Friday, July 07, 2006

Slum Landlord

It should come as no surprise that our provincial government has not been keeping up with the maintenance and repair costs of Calgary's public school facilities. It has been well publicized lately. As a result we have numerous cases of ceilings falling in, electrical panels that have to be wrapped in plastic because the rain can't be kept out and students disrupted by having to be moved to other schools on short notice. I have not heard anything about conditions in Edmonton, but I would doubt they are any better, especially if you live in a riding that did'nt vote for the government.

According to estimates the cost of the deferred maintenance is around 425 million dollars.[1] This does not include capital projects that the government said they were committed to but have never funded. Why would a government with multi-billion dollar budget surpluses defer maintenance on publicly owned assets? Could it be they are philosophically opposed to publicly owned assets? No, that could'nt possibly be true. If it were true we'd expect them to also be ruining the public health care system...

The education minister apparently has no say in the way the education system is funded, and would much rather take a publicly funded trip to the Ukraine, where he does not have to hear about leaky ceilings and electrocution. When asked about whether the government would cough up the needed money Mr. Zwozdesky shrugs his shoulders and says apathetically, all we can do is ask. Poor Gene, he's not part of the inner circle. Therefore wet ceiling tiles will fall on little Timmy's head while he's trying to do calculus.

Meanwhile the Premier muses about another prosperity cheque and announces that Alberta is actually a Republican State. While the Premier wanna-be's engage in a pointless who's more bitter about the National Energy Program contest. It is truly surreal. Its a Stanley Kubrick movie and we play the peasants.

It is an appalling lack of judgment to let valuable assets slip into disrepair because the problems get worse and more expensive to fix. But thats what slum landlords do.

[1]The Alberta NDP cites $425M. The Alberta Liberal Party cites $420M. The Calgary Sun cites $425M. These estimates were likely obtained from the Calgary Board of Education. Please recommend this post

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