawatt reactors. This will be followed by a proposed Environmental Assessment beginning in the spring of 2009. This follows its announcement in November 2008 summarizing the results of its feasibility study. The feasibility study concluded that nuclear power is viable in Saskatchewan under certain conditions. The Province will provide a response to Bruce Power in the spring of 2009 concerning these conditions after they have received the UDP Report.”

What’s not clear is whether the announcement of the environmental assessment and the government’s response to Bruce Power will come before or after the public consultation process. Given the premier’s statement that the province needs to chart a course “relatively quickly” it seems that waiting for Mr. Perrins to submit his final report, which is due by Aug. 31, is out of the question. Making any announcement prior to Perrins releasing his report would undermine the credibility of the public consultation process even further.

In other Bruce Power news, the CBC reported on Apr. 9 that the power company has signed an agreement with the union that represents workers at SaskPower.

According to the article Saskatchewan union signs pro-nuclear agreement with Bruce Power the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2067 has agreed to advocate in favour of nuclear power, documents obtained by CBC News show.

The story states: ‘Earlier this month, the union sent its members a copy of an agreement signed by Bruce Power president Duncan Hawthorne and IBEW Local 2067 business manager Neil Collins.

‘The union says the letter of agreement indicates that if Bruce Power builds a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan, IBEW members would operate and maintain the facility. The proposed nuclear power plant would have two 1,100 megawatt units and require between 1,000 and 2,000 employees, the union said.

‘The letter between Bruce Power and IBEW said a key issue is “that current IBEW Local 2067 members employed at existing generating facilities are not negatively impacted.”

‘As part of that agreement, the union agreed to advocate for nuclear power as the primary alternative for Saskatchewan’s electrical future.

‘The union also agreed to work with Bruce Power on what it calls a “communications protocol” in order to “manage” communications around nuclear power.

‘“As part of the communications protocol, Bruce Power and IBEW Local 2067 will agree on how to best produce and distribute a regular joint communication to all IBEW Local 2067 members addressing nuclear issues,” the letter says.’

Unfortunately, the CBC neglected to mention two important facts. First, that Hawthorne and Collins were members of the UDP, and second, that the negotiations between the two seemed to be taking place during the period when the UDP was conducting its study. This is very disturbing and only helps to confirm the panel’s pro-nuclear bias.

Finally, CIC has disclosed the contract between itself (on behalf of the UDP) and McKinsey & Company Canada, the consulting firm hired to “identify, evaluate and make recommendations on potential economic development opportunities from value-added development of Saskatchewan’s uranium industry.”

According to the Dec. 1, 2008, agreement, CIC was to pay the consultant “a fee in an amount not to exceed $2,205,000.00” payable as follows:

(a) $551,250.00 on or before January 15, 2009;
(b) $551,250.00 on or before February 15, 2009;
(c) $551,250.00 on or before March 15, 2009;
(d) $551,250.00 on or before April 15, 2009.

Not bad for four months work.

Buried on page eight of the contract is this interesting sentence: “Analysis of each segment of the value chain will be completed by individual teams including industry and government support staff as required and led by the Consultant.”

Exactly what these “teams” are and who is on them is not explained. What’s known for sure is that in its report the partnership acknowledges three of its members, AREVA Canada, Bruce Power and Cameco, for supplying “information and support” during the course of the group’s work. These companies may very well some day profit from the report’s recommendations.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Meewasin move to Mendel site revives aborted 2005 plan; Lamb & Knight serve on secretive River Landing destination centre steering committee

News that the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) is contemplating moving into the Mendel Art Gallery once it’s vacated confirms the resurrection of a similar plan that was aborted more than three years ago.

The StarPhoenix reported on Apr. 7 that the MVA is eyeing the Mendel site once it’s empty. The gallery announced on Apr. 3 it’s changing its name to the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan and is proposing to move to a new $55-million facility at the troubled River Landing.

‘The MVA board of directors will take the next few weeks to decide which option to pursue: Occupying the Mendel site or building an $8.9-million interpretive centre at its current location in the former Rothman’s building in Friendship Park,’ the article said.

City councillor Darren Hill, a member of the Meewasin board, said all four councillors on the Meewasin board are in favour of moving to a vacated Mendel Art Gallery.

Hill estimated it would cost no more than $1 million to relocate and renovate the Mendel, plus around $2 million to set up exhibits in the interpretive centre. He also said the present building would likely be demolished if the MVA moves out.

The Mendel and MVA plans mirror a scheme that was launched in late Sept. 2005 when the city, according to an Oct. 12, 2005, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) briefing note, “put forward the option of relocating the Mendel Art Gallery… to the cultural centre” at River Landing.

In an Oct. 4, 2005, report to the city’s executive committee, the then city manager, Phil Richards, said administration had “engaged Mr. David Russell, a tourism consultant based in Vancouver, to examine the feasibility of” a destination complex.

“In order to evaluate further possibilities for the destination complex, we have approached the Mendel Art Gallery to ascertain their interest in developing the site. As Executive Committee will know, the Mendel is planning a major expansion of their present facilities. A potential alternative is to relocate and construct a new facility as part of the destination complex on River Landing. The Mendel Board has indicated an interest in this option and we will proceed to do a full evaluation,” Richards said.

“Under this potential scenario, the destination complex would include Persephone Theatre, the Mendel Art Gallery (with an expanded Joni Mitchell component), public space, an observation tower, and retail opportunities (which may include a visitor kiosk). The Meewasin Valley Authority could move to the vacated Mendel facility. While this option solves many issues, it also creates questions that will need to be fully examined.”

The executive committee received Richards’ report at its Oct. 11, 2005, meeting.

Richard’s report proved to be somewhat misleading. On Oct. 11, 2005, the Mendel issued a media release advising that it had not received a formal development plan from the city to relocate to River Landing. All that had occurred was a “sudden, short discussion” held on Sept. 27, 2005, between city officials and Mendel management.

Terry Graff, the Mendel’s director and CEO at the time, said the board heard the city wanted to make a proposal and said it would listen.

“That was the extent of it. There was not much to it (the meeting) and there’s been nothing since,” Graff said. [Mendels threaten to pull cash gift: Plan to move art gallery doesn't sit well with donors (StarPhoenix, Oct. 12, 2005)]

Also on Oct. 4, 2005, Meewasin CEO Susan Lamb sent an email to WD’s Daniel Watson and David James providing an update on her organization’s activities. The correspondence, obtained under federal freedom of information legislation, states in part:

“You are also aware that we have been approached about moving to the Mendel Building while the Mendel Gallery and office moves to River Landing. I have discussed this with both [censored by WD officials] has asked us to carry on as usual until we have some formal word from the city that this option is in play. As you can guess, our questions have to do with operating cost and efficiency (especially if our office stays here), the cost of capital improvements, and the impact on potential sources of capital funds.”

The names of the two individuals referred to by Lamb were severed from the document. What’s clear though is that someone approached the MVA about moving to the Mendel. Since the city ultimately calls the shots regarding the gallery the assumption is one or both of the names could be city administrative staff or elected officials.

The minutes from the Oct. 7, 2005, Meewasin board of director’s meeting indicate that the issue was discussed but no meaningful details are given.

It should be noted that both Lamb and the Mendel’s current board chair, Dr. Art Knight, were appointed by city council on Apr. 7, 2008, to serve on the city’s River Landing Destination Centre Steering Committee. The committee is mandated to “oversee the consultation process and recommend to City Council a preferred concept for the Destination Centre.”

According to a city administrative report considered by council at its Jan. 14, 2008, meeting, the committee “should complete this work within four months of its inception and provide a progress report to Council once a month.”

It’s been more than a year since the committee was established and there are no reports being submitted to council. There is only silence. The city is also refusing to release certain records concerning the committee.

On Mar. 2, an access to information request was submitted to the city for copies of the minutes to any meetings conducted by the committee. The request was denied on Mar. 13 because the group has not completed its work. The city has given no indication whether the committee will be allowed to finish its work and submit a final report. It remains unclear whether the latest attempts to move the Mendel and Meewasin were discussed by the committee, whose deliberations are shrouded in secrecy.

The potential fallout of Meewasin moving is the impact it could have on Friendship Park. If the current MVA building is demolished and the land sold the city may revisit its Direct Control District 1 (DCD1) Guidelines for the area.

Present zoning allows for an eight storey building on the Meewasin site. However, at the Apr. 5, 2004, city council meeting, city administration put forward a proposal to amend the DCD1 to allow for nearly half of Friendship Park to be opened up for development. Fortunately, the proposal didn’t succeed.

Given Mayor Don Atchison’s thirst for development in the south downtown if Meewasin were to eventually move then look for council to take another look at the DCD1.

As of June 30, 2006, the estimated market value of the MVA property was $477,000.

Proposed DCD1 Amendment from Apr. 5, 2004, city council meeting