No question, Prince Albert needs a second bridge. I've lived here more than thirty years, and people have been talking about the need for at least that long, and no doubt longer than that. Last year's bridge repairs certainly underlined the importance of the bridge for both businesses and the general public, and kicked it to the forefront of discussion once again.
Having said that, I'm not sure of the usefulness of the current Build a Second Bridge campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to encourage surrounding municipalities, businesses, and residents to send a letter to the mayor's office, indicating support for a second bridge. These letters will be collected and presented to the Premier and Cabinet. A budget of almost $12,000 has been identified for what is really just a high-priced petitioning exercise - an exercise that the provincial government has already indicated won't loosen up any more money.
Now, I'm sure there are those that will say that perhaps the powers-that-be in Regina might be swayed by a massive volume of letters dumped onto someone's desk. Even if I believed that, I don't think that we need to spend thousands of tax-payers dollars to do this.
The budget proposes spending $500 on paper and printing, $3,500 on developing the web-site, $1,700 for postage, $1,000 for stickers, and $5,000 on media advertising. I'm a little surprised that city staff couldn't develop the web-site (and it should have been proof-read a little more closely). In this age of email, postage and paper costs shouldn't be necessary - certainly not close to $2,200 worth. If we really want to overwhelm Regina with numbers, why not have petitions available for signing at city hall, and at supporting businesses - people are far more likely to sign a petition than go to the trouble of writing a letter on their own.
The bulk of the money ($4,000 so far) is going to pay for TV and radio advertising to support this effort, and in this day of cable, I doubt that it will be all that effective.
How much more effective it would have been if the province's bridge report had been made available both to all members of council as well as the public, when it was completed in 2008. We could have started discussions with the province on how to make a new bridge a reality, not just an ongoing topic of conversation. Instead, a few individuals chose to ask for changes to the report, apparently because it didn't include a recommendation that a new bridge be within city limits.
More than four years later, the only action that we're taking is to spend money to tell the provincial government something that they're already aware of, to make it look as if we're doing something. And we're spending your money, already in tight supply, to do this.
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." - Albert Einstein