Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on February 8, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Edmonton wins dubious award for haiku contest
Let’s do a haiku.
And spend five thousand dollars.
It wins waste award.
It’s not the kind of recognition a city would like to receive but this year Edmonton takes the top spot in a national “waste” award.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation announced its 13th annual “Teddy” Government Waste Awards Tuesday, a light-hearted awards ceremony that recognizes government waste of money.
Edmonton was the Municipal Teddy Winner for spending $5,000 putting on a haiku contest last year to encourage Edmontonians to take and promote public transit.
“We have bureaucrats who clearly have enough time on their hands to go out and put together contests to have people write poetry to have them then go through and pick a winner and spend not a lot but taxpayer money and taxpayer-paid time on trying to figure out what is the best story or haiku,” said Scott Henning with the Canadian Taxpayers Association.
“People are going to ride the bus because it’s more convenient or it’s cheaper or good for the environment. They’re not likely going to read a really well-written haiku about why to ride the bus and all of a sudden start jumping on it.”
Henning said the haiku contest was especially wasteful as the city currently employs a poet laureate, who is paid $5,000 to write official poetry on life in the city.
But the city stands by its creative approach to promoting Edmonton.
“We can’t be single-dimensional,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said.
“Sometimes you have to have a little vision and find ways to be creative in how you can sell your city.”
The Teddys are named after Ted Weatherill, a former federal bureaucrat who was fired for outrageous expenses in 1999.