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How to Fix the City Scorecard

What's fixed, what's not and the Hall of Fame of the great unfixed.


Each January, our first issue of the year, we offer up our annual Fix the City suggestions in the spirit of civic-mindedness; truly, we're trying to make this a better place to live. But does anyone listen? Are we making any difference, or is this a pointless exercise in navel-gazing?

Turns out, most years we do pretty well---generally, about half our proposed Fixes are actually implemented.

Most years. But not last year. Of the 17 Fixes we proposed last January, only three of them were fully implemented---a "success" rate of just 18 percent. Ouch. But three more of the fixes fell into a middling "sort of" or "don't know how to rate" category, so while our failure rate of 64 percent (there was no action on the remaining 11 Fixes) was abysmal, it wasn't as bad as it might've been. To recap:


The "Bridge to Nowhere"---an off-ramp from the MacKay Bridge that once connected to Robie Street, but which was discontinued in 1992---was torn down last spring, as per our suggestion.

Also, two of our suggested changes at City Hall have been implemented: a better air exchange system works and wireless internet connection for public use has been installed. Now, I can stay awake at council meetings, and even blog them live via Twitter (see, most Tuesdays).

Kinda, sorta, not really

There has been improvement at placing route maps at bus terminals, but not at all stops, as we suggested. The litter patrols are doing a better job cleaning up Granville Mall, but a full re-build is still on a wish list. The soldiers at the Old Armoury seem to be doing a better job shovelling snow off the sidewalks, but that might just be because it hasn't snowed so much this winter.

Forget about it

Councillors and mayor Peter Kelly still reject any notion that all their votes should be recorded and posted on the internet. Even though GPS technology allows every cab to be tracked, our city stupidly requires taxis to keep their roof lights on at all times, confusing and frustrating people waiting street-side for cabs (the policy supposedly guards against cabbies committing nefarious crimes). Liquor stores don't accept empties for recycling. You still gotta run like crazy to beat the pedestrian light at Quinpool and Robie.

People continue to rip holes in intervening fences, because Chebucto Lane doesn't connect with Quinpool Centre. Artists don't get city grant money. There are no garbage cans to speak of on Gottingen Street. We buy blue plastic bags to put our recyclables in, even though the city could provide proper blue bins at much less cost. There are no recycling bins on the Common.

A bus doesn't go down Terminal Road, home of the new NSCAD campus and soon-to-be-home of the new farmers' market and Nova Scotia Power headquarters, and worse still, the proposal to run a free shuttle bus through the area was scuttled in the latest Five Year Transit Plan.

Hall of Fame

Last year, we awarded Metro Transit's GoTime its very own circle of hell. GoTime was proposed sometime in the mid-1990s, I think, and has been a running joke ever since.

The computer screens at the terminals usually don't work at all; when they do work, they scroll past the #1 info too quickly to read, but take five or six minutes to get past all the "no scheduled" bus info in the evenings. (Reader John Andrea suggested a blank line be put above the #1, and the non-running buses be removed, sensible ideas that Metro Transit evidently rejected because they were too user-friendly.)

For a decade or so, we've been promised a system where we can call from a bus stop and find when the bus will arrive, but still, we get scheduled arrival times, not real-time times. Real transit companies have nice websites showing where all the buses are, allowing you to sit in your warm house, watch the site and dart out to your stop without spending 20 minutes standing in an ice storm, but Halifax will likely sooner get flying cars than such a workable system.

The situation is completely ridiculous---Metro Transit can't build a system but, citing intellectual property rights, it denies scheduling information to residents trying to build their own systems.

What's worse than a circle of hell? I don't know, but whatever it is, Metro Transit deserves it for GoTime.

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