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  1. CBC, VIA Rail considered for auction block: Documents BY ANDREW MAYEDA, CANWEST NEWS SERVICE JUNE 1, 2009 6:49 PM OTTAWA — The federal Department of Finance has flagged several prominent Crown corporations as "not self-sustaining," including the CBC, VIA Rail and the National Arts Centre, and has identified them as entities that could be sold as part of the government's asset review, newly released documents show. In its fiscal update last November, the government announced that it would launch a review of its Crown assets, including so-called enterprise Crown corporations, real estate and "other holdings." Finance Department documents, obtained by Canwest News Service under the Access to Information Act, reveal that the review will focus on enterprise Crown corporations, which are not financially dependent on parliamentary subsidies. Such corporations include the Royal Canadian Mint and Ridley Terminals, which is a coal-shipping terminal in Prince Rupert, B.C. But the documents also reveal that the government will consider privatizing Crown corporations that require public subsidies to stay afloat. "The reviews will also examine other holdings in which the government competes directly with private enterprises, earn income from property or performs a commercial activity," states a Finance briefing note dated Dec. 2, 2008. "It includes Crown corporations that are not self-sustaining even though they are of a commercial nature." In the briefing note, the Finance Department identifies nine Crown corporations that fall in that category, including Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the CBC and VIA Rail. The government announced last week that it will split AECL in two and seek private-sector investors for the Crown corporation's CANDU nuclear-reactor business. The Crown asset review comes as the government struggles to contain the country's deficit, now expected to top $50 billion this year. The Jan. 27 budget assumes that the government will be able to raise as much as $4 billion through asset sales by the end of March 2010. The budget identified four federal departments whose Crown assets are being reviewed first: Finance, Indian and Northern Affairs, Natural Resources, and Transport and Infrastructure. VIA Rail is overseen by the Transport Department, while the CBC and the National Arts Centre fall under the portfolio of the Canadian Heritage department. The Finance Department documents confirm that all government assets will eventually be reviewed. Privatizations tend to work well when Crown corporations enter a reasonably competitive market with a good chance of turning a profit, said Aidan Vining, a professor of business and government relations at Simon Fraser University. Unlike successfully privatized firms such as Canadian National Railway, it's not clear that CBC and VIA Rail could operate as profitable ventures while maintaining the public mandates they provided as Crown corporations, he noted. "They're not the classic privatization candidates, where you sell and walk away," said Vining, an expert in Crown corporation privatizations. "Unless, of course, you're prepared to fully withdraw from the public purpose (of the Crown corporation)." Certainly, the sale of a flagship Crown asset such as the CBC would be politically controversial. After the CBC announced this spring that it would lay off hundreds of employees, opposition critics accused the government of turning a cold shoulder to the public broadcaster's struggles. Under the Financial Administration Act, Parliament would have to approve the privatization of any Crown corporation. "It's hard to believe that some of these sales would go forward in a minority Parliament," said Vining. The Finance Department has also begun to examine the government's vast real-estate portfolio, which includes 31 million hectares of land, and more than 46,000 buildings totalling 103 million square metres — more than double the office space available in the Greater Toronto Area, according to the Finance documents. The government's holdings are worth at least $17 billion, Finance officials estimate. A briefing note labelled "secret" said that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs acquired $7 million in surplus properties between 1998 and 2006 for potential use in land-claims deals. Over the same period, the properties cost $2 million to maintain. Divesting such properties could not only generate revenue for the government, but also cut "ongoing operations and maintenance costs," states the briefing note. A Finance Department spokeswoman said the asset review won't necessarily lead to sales in all cases. "Reviews will assess whether value could be created through changes to the assets' structure and ownership, and report on a wide set of options including the status quo, amendments to current mandates or governance," department spokeswoman Stephanie Rubec said in an e-mail. "In some cases, it may be concluded that selling an asset to a private sector entity may generate more economic activity and deliver greater value to taxpayers." Crown corporations identified by the government as "not self-sustaining": (Company name, commercial revenues, parliamentary subsidy, expenses) Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., $614.2 million, $285.3 million, $1.3 billion CBC, $565.5 million, $1.1 billion, $1.7 billion Cape Breton Development Corp., $5.1 million, $60 million, $94.1 million Federal Bridge Corp. Ltd., $14.6 million, $31.0 million, $42.9 million National Arts Centre Corp., $26.0 million, $40.6 million, $65.7 million Old Port of Montreal Corp., $16.7 million, $15.1 million, $32.0 million Parc Downsview Park Inc., not available, not available, not available VIA Rail Canada Inc., $293.9 million, $266.2 million, $505.5 million Source: Department of Finance, Public Accounts of Canada Note: Financial results are for 2007-08 http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Rail+considered+auction+block+Documents/1652330/story.html
  2. Opinion dans la Gazette. Cooper: Can Montreal become a ‘future city?’ BY CELINE COOPER, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE APRIL 8, 2013 Revellers at this year’s Nuit Blanche warm up by the fire at Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. In his new book A History of Future Cities, Daniel Brook writes: “The true city of the future is not simply the city with the tallest tower or the most stunning skyline but one that is piloted by the diverse, worldly, intelligent people it assembles and forges.” Can Montreal be one of these? Photograph by: Tim Snow , The Gazette MONTREAL — What is Montreal’s place among the world’s future global cities? I recently picked up Daniel Brook’s new book A History of Future Cities. In it, he skilfully braids together historical detail, journalism and storytelling to trace the impossible rise of Shanghai, Dubai, Mumbai and St. Petersburg from developing world “instant-cities” into four of the world’s most influential global hubs. Brook looks at how these cities in China, the United Arab Emirates, India and Russia were forged. His description of how soaring cityscapes were planned and erected out of deserts, frozen marshland, oceans and rice paddies through both the ambition of visionaries and the cruelty of despots gives us some context for the emerging Asian era that we are witnessing today. We learn a bit about how the economic development of the world’s nations has come to be inextricably linked to the development of global cities. So what does this have to do with Montreal? As it happens, I started reading this book about future cities on the same day that a sinkhole swallowed two cars at Montreal’s Trudeau airport. On top of the crumbling bridges, man-eating potholes and mould-infested public schools, there was also news that day about Bill 14, the Parti Québécois’s bid to bolster the province’s language laws and further regulate who can speak what, when and where. Much of this discussion focuses on the fear that Montreal is becoming “anglicized.” Which brings me back to the question: what is Montreal’s place in this new world landscape that is no longer necessarily one of nations, but of cities? For many of us who live here, Montreal occupies a special place on the global grid and in our imaginations. We often think of it as a metropolis that straddles old and new, French and English, Europe and North America. But thankfully Montreal and its inhabitants are much more complex than that. As Columbia University sociologist Saskia Sassen and other scholars who study global cities have argued, cities are where new norms and identities are shaped. Despite the fact that it has been hemorrhaging economic clout since the late 1970s and the 1980s, and that its infrastructure is falling apart at the seams, Montreal remains an inspiring, dynamic city. Montreal’s creativity — its colourful population and the ideas they bring to life — is without a doubt the city’s greatest asset. And yet while other urban hubs are leveraging their cultural and linguistic diversity to build intellectual and economic corridors that connect them to the rest of the world, here in Quebec we are told (by our government, no less) that Montreal’s diversity is not an asset but a problem to be managed. There is too much pasta and caffè in our restaurants. Our artists are composing songs in the wrong languages. Our children are learning too much English in the classroom. These things must be regulated with new bills, laws and decrees. It reminds me of a line by urban thinker and activist Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961. Jacobs wrote: “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.” And so it is. A History of Future Cities attests to the fact that a built urban environment is important. Dazzling feats of engineering, architectural brilliance, skylines of human-made steel and glass stalagmites are meant to be both inspiring and functional, a draw for the world’s financially and intellectually ambitious people. But one of the most compelling lines in the book — and the one that resonated with me as I pondered Montreal’s future in the world — was this: “The true city of the future is not simply the city with the tallest tower or the most stunning skyline but one that is piloted by the diverse, worldly, intelligent people it assembles and forges.” In other words, a fancy cityscape matters, but the people who live there matter more. For Quebec to succeed as it moves into the future — whether as a sovereign country or as part of the Canadian federation — it needs Montreal to thrive. Montreal’s place among future global cities will depend on not only attracting the world’s best and brightest, but allowing them the freedom to be diverse, to be themselves, and to be brilliant. [email protected] Twitter: @CooperCeline © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette Original source article: Cooper: Can Montreal become a ‘future city?’ Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Celine+Cooper+Montreal+become+future+city/8202375/story.html#ixzz2Puw40uY7
  3. Tuesday, July 21, 2009, by Lockhart Curbed.com Concept: bulldoze under Central Park and replace it with a modern, international airport. The idea is so simple, so beautifully elegant, so inevitable that it's hard to believe we didn't think of it ourselves. Rather, credit the shadowy figures behind The Manhattan Airport Foundation, who've worked up an incredibly detailed plan to turn Frederick Law Olmsted's bucolic paradise into a postmodern universe of runways, terminals, and baggage claims. Good news for purists, too: per the Manhattan Airport FAQ, "Whenever possible, vestigial architectural elements of the Park space be retained or reworked into the context of the new design." And they mean it! You've got to admire the Foundation's bravado: "Public dollars helped create Central Park in the 1850s. And public responsibility dictates that we transform this underutilized asset into something we so desperately need today. Manhattan Airport will prove New York City no longer allows it’s vestigial prewar cityscape to languish in irrelevance but instead reinvents these spaces with a daring and inspired bravado truly befitting one of the world’s great cities. The moment is now." Of course it is. (...)
  4. L'Industrielle Alliance, Assurance et services financiers a annoncé lundi avoir signé une entente afin d'acquérir la société de gestion de fonds communs de placement Sarbit Asset Management. Pour en lire plus...
  5. La branche canadienne de Société Générale rachètera pour 611 M$ d'instruments de dépôt sous-jacents aux placements de l'entreprise en faillite Portus Alternative Asset Management. Pour en lire plus...