2008 Stock Market Holidays by puv17844


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									Buffalo Border Information Report:     February 9 - 15, 2008


A.   Border Related News Media

·       Ontario’s new holiday upsets some
·       Export Boom
·       U.S.-Canada trade gap grows by $176M daily
·       Canadian firm still interested in area
·       Buffalo-based real estate appraisal company Appraisal.com bought by
Canadian firm
·       Toronto ethanol firm to store grain in Ogdensburg
·       Bills-to-Toronto creates international anxiety
·       Even as world-class status nears, Toronto remains offbeat
·       New York poised to join agreement to protect Great Lakes
·       Legislation is passed to protect Great Lakes

B.   Border Communications

C.   Editorials

·          Great Lakes water - Compact approval will protect against diversion

D.   Citizens Views (write-in letters)

·          Higgins wrong to support Peace Bridge plaza plan


A.                Border Related News Media

Ontario’s new holiday upsets some
Buffalo News – February 15, 2008

Ontario residents are looking forward to celebrating the province’s first new
holiday in more than a century. At least, the people who get to stay home
from work are. About 40 percent of workers will have to work Monday on Family
Day or give up another holiday later in the year, according to a survey by
the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario. Union members, shop
owners, federal government employees and police officers who have to work
said they feel cheated. “If it’s a holiday, then everybody should be closed,”
said Sebastian Aguanno, 53, a produce manager in Toronto at Loblaw Cos.,
Canada’s biggest supermarket chain, who has to work that day. “It’s supposed
to be a day for the family.” Family Day was a campaign promise of Dalton
McGuinty, who was re-elected Ontario premier in October. While it’s a
statutory holiday, there’s an escape hatch under provincial law, said Claude
Balthazard, director of the human resources group. Companies that already
give 10 or more paid holidays aren’t required to add Family Day. “It turns
out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Sid Ryan, the Ontario president
for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 225,000 workers
in the province. He said McGuinty “led everybody to believe” they would be
entitled to the day. McGuinty declined to comment. Many Toronto retailers,
including those in its biggest mall, the Eaton Centre, will be open because
city laws haven’t added Family Day to the holidays requiring them to close.
Some business owners said they can’t afford to shut down and lose a day of
revenue. Across Ontario, banks, most shops, schools and the Toronto Stock
Exchange, Canada’s main stock market, are scheduled to close for the day.
Ontario is catching up with two other provinces in establishing Family Day.
Alberta was first, in 1990, and Saskatchewan followed last year. Ontario’s
160,000 federal government employees don’t get the holiday because they are
governed by federal legislation, and their labor contracts already provide 11
paid holidays.

Export Boom
Buffalo News – February 9, 2008

Foreigners have been snapping up U.S.-made goods, made cheaper by a weak
dollar. But an economic slowdown overseas could thwart the export boom at a
time when the United States is struggling to avert recession. The U.S.
manufacturing sector rebounded in January, partly due to strong export
orders, after contracting in December. But the services sector, where exports
play a smaller role, contracted in January, reinforcing recession fears. U.S.
companies may find themselves in a Catch-22. They’re getting more sales from
overseas, which are magnified by the weak dollar. But foreign economies
depend largely on the United States for growth–it’s the world’s largest
exporter and importer. Multinationals like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), PepsiCo
Inc. (PEP) and General Electric Co. (GE) say they expect strong overseas
revenue growth to continue. But Deutsche Bank analyst Nigel Coe says
companies can rarely predict past the next quarter. While analysts expect the
dollar to remain weak as the Federal Reserve continues to cut interest rates,
they’re less sure about overseas growth. The Bank of England on Thursday cut
its benchmark interest rate a quarter percentage point to 5.25 percent,
citing a slowing economy. The European Central Bank held rates steady the
same day, but suggested a cut might be needed later this year. Meanwhile, the
Bank of Canada predicted slow growth for the first quarter of 2008. It has
cut interest rates twice in recent months. Mexico likewise cut 2008 growth
estimates on U.S. weakness. JPMorgan Securities economists remain optimistic
on global growth based on emerging markets’ massive infrastructure needs and
product demand from a growing middle class. U.S. exporters will hope they’re

U.S.-Canada trade gap grows by $176M daily
Business First of Buffalo - February 14, 2008

America's trade deficit with Canada grew by $176 million per day in 2007,
according to a report issued Thursday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Economic
Analysis. The U.S.-Canadian trade gap totalled $64.2 billion last year, the
equivalent of $5.4 billion per month or $176 million on a daily basis. U.S.
companies exported $248.9 billion of goods to Canada in 2007. But Americans
purchased $313.1 billion of Canadian imports, yielding a shortfall of $64.2
billion. Only three countries ran up larger trade imbalances with the United
States than Canada did last year: China ($256.3 billion), Japan ($82.8
billion) and Mexico ($74.3 billion). U.S.-Canadian trade figures are of
special importance to Western New York, since Canada is region's the largest
international trading partner.
Canadian firm still interested in area
Watertown Daily Times – February 11, 2008

Ainsworth Lumber remains interested in constructing an oriented strand board
manufacturing plant in Northern New York, despite backing out on plans here,
company officials said. The Vancouver, British Columbia, company declined to
exercise its option before it expired last month on 72 acres of land owned by
the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority on Wagner Road in the town of
Lisbon. The proposed plant would have employed about 160 people and produced
600 million to 650 million square feet of a plywood-like building material
each year. The latest cost estimate for construction was more than $300
million. "We made a significant investment in the region and the project,"
said Bruce M. Rose, Ainsworth's general manager of corporate development. "We
like the location and the attributes of the region. We're not going to wash
our hands of the investment." The decline in oriented strand board prices
over the last two years, along with rising fuel and wood prices and a strong
Canadian dollar, have significantly reduced profits for Ainsworth and led to
production line shutdowns at several plants. He didn't expect production to
resume soon on those lines. The company lost about $113.5 million Canadian in
the first nine months of 2007, with a projected loss coming in the final
quarter of the year, company documents said. "We think the downturn is going
to be a little longer than anticipated," Mr. Rose said. "We made the decision
we weren't going to continue paying for the option." The land-option
agreement, signed in 2005, called for Ainsworth to pay $82,500 to OBPA by
Jan. 31, should it not provide evidence that any oriented strand board mill
equipment was ordered by Dec. 31, 2007. The $82,500 payment assured Ainsworth
of keeping the land option. The agreement's expiration was set for 2014.
Ainsworth notified OBPA in a Jan. 31 letter that it wished to terminate the
option agreement. The company admits the project will remain shelved until
the expansion of its Grand Prairie, Alberta, plant and upgrade of equipment
at its Minnesota plants are completed. "Would we be ready to move forward in
the next two, three or four years?" Mr. Rose said. "The reality was no."
Company officials also expressed concern recently about Alliance Energy's
plan to convert its Ogdensburg cogeneration plant to burning wood to provide
heat and electricity. Alliance's project remains a conceptual plan. Ainsworth
was worried about the availability of wood in the region with competition
from a biomass plant, which could significantly increase prices for raw
materials, Mr. Rose said. The company will keep up its state Department of
Environmental Conservation's air emissions permit for the project. Ainsworth
also didn't rule out returning to the Wagner Road site, should it be
available. "We will continue staying in touch with area leaders and checking
on the market conditions in the region," Mr. Rose said. "The support from the
area has been exemplary." John E. Godfrey, president of Chatham Forest
Products, first proposed to build the oriented strand board plant at the
Wagner Road site in 1999. The project was delayed after a lawsuit brought by
environmentalists who believed an approved state Department of Environmental
air quality permit was rushed through. Chatham sold the project to Ainsworth
in September 2005. OBPA officials said it plans to put the 72-acre property
back on the market, with assistance from Empire State Development Corp. The
property is a "shovel ready" site, meaning the land is ready for development.

Buffalo-based real estate appraisal company Appraisal.com bought by Canadian
Buffalo News – February 14, 2008
Appraisal.com, a local high-tech company specializing in real estate
appraisal software and databases, has been acquired by a Canadian firm. Zaio
Corp., headquartered in Calgary, Alb., confirmed Wednesday it has acquired
the assets of the downtown Buffalo company and will relocate the business to
its local offices in West Seneca. The purchase price was not disclosed. “We
were talking to them six months ago, but the deal didn’t come to fruition,”
said James Kirchmeyer, Zaio’s chief marketing officer. “But we’ve continued
to watch what they were doing, and in the past week there was an opportunity
for us to reach an agreement.” Appraisal.com, which at one time employed 100
people and was considered a local poster child for dot-com done right,
signaled last spring that the slowing national mortgage market was starting
to take its toll. Over the past few weeks, it drastically trimmed its
workforce, with a final employee housecleaning Feb. 8. Approximately two
dozen staffers were let go this month. The company also failed to return
client and reporter phone inquiries in recent days regarding the status of
the business. “We jumped in when we heard they’d halted orders,” Kirchmeyer
said. “The good news is we’ve worked out a deal that will keep their business
in Western New York.” Under terms of the buyout, Zaio has covered
Appraisal.com’s liabilities, but is not under obligation to keep what
Kirchmeyer described as a “skeleton crew” of remaining Appraisal.com
employees. “We expect to hire as a result of this acquisition and are talking
to some Appraisal.com employees, but have made no decision about who or how
many we might bring over,” Kirchmeyer said. Zaio executives contacted several
key clients on Tuesday to let them know about the acquisition and to assure
them there will be no interruption of service. Appraisal.com’s client base
includes approximately 100 lenders and over 9,000 appraisers. Zaio entered
the U.S. market in 2007 with the acquisition of Real Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-
based real estate database business. In August, it purchased two West Seneca
real estate information firms, Kirchmeyer & Associates, and Real Info, for a
combined $6.5 million. The corporation currently employs 200, including 50
staffers in West Seneca at its Gardenville Parkway offices. Zaio, which is
traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, claims a database of homes’ photos and
value information for some 140 million residences and a nationwide network of
appraisers. Founded by Mark Yellen and Jeffrey Katz in 1999, Appraisal. com
grew from a handful of staffers to more than 100 in less than five years. It
also proved it was more than a blip on the local business scene by weathering
a national dot-com flameout, expanding its client base of mortgage lenders
and appraisers around the country, and setting up shop in downtown Buffalo
with plans for future growth. Yellen, who resigned as chairman of
Appraisal.com in mid-2007 and is now living outside the United States,
acknowledged last spring his company was feeling a pinch from the national
mortgage market slowdown. His statements came as he revealed his company had
a 50 percent stake in Foupons. com, a new Internet-based venture in Buffalo
that links restaurant patrons with online coupons. Yellen predicted Foupons.
com, which has been sharing office space with Appraisal. com, would grow from
a 60- restaurant base to a nationwide service and would employ more than 100
people. Christine Plowucha, former executive director of Infotech Niagara,
the region’s information technology trade group, was named president of the
digital coupon service. Kirchmeyer said Zaio did not acquire the restaurant
coupon business as part of its deal. Foupons.com representatives could not be
reached to comment. CityView Properties, which owns the Dickinson Building at
620 Main St. in downtown Buffalo occupied by Appraisal.com since 2004,
confirmed the 20,000-square-foot building is available for lease.

Toronto ethanol firm to store grain in Ogdensburg
Watertown Daily Times – February 13, 2008
The first shipment of dried distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol
production, will arrive at the Port of Ogdensburg in late December.
Greenfield Ethanol of Toronto plans to use the port to store a minimum of
30,000 tons of dried distillers grains from its Johnstown, Ontario, plant
across the St. Lawrence River. The $185 million (Canadian) ethanol plant,
expected to be operational in early December, could produce about 200 million
liters of ethanol a year. The grain byproduct most likely will be used for
livestock feed. "This is a nice addition to the port business," Ogdensburg
Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said. "This is one
of several major products we have been working to bring to the port over the
last several months." The OPBA's board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday
to approve a one-year contract, from Dec. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2009, with
Greenfield to use the port for storing dried distillers grains. The contract
includes an option to renew for one two-year term. The public authority can
earn a minimum of $240,000 (U.S.) for storing 30,000 tons of grains, the
contract shows. "We needed to find good export ports for the dried distillers
grains," said John A. Creighton, Greenfield's managing director of logistics,
in a telephone interview from Johnstown. "The Port of Ogdensburg had the
capacity and capability for storing it." Greenfield will truck the dried
distillers grains over the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge to the
port for storage. Besides selling dried distillers grains in Canada and the
U.S., Greenfield has contracts to ship the product to Ireland, Turkey and
North Africa. The dried grains are selling for $80 to $140 a ton, depending
on market conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that due to
the increasing number of ethanol plants opening, the amount of dried
distillers grains produced will rise significantly. For every 56-pound bushel
of corn used in producing ethanol, about 17.5 pounds of distillers dried
grains is produced. The public authority last year handled and stored about
7,600 tons of dried distillers grains for Drummonds Ltd. that arrived on
rail. "We know this stuff, we know how to handle it," Mr. Davis said. "We're
creating jobs through the Greenfield contract." Mr. Creighton confirmed that
Greenfield is negotiating with Vermont Rail System, which operates the New
York and Ogdensburg Railway for the OBPA, to move ethanol and dried
distillers grains using railcars to other parts of the U.S. The Port of
Prescott, Ontario, across the river, also will be used to store the product
in its grain elevators. Dried distillers grains are one of several new
commodities the public authority has attracted to the port in the last year,
including wind turbines, cottonseed, citrus pulp and corn. Canadian Renewable
Energy Corp. of Calgary, Alberta, will use the Port of Ogdensburg this spring
to unload and store wind turbine parts destined for Wolfe Island, Ontario, in
the St. Lawrence River. The Wolfe Island project calls for installation of 86
turbines by year's end.

Bills-to-Toronto creates international anxiety
Business First of Buffalo - February 15, 2008

If you think you have concerns about the Buffalo Bills or another National
Football League team relocating to Toronto, try talking to Mark Cohon. You
see, he just completed his first season as commissioner of the Canadian
Football League. Cohon told Business First this week that having a standing
NFL team in Toronto could be a death knell for his eight-team league. "I
don't want to go into what-if scenarios, since there are so many different
moving parts," said Cohon, who clearly considers the topic delicate and chose
his words carefully. "I want to see Toronto as a prospering (CFL) franchise,
which sets the bellwether for the rest of the league," he said, expressing
his concern over a situation in which the CFL's Toronto Argonauts would be
squeezed out and replaced by an NFL franchise. "I was not hired to be
commissioner of a Western (football) league." In the wake of the Buffalo
Bills' decision to play eight games in Toronto over the next five seasons,
Cohon said that in the long run, a permanent NFL presence there would be a
challenge. He also said the notion of the CFL and NFL each running franchises
in Toronto is not viable. "If you make the assumption that an NFL team would
come into this market," said the Toronto-based Cohon, "it would cut into (the
CFL's) ad revenue, ticketing and would remove our ability to compete, as
there's a limited number of sponsorship and television money in the Canadian
marketplace." Columnist: NFL will someday come to Toronto - Stephen Brunt, a
columnist for the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, has covered the CFL the
last 25 years and has been to nearly every Super Bowl since 1986. He believes
that at some point, the Bills or another NFL team will eventually call
Toronto home. He also thinks Cohon's assessments are spot-on, and shared
additional perspective on the Toronto region's ability to support an NFL
franchise. Regarding Cohon's "Toronto as a bellwether" comment, Brunt looked
at it from the opposite direction: Rather than Toronto raising the bar for
the CFL, he sees the city doing so for the NFL. While NFL franchises have the
opportunity to make money beyond the value of television contracts, Brunt
thinks the region, with 5 million people in the Greater Toronto area and
status as Canada's business and media centers, could easily distance itself
from the NFL's heavy hitters when it comes to generating revenue from
corporate suite sales and sponsorships. By the end of the Bills' five-year
agreement with Toronto, the following will have been created: a database of
potential season-ticket buyers, a list of advertisers and the equivalent of a
regular season's worth of home games - eight - to compare financials against
other NFL teams. While this concept has long been a challenge in Buffalo, the
Toronto agreement, with its population and abundance of corporations, could
fix this problem. If Toronto were to get its own NFL franchise, Brunt said
the city could be a front-runner in the area of money generated from suites,
sponsorships and the amount that could be charged for tickets. Average
Toronto ticket price could top $200 - When asked what the average price for a
ticket to an NFL game in Toronto might be, Brunt took a guess: $250. A
majority of the seats at Ralph Wilson Stadium are typically occupied by those
of the working class. This isn't the case in Toronto. "At (Toronto Maple)
Leaf games, you're sitting with the very wealthy, or it's corporate money,"
said Brunt. "It's not affordable to the average fan. But that's not the
point. It's available to somebody, and in Toronto, they can charge outrageous
amounts and they'll get it." The top average season-ticket price in the NFL
was New England Patriots at $90.89, according to Team Marketing Report. Cohon
said the agreement the Bills made to play games in Toronto was made strictly
between the team and the promoters, Ted Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum. CFL
owners did not vote on it. Once the decision was finalized, he said NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell broke the news to him over the phone. "This is
clearly a Bills initiative with Tanenbaum and Rogers," Cohon said. "My role
was to look out for the best interests of the Toronto Argonauts. Anything
that will help the Bills stay in Western New York would be good for Buffalo
and the CFL, too."

Even as world-class status nears, Toronto remains offbeat
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - February 10, 2008

Fashionably dressed locals stroll Mink Row, along Bloor Street, Toronto's
upscale shopping district that's akin to New York's Madison Avenue or
Chicago's Miracle Mile. Among those blithely ignoring the winter cold: a
stately woman in a Chanel coat and hat, pushing a stylish baby carriage that
holds a freshly groomed Afghan hound. A couple of miles away, in an edgier
section behind one of Toronto's four Chinatowns, I stumble across the Hungary
Thai, a restaurant that features Hungarian and Thai food. I misread it as
Hungry Thai and was sufficiently intrigued to walk inside. Unfortunately, I
was too stuffed with dim sum to eat just then, but even so I was tempted by
the .3 combo plate: spring rolls, cabbage rolls, pad thai and Wiener
schnitzel. After mulling over my recent three-day trip to Toronto, I
concluded that the woman pushing a hound and the Hungary Thai formed iconic
images of Toronto, more so even than the CN Tower or the Hockey Hall of Fame.
For one thing, more than ever the city is displaying and celebrating its
wealth and success. It's a great city in the process of becoming a world-
class city, with a new opera house; a new and glittering $270 million
addition to the Royal Ontario Museum; a cutting-edge, $254 million addition
designed by Frank Gehry to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which will open later
this year; and a new center that will be the home of the Toronto
International Film Festival, considered by many second only to Cannes. The
film festival's new home, Festival Centre, includes screening rooms, full-
size cinemas, a gallery, a library, shops and restaurants. The city also is
building a 150-acre shopping and entertainment complex centered on extensive
studios for filmmakers, who last year spent more than $700 million in
Toronto, which has become a kind of Hollywood North. Private enterprise has
followed, drawn by the scent of wealth and growth. Trump, Ritz-Carlton, Four
Seasons and Shangri-La are building combination luxury hotels and residential
condos. Recently opened: the Hazelton Hotel, a five-star boutique hotel with
a glamorous restaurant that is getting raves. Yet Toronto has retained its
distinctiveness. You still can easily find the eclectic and the eccentric.
Among the glittering tributes to high culture and wealth, there still is room
for dives like Graffiti's Bar and Grill, where talented young musicians come
from all over Canada to perform in exchange for whatever patrons put into a
hat. There are edgy, youthful neighborhoods, historic areas built to the
human scale and immigrant neighborhoods that could make a person of any
nationality feel at home, even a Hungarian Thai. But Toronto in winter? Sure,
average temperatures are in the 20s. But my hotel in Yorkville, the Park
Hyatt, was just across the street from the Royal Ontario's new galleries,
which, by the way, are built in such a way as to have no right angles. I was
also only a few blocks from the Bata Shoe Museum, a rare space devoted
entirely to shoes and much more fascinating than you might expect. But I also
walked for miles and, when feeling chilly, found I was never more than steps
away from some warm and interesting place. Besides, there is nothing cozier
than sitting in a restaurant near a window and watching the snow fall on city
streets. For romance, that's at least competitive with a Caribbean sunset. No
great city can be seen in a few days, but here are my don't-miss picks: Royal
Ontario Museum: Even if it were empty, it would be worth stopping by the ROM
(100 Queen's Park) just to see the new addition, a series of crystal-shaped
protrusions made of glass and aluminum that jut high into the air. Part of
the new structure has 18-foot ceilings in order to house the ROM's collection
of 50 dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. (Admission is $20,
free 45 minutes before closing.) Both the addition and the dinosaur exhibit
are wildly popular, so if you happen to arrive when there are long lines,
consider popping over to the Bata Shoe Museum (327 Bloor St. West, admission
$12) and hope ROM lines have dissipated while you were gone. If you're
anywhere close to the ROM after dark, check out the light show projected on
the side of the new addition. (Ditto for the CN Tower, where a new, computer-
driven light show projects images over the 1,815-foot-high spire.) A night at
the theater: Toronto theater, always plentiful, is undergoing a resurgence,
and it would be sad to visit and miss seeing a show. Mirvish Productions is
famed for bringing shows from London, in addition to Canadian premieres.
Mirvish currently is showing the only North American production of "Dirty
Dancing." Coming in September: the North American premiere of Andrew Lloyd
Webber's production of "The Sound of Music." A new production company, DanCap
Productions, is specializing in bringing top Broadway shows to Toronto.
Coming soon: "Jersey Boys" and "Avenue Q." While live theater in Toronto used
to be an incredible bargain, the tanking of the U.S. dollar has made it less
so, although you still may save compared with Broadway prices. A good place
to find what's showing: www.onstagetoronto.ca. Catch the local talent:
Toronto's large performance centers offer a broad array of performances by
world-class musicians, dancers and actors, but also consider a performance at
some of the smaller venues. Among places to check: Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues
Bar; Hugh's Room, the premier folk venue in Canada; Dakota Tavern, a new
venue for country; and Graffiti's Bar and Grill, which features some of the
city's exciting new singer-songwriters. Also find what's playing at Now
Magazine or Eye Weekly. St. Lawrence Market: A farmers market has been at
Front and Jarvis streets since 1803. In one of two enclosed buildings is a
farmers market on Saturdays and an antiques market on Sundays. A second
building, open daily, has 60 specialty markets and is a great place to stroll
and pick up a prepared meal and desserts. Don't miss the potato pancakes or
the pirogi at the European Deli, or the tarts at Carousel Bakery. Queen
Street West: The hippest street in Toronto runs for miles and is lined with
cool art galleries, restaurants and small boutiques with cutting-edge
fashion, especially for young people, with stores such as "So Hip It Hurts."
Find the heart of the neighborhood at the corner of Queen and Spidina, then
walk in either direction along Queen.
Walking tours: There is no better way to come away feeling that you actually
know a piece of the city than to go with an expert. The secrets of Chinatown
were unveiled to me by one such expert, Shirley Lum; you'll see things you
never guessed were there, and it's worth the price of a tour just to learn
what to buy in a Chinese bakery. A 2 1/2-hour tour for 12 begins at $22 per
person. Details: 416-923-6813 or online. Another guide, Bruce Bell, knows the
history of the city cold and will focus on a particular section or give an
overview, on foot or by a combination of walking, public transportation and
cabs. If you pass through the Toronto University campus, ask him to show you
the "Harry Potter"-like dining room in Hart Hall. Two-hour tours for groups
of 12 start at $12 per person. Details: 647-393-8687 or online.
If you go - Where to stay - The elegant choice that feels like a posh
Manhattan establishment and well located, in tony Yorkville: the Park Hyatt
(4 Avenue Road, 800-633-7313). A check of room rates over the next few
weekends shows doubles starting at about $285 a night; AAA members get 10
percent off and free breakfast. The Fairmont Royal York (100 Front St., 800-
441-1414), built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1929, is a historic
choice near the financial district. Double rooms start at about $249 a night.
The Delta Chelsea (33 Gerrard St., 800-243-5732) is a basic full-service
hotel with pools and programs for kids. It's in a convenient location, and
the price is right, starting at about $130. Those on a budget will find clean
rooms and a central location at Hotel Victoria (56 Yonge St., 800-363-8228),
where double rooms in winter begin at about $110 a night. The really tight
budget choice: Global Village Backpackers (460 King St. W., 416-703-8540).
Private rooms start at about $73 a night, shared rooms at $26. - Where to eat
- Crystal Five, also known as c5 (100 Queen's Park, 416-586-7928), features
gourmet fare in an elegant, modern setting at the top of the new addition to
the Royal Ontario Museum. Dinner entrees begin at about $20. Judy Perly's
Free Times Cafe (320 College St., 416-967-1078) hosts a huge Jewish brunch on
Sundays, with all you can eat for about $17 and klezmer musicians
entertaining. You could make an entire day of trolling around to sample some
of the 100 best food and drink items in the city, as outlined by in a recent
issue of Toronto Life. I skipped the lamb testicles at Nawzar Halal and the
tempura eel at Zen's, but loved the Portuguese malasadas (that is to say,
doughnuts) at National Bakery (812 College St.) and the Jerusalem artichoke
gratine at Fat Cat (376 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-484-4228). While I can't
personally vouch for the Hungary Thai (196 Augusta Ave., 416-595-6405), in
the interesting but somewhat downtrodden Kensington Market area, I'd be glad
to know what it's like if someone else gives it a whirl. Testing won't cost
too much: Dinner entrees start at about $8 and a three-course option is
$13.95. Note: Many of Toronto's best restaurants will participate in special
fixed-price lunch and dinner menus Jan. 25-Feb. 7. Details: Toronto
Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-499-2514.

New York poised to join agreement to protect Great Lakes
Syracuse Post Standard - February 11, 2008

New Yorkers moved one step closer Monday to having our greatest water
resource permanently protected. The state Legislature passed the Great Lakes-
St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, a comprehensive plan for
managing and protecting Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes. More than
five years in the making, the compact is designed to prevent other parts of
the country or world from poaching water from the Great Lakes, the world's
single largest source of fresh water. It also sets up a conservation plan for
states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes. While the
legislation will help shield the Great Lakes from erosion, pollution and the
spread of invasive species, it also helps protect New York's farmers,
property owners and businesses, all of whom depend on the lakes as economic
resources, supporters say. "Looking at the Great Lakes, you can't separate
the environmental issues from the business issues," said Katherine Nadeau,
water and natural resources program associate for Environmental Advocates of
New York. "This is a shared, public resource that provides drinking water for
4 million New Yorkers, not to mention jobs, power and tourism dollars."
Compact legislation protects both the quality and the quantity of water in
the Great Lakes, and that's essential to New York, supporters say. Lower lake
levels would mean less shipping and commerce in the state and region.
Hydroelectricity production would slow as less water flowed over dams. Fewer
bird watchers and hikers -- who shop, fill up on gas, stay in local motels
and dine out -- would flock to the area because there would be fewer wetlands
to sustain animal habitats. "The Great Lakes really define our regional
economy," said Dereth Glance, executive program director for Citizens
Campaign for the Environment. The compact now moves to the desk of Gov. Eliot
Spitzer, who had previously called on lawmakers to pass it. In order to take
effect, the compact must be adopted by all eight Great Lakes states --
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and New
York. It also must be ratified by the U.S. Congress. Minnesota adopted the
compact earlier this year. The Illinois Legislature also passed the Compact
and is awaiting final approval from that state's governor. Indiana,
Pennsylvania and Michigan all have legislation pending. In New York,
supporters have been trying to get the compact passed for several years.
Timing and wording problems held up the bill until Monday, when the Assembly
passed it. The Senate passed the bill last week. "This is going to give New
York a seat at the table when management decisions for Great Lakes water
start taking place," Nadeau added. "Right now, the laws that are on the books
do not give New York a big enough voice."

Legislation is passed to protect Great Lakes
Watertown Daily Times – February 13, 2008
The state Assembly has passed legislation to join a multistate effort to
protect the world's largest freshwater surface, the Great Lakes. The
agreement, formally known as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water
Resources Compact, requires member states to develop water conservation
programs and coordinate planning across the Great Lakes region. "This is a
huge win for all of us," said Katherine Nadeau, water and natural resources
program associate at Environmental Advocates of New York. "The compact will
ban large-scale diversions from the basin. It will keep water here and give
New York State a say in regional water use."
Highlights of the compact include:
¦ Creating a regional water resources council of the member states' governors
to plan and prioritize water use and conservation.
¦ Establishing a water resource inventory for each member state within five
¦ Establishing decision-making standards regarding proposed withdrawals and
consumption uses.
¦ Requiring anyone seeking to withdraw 100,000 gallons or more of water per
day within an average 30-day period to register such withdrawals.
¦ Requiring states to manage and regulate all new or increased withdrawals or
consumption uses, including a prohibition on new or increased diversions
outside the basin.
¦ Establishing water conservation and efficient-use programs and conducting
periodic assessments of the cumulative impact from water losses.
New York has more than 750 miles of shoreline on lakes Erie and Ontario and
the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers. The Great Lakes basin contains 20
percent of the available surface fresh water in the world. The state Senate
passed its version of the legislation Feb. 4. The measure now goes to Gov.
Eliot L. Spitzer, who previously urged both houses to pass it, for his
signature. "This is important for New York because we are at the bottom of
the watershed," Ms. Nadeau said. "Everything that happens upstream affects
us, from hydropower to agriculture to tourism." Sean Mahar, director of
government relations for Audubon, New York, agreed. "Water is a precious
commodity," Mr. Mahar said. "It's also a big economic issue. The more we keep
water here, the more attractive it will make New York to businesses and
residents." Minnesota and Illinois already have ratified the compact. Besides
New York, other member states include Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin. "This is one of the biggest water regulatory bills
nationwide," Mr. Mahar said. "Momentum has been building, with lots of
positive developments in other states." In Canada, the compact also is on
track in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Derek Stack, executive director
of Great Lakes United, an international coalition seeking to protect the
basin, explained that the implementation process for the agreement is
procedurally different in Canada. "The provincial ministries need the
authority to regulate," Mr. Stack said. Rather than passing various
legislative bodies as in the U.S., regulations need to be written for various
provincial agencies. He predicted that Ontario will have come on board
"within the next couple of years," and is "not expecting any problems" in
Quebec. If the compact becomes law in the remaining American member states,
it goes to Congress for its approval and implementation. Mr. Mahar hopes this
happens by 2010, when the next national census will take place. With Great
Lakes basin states predicted to lose Congressional seats to southwestern
states, Mahar said it is important to take action before the region "loses
voice" in Congress.

B.            Border Communications
C.             Editorials

Great Lakes water - Compact approval will protect against diversion
Watertown Daily Times - February 14, 2008

Prolonged droughts, declining river and water levels, and growing demands for
water in other regions of the country have developers and lawmakers casting
an eye toward the Great Lakes as possible sources for meeting demands in the
South and West. The potential surfaced briefly in the Democratic presidential
campaign when former candidate Bill Richardson suggested that Great Lakes
water be diverted to Southwestern states under a "national water policy." And
a Georgia congressman has proposed a national water commission to put the
federal government in charge of Great Lakes water which could take control of
this invaluable natural resource at expense to people dependent on it for
their water supplies and livelihood. Since the Great Lakes faces such
threats, the state Assembly's approval of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River
Basin Water Resources Compact is an important step in keeping management of
the lakes' water in the region. Now it is up to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer to sign
the legislation to make New York the third state to accept the compact to
prevent large-scale diversions. New York has more than 750 miles of shoreline
on Lakes Erie and Ontario and on the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers. Any
significant drawdown could further lower water levels which reached an 80-
year-old record low in Lake Superior last fall. Lakes Huron and Michigan are
also losing water faster than believed, and natural climatic changes could
contribute even more to the losses. Massive diversions will have
environmental and economic consequences for property owners, shippers,
businesses and industry relying on the water. The compact must also be
approved by the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the other five
states bordering the lakes — Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and
Wisconsin. They must act soon. Once the states accept it, the compact goes to
Congress for approval and implementation, and the chances of achieving that
could diminish in the next few years. The Northeast is in danger of losing
more congressional seats due to reapportionment after the 2010 Census, which
will weaken its clout in Congress. And the water-thirsty South and West could
gain congressional representation that could be used to defeat the compact.
Time is of the essence. The other states must now follow New York, Minnesota
and Illinois to speed up congressional approval to maintain regional control
of Great Lakes water.

D.             Citizens Views (write-in letters)

Higgins wrong to support Peace Bridge plaza plan
Buffalo News – February 12, 2008

Thanks to Donn Esmonde for his Feb. 1 column, “Higgins seems to have lost his
way.” I was beginning to think nobody else had noticed Higgins’ recent
pigheaded support of the Peace Bridge Authority’s plaza expansion plans. I
spoke with him last summer in Front Park. He refused to acknowledge the small
number of trucks on the Peace Bridge on a Friday afternoon. His logic was
that they were avoiding the crossing. Nonsense. Trucks leave the bridge and
get on the Thruway. Not one stops to gas up, buy a sandwich, spend the night
or shop in Buffalo. They don’t spend any of their dollars in this community.
Would Higgins think this was such a great and necessary project if it was
going to eliminate access to Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo? Would he be
willing to sell out a historic neighborhood in his neck of the woods? Of
course not. Higgins knows that if this flawed plan succeeds, the authority
will want to take even more than 120 properties. By that time, we will be
trapped in this state’s largest transportation blunder ever. This will make
the Humboldt Parkway ditch look like child’s play. Higgins must realize that
there is a balance between getting things done, and getting things done
right. Great leaders do the right thing. But that takes courage. - Tony Mecca
- Buffalo

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