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Month: July 2012

The Victor Post Fonds

An accomplished generational talent, lost to us far too soon.  If you have an interest in photography or just want to see some wonderful images captured on film, why not take a trip to the St. Albert Musée Héritage Museum this summer.

The many, many photos of Victor Post

Major acquisition bolsters Musée’s archives

It’s possibly the most substantial and most substantive collection of photographs that has ever been amassed in St. Albert. Now, the Musée Héritage Museum has its hands on it and the public is already starting to see why it’s so important.

It has been 11 years since Victor Post succumbed to his battle with Crohn’s disease, but his legacy lives on. In 2003, there were two very fine retrospectives of his work at the Musée and the Profiles Public Art Gallery, now known as the Art Gallery of St. Albert. The city hasn’t seen anything since then.

That all changed last week. The museum announced on Thursday that the Post family had donated the entire collection of his papers and a substantial volume of his photographs, and his camera collection as well.

FOIPed

Alberta to make more data public

“We are looking at the best practices from around the world to help us achieve this goal. This will mean that Albertans will be able to access government more than ever before in an interactive and user-friendly manner.”

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In an interview Tuesday, Bhullar was short on specifics. The government has not established a working committee, set deadlines or started consultations, he said, but there is commitment to transparency.

 

Criticism of Alberta’s FOIP rules and access to information is nothing new, nor is it exactly undeserved.

New report says Alberta’s FOIP laws worst in country

Proposed amendments to Alberta’s access law slammed

From reviews of Alberta’s access to information laws, there seems to be nowhere to go but up.  And if the Gov truly is interested in becoming a leader in providing citizens with access to their government, then it’s the citizens of Alberta whom it should be turning to for guidance and direction on this.

Yes citizens can hold MLA’s and government accountable on this subject, but at the end of the day, or the election, it’s obviously not been access to information that’s been at the front of voters minds during the past several elections.  It certainly hasn’t dominated debates or lead to the defeat of Ministers responsible for the administration of the FOIP act.  And frankly, there’s probably little in the way of a political hit to be had should the government continue on sticking to some of the most restrictive FOIP rules in the country, standing in the way of information seekers.

However, if this is a legitimate endeavor to lead the country and even North America in allowing citizens access to government information, then the folks who fill working committees, steering committees, advisory groups, etc, in this endeavour, are the folks who have tried & failed and banged their heads against the wall of information regulations over the past decade.  Who better than citizens who volunteer their time to try and hold government to account, who  better than citizens-at-large and advocates of transparency to help guide this process?  Yes, we live in a representative democracy, and yes we elect people to run and serve and be the stewards of government.  And in terms of transparency, our government has a track record that’s difficult to defend, and I’d argue a lack of objectivity that could well obstruct this process and cause it to fail to deliver any real reforms.  This is about the citizens of Alberta, and their right to transparency, access and information.  And it’s through the direction of citizens that this process and potential reforms should flow.

Next Stop

Edmonton council nixes proposal for 40th Avenue LRT station

““You’ve got this billion-dollar LRT and it’s not relevant to all the neighbourhoods it cuts right through.” – Coun. Iveson

“I’m a bit appalled that we would be looking at $22 million for something that’s only been open a couple of years,” said Coun. Jane Batty, saying she would like to see the train run to all four corners of the city first. “I just think we have other fish we should be frying for LRT lines.”

 

Earlier today, a proposal by Councillor Iveson to add an LRT station at 40th avenue was flattened on the track by the Transportation Committee of City Council.

So much of Edmonton’s future LRT expansion will be retrofitted through existing neighbourhoods, roads and right-of-ways.  It’s in that vein that today’s decision by the committee and the quotes above, I believe merit the attention of Community Leagues, advocates, and the folks who will be looking to make use of light-rail in their communities on day.

A fears years ago, I had the opportunity to chat in depth with a member of a University-area Community League who was actively involved in south-side LRT expansion.  The debate over the West LRT line was in full swing, and having recently taken over a the civics director for a west-end league, I was looking for advice from someone who had looking at the topic as a community advocate for some time. The conversation was focused on one topic, taking a multi-billion dollar transit investement and getting it right for the communities affected.  That the focus for decision makers needed to be on serving the communities expansion transits.  Decisions such as forgoing consideration of additional stops in redeveloping mature neighbourhoods for a tunnel-vision on 20 minute ride-times from the end to downtown, was largely missing the forest for the trees.

We see the contrast today, with the quotes above, between detail and completion.  Between working at the most local of levels to serve communities, and focusing in on the end of the line and ribbon cutting day.

No, not every community can get what it wants, but nor in a changing and growing city, can we really consider a LRT line complete just because it’s moving riders.  A demand for a station, a demand for service, and the consideration of potential ridership and local transit-related redevelopment should carry the same weight whether the line is a few years old, or 30 years-old.  The same goes for mature and inner city communities looking to increase service of proposed and developing LRT lines in their communities.  They shouldn’t be placed in a situation where their desires and concerns are quickly dismissed and/or outweighed by a focus on suburban ride times or focusing on the construction of one LRT at the expense of the functionality of another.  That may help to hurry along the development of future LRT routes, but for an investment of this size, do we want to just build it, or build it darn well for our communities and our city?