The city is looking into a long-term strategy to deal with the thousands of potholes dotting Edmonton roads.
Transportation manager Bob Boutilier said more money is needed to do roadway maintenance and rehabilitation.
The city budgeted $20 million for pothole repairs this year — and Boutilier said he would like to see this more than double to $50 million by 2015.
A strong maintenance program should mean less potholes in the future, he said Thursday.
“It’s a matter of state of good repair,” said Boutilier, “and state of good repair begins the day you take on the infrastructure.”
“The problem we run into is that when the road is new and you think ‘well, everything’s fine’ you start to let things slip a bit — but… ultimately, you do have to do something underneath,” he said.
Boutilier says potholes like these are a symptom of a bigger problem.(CBC)Boutilier said the added investment will go towards a longer-term plan for roadway management.
“In some cases, the potholes, or the bumps in the road, are a symptom of the problem underneath,” he said. “And that’s where we want to get ahead of the game because we can’t wait until we start having failure of road systems — then it’s very expensive” [to repair].
“A lot of the preventative maintenance we’re doing will extend the life of the roadway so we’re not rehabilitating as frequently.”
Coun. Don Iveson agrees with Boutilier that correcting the pothole problem is worth the higher price tag.
He said he’s confident that Edmontonians will support council investing more in the pothole problem.
“We’ve done great work on our local roads and some of our bus routes, but our main roads are really starting to show some of the results of failing to invest — not just for the last couple of years, but really going back 20 years.”
“So we’ve got a lot of catching up to do — but citizens expect it.”
He said he expects city council to support the plan.
Canadians’ trust in the digital economy is at risk because our laws don’t have enough teeth to compel companies to protect consumers’ privacy, Canada’s privacy commissioner says.
“It is increasingly clear that the law is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of today – and certainly not those of tomorrow,” Jennifer Stoddart said Thursday when she released a report recommending changes to Canadian privacy legislation governing the private sector.
“The legislation lacks mechanisms strong enough to ensure organizations invest appropriately in privacy. As a result, consumer trust in the digital economy is at risk.”
‘Right now, the only real power I have is to name.’—Jennifer Stoddart, privacy commissioner of Canada
Speaking to members of the International Association of Privacy Professionals at their annual Canada Privacy Symposium, where she released her position paper, Stoddart noted that technological advances have massively expanded the scale of personal information that organizations can collect, store and use as they create new products and services. Sometimes, she added, that occurs in ways that are intrusive, or without the genuine consent of the individuals that the personal information belongs to.
She said Thursday that other countries have already made changes to their privacy laws to address the challenges posed by new technology and it is important that Canadian legislation “evolve to keep up with the rest of the world.”
In order to address such issues, Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) must be beefed up to include stronger enforcement, she added.
“Right now, the only real power I have is to name [companies that break the law],” she said. “This provides Canadians with information about where they may — or may not — wish to take their business. But how can Canadians vote with their feet when increasing amounts of their personal information are being held by fewer and fewer organizations?”
Stoddart’s paper recommends expanding enforcement powers under the law to allow for:
Financial penalties such as compensation for damages, administered by the Federal Court or fines imposed by the privacy commissioner.
The privacy commissioner to make orders that companies must comply with.
Currently, the privacy commissioner can recommend actions companies can take to comply with privacy legislation, but would need to go to Federal Court to get an enforceable order.
Stoddart also recommends measures to boosting transparency and accountability of companies that gather, store and use Canadians’ personal information by requiring companies to:
Notify both the privacy commissioner and affected individuals in the case of a privacy breach.
Publicly report the number of disclosures of Canadians’ personal information they have made to law enforcement agencies and government institutions. PIPEDA allows law enforcement and government agencies to obtain this information without consent.
Be accountable for their commitments to improve privacy practices, following an investigation or audit, by being required to demonstrate compliance within a set time period or face consequences.
Voluntary privacy breach reporting ‘unacceptable’
In the case of privacy breaches, organizations can currently report breaches voluntarily, but don’t have to, a situation that Stoddart called “unacceptable” and “unfair.” She noted that organizations that do report breaches often suffer damage to their reputation and costs associated with fixing the problem. “Meanwhile, those that do not report may escape with no negative effects on their reputation or bottom line.”
Police are stressing the dangers of allowing youngsters behind the wheel after a 12-year-old Mackenzie girl was killed when a Jeep driven by an 11-year-old girl flipped on a forest service road.
RCMP Sgt. Dan Moskaluk said a 41-year-old man was supervising the young driver when she lost control of the vehicle about six kilometres out of town.
“We see time and time again the situation of an adult supervising an unlicensed driver,” Moskaluk told The Province. “There’s a lot of risks involved – here’s a situation where something went terribly wrong.
“There are reasons why laws are in place,” said Moskaluk, noting that driver training involves studying rules and regulations before getting behind the wheel. “The 11-year-old was driving and lost control of the vehicle, and it ended up on its side.”
A person close to the three individuals involved said the accident has taken its toll.
“It’s a lot for the family,” said the man, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“There’s a lot of grieving going on.” The tragic accident is hitting home for the small town 190 kilometres north of Prince George.
“It’s a lot for the community to take right now,” he said.
The fatal accident happened at about 7 p.m. Friday on the Causeway Forest Service Road. The 12-year-old died at the scene. All three people in the 1994 Jeep YJ are from the Mackenzie area.
Mackenzie RCMP Sgt. Sydney Lecky said “the impact on the community and in our elementary and high schools has been significant.
“Investigators and RCMP Victim Assistance workers continue to work with the community in providing support to the affected families.”
Imagine having a drink with dinner at a restaurant only to be pulled over on the way home and slapped with a DUI. That could happen under a proposed plan to toughen the drunk driving laws across the country, and it has restaurateurs alarmed.
The National Transportation Safety Board wants states to make it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content level above 0.05. Currently all U.S. states set the limit at 0.08. For some people, the lower level could mean no more than a glass of wine.
“It would have a devastating impact on the restaurant industry,” said Sarah Longwell, the managing director of the American Beverage Institute.
With a limit as low as 0.05, social drinkers would be the ones most likely to cut back when they go out to eat, she said. “You basically take away a part of the experience of dining out. When you take that element away, you take away some of the magic, the ambiance of a night out,” Longwell said.
“It could have a chilling effect on sales,” said Paul Gatza, the director of the Brewers Association, a trade group that represents small American brewers. For restaurants that serve alcohol, beer sales generally account for about 10 to 20 percent of their revenue while wine and spirits make up another 10 to 20 percent, Gatza said.
The whole hospitality industry will take a hit, Longwell said. “It impacts servers, bartenders, suppliers, ” Longwell said.
The new blood-alcohol proposal is based on research that shows impairment begins with the first drink. “The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC above 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said Tuesday in announcing the proposal.
More than 100 countries already have BAC limits at 0.05 or lower, according to the NTSB.
The NTSB is targeting the annual rate of 10,000 fatalities caused by drunk drivers, but reducing the blood alcohol level fails to impact the heavy drinkers who drive above the 0.15 percent level and who are responsible for over 70 percent of drunk-driving fatalities, according to American Beverage Institute numbers. “It will have a tremendous impact on the moderate social drinker and almost no impact on the hard-core drinkers,” Longwell said.
The Distilled Spirits Council echoed that sentiment. “We join with other organizations, including those engaged in traffic safety, in maintaining our strong support for the strict enforcement of the .08 BAC level and continuing the fight against hardcore drunk drivers. Progress has been made in decreasing alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Reducing the BAC level will not be an effective strategy,” the council said in a statement.
Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving said Tuesday it appreciates the NTSB’s attention to the issue, but will keep its own advocacy focused on its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which backs the current .08 limit, calls for high-profile law enforcement and in-car breathalyzers for offenders.
One sector the new level would help is retail sales of alcohol, said Libby Bierman, an analyst at Sageworks, a private-company data expert firm. “It might encourage people to drink at home or pick up something and take to a friend’s house,” she said.
Beer, wine and liquor store profits have been on the upswing since 2009, according to the Sageworks data collected from private companies across the U.S. “This whole industry has always done well, even during the recession,” Bierman said.
Overall, the private beer, wine and liquor stores never dipped into the red like many other industries during the worst of the recession. They posted a 0.87 percent net profit margin in 2009 and that climbed to 2.88 percent for 2012, according to Sageworks’ numbers.
The NTSB plan was proposed Tuesday along with other enforcement measures including the use of in-vehicle drunk-detection technology and targeting of repeat offenders. States have the power to set their own blood-alcohol limits, which have all remained at .08 since 2004. The NTSB first issued the .08 recommendation in 1982. The amount of alcohol required for intoxication varies among individuals based on weight, tolerance and other factors.
Australia’s state government of Queensland has laid down a new set of changes to securing and renewing driver licenses for old-timer and new entrant drivers.
Effective before end of 2013, drivers aged 75 years old and above would have to undergo yearly medical examinations and secure medical certificates as part of requirements to renew their drivers’ licenses.
According to an earlier report by The Courier Mail, Queensland has about 160,000 licensed drivers aged 75 years old and above as of June 2011. The state government predicts the figure to grow in 2021 by 75 per cent.
“The reality is, it’s not just going to be about issuing a medical certificate or not,” Transport Minister Scott Emerson over the weekend.
“It could be that doctors could issue a medical certificate with certain restrictions, such as limiting the number of hours that someone can drive during the day, or even limiting the distance they can drive.
“I believe this is a sensible change to protect older drivers, particularly as the population ages.”
More Rigorous Tests for First-Timers
New entrant drivers meantime will be faced with rigorous tests concerning skills and attitudes tests on high-risk manoeuvres.
Mr Emerson noted younger drivers are more at risk so they have to be better and more prepared and educated when it comes to fatalities on our roads.
“Last year 84 young drivers aged 16 to 24 were involved in fatal crashes – five ahead of the previous year,” he said.
Greg Urbahn, an instructor for Indooroopilly Driving School, lauded the new reforms, noting that many young drivers don’t know how to merge safely at high speeds.
“Reverse parking is a key part of the test (at the moment) but no one can get maimed or killed by that action,” Mr Urbahn told Herald Sun.
Driving test officers will check on entrant’s high-risk manoeuvres, such as merging at high speeds and turning across oncoming traffic.
The pilot for the new test will take effect by mid-2014.
The extreme changes for old and new, young drivers were part of recommendations pushed by an expert panel, which include an overhaul of the Q-Safe driving test.