About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saving Local TV

If you've been watching your local CTV or A-Channel station lately, then you know about their campaign to "Save Local TV." Well Saturday, CTV Southwestern Ontario in Kitchener held an open house to drum up support on their end, and by all accounts it seemed to be a rousing success.By the time I got to CTV's King St. location, just before 11 o'clock, there was already a line-up that extended around the front of the building and down the side. All that was involved was a basic tour of the newsroom and studio area; about five stops over 30 minutes. And for that, people lined up in the warming Saturday sun for about 30 minutes to an hour. (My wait was closer to 40 minutes.)

The crux of the situation is that ad revenues are way down for local TV stations, even in spite of the fact that satellite and cable companies are making billions just by carrying the channels. None of that money makes it back to the stations, however. And with time-shifting there's less incentive to tune into your local station when you can watch your favourite program anytime in a six-hour window.

If I may offer my two cents though, I think this is emblematic of deeper problem: how are you to encourage people to watch their local station when everything on it, with the exception of local newscasts, is exactly the same as the others? Sure, there may be one or two different programs squeezed in between network mandated programming line-ups, but there's actually very few hours in the day that a local station can call their own. Not to mention there's a real lack of separate identity: it's CTV Southwestern Ontario now, not CKCO Kitchener. The irony is, in the case of the A-Channel stations at least, that before being folded into the A-Channel network, all those stations were pretty individualistic.

But no matter how we got here, the point is still important and timely. At the very least, information that affects you daily, that has or will have an immediate impact on your life, will be seen on your local newscast. It's like why I say voting in municipal elections is important: it's where 99 per cent of the things that affect you a daily basis happen. The national news covers national issues, you want to know about school funding, property taxes, local festivals and sports, you go to your local TV station. It's worth saving and supporting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hey, actual good news for newspapers (sort of)

To anyone watching and lamenting the passing of the so-called old media, comes this hint from Media Bistro that there may be some life in those old printing presses after all.

Does combining Yahoo's technology and sales team and local papers' top-quality content equal a bulletproof online strategy? Maybe not, but $50 million in revenue ain't too shabby either.

The Yahoo Newspaper Consortium is a group of 500 newspapers that use Yahoo's ad platform, allowing the newspapers to offer larger targeted spots to advertisers. For example, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had been selling targeted ads, but the slices it offered were "too small even for local advertisers," according to Ad Age. With the Consortium, Yahoo's sales reps can sell newspaper inventory and newspaper sales reps can sell ads on Yahoo's site, expanding the reach of both organizations. Scripps attributes a 30 percent growth ($800,000) in online ad revenues last quarter to the Yahoo platform.

SeattlePI.com is using the service, as is the Houston Chronicle. Ad Age reports that the papers are able to charge as much as a 15% premium for targeted ads.

These numbers are still a fraction of what newsrooms, in their current forms, need to stay afloat, but it's certainly promising news.

It's been a rough year for the newspaper biz, and the year's still not even close to being half over. Even locally its been especially rough with half the reporting staff of the Guelph Mercury having had to clear out their desks back in February, including the Arts and Opinion Page editors. While what Yahoo is doing isn't exactly the Rosetta Stone to solving a deepening problem for newspapers, it's at least an encouraging sign that there may be a business model out there that will help the industry recover. The original article is from the Advertising Age website.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You Don't Say...

It what has to be a major victory for local advocates fighting the Hanlon Creek Business Park, this press release came through from the City this afternoon. As to what effect it'll have on development plans for the area is yet to be determined, and it may still be too early to seriously weigh the impact of these findings.

City consultants identify Jefferson salamander on Hanlon Creek Business Park lands
City reaffirms commitment to protecting wildlife habitat

GUELPH, ON, May 21, 2009 – DNA analysis on a salamander collected along Laird Road has determined that while that salamander is a hybrid Jefferson, a pure Jefferson salamander sperm donor is present in the area.

The discovery is the result of the City's ongoing terrestrial and aquatic monitoring, which is being conducted by Natural Resource Solutions Inc. (NRSI). No salamander species were observed in the Hanlon Creek Business Park area during surveys conducted this spring, but one individual of the Jefferson salamander complex was observed while crews were monitoring amphibian movement across Laird Road. DNA extraction and analysis performed on a tissue sample by Dr. Bogart from the University of Guelph confirmed that the individual salamander was a hybrid. However, genetics indicate that a pure Jefferson salamander is present.

The Jefferson salamander is currently protected under the federal Species at Risk Act and the Ontario Species at Risk Act. The City's findings have been forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the City will work with the Ministry to determine next steps.

"This discovery is the result of our rigorous, ongoing monitoring program in this area. The City remains committed to protecting the habitat of endangered species, and we will work closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources," said Mayor Karen Farbridge.

The City has conducted environmental monitoring programs on the Hanlon Creek Business park lands since 1998. Separate from the proposed business park, the City retained NRSI to conduct wildlife mortality monitoring on Laird Road. This monitoring program was added as a result of comments from residents, staff, agencies, and the consulting team.

The need for ongoing environmental monitoring is part of the Environmental Implementation Report (EIR) for the project, which is one of the Ontario Municipal Board's conditions of approval. The EIR was approved by the Grand River Conservation Authority and the City's Environmental Advisory Committee earlier this year.

I e-mailed members of the group Land Is More Important Than Sprawl (LIMITS) to get their reaction, and "Wow" was almost all they had to say. When they come down off what I'm sure is an incredible high, I'll update this post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Come Out For Pride Week

Guelph Pride festivities are on again starting this Sunday, and moving full force for a full week of activities and celebrations recognizing our LGBT community.

"Seeing the rainbow flag flying at City Hall may seem a small thing to some, but for me it's a visible statement that I belong here in Guelph. I have friends who change their daily routine just to see the flag," says Gessica Bell, one of Pride 2009 organizers. "We are proud to live in Guelph, a city which honours all of its citizens."

"We want to bring together Guelph's community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning people - together with our friends, families and allies in a safe and welcoming environment," adds Jerome Chang, a Guelph Pride organizer. "We have many exciting events planned during the week and we welcome everyone to join in our celebration."

Here's the schedule of Pride Events

  • Sunday, May 24 at 5pm: A Pride Potluck at Harcourt United Church (87 Dean Ave). Please RSVP to khofer@uoguelph.ca for more information.
  • Monday, May 25 at 12:00pm noon: Raising of the Rainbow Flag at Guelph City Hall
  • Tuesday, May 26 at 9:00pm: Dinner and a Movie (the Celluloid Closet) at the Bookshelf Cinema, $18.00 ($10 for movie only)
  • Thursday, May 28 10:00pm to 2:00am: "Pinch This Pride: An Eclectic Queer Circus" a fund-raiser for the AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County at the EBar featuring drag and performance art
  • Friday, May 29 7:00pm to 9:00pm: "Sex Positivity" Workshop, "Good For Her", a 16+event at INCARNATE CLOTHING (31 Wyndham St.N)
  • Saturday, May 30 8:00 pm: Rainbow Chorus sings songs of "Peace Love, Rock n' Roll" at Harcourt United Church (87 Dean Ave) $15:00 in advance, $20 at the door followed by
  • Saturday May 30 9:00pm to 1:00am: Dancin with the DJ - Holiday Inn (601 Scottsdale Dr.) Accessible & all ages! Entertainment, food, cash bar, prizes: $10 at the door ($2 off if you're coming from the Rainbow Chorus Concert)
  • Sunday May 31, 10:30am to 12:00 noon: Guelph Unitarian Congregation, "Human Like Me" featuring trans speaker j wallace
  • Sunday, May 31, 11:00am to 1:00pm: Guelph Pride Brunch at the Red Brick CafĂ© (8 Douglas St)

For more information, please check out our website at www.guelphpride.outontheshelf.ca or contact Jerome Chang at guelphpride@gmail.com

Uh Oh, Spaghettios!

To be filed under the: "Well, That's Weird," and the "Holiday Hangover" categories, I got this release from the City this morning.

GUELPH, ON, May 19, 2009 – River Run Centre’s main stage sustained water damage from an unexpected flood in the theatre Monday, May 18. River Run Centre has closed the large theatre (Main Stage) for the next few days in the interest of public safety, to assess the extent of the water damage, and to establish a repair schedule.

As a result, the Cynthia Dale concert, scheduled for Wednesday, May 20, will be postponed. The new date will be confirmed shortly.

Once a full external assessment is complete River Run Centre staff will know if any other upcoming Main Stage events will need to be rescheduled or moved to an alternate venue. Should the Main Stage be unavailable to user groups River Run will make every effort to accommodate their needs in an alternate space within the facility.

All other events scheduled for either the Co-operators Hall or the Canada Company Hall will carry on as planned.

Too bad about the fabulous Ms. Dale. But I'd sure like to know how the stage at the River Run got flooded.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Music for the Cause

This was interesting event that came across my (virtual) desk in the last couple of days. A special fundraiser is taking place next Sunday at the Albion, part of a five-city tour called "The Red Shoes Tour." The point is to raise funds and awareness around issues involving violence against women.

The tour is the inspiration of Lynzie Kent, a former Guelphite and former lead singer of the Juno-nominated band God Made Me Funky. The name of the tour comes from her new single also called "Red Shoes." "The single is about women that have struggled with abuse and are now on the road to gaining self- esteem and finding inner strength and confidence," says the press release.

The Guelph show will feature performances by Natasha Pasternak, Ambre McLean and Danielle Todd with Kent headlining. All proceeds will go to Guelph Women in Crisis which works towards ending violence against women and children in all forms: physical, sexual, emotional and verbal.

The show is Sunday May 24th at 7 pm at the Albion Hotel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Come One, Come All.

Because you demanded it! Oh, wait, no you didn't. But you should have, because I can't remember the last time we had a good old fashioned town hall in these parts. Check out the details below from Valeriote's office:

Frank Valeriote, Member of Parliament for Guelph, will host a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, May 21, 2009. The event will be open to the public.

“It has always been my goal and the goal of my office to ensure the utmost accessibility to the people of Guelph,” Mr. Valeriote said. “We have made every effort to meet with constituents and community stakeholders to hear their ideas, thoughts, and concerns as their voice in Ottawa. The Town Hall meeting will be an opportunity for all citizens of Guelph to discuss a variety of issues. I encourage everyone to attend.”

The Town Hall Meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2009 at the Italian Canadian Club, 135 Ferguson Street, Guelph, Ontario.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


For the Opposition parties, back when the Liberals were in charge, the days that Auditor General Sheila Fraser came out with a report was analogous to free pizza day at an elementary school. After all, the "Fiberals" lied, mismanaged or misspent money by investing in "boondoggles" like the long gun registry. So the Conservatives have been running the show the last few years, clearly they must be doing a better job, right?

From the Canadian Press: "DND lost $300M from poor accounting, AG says"

And if that doesn't bake your noodle, know that DND stands for Department of National Defence.

Fraser wrote that the money is now "permanently unavailable to the department to meet its ongoing requirements," and that "this is a serious consequence for a department that stated a need for additional funds to fulfill its mandate."

Oh, and then there was this diss: "We would have expected to see that in a department that manages some $19 billion of appropriations each year." And then she tied it off by saying "We found that National Defence's in-year management and monitoring activities may not serve as sufficient oversight for effective resource management."

So what do you have say for yourself Peter MacKay? "There are issues we have to deal with in terms of accounting," he told the House of Commons on Tuesday. "We'll be looking at these important recommendations."

Am I alone in thinking that if this happened in a Liberal government that MacKay would be one of the first to get up red faced in the House and call for the resignation of the minister/the outster of the Liberals/a Parliamentary bitch-out about how the Liberals don't know how to manage taxpayer money? Truly, there seems to be a double standard a foot.

But honestly, I don't blame MacKay, nor should you, because he oversees hundreds of civil servents who are more directly involved in the day to day allocation and monitoring of where those funds go and when. But I do agree that it looks bad that the DND would cry poverty while having $300 mil in a proverbial pants' pocket somewhere. Perhaps it's just the nature of the beast, and though we, as taxpayers, consitently demand improvement in how our money is managed, government will never operate with 100 per cent efficiency.

Wait, what's that Canadian Press article? There's more?

"Natural Resources, which hired a consultant to design funding programs who then worked for groups that successfully applied for the funds, a glaring conflict of interest. Fraser also found that a Crown corporation that oversees federal bridges is so cash-strapped that bridges in Montreal may become safety hazards"

Giving contracts to companies friendly to the party in charge of the government. Wasn't there a thing that time with the other guys that had the current government all mad when they were in opposition? Never mind.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Rule: Jim Balsillie needs to stop teasing hockey fans

Okay, so this is not about "Guelph" or "Politics" or "Guelph Politics," but I want to say something regardless. Yes, RIM owner Jim Balsillie is "on the prowl" (as described by the National Post) again for an American NHL team that he can rescue form the blistering heat of the southern US and the accumulating debt these franchises are drowning in, and bring them to Canada, where it's safe and sexy.

This time, Balsillie likes the Phoenix Coyotes for a transplant from Arizona to somewhere more hospitable like Hamilton, K-W or Toronto. It's a song we've heard before, and even the most die hard hockey fanatic must be having doubts that no matter how hyped Balsillie is about a move, the stonewalling NHL will only allow it over their dead bodies.

I believe that that's more of a hurdle there as opposed to Balsillie or anyone having to prove that Ontario can support another team. On a recent edition of The Hour, George Stroumboulopoulos asked NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about his feelings on Balsillie, and although he denies it, you can practically hear the contempt in his voice. The clip starts about 10 minutes in.

It seems the real issue is that Balsillie doesn't play by the Old Boys Rule Book, being too much of a "cowboy" and all, and seemingly it comes across that the NHL would rather shut out a motivated seller because of personal business differences rather than on the basis of any reason that makes factual economic sense. And for this reason, I say don't hold your breath, Balsillie's going to be in the dog house for a long time to come.

And New Rule: If you can count the number of times your city gets ice and snow in a decade on one hand, then you don't get a professional hockey team. But that really should have been self-apparent already.