July 18, 2023 Message to the Membership

Posted on July 18, 2023 in

July 18, 2023 Message to the Membership

Well hello again!

A lot has happened since we last spoke, which as it turns out, is the longest drought you or I have encountered thus far into the existence of this little forum, which used to be known as a weekly Message to the Membership.

Indeed, it’s been two-plus months since you last heard from me in this fashion, so I thought it was high time to bring you up to speed on a few things.
Firstly, I’m now an experienced European traveler. Not that that is in and of itself newsworthy, but a June trip to Norway to visit the homeland of my ancestors got me to thinking, ‘Why can’t things be done differently here?’

And what I speak of specifically is the amazing – almost unbelievable – infrastructure that Norway has built relatively recently. Now it’s important to keep in context what I define as relatively recently; to which I mean in the 20th century. Because I saw many Norwegian buildings and settlements that go back to the 10th century and beyond.

But I digress. Back to the infrastructure.

To say that we traveled on 1,000 different bridges would not be an exaggeration. Along the west coast of Norway, where their magnificent fjords are everywhere, that’s all you do is travel on bridges and through mountain tunnels. I wouldn’t even want to fathom a guess at how many billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on their infrastructure because it would embarrass me as to how far off I would be from the real number.

As impressed as I was, sadly it made me reflect on the fact that we can’t even get a couple of overpasses/underpasses built to avoid rail lines in Saskatoon. And we don’t have any mountains, or oceans in our way. We can do and be so much better.

So how can a tiny nation of 5 million people afford all of this amazing infrastructure? By their abundance of oil, of course (which, by the way, is now fueling all of Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine).

If only we had oil to develop and sell to the world. Oh wait, never mind, we do.

And I know we’re weaning off this horrible (and yet currently life-sustaining) resource. But why don’t we capture the opportunity like our socialist cousins in Norway have?

The world’s consumption of oil is still increasing, and we turn a blind eye to that. To whose detriment, is all I ask.

Until the green revolution, battery storage and other technologies associated to them catch up – like in the next 50 years or so – there is an opportunity to be a world leader. Let’s start with providing our own nation with its oil and gas needs first, then look to export markets.

OK, onto the next topic: lobbying and advocacy. And here I’m speaking general terms, not to a specific issue. My intent here is to draw the curtain back a little bit. The way it works, or at least the way it’s seemed to work for me, is that relationships must be built with those who have the power and authority to do something about your plight. So when something negative happens (as it invariably does) the relationship is strong enough to withstand that particular hiccup.

Sometimes that relationship is with elected officials, and sometimes it is with bureaucrats. The more you can avoid adversarial relationships, the better.
Point being, just because you haven’t heard us going off the deep end about something doesn’t mean that we’re not working on it on your behalf.
Then again, there are times when you have to jump into the deep end. And sometimes it’s a cannonball; which brings me to my next point.

Further down in this e-blast you will see the submission we are sending to the City’s Finance Department regarding the City’s $52-million projected budget shortfall. We have some recommendations, as we always do at civic budget time, on how the City can best address this shortfall.

Similar to past submissions, this year’s letter will focus on HR, and the number of people employed by City Hall. We are recommending that they reduce their workforce by 10% and make earnest strides in expanding their efficiency and productivity efforts.

Go back to the basics. Roads and infrastructure. Protective services. Waste management. Transportation. If the employee is not involved in one of these key areas, they should be considered expendable. Whether or not they are among the 10% reduction would be determined by some kind of internal audit mechanism.

I mean it’s not like they won’t find other work. The labour market is still very much tilted in the employees’ favour. They just don’t have to be on yours and my (ie: the taxpayers’) payroll.

We are also recommending that the City sell off some assets – specifically the greenhouse and parcel of land it sits on.

In the spirit of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. Not that there isn’t more to say on it, but I’m running out of space and I wanted to touch on the third topic in this week’s message:

Thanks to all who showed up for our Annual Cookout and Open House last week. We had a great turnout but if you happened to be among those who missed it, don’t hesitate to stop by our brand new office space at 190-833 45th Street West. We won’t have burgers and beer for you, but we still would be glad to show you around.

Until next time, be safe, be smart, be considerate, be well, but most of all, be kind.

Keith Moen
Executive Director

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