Saturday, July 26, 2008



The Toronto Sun headline that this was just '"Tax money down the toilet" was so true, it's no wonder the Canadian Taxpayer Federation is upset.
The story is that City Hall plans to spend up to $900,000 to build a rainwater cistern on the roof of the Automotive Building at Exhibition Place to collect water to flush all the toilets and urinals in the building after it has been overhauled as a conference centre.
Oh yes, water also would have to be piped in from Lake Ontario because the experts say that Toronto doesn't get enough rain. (You could have fooled me on that point as the July of 2008 was the wettest on record.)
There are problems with the story other than just the silly wastage of taxpayers' money. The Sun confused two organizations, Exhibition Place and the Canadian National Exhibition.
Briefly, Exhibition Place runs the grounds of nearly 200 acres and is the landlord to all the uses there, including the main tenant, the CNE, which runs for 18 days each August.
This mad scheme comes from Toronto council and officials and was floated through the Exhibition Place board of governors, which City Hall controls. Of course, because of inept ideas like this, it generally loses money. It has little to do with the annual Ex, which makes money. Trust me. I have been president of the CNE directors and vice-chairman of the governors, so I know the convoluted governance, which confuses most councillors, governors and directors.
So the civic dim bulbs have been hunting for some showy scheme which will make them look green as they waste our taxes. Up comes this rainwater scheme, even though experts think that for Canada to get involved in saving a lot of rain when it has more fresh water than any country in the world is lunacy.The clincher that this is dumb, dumb, dumb, comes from the part of the scheme which spends extra tens of thousands to pump water occasionally into the system from one of the huge lakes of the world, which is only yards away from the old historic building.
Why didn't they plan to do it all the time and save about half a million bucks? After all, the Ex already pumps water from the lake for its grass.
And there is no worry about treating it first because many businesses and cottagers (like me) have been pumping water out of Ontario lakes for a century to flush our toilets.
Diane Young, who is the top official at Exhibition Place, and Joe Pantalone, the deputy mayor, always defend their adventures into pretending to save the environment as being expensive mainly because they are cutting-edge pilot projects. Give me a break! They reinvent the wheel and pretend they're saviors. The world has been saving rain water since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so when it's not too silly or costly to build the infrastructure.
Yet the Ex has long featured a giant example of their thinking. That solitary wind turbine, which doesn't work enough to justify its high cost, was proposed as an in-your-face gimmick to publicize the value in utilizing wind power. I spoke and voted against, pointing out it was hardly revolutionary technology.
Not only were there giant farms of these turbines throughout the world, windmills have also been around since the cave days, and Torontonians didn't need a windmill at the Ex to introduce them to the idea.
And why not put it on the Island or out in the lake instead of right in the middle of a rose garden which was one of the prettiest corners of the Ex? They moved the turbine a trifle to save the garden but went ahead, saying there is more wind there than out along the Island. (Must be all those politician led by Pantalone who dominate the politics of the grounds.)
Ironically, the CNE demonstrated making electricity from wind exactly where the turbine stands, and did so three decades ago. So we waste these millions demonstrating an old technology which is used routinely throughout the world to produce a lot more watts per thousand dollars.
Unfortunately, we're crying over spilt tax dollars. The cistern has been built, and when the city builds something, it always cost more than if a private company did it. I suspect this story leaked because some junior staffer became incensed at the wastage to date and was afraid of what would happen next.
After all, the reclamation of the Automotive Building is said to be 62% over budget, which seems normal when Toronto City Hall is involved in anything because of how it allows union labour to run wild.
One would hope --probably vainly--that councillors would get back to the basic business of running a city, which is grimy and falling apart, and would stop wasting time and tax dollars on reinventing cisterns and windmills. The world got the basic idea for both centuries ago. But this council will never ever improve on anything because the socialist majority is captivated more by the past than the future. After all, it's safer.
If they had been running Ford in the glory days, it would have crashed quicker because the councillors would have spent their research bucks on bringing back the horse.

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