Monday, November 30, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: The largest capital budget in city history

Capital budget estimates have costs upwards of $250 million in five years 
 Councillors receive the capital budget estimates at the Nov. 30, 2015 council meeting at city hall.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald 
By Lisa Goudy

Over the next five years, there will be a proposed $259.09 million in capital expenses. This is almost double the $139.48 million in the proposed 2014 capital budget expenses.

“There’s an unprecedented five-year capital budget,” said Brian Acker, director of financial services. “Certainly it’s the largest by far in the City of Moose Jaw’s history.”

On Monday, city administration presented the 2016-2020 capital budget estimates to council. It was referred to budget committee for further discussion. The capital budget meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Herb Taylor Room at the Moose Jaw Public Library.

In the estimates, many items that were previously in the unfunded capital budget are now included in the funded capital plan.

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Challenges of city finances

By Lisa Goudy

Juggling city finances isn't an easy task for any municipality and Moose Jaw is no exception.

"There's always more programs and services we would like to offer, but the reality is we only have so much in finances or funding for those programs," said Brian Acker, director of financial services. "It's a constant struggle between what we can deliver in an affordable manner and what we'd like to deliver and they're not always easily reconciled."

With aging infrastructure, there is only a certain period of time it will last.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Looking into inaccurate remote meters

 Kathleen Filipowich addresses executive committee
regarding an appeal of a water bill on Nov. 23, 2015.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald
By Lisa Goudy

Two defeated motions led to a review and recommendation on policy options for inaccurate meters last Monday.

It started with a presentation by homeowners Michael and Kathleen Filipowich to executive committee to appeal their current water bill totalling $1,768.48 for the period of April 30 to July 30, 2015. Normally, their bills are between $200 and $300.

"We weren't very alarmed or dismayed when we opened that envelope and received the bill at all because we thought it must be an error," said Kathleen.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Timeline: Mosaic Place events

By Lisa Goudy

Dec. 2, 2011 - Holiday Festival On Ice

March 12, 2012 - Paul Brandt

June 24, 2012 - John Mellencamp

July 7, 2012 - Honeymoon Suite

Aug. 11, 2012 - Simple Plan

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Timeline: The road to opening Mosaic Place and YaraCentre

By Lisa Goudy

Nov. 2, 2006 - City issued a plebiscite on the multiplex project, adopting a $36.3 million design with a city commitment of $15 million.Seventy-one per cent of voters were in favour.

January 2008 - The multiplex steering committee started to gather information to develop a proposal to council on the location of the multiplex, its amenities, expected costs and funding sources. This process took five and a half months. The committee's chair was Mayor Dale McBain.

March 17, 2008 - McBain had a heart operation that resulted in a stroke that required him to take extended time off work. Vice-chairman Bevin Leipert took over the meetings.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Looking at Mosaic Place's revenues and expenses

By Lisa Goudy

Mosaic Place general manager Scott Clark added that in the last three years, operating expenses at Mosaic Place have gone up 2.2 per cent.

However, looking at the budgets, the revenues this year are down from where Clark would ideally like them to be. The net revenue from operating concerts makes up about 20 per cent of their annual revenue.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: The economic impact of Mosaic Place

By Lisa Goudy

Even though Mosaic Place hosted fewer concerts this year than in 2014, the economic impact is still huge.

Scott Clark, general manager of the facility, said Mosaic Place hosted eight concerts this year, including the Scotties, compared to 14 concerts last year.

"The in-market spend without the spinoffs, without the re-spending of those dollars as they get spent on salaries and things like that, the direct expenditures into the marketplace was $6.8 million and 3,400 room nights," he said. "It's had a major effect on the community. You talk to the restaurants, you talk to the hotels and they are feeling it in a big and positive way."

Candis Kirkpatrick, executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw, said there was "no question" that the benefits of events at Mosaic Place extend to other areas of the city.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: A successful journey so far for Mosaic Place

Scott Clark shares how far the facility has come since it opened more than four years ago

By Lisa Goudy

The day was Oct. 14. The year was 2010. Scott Clark first arrived in Moose Jaw and took a tour of two facilities, now called Mosaic Place and YaraCentre.

"You got a real sense of how special it was going to be. It's a lot different than looking at a blueprint," said Clark, general manager of both facilities. "There was a tremendous amount of wow factor to it."

He had a similar feeling when he first walked through YaraCentre's doors.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Lisa's Corner: Speaking of more than just one incident

By Lisa Goudy

Why is it that we give more attention to some items than others?

When it comes to news, even about a similar general topic, we tend to devote more attention to certain incidents than others. This is not a practice we should continue.

It would be far better if there were never any terrible events again; that would be a utopia.

However, that isn't reality. The reality is a lot of horrifying things happen all the time and we don't stand much of a chance of eradicating it if we don't talk about it - all of it.

For instance, the atrocious attacks in Paris a few weeks ago spread like wildfire over the Internet. More than 100 people were killed in the attacks. It is tragic.

But what happened to all of the chatter about Beirut?

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Reflecting on the fall session

Local MLAs look back on the highlights of the last sitting before the 2016 election

By Lisa Goudy

Thursday was a day of mixed emotions for Greg Lawrence and Warren Michelson at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina.

On the one hand, both MLAs said they were pleased with what government accomplished during the session, but it was also a day of goodbyes to 10 retiring MLAs.

"It was a very humbling day, a very interesting day, as they told their experience of being here, how they served the province and their respective constituencies. It was quite emotional," said Michelson, MLA for Moose Jaw North.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Police encourage everyone to lock vehicles

Increase in vehicle theft, theft of contents largely due to unlocked vehicles
The Moose Jaw Police Service is encouraging citizens
to keep their vehicles locked to help prevent thefts.
Times-Herald photo illustration by Lisa Goudy

By Lisa Goudy

An unlocked car is an attractive target for thieves.

In Moose Jaw, since Sept. 1, there have been 21 vehicle thefts and 35 reported thefts of contents. Most of those were from unlocked vehicles.

"There's been a rise. We haven't been able to find that there's any real apparent connection other than the fact that a lot of these vehicles seem to be unlocked and have the keys in them," said Sgt. Rick Johns with the Moose Jaw Police Service.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Citizens give their budget opinion

Councillors receive results of this year's online citizen budget tool
Councillors discuss the results of the 2015 citizen budget
 at the Nov. 23, 2015 executive committee meeting.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

Of the 1,200 people who visited the City of Moose Jaw's online citizen budget consultation tool this year, 202 completed the actual budget consultation.

This is a 16.3 per cent participation rate.

Last year, 215 people took part in the same tool. The results of this year's citizen budget were presented at Monday's executive committee meeting.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Social media threat initiated Hold and Secure at Peacock

By Lisa Goudy

For about an hour on Monday, Peacock Collegiate was under a Hold and Secure mode after two males were involved in a dispute.

"There was an altercation that occurred inside the school between a former student and a current student and that subsequently spilled outside, resulting in the former student leaving," said Sgt. Rick Johns with the Moose Jaw Police Service.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: A nine per cent utility rate increase

Executive committee approves raising waterworks and sanitary sewer utility rates for 2016
Brian Acker, director of financial services, speaks
to the proposed water and sewer utility rate increases
at the Nov. 23, 2015 executive committee meeting.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

Citizens will likely pay nine per cent more for the waterworks and sanitary sewer utilities, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

At Monday's executive committee meeting, councillors approved increasing the rates by nine per cent. This is the same percentage increase as seen in water and sewer every year since 2012.

"Utility rate increases that we've had, certainly they've been significant for both water and sewer for that 2005 to 2015 period," said Brian Acker, director of financial services. "They've been significant for all communities in Saskatchewan. So we're certainly not a lot different than other communities in that."

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Lisa's Corner: Resist the urge of unfair judgment

By Lisa Goudy

A recurring theme in X-Men is the question of if one person with powers, called mutants, is bad, does that make all mutants bad?

Take the classic relationship of Magneto and Prof. Charles Xavier. Magneto has the ability to manipulate metal and Xavier has the ability to read and control minds. In many variations of X-Men comics and in the films, Magneto and Prof. X become good friends. Both being different, they share a common bond in a world where people aren't sure whether they should be afraid of or accepting of mutants.

However, Magneto and Prof. X become enemies when their ideologies change. Prof. X believes that mutants and humans should and can coexist, based in part on his nature and also on good relationships he's had with non-powered people. Therefore, he sees the best in powered and non-powered individuals.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Safe Homes to receive recognition at Sask. legislature

The Safe Homes for Single Mothers logo is shown. Submitted photo
By Lisa Goudy

Mark Patterson received a surprise phone call this week that will turn into a provincial recognition.

"Greg Lawrence contacted me and asked if I wanted to attend a member statement where he was going to perform a three-minute speech. I absolutely accepted," said Patterson, owner and founder of local non-profit organization Safe Homes for Single Mothers. "That's really big for us. It's not every day that businesses and the people that own them get recorded in provincial history. So I thought that was pretty cool."

On Monday at 1:30 p.m. at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina, Lawrence will read his member statement.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: 'A waiting game' for refugees: Higgins

By Lisa Goudy

When it comes to Syrian refugees, Mayor Deb Higgins always thinks of the "human side" of the situation.

"We have to keep in mind that these are people the same as us that are fleeing a dangerous situation and have really left everything behind," she said. "The one thing that worries me is that winter's fast upon us here, as well as in Europe, and when you see refugees who are fleeing terrorists and some of the people that have taken the same actions that we've seen recently in Paris, that's who they're fleeing and they're living in pretty deplorable conditions at this point in time."

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Getting ready for Syrian refugees

Moose Jaw Multicultural Council working to be 'proactive' until details finalized

By Lisa Goudy

The Moose Jaw Multicultural Council is preparing for the arrival of an estimated 210 Syrian refugees to Moose Jaw.

Normally the city receives 60 refugees per year.

"If we were to see 200 between now and the end of December, that's three and a half times what our annual target is," said Stefanie Palmer, executive director of the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council (MJMC).

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: 'A more baseball-oriented scoreboard'

Ross Wells Park to receive a bigger scoreboard

By Lisa Goudy

Ross Wells Park is getting a new scoreboard.

"It's bigger. It's all new technology. It's all LED lighting. It's wireless," said Cory Olafson, general manager and assistant coach of the Moose Jaw Miller Express (MJME). "It's going to be a really nice scoreboard."

The new scoreboard, which is five-feet wider, will also allow for inputting teams' names on it.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Fire dep't to create four new assistant fire chief positions

Council also deems platoon commander positions redundant
Fire Chief Rod Montgomery addresses
council at the Nov. 16, 2015 meeting. 
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

The Moose Jaw Fire Department will be creating four new assistant fire chief positions.

Members of city administration will work immediately to fill those positions. As well, platoon commander positions were deemed redundant. Council approved these decisions in the personnel committee meeting minutes at Monday's council agenda.

"Each assistant chief will have portfolios that they'll deal with. That'll help us manage the department better," said Fire Chief Rod Montgomery.

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