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Preventing another Fredericton traffic engineering failure – Lincoln / Adams

Posted by on 22 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: fail, Fredericton, Reviews

To be fair, it isn’t really an engineering issue; it’s a simple case of plans that look good on paper, but may not work out so well once implemented.

The plan is to turn a single oversized lot and split it up into seven. That, in its self isn’t a bad thing; the problem is where the driveways will go.

Click to make bigger

You’ll have two going onto the Lincoln Rd. and five going onto Adams.

The worst will be the two driveways on the Lincoln Rd. Due to the small size of the lots, drivers would have to either back into, or out of those driveways. If you’ve ever been on the Lincoln Rd, you’ll know that backing out onto it isn’t the smartest of ideas.  A quick survey using Google Maps found that out of 69 driveways on that stretch of Lincoln Rd (from the Experimental Farm to the Vanier Industrial Dr intersection), 63 had an area on the property for cars to turn around. Only 6, or less than 9% did not have a turn-around. 63 out of 69 (91%) is a higher ratio than most dentists give to a brand of toothpaste. Canada Post also recently removed the roadside mailboxes with a community box as they considered stopping along the Lincoln Rd to be too dangerous.

Adams St has a history of problems, at the other end of it, there is a park with insufficient parking, which means it gets plugged up with cars parked on the side of the road. Many of these are minivans and SUVs that are parked a few feet away from the curb (I hate to use stereotypes, but this one is actually true). There’s also a badly built traffic-calming circle in the middle that only slows traffic going away from the Lincoln Rd. The intersection at the Lincoln Rd end has a steep hill, blind curve and a tall hedge that blocks your view. There’s also a blind hill and a blind curve that you have to deal with while pulling out into the Lincoln Rd.  Adding five driveways would just complicate this.  If one of those five houses decides to throw a party, there won’t be enough driveway space to accommodate all the guests.  This means they’ll have to park on the street, which if they park on both sides will plug it up just like at the other end. Since there’s a hedge blocking your view as you pull in from the Lincoln Rd, you’ll get quite a surprise to find only enough room for a single lane and a bus coming the other way.


View Larger Map– You can’t see what’s behind that hedge

Hopefully the developers will change their plans and allow for shared driveways or a space to turn around. They may have to reduce the number of lots, but they’ll be able to sell the ones on the Lincoln Rd for more as not having to back out of the driveway will make them more desirable.

The real solution is to block off Adams St. and build another exit by expropriating some of the experimental farm and making Lonewater go down to Lincoln.  There, you won’t have the blind hill, curve or hedge. This plan probably wouldn’t be popular with the people who live on Lonewater though.

View Adams Fix in a larger map


UPDATE: Mar 8 2010 –
According to this article, the zoning request was denied and a failure was prevented. It is assumed that the developer will try again with a different (and presumably better) site plan.

Review of social media use regarding the NB Power sale

Posted by on 16 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: Reviews

The debate about NBPower is a fast-moving one. In today’s age, information travels quickly. I’ll review how well each of the parties did.

The CBC – A+ Again, the CBC does a bang-up job. Not only have they been on top of the deal, they’re also using social media in the two way format that it was designed for. It’s good to see a local news source well ahead of the curve.

Twitter user @JoeFitzIIIA+ From what I can tell, Joe FitzPatrick is a Fredericton based lawyer. It almost looks like he is planning to enter politics. Of all the knowledgeable people in the group, he is the only one that is actually responding and interacting to concerns and questions (excluding the CBC). If he is going into politics, he’s on the right track.

The Liberals – F – They use Twitter and Facebook, but they fail at actually using it to engage. Many people have posted valid questions on Twitter, but have received nothing but silence from the Liberals. In fact, rahter than use the established hashtag of #nbpower4sale, they went ahead and started using #lowerrates. That actually leads to less discussion.

The Conservatives – F – They seem to be very disorganized.  Shortly after the deal was announced, they made some noise on Twitter, but it was closer to the quips yelled on the Legislature floor rather than anything of any actual substance. They had a great opportunity to engage and come up with a strong opposition front to the deal, but they missed the boat. They didn’t even respond or attempt to defend this disastrous video of their leader refusing to answer a question.

“NO to Sale of NB Power” Facebook groupB – Doing a great job, but they seem to be having some problems separating the loons from the valid concerns. Despite that, they’re actually having productive discussions and getting things organized to protest the sale.

For A Better Tomorrow, Sell NB PowerF – Another example of failing to engage. The Facebook group has been renamed several times, gone to invite-only and then gone back to being public. This makes it hard for anyone to join. Their loon-control policy is to delete everything that opposes the deal. This also removed a lot of legitimate debate. Most of the activity has been from the admins. Many of the legitimate complaints aren’t actually getting addressed, they are just being ignored.

It’s time for an NB Power post

Posted by on 09 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: Reviews

I’m not going to go into much detail as that’s already been covered before. There are a few points that I feel are important and are getting drowned out in the noise:

  • There really isn’t much to gain in the long term. The value of the assets is about the same as the amount of the debt. Sure it erases the debt, but you lose assets that have potential to generate revenue.
  • The 5 year rate freeze won’t be free. The loss of revenue for the frozen rates will have to be made up somehow. Presumably it will be made up from the revenues generated from exporting power to the US over NB’s transmission lines.
  • Outside of the rate freeze, there appears to be little long-term benefit to NB. NB Power’s debt does not affect the borrowing capabilities or the interest rate for any other debt.
  • In the long term, there will be no choice but to close down the thermal plants. Building replacement power plants will be expensive and difficult as they will have to be non-carbon plants (like nuclear). The easiest option is to purchase power from Quebec. In fact, they are currently supplying the power to replace the power that would have been generated by Pt. Lepreau.

NB Power’s reputation has been tainted recently due to some high-profile blunders. Rather than solving the real problem of incompetent executives that got their jobs through patronage appointments, Shawn Graham has opted to walk away from it.

Review of Fredericton’s use of new media

Posted by on 24 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews

Many organizations and people are using the Internet. Some are better than others, here are some quick reviews:

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside – A+

He’s doing a great job with Twitter and he engaged the citizens with his Facebook group about the Costco (although may not have given him the desired result).

City of Fredericton – D

They have a website, but there’s barely anything on it.

CBC – A+

The CBC have fully embraced Twitter and are using it to post little tidbits of news that aren’t quite worthy of a story. They are also the fastest at getting stories online as they don’t have to wait until it has aired.

The Playhouse – B

They are using new technologies well, but they are missing one key thing. There is little to let you know what shows will have tickets for sale soon. You only get notified of new events after the tickets have been on sale and all the good seats have been taken.

CTV Atlantic – C+

They don’t post stories online, but they do make excellent use of the Facebook group. They regularly read comments from their group on the air.

The Daily Gleaner – B

The good: they post every story to their website. The bad: they wait until the paper has been printed until they post their story.

Astral Radio Stations – C

I’m referring to CapitalFM, The Fox and KHJ here. They post their news on the website, but it’s quite often only posted several hours after it airs. They don’t retain older newscasts, but they do take song requests over Twitter.

RogersTV – F

Local Matters, but only if you have cable.

Really CTV? Kids dancing behind a dead whale?

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Crap, Reviews

On July 6th 2009, CTV Atlantic used this as their “viewer photo of the day” for the weather report:
deadwhale-2009-07-06-r
Yes, that’s exactly what you think it is, a bunch of kids dancing around a dead whale that washed up onto the beach.

Improving the Streetscape: 355 Queen St.

Posted by on 20 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews

The building at 355 Queen St. in Fredericton recently got a substantial facelift. It’s a wooden-framed building whose before picture shows a worn-out pressed tin facade.

elreno1

In the after shot, you’ll see they replaced the tin with stucco. As you can see, they didn’t try to make it a “fake heritage” building, instead, they opted for a clean and uncluttered look. I find that it works really well.
elreno2

Demolition suggestion: Old Sobeys / TRA

Posted by on 11 May 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews, suggestions

The last time I suggested a building get torn down, it actually got torn down. Encouraged by my previous 100% success rate, I’m continuing to make some more suggestions.

On a more serious note, urban sprawl is an issue, but it doesn’t need to be as we have plenty of space downtown, we just aren’t using it very well.

Originally built as a grocery store, this eyesore has been vacant for years:

old_tra

Not much you can do with a single story grocery store, but it does have a large footprint. Compare it to Frederick Square (in blue):

oldtra2

You could build a really nice building here (as long as you don’t mind the occasionally flooded basement). This would be a perfect spot for the rumoured courthouse.

Fake paving company warning for Fredericton

Posted by on 03 May 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews

This is a warning to let you know that there are scammers going door to door offering to pave (or repave) your driveway. They were in Fredericton this weekend and will soon be likely to travel to other places in the Maritimes.

Remember, if you suspect that someone at the door may be a scammer, you can watch for these warning signs:

  • The fact that they came to the door. Most people call contractors, legitimate ones rarely solicit door-to-door.
  • You are not given any time to decide. If they won’t let you think about it or if you get a significant discount if you go for it right away, then they are a scam.
  • Are they pressuring you? Fast talking and high pressure sales are a good clue that something isn’t right.
  • Do they have any paperwork? They should give you a written estimate.
  • Are they driving a “company” truck? If so, does the logo look like a magnet that’s been removed several times? Fake contractors will remove their logo as soon as they are out of your neighbourhood. That way, the cops won’t spot them as easily.
  • If you do get any paperwork, it should include a full address, phone numbers, as well a GST/HST number.
  • In most municipalities, door-to-door vendors require an ID tag with their name and company to be visible at all times. They may also need to have a license.

Here’s an example of a “business card” handed out by one of these people:

fakepavers

You may notice that they don’t have the address listed. It should also be noted that real landlines start with “4” for Fredericton. If you look up 506-260 at cnac.ca, you’ll find that that phone number is just a cell phone. Of course, you won’t be able to do that while standing at the door.

If you are at the door and you’ve figured out that they are scammers, don’t let them know that you’re on to them. Just tell them that you’re not interested and try to get the plate number from their vehicle (if you can). Now, you should check to see if they are actual scammers, or just sleazy (there are a number of Fredericton contractors who fall into the sleazy categotry). The best way to do it is to Google them. If they don’t show up, then they aren’t real. If they do show up, click around, you may learn a lot. Next, you should call the cops. Don’t call 911, call their main number (460-2300). Even if you don’t have a plate number, they’ll still file a report which will keep them fresh on their minds.

Here’s a YouTube that tells you what they’re all about:

Quick review of Fredericton’s doctor recruitment web site

Posted by on 27 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: fail, Fredericton, Reviews, suggestions

Saw a press release for Fredericton’s new doctor recruitment web site that’s available at: http://www.gofredericton.ca/

I then imagined myself as a doctor looking to set up shop somewhere. I’m first greeted with a fairly blank page that has the YFC flight status and the weather. I’m happy to see an efficient airport with on-time flights so all the donated organs will arrive nice and fresh.

I read around the site a bit and see that it has all the artsy and cultury stuff that I need to entertain my highly educated brain. Looks like I’ll fit right in. I want to see what my peers have to say so I click on the link titled “what our doctors say” and get this:

gofredericton

Maybe someone should make sure they finish the web site before making the press release for it. Come on, we can do better than this.

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside learns how the Internet works

Posted by on 15 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews, unbwoodlot

Fredericton mayor Brad Woodside has been getting a fair amount of press about his pro-Costco Facebook group.

He created it to prove that there was a clear majority of people in favour of the Costco. Of course, the anti-development people decided that they would use this Facebook group to promote their cause. That was his first lesson, if you create a Facebook group on a controversial subject, there will be controversy in your Facebook group.

He also left the Links and Photos sections open on the group, these got filled up with anti-development links and photos pretty quickly. So what does Mr. Woodside do? He takes down those two sections (while keeping the discussion boards and wall open). Two of the deleted links were anti-development and the other one went to a link on this site. The discussion board and wall soon filled up with cries of censorship. His second lesson is that any time any site maintainer removes a posting, there will be cries of censorship. It didn’t matter that he removed postings from both sides of the argument, there were still cries.

A kind individual set up a poll on an external site as it was becoming too hard to judge how many people were actually for the development. The poll asked whether you were in support of a Costco on the woodlot, somewhere else in the city, somewhere else in the province, or not at all. Mr. Woodside advertised the poll in the group and sent the group members a message about it. For the first few days, the poll registered a fairly consistent 80% of people being in favour of putting the Costco on the woodlot.  It only took a few days, but on Saturday, the poll suddenly read 55% against putting the Costco in the woodlot. That was Mr. Woodside’s third lesson, if you have an open poll, it will get hacked or swarmed. Hacking involves finding a flaw in the duplicate detection system that prevents someone from voting several hundred times. Swarming involves encouraging people who don’t have anything to do with the original discussion to go and vote on that specific poll. They may have gone onto a larger discussion forum and had anti-development people from all over the world vote on this poll. Without having access to the server logs, it’s impossible to tell which one it was in this case.

So now the poll gets closed as it was pretty obvious that it was tampered with. That leaves the discussion board.  That just got swamped with cries of censorship and it ended up being impossible to discuss anything.  That caused the discussion boards to close. Now all that’s left is the wall, the same few people are now continually reposting the same thing again and again so that it stays near the top. It won’t be long before those posts are purged and even more claims of censorship are given. The mayor’s fourth lesson will be that online discussions will spill over into other places. I can bet that this experiment will haunt him for a while. Expect to hear about it in the old media in the next few days.

I believe that Facebook can be used by city officials to connect with the people. Hopefully this experience doesn’t discourage them, as great things can be accomplished with social media.

**UPDATE** This made it on Fark.

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