DAVE AGAR

Thursday, April 24 Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 4/24/2014 12:00:00 AM

Something is fishy about that fire in Mississauga yesterday.   

Listening to the firefighters, I get the impression the warehouse in the Airport Road-Derry Road area just blew up like a bomb or an IED had been detonated and that's why 4 firefighters were hurt.    There's also the issue of the documentation Mississauga Fire had on the building, documentation showing the building was empty.  In fact it was not.   There were at least butane lighters and cans of bug spray inside.  When the flames ignited the lighters and aerosol cans,  they were bullet-like projectiles but they pop off like firecrackers.  This does not explain the blast that basically blew the roof and one wall down before the entire building eventually collapsed.

The owner of this building has a lot of explaining to do, such as, why did they not get an occupancy permit from city hall?  Every building requires one unless it is truly empty.

The Mississauga Fire Service trains it's people in a way which says the first crew on any scene enters the building unless there is a reason not to.  The last fire inspection a year ago showed it was empty.  There was also no occupancy permit so the first crew went in.  Then the blast.  One firefighter has a collapsed lung and was thrown several metres.  He was found under a pile of cinderblocks and debris.  It was touch-and-go for a while but it appears he'll make it,  as will the others when their lungs clear and their broken bones heal.

HYDRO BILLS

It was just the other day when I was saying the Wynne Liberals at Queen's Park appear to have gone brain dead and now I am more convinced than ever.

You'll recall this time yesterday we were telling you about the leak that the Libs were to announce the elimination of the Hydro Debt Retirement charge on your electricity bill starting January 1st 2016.   That saves 5-to-7 dollars a month depending on consumption.

But while Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli was announcing that he also revealed that the 10 percent saving on your bill, the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, will also be terminated.

So a typical family would save close to 76 dollars a year after taxes when the debt retirement charge ends but when the Clean Energy Benefit ends,  that will cost an extra 180 dollars a year.  At this point you are down a little over a hundred bucks a year.

And, oh yeah, there's this from the Wynne Liberals.  Energy Minister Chiarelli says people earning more than 40,000 dollars a year will have to pay a surtax on their hydro bills so that people earning less than 40,000 a year can pay less.

"It would add about 90 to the average bill of the rest of the ratepayers," he says.

One more thing, small business owners, well, all business owners really...you will have to keep paying the Hydro Debt Retirement surcharge for years.

"The charge would remain on non-residential bills and current estimates indicate the debt retirement charge would still be eliminated completely for non-residential customers by the end of 2018 as previously forecast."

So 4 more years for companies to keep paying off a hydro debt that should have been paid off years ago.

And now add in the notion that Toronto Hydro, Powerstream and the other local power utilities in the province...they'll likely be asking for rate hikes too.

Why would the Liberals drop all of this now with a budget coming one week from today and almost certain defeat of that budget triggering an election?   This is political stupidity.

WATER BILLS

If you listen to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, at all, and I can hardly imagine there are that many who are still listening to him, he will tell crow about the big increase in customer service excellence at city hall.  Really?

You may have a different view after this:

It's about the city's water service and how water meters are hooked up to homes and you pay based on usage.

It seems there's a corner of the city, a small pocket where the water meters are not hooked up.  In some instances,  they haven't been hooked up for five years despite repeated calls from the residents of a townhouse complex at Kingston Road and Dundas asking when will they be installed.

Last week, they got their water bills in the mail and most of them were for 5,000 dollars.  The city did an average of consumption in the area, back-dated the bills for years.   Typically a homeowner pays about 890 a year for hydro.  These poor people get one bill for 5-grand and the due date is 11 days from now.  Customer Service Excellence...my....ask Rob Ford about that.

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