It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining. The predicted freezing rain did not happen. The birds are actually singing. It will be something like plus-seven today.
And I’m sick. Made it through the entire winter, hospital rooms, endless flights and soaring stress without so much as a sniffle. Now that it’s lovely, I’m down. Is this actually fair?
And my brand new dishwasher does not work. I mean, I’ve had it for four days. The door doesn’t close (it did for the first two days) and the dishes come out dirty and/or spotty. Really? I’m waiting for service. Yes, I know, First World problem, but I’m sick. It makes me pretty grumpy.
Still, a few things have entered my fog-and-snot-headed consciousness this week. If I can stay awake long enough to write about them.
The arena debate has entered a new phase. The boards of SaskTel Centre and TCU Place have chosen two companies, one from Toronto and one from Florida, to “conduct a market analysis” and study options for their futures.
I have not, apparently, been paying enough attention to this issue, assuming that SaskTel Centre’s future location or renovation was the focus of the conversation. Therefore, I was rather surprised to see that both facilities were coming under scrutiny, although I suppose it makes sense: if you’re even potentially moving the arena downtown, how does that affect the smaller, and very different, entertainment and convention facility? Excellent question.
Apparently, the market analysis will consider replacing SaskTel Centre with a downtown arena; renovating the current facility; and combining a downtown arena and convention centre.
Personally, I can’t wait to see this analysis, which is supposed to land by the end of the year. Let’s take the first option — replacing SaskTel Centre and putting it downtown. I’ve asked the question of several people: where, precisely, would we put this thing? It’s the one thing that baffles me.
I’ve been assured that there are several places to put it, and at least one person pointed to the city yards area. I still can’t see it, from the perspective of traffic, space for parking, size of facility and nearly-certain gridlock. But I will be led by those who know better.
Plenty of people will ask if we, as a city, can afford a new arena. I don’t know about that, but having done renovations on my share of houses, I wonder if the same principle applies: sometimes, renovating is, in short, hell, and you may not get what you want. Maybe building new is better.
Keith Moen of the NSBA, whom I caught briefly on CBC Radio the other day, made an excellent point about a downtown arena that should come into this debate. He noted that our transit system, which causes me to feel despair, would of necessity have to be greatly improved to provide decent access to the arena. It might light a fire under the transit improvement plan, which is deeply to be wished. If we can afford that, too.
Statistics Canada told us in its last labour market report that Saskatchewan added 8,000 jobs in February, bringing down the unemployment rate to six per cent from 6.4 per cent. Most of the jobs were created in the service sector.
It might have been a more promising indicator if the jobs were created in mining and oil, but we’ll take them. The question, of course, is if this positive employment trend will continue.
I’m not loving the oil price, which is at least hovering in the $50 US per barrel range; but more stability would be good.
Word is that mining in Canada is rebounding, though, with the words “cautious optimism” showing up in various reports on the sector. Also on the bright side, the Fraser Institute thinks our province is the best place for miners to invest. In the world.
“Saskatchewan deposed Western Australia from the global top spot among 104 jurisdictions, as determined by a poll of mining executives,” was how the Financial Post put it. Manitoba was right behind us.
There’s a glimmer of hope that our housing market is starting to stabilize, too; and wholesale sales have been improving for a while.
None of this is going to influence the budget, though. For some readers, by the time you clap eyes on this, you may already know what the provincial government has decided in its austerity budget. We can only hope that a rosier economy, hopefully not too far down the road, will help us afford any tax increases or support us through spending cuts.
I hope my cold is gone by budget day.