Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Taj Mahal Coming to Ottawa!

We don’t have enough money to spray the bedbugs or cockroaches in our public housing.
We don’t have enough money to fix the potholes.
We don’t have enough money to build a drug treatment center.
We don’t have enough money to house the homeless.
But we’ve got $200,000,000 to build a new library!!!!!????
What the hell is this?
Headlines this morning:
Ottawa Public Library Board approves spending up to $25M to buy the land for a new downtown library. Total cost of the new library somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 million.

This is absolutely crazy!
Let me give you a few examples to back up my claim that we are totally off the tracks when it comes to libraries in our town.
Last Thursday my wife went to the Hazledean Road Library, one of two libraries in Kanata. She wanted to borrow a book recommended for her book club.
Ahead of her in the check out line was a man who was taking, believe it or not, 20 DVD’s! She knows this, because the librarian had to check and record each one which took her several minutes. The man, according to my wife, looked to be in his 50’s, reasonably well dressed, obviously either retired or on holidays since this was about 11 in the morning. Think of it. 20 DVDs, probably to be burned onto his computer or Ipod. Movies, music and video games. 20 to one man, all totally free. Free movies, free music, free video games. Free except of course we taxpayers have to pay for it.

Okay let’s move on to yesterday: My step daughter went to sign up four-year-old Peyton for hockey, a city program, at a cost of $432 for 12 weeks, having already forked over more than $500 for a summer program of t-ball and soccer. Danya declined and instead signed up Peyton for skating lessons, cost only $212.

This is outrageous!
A 50-year-old obviously well off man can borrow 20 DVDs at absolutely no cost, while four-year-old Peyton must pay close to $1000 to play soccer, t-ball and hockey.

Please keep in mind Peyton could visit any of the 33 libraries in Ottawa and borrow 20 video games so he could plunk himself down on the couch for hours every night, but his mother must pay close to $1000 to keep active in our city. Pay nothing to watch movies or play video games, $1000 to keep active. And we are going to spend another $200 million to build yet another library.

This is crazy! Pure and simple crazy! We taxpayers pay for free books, free magazines, free newspapers, free movies, free music, free video games, free internet and free delivery, but charge a four-year-old to play t-ball. Give me a break.
I repeat: this is crazy!

Surely at the very least we can kill the bedbugs and cockroaches in our public housing before we provide even more free movies in a $200 million library.


deneb said...

Madness indeed! Add to the cost the immense salaries of library staff.

Libraries likely will not go the way of the "drive - in movie" but with growing public access to the internet, the size of the whole Library industry should be pared down -- not escalated!

ottawarants said...

Why not build a new mega clinic with the $25 million.

Mayor Bill said...

Hi Lowell:

We have municipal elections coming up in just over two years. Just imagine what the result would be if all these "touchy feely" questions were put on the ballot. Candidates would have to carefully choose which side of the issue to be on and the public would actually get to make the decision.

Bill from Kemptville.

Anonymous said...

Huh? The city shouldn't invest in a library for all its citizens, but it should pay for your step-daughter's kid to play T-ball?!? How is that a better use of city funds?

Come on now Mr. Green, we all know CFRA is anti-library, but that's a pretty weak argument for not building a library. Take a look at the breakdown of your tax bill the next time you feel people shouldn't be allowed to read and entertain themselves on your dime; the amount that goes to the libraries is hardly the back-breaking figure you claim it is. If you still think the total is too high, perhaps you can demand that the 82 copies of the four books you've written be pulled from the libraries shelves immediately, and returned to you as compensation. Then you can berate the six people who have currently borrowed your books for being the tax burden you claim they are on your show.

artarcher272 said...

I completely agree, the internet has reduced the use of the library greatly and it is very unfair to business for them to supply movies for free. I also don't understand why all the free computers and internet. What would be wrong with a small user fee, like the internet cafe's do.
Better e-mail your city rep and demand a stop to this wasteful and unnecessary expense.

djxtreme said...

Lowell, you practically dedicated your whole show today on this topic, and your blog. But I didn't hear one mention of Earl Mcrae's attack on Mr Baird.

Hmm...Not like you to miss out on media bias. Oh but Earl is a friend of yours.

Grace said...

This is more than sad. The only thing amalgamation has done for this city is concentrate all of the idiots into one building. And to make matters worse, we can't even afford to put garbage bins on the streets to throw these guys into!

And chief to blame is this city's refusal to acknowledge that the ignorance and hubris of our current (and seemingly never-ending) council has infused Ottawa with a "culture" of incompetance.


Robert said...

Yes Lowell, it is crazy.

I made the decision to leave Ottawa right after the last election. I could not believe every single incumbent, sans Chiarelli, was returned. The writing was on the wall, and I couldn't stand it any longer.

What I find particularly hard to comprehend is that voters must actually have gone into the booth and checked off:

O'Brian and Deans
O'Brian and Cullen
O'Brian and Holmes.

What were they thinking? I just don't understand the reasoning. Larry O'Brian hasn't got a chance surrounded by that council.

$200 million. To loan books. It is incredible to think what could be done with that amount of money.

Maybe the homeless can hang out there, or the library could start handing out free needles along with the DVD's and museum passes.

At least the city would be killing two birds with one stone.


Anonymous said...

Follow-up: 1.68% of your taxes goes to supporting the libraries in the city, feel free to check your own Ottawa tax bill for confirmation.

"The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." - nowhere else is that more evident than in this city and on this blog.

ottawarants said...

To A franklin
The probleam is the library's in ottawa are more like entertainment centres.One of 2 things need to happen.

1)Drop all the non book service asap.
2)Charge a premium fee for people who wnat to use these services.

As for funding minor league sports i am for that.Put $200 million in so kids stay fit and keep active that in the short and long run will help everyone out.

Robert said...

Follow-up: 1.68% of your taxes goes to supporting the libraries in the city, feel free to check your own Ottawa tax bill for confirmation.

We cynics can do a little better. We can actually read a budget, believe it or not.

So in 2008, libraries receive $32,424,000 for operations to lend free books, DVD's and internet.

Parks and recreation will receive $44,838,000 for operations to pay for arenas, sports fields, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and the list goes on.

a.franklin - I agree with you. Ottawa does not know value, which is why the city continues to elect this city council.

xiz said...

To OttawaRants

If you're under the impression that libraries are 'entertainment centres', you haven't been to one recently. Last time I visited a branch of the Ottawa Public Library, there were books, a handful of CDs and DVDs, a kids' library, study desks, and a handful of computer terminals.

I find it odd, though that people (Lowell Green and his listeners) who bemoan the apparant ignorance and apathy of the Canadian public would be so overtly hostile to one of the few means that anyone, regardless of income, status or opportunity, can use to educate themselves.

Yes, libraries are publically funded, which is as they should be. Knowlege needs to be freely available and unfettered.

Oh, and Mr Green, the Ottawa Public Library does *not* rent video games, contratry to your asserting three times to the contrary in your blog.

I assume this is simply a misunderstanding on your part. To do this intentionally would be quite dishonest and unethical.

Anonymous said...

ottawarants: I love how you can justify one form of entertainment (minor league sports) as a legitimate use for tax money, but another that encourages reading and gaining knowledge is a waste of time and money. Books aren't the only means of collecting information; I'm not sure why you and the other library haters consider it such a burden to allow people access to newspapers and magazines, or videocassettes and DVDs. Contrary to the opinion of this blog, the library isn't going to replace Blockbuster anytime soon, and not everyone is able to buy 20 books or 20 DVDs in one shot like you nickle-and-dime millionaires who somehow still can't afford to pay for their kids to play sports.
(Incidentally, according to the link in the blog post, you can only borrow 10 DVDs at one time, how is it that the man Mr. Green saw at the checkout line took out double that amount? Something's funny here...)

No, the problem is people like yourself who think that services that you don't use personally have no value to the city, and shouldn't be paid for with your money. The sooner people stop thinking every service the city provides should be free, the better the city would be as a whole.

ottawarants said...

A Anthona
My point is kids now are getting very fat at a very young age.It is one thing to promote reading and learning which i am all for.But we aslo have to do something about the kids health.This has nothing to to with millionaires this has everything to do with blue collar workers who have trouble paying for there kids sports.If we keep going this way our health system will be in alot of trouble in the next 20 years.

xiz said...

To OttawaRants ..

So, let me get this straight .. your proposed solution to fighting childhood obesity is to cut public funding for libraries?

As to the suggestion that the internet will someday replace libraries .. never going to happen. The Internet is, more and more, becoming a commercial medium .. witness the efforts both Bell and Rogers have implmeneted to throttle data transfer for non-preferred customers. Witness, as well, the Chinese government's blocking of websites considered contrary to the best interests of the Party.

No, libraries will, and must remain available to all. They are not a burden on our community .. they are an investment.

Jayme said...

If you had a choice fund a library or a new social houseing unit what would you pick.

xiz said...

Jayme :

I'd pick both. Our budget currently allows both to co-exist. Forcing an either/or decision is a red herring, and not a realistic proposition.

ottawarants said...

The thing is you can't say yes lets fund 100% of a new library.Yet leave it up to private groups to fund new arenas.

Kurtis said...

Very typical of City Hall, why waste money on a new 'old style' library when most cities across the world are converting their catalogs to digital format? It saves money, is much more accesible and doesn't require a $200 million dollar new building.

It's similar the the pothole patrol. I don't think you can get any more low-tech than having 11 people driving around hoping to spot potholes. Meanwhile a company in Ottawa has created to show the Council how archaic their idea is.