Tuesday, February 19, 2008

British Columbia introduces carbon tax

Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced an escalating carbon tax on most fossil fuels today, one she says is designed to ignite an environmental social movement in British Columbia and across Canada to fight climate change. She also announced that every British Columbian will get $100 in June as seed money to get them thinking green.

Taylor said the carbon tax is one of the government's key building blocks to help it reach its legislated goal of reducing British Columbia's greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.

The carbon tax , effective July 1, will be phased in over five years to give consumers and businesses time to adjust to the new tax and understand there is a cost associated with generating harmful greenhouse gases, she said.

Taylor said the carbon tax will be revenue neutral, meaning the government will not use money generated from the tax to fill its coffers. The carbon tax revenue, estimated to hit $1.8 billion over three years, will be returned to taxpayers through personal income tax and business tax cuts, she said.

The tax incentives aimed at keeping the carbon tax "revenue neutral" will be dispersed as follows: the bottom two personal income tax rates will be cut by two per cent in 2008 and five per cent in 2009 on the first $70,000 in earnings; effective July 1, the corporate tax rate will drop to 11 per cent from 12 per cent; effective July 1, the small-business tax rate will be cut from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

The government will introduce legislation that requires it to table an annual plan that shows how the carbon tax revenue will be returned to taxpayers, Taylor said.

For more details, see the following article "B.C. introduces carbon tax"

Toronto Chief Planner Ted Tyndorf succumbs to cancer

Found about Ted Tyndorf's passing from Shima's blog. I recall meeting him briefly prior to our inaugural Committee of Adjustment members meeting for our 2007-2010 term back in April. My condolences go out to his family.

The following includes excerpts from the Toronto Sun and a communique sent out to Toronto Planning staff:

Described by Mayor David Miller as the "perfect example of the professional public servant," Toronto chief planner Ted Tyndorf led the country's largest municipal planning staff with a passion for city-building that colleagues say never faltered.

Early Saturday, Tyndorf died, losing his battle with cancer. He was 54.

"He was a very honest man -- he had integrity," his wife Christine Tyndorf said yesterday. "What he thought should be done for the city, he always fought for. "

"He had an understanding of what Toronto should be."

Miller yesterday issued a statement of condolence to Tyndorf's family, friends and colleagues.

"As Toronto's chief planner, he was committed to our city and his passion for its future never waned," Miller said.

Tyndorf was appointed Chief Planner of Toronto in November of 2004. He began his career in 1977 with the former City of Etobicoke after graduating from Ryerson with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Urban Planning. From 1986 to 1991, Tyndorf worked in the private sector, returning to the City of Etobicoke as the Director of Development, Design and Administrative Services. His professionalism and friendly, outgoing personality has been a hallmark in City Planning ever since.

Tyndorf led the largest, and most diverse, City Planning operation in the country. From architecture and urban design, to heritage preservation, to transportation planning, to land use and community planning, Tyndorf's 300-plus staff are some of the most talented professionals in Canada. Under his leadership, they worked diligently - and continue to - for the people of Toronto, implementing the City's ambitious Official Plan, and on a myriad of other planning issues the City manages everyday.

Visitation for Tyndorf takes place at Turner and Porter Yorke (Bloor St. W. and Windermere Ave.) today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Rosary will be in the evening. The funeral will be held at All Saints Church (Eglinton Ave. W. and Royal York Rd.) at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, with burial to take place at Park Lawn Cemetery.

Ted leaves his wife Christine and three children: Julie, Matthew and Michael.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista

Microsoft has released the February 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista. This update rollup is intended for computers that are running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.

Issues that are resolved by this update:

  • All of the fixes previously included in the October 2007 Cumulative Update
  • Addresses an issue that is introduced in KB941229 in which the UI freezes and becomes unresponsive. This issue occurs when you try to change the channels while you are watching live digital TV on Xbox 360.

Download links:

For more information, see the accompanying kb article - February 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB947172)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

OMB, Citizen Involvement and the threat of costs

The Toronto Star had an interesting article today with regards to a developer going after a citizen's group for $3.6 million in costs at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an independent, adjudicative tribunal that hears appeals and applications on land use disputes. When people can't resolve their differences on community planning issues, the Ontario Municipal Board provides a public forum for resolving disagreements. Members are appointed by the Ontario government to mediate and/or resolve these disputes under a variety of legislation.

To sum up this article, essentially, the OMB has the power to award costs for what is typically considered 'patently unreasonable behaviour' during hearings. In this article, a $1 billion dollar resort development in Innisfil (Big Bay Point Resort) proposed by Kimvar Enterprises, a subsidiary of Markham-based Geranium Corporation, went to the OMB. In late December, Kimvar filed a motion for costs against the Innisfil District Association Inc (IDA), a ratepayers group that opposed the development, to the tune of $3.6 million due to the legal fees and consulting costs incurred during the four month long hearing. A written decision on both the actual hearing, and the motion for costs has not been delivered yet, but this threat of costs has already had an effect on other cases.

The article goes on to describe another development in Hillsdale, a nearby community northwest of Innisfil, where there is a new proposal for a 473 home development by the Hillsdale Land Corporation, which incidentally is also a subsidary of Geranium Corporation. The Concerned Residents of Hillsdale (CROH), a citizens group against the development filed for party status at the OMB hearing. Upon hearing of Kimvar's motion for costs against the IDA, the CROH gave up its status as a party for fear that the similar motion for costs would be sought against them.

Costs are usually only awarded for inappropriate behaviour at hearings. The OMB further states in its rules that "There must be no threats to potential appellants that costs will be requested. This could prevent opponents who have different but sincerely held opinions from exercising their right to appeal." However, the possibility of a $3.6 million cost claim is certainly enough to make people or groups re-consider opposing developments, which essentially flies against the face of democracy. The sheer number itself, many comment, is enough to intimidate, and we have already seen a victim of this with CROH.

Did the IDA do anything wrong at the hearing, as Kimvar contends? Will the OMB award costs, and if they do, will that number be anywhere close to the $3.6 million? What will be the implications of such a cost award at future OMB hearings? Will the province get involved (or do they even need to)?

We will likely see the final ruling for this motion for costs in the very near future. For more information, here is a link to the full story - 'Developer's cost claims raise fears of legal chill'

What do you think of this?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The planning implications of an illegally built castle

Earlier this weekend, I read about a British farmer who built a castle on his property without the appropriate planning permissions. Apparently, this farmer, named Robert Fidler, kept this castle hidden from everybody by concealing it under hundreds of bales of straw for a period of four years. Upon revealing it to his neighbours in late 2006, he was served with a planning contravention notice in March 2007 that ordered the demolition of the castle.

So what's the rub? This structure was built in the green belt that surrounds London. This green belt of open country and farmland is intended to contain urban sprawl, by containing development within it. As such, it is difficult to receive approval to build on greenbelt lands.

A spokeswoman for the Religate Town Hall said the following with regards to this development.

The site is located on the Green Belt and the developments constitute inappropriate development, which is harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.

However, there is a provision in England that says that the building could stay if there are no complaints after four years. Fidler contends that because this castle has been there for the requisite four years, it should be allowed to remain in place. The local government is saying that since no one could see it while it was hidden, the four year count started when it was unveiled, so that the building is eligible for demolition.

This past Wednesday, after a lengthy appeal, Fidler began protesting the notice at a public inquiry at Religate Town Hall. He is also reportedly standing up to the borough council on an enforcement notice for the building of a go-cart course on his land along with 12 other enforcement notices.

I think this serves as a lesson to those who want to build buildings illegally, especially in areas where they are not permitted. There are reasons why structures like this are not permitted, and there is a process to follow if you do want to build something where it is not permitted. Trying to do something like this behind everyone's back isn't a wise thing to do, as people will eventually find out about it, and the outcome usually won't be a positive one.

Technorati Tags: