Friday, July 31, 2009

Calgary Southeast Conservative EDA Garden Tour Fundraiser

I have attached an invitation below for any of you with a "green thumb" or an interest in gardening. This event will take place on Sunday, Aug 2/2009 in South Calgary at various homes. I will be volunteering at one of the sites, so if you attend, be sure to say hello!

Have a great long weekend!


The invitation can be found here...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Only $25Million for this Peace bridge...are you sure? ( and some alternate names?)

Ummm....ahem. YUCK!
After so much speculation and hoopla over the unveiling of the $25MM pedestrian bridge, I must admit I was quite disappointed with the final design. I was expecting this big, iconic bridge that would add something spectacular to the tourist postcard photos of downtown Calgary. This design is actually quite silly in my opinion.
Technically I am sure it is quite revolutionary, as the typical pillars and steel girders are purposely missing, but who really cares at the end of the day. It is so low to the ground, it looks like someone hauled a large log and laid it across the river. Yikes....
I am surprised that the architect did not put a cowboy hat on top of it, you know, to give it that Calgary Feel because it sure does not match with anything else in this city.
The Name...
I was really pissed when I found out that some council members threw up the NAME smokescreen to hide the biggest mistake of their political careers. Calling this the PEACE BRIDGE is fine, but the optics and reasoning are political in nature only. Who is going to come out and speak against our counties Armed Forces? This got me thinking...I wonder if any other names where thrown around? Here are my thoughts on some they should have potentially considered:
  • "Don't throw rocks at small, cute kittens" Bridge? ( Because everybody loves kittens!)
  • "FRIDAY" Bridge? ( Again...everyone loves Friday's!)
  • "Druh Farrell's direct route out of council" bridge.
  • "What a bloody waste of Money" Bridge.
  • " We do not need to cut property taxes" Bridge.
  • " The Piece of Shat" bridge.... ( Shortened to just the PEACE BRIDGE.)
  • "Remember when Bronconnier was Mayor?" Bridge.
  • "This would never happen if Ric McIver was mayor" Bridge.
  • "I am sure the Wildrose Alliance will blame Premier Stelmach for this bridge" Bridge.
  • "The Dollar Store Candy Cane" Bridge.
Any others?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Has Calgary Transit really evolved over 100 years?

During my recent trip to NYC, I began to compare and contrast our beloved "C-Train" with the New York Metro Subway system. While the two cities have completely different population bases, the square foot imprints of Calgary and New York are very similar in size.
After 30 years of watching TV/Movies about NYC, I had a certain negative image of the subway system ( and the whole city itself...) and figured it would be a crime ridden, rat infested, graffiti strewn sewer! To my surprise, the stereotype could not have been any further than the truth! I found the system to be relatively clean and extremely safe. In fact, I never once felt uneasy on the platforms in New York, which cannot always be said in on certain platforms in downtown Calgary at night!
I was also amazed at the ease in which the subway can be used, and how convenient it really is. I found you can pretty much get anywhere in the City quickly, at any time of day. I was also amazed that they system can handle a rush 60,000+ people following a Yankees game and a Paul McCartney concert we attended. ( Try that after a Stamps games C-train!) The trains appeared to come every 5 minutes and the system covers the entire city....unlike Calgary.
Looking back 100 years ago, Calgary had 27 KM of streetcar tracks, with a City population of only 30,000. ( Smaller than Airdrie...) The streetcars went to then far reaching outposts such as Ogden, Bowness and Forest Lawn. I was impressed when I read this, as this must have been pretty progressive for 1909! A quick math scan will show that there where 1,111 people/km of track back then.
Move ahead 100 years ( and about 500 & 1.1MM more people) and lets look at the current Calgary Transit System. We now have 41 Km of C-Train track for a city of 1.1MM people. ( Hmmm...27KM of Street Car in 1909, 41KM of LRT in 2009?) This looks like almost 27,000 people/km of track. It doesn't seem like much of an improvement to me.
With the City of Calgary's 40 year+ restrictive land use policies on adding Downtown Parking space additions, it would appear that they want more people to use public transit. I believe that most people do not use the C-Train system as it is not convenient for most citizens ( unless you work Downtown) as it is too narrow in its service area. I know that the City is moving ahead with its West Leg line, but I think that until the city is entirely serviced ( eg. SouthEast Line and North Central Leg.) most commuters will not give up their cars.
Its a shame to think that in 1909, New York City had the technology and foresight to build and complete an extensive subway transit system, yet modern Calgary cannot even get a solid transit plan together for the next 20-30 years. I bet it was easier and quicker to get to Bowness or Ogden from Downtown 100 years ago than it is today.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back from New York...( and back to reality!)

Having returned late last night from my vacation to NYC, I never realized how much I miss home until I walk through my door. I had a blast in new York and think 9 days was just about right, but I could have stayed there indefinitely at times.

For the 1st time in years, I chose not to use any Internet/email access, so I really came home "blind" to what was happening here. I cannot recall another time that I went without Internet/email for over a week....pretty odd! ( Well, not since at least 1995...)

Lots to talk about and lots to catch up on with my stack of papers in the front hall.

What did I miss?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New York, New York..

I am off to NYC with my wife for vacation, so no posts (likely) for 10 days! Too bad really, as I had some great rants brewing. Oh well...

Something to ponder today... ( from the City of Calgary website)

Calgary's footprint has recently been compared to that of New York City's, yet there are eight times more people living in New York. This comparison is meant to illustrate that Calgary is growing uncontrollably; however, the simple equation of dividing population by land area is simply incorrect when you consider Calgary's varied land use.

For instance:

New York City: 8.2 million people / 830 sq. kms = 9,879 ppl per sq. km
Calgary: 1 million people / 745 sq. kms = 1,342 ppl per sq. km
By this logic, New York City is 7.4 times denser than Calgary.

Amazing... I guess this is what the "Plan-It" people use as a guide to curb urban sprawl?

Take Care...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Did the Tsuu Tina Nation make a massive mistake in rejecting the SW Ring Road Deal?

Did the Tsuu Tina Nation make a massive mistake in rejecting the SW Ring Road Deal? That looks like the $500MM question! After having previously posted on the Tsuu Tina's rejection of the SW Ring road land sale with the province and their rationale behind it, it looks to me me that the Tsuu Tina now realize that they will have to face some serious unmitigated consequences with their decision.

The province has declared the deal DEAD and they appear to refuse to go back to the bargaining table. I believe that this failed deal may be a source of embarrassment for Premier Stelmach, given his hard work on negotiating this deal and his public commitment to getting this project completed. Now that this option appears off the table, I was pleased that City Council is pushing to move ahead with a " PLAN B" option, which includes an interchange at Glenmore Trail and 37 Street SW. As per my previous post on this, an interchange at this location is bad news for the Grey Eagle Casino!
Some people will say that by moving on and proceeding with an interchange at this location is being spiteful and punitive of the Tsuu Tina people. I personally disagree. The Tsuu Tina own their land and have the right to do whatever they legally want to with it. They decided not to make this deal, even though the immediate and future financial benefits were unmatched and that is their right. ( As an aside, at 1000 residents, the $200MM++ works out to over $200K for each band!) Now, it is time to move on....
The City of Calgary does not legally have to make the 37 Street Casino entrance open to the public. They confirmed that they will continue to make the Anderson Road entrance legally open as this is required. If the city closes off 37th Street, this will kill the Grey Eagle Casino's business as there will be no quick entrance to the facility. I guess then the Band will have to create a "Casino" road from Anderson Drive through their Sacred Land Trust after all. Quite the irony.
If the Tsuu Tina want to go back to the table, I hope it is for less money and a worse deal. They played their cards all wrong on this hand, as they figured the province will spend ANY amount of money to get this deal done. Big mistake.
I am now off to New York City for vacation. I wonder what I will miss?

Monday, July 13, 2009

IF I was a Wildrose Alliance supporter...who would I vote for?

No that Stampede is over and the early morning functions have ceased, I finally have a moment to post something before I head off to work!

I had the opportunity to meet both of the WRAP leadership candidates at two different Stampede events last week, and thought I would put a quick post together about my thoughts on each of them.

Mark Dyrholm:

I met Mr.Dyrholm briefly at the Calgary SW/Prime Minister Stephen Harper annual BBQ at Heritage Park. He was flanked by his campaign manager ( handler?) Craig Chandler and never seemed to waver more than 3 feet from him. It was kind of uncomfortable to watch this pair working the room and reminded me of the old movie "Twins" with Arnold and Danny Devito.

Now, I did not get a chance to have a lengthy discussion with Mark, because I had not yet eaten and did not think I could stomach it. My first impressions are usually right and I just could not picture this gentleman as the Premier of Alberta. While I am sure he is an honest, hardworking individual, in my opinion "he is just not for me....".

Danielle Smith:

While I saw Ms. Smith at the Heritage Park event, I did not get the chance to meet her that night. I did get to meet her shorty thereafter at a Private Stampede BBQ and had the opportunity to chat briefly. I found Ms. Smith charming and she did not have the stereotypical "fakeness" that some politicians carry. I was honest with her that I do not support her party ( I am a PC supporter) and gave her my thoughts on what this average Albertan was feeling about the current issues. She was respectful in her responses and I found her very intelligent and articulate.

Now, IF I were a WRAP supporter, It is clear who I would support here. Personally, (and from quick straw polls at some events over this past week) I think that Ms. Smith will win the leadership race handily with some more hard work. I know that Mr.Dyrholm's team is quite organized and It would not surprise me if Mr.Chandler already has already booked the charter buses to transport the voters to Edmonton in October, so he is definitely a contender.

The winner of this race determines the fate of the WRAP's future. Extreme/Fringe?... or Moderate/Contender?

Again, who cares what this PC supporter thinks right? These are just my thoughts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fun- Stampede ( Next years Rodeo champ?)

Just for fun as we head into the final weekend of Stampede! Looks like this could be nexts years Rodeo,.. Champ.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Really..This Racist crap is still happening in Canada?

I was sickened beyond belief last night when I heard about this racist attack in Courtney, BC this week. I was even more shocked when I watched the video. This kind of bullsh*t makes me furious and I just cannot believe that it is still going on in Canada today.

This kind of nonsense really hits me on a personal level, as I have a brother and sister that are half black and my best friend of 25 years is of Haitian decent. Growing up in "redneck" Calgary, I rarely saw this kind of behaviour as kids, but it became more visible after we all became adults. I cannot imagine having to go through life facing these racist slurs and hate.

I know that there will always be clowns like these three hillbillies in our society, but I think that once you turn violent, you should be locked up for a long time. This kind of hate is just not acceptable anymore, so I have no problem removing these cancerous people out of my society.

I laughed when "Hitler's crew" saw that the gentleman could actually defend himself! They kind of surrounded him like a pack of scared hyena's waiting for the most cowardly moment to attack. Hopefully these gentlemen will be convicted and sent to prison for a long time. Maybe than they will learn to clean up their act, one dropped soap in the shower at a time. Good Riddance.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stampede 2009.. Harper and Ignatieff set for a "shootout"?

I just love it when the eastern based politicians head to Calgary every July and search for various photo-ops for their papers back home. Seeing the often unattractive and comically dressed politicians reminds me of Stampede's of my youth, when Mom used to shove me into some ridiculous Cowboy outfit before we headed to the grounds. ( Sheriff Badge/Whistle included!)
While I am sure that the Stampede loves the publicity that they get from these foreign dignitaries, I just laugh and laugh at the posturing that goes on every year. They often look so out of place that I am embarrassed for them. ( See Ignatieff above) You may as well through some loose fitting clothes on their back, give them a skateboard and send them to the half-pipe for some sweet photo-ops with the youngsters. It makes as much sense to me.
Ignatieff was ranting last night that the Liberals were able to pull 600 supporters to their annual BBQ at the Calgary Zoo last night. Well, at $40 a ticket I bet that the Liberal party needed some donations to cover the catering/rental bill. Excellent fundraising Iggy...keep it up.
On the other hand, I was fortunate enough to attend the Calgary SW/PM Stephen Harper BBQ at Heritage Park last night and I can confirm that this was an excellent event. There had to be 800-900 people there as it looked completely sold out. At $135 a ticket, a quick math scan would reveal that this was a financial success also. Also, the PM was kind enough to spend almost 2 hours shaking hands and taking pictures and looked entirely comfortable do so. I cannot imaging Count Iggy feeling the same way with the "commoner" Calgarians!
Both leaders took shots at each others party's in their speeches last night, and spoke loudly of the "pending" fall election. I find it pretty brave of Iggy to be calling the PM out in his own City, especially since he continues to "cower" in Ottawa. Perhaps he is considering changing the Liberal "RED" to a more appropriate Iggy "Yellow"? Sounds like "fighting" words to me gentlemen.
I can't wait for the "shoot out" this fall. Perhaps then Iggy will finally mount his Iron Horse and head on back to Harvard to retire in his intellectual glory. ( Just think, you will never have to play dress up again!) YEE-HAW!

Friday, July 3, 2009

No SW Ring Road? No Surprise to Me!

I was not surprised at all to see that the Tsuu Tina people have voted against the proposed land deal that would have allowed the City/Province to complete a much needed "ring road" around the SW portion of the city. I had talked about this in a previous post and really feel that the Band has no reason to make any deals with the province.

Chief Sandford Big Plume responded that the deal was " more than a simple economic transaction for us" and that "we consider our land to be a sacred trust". AS I said before, it is their land and they have the right to choose what they want to do with it. That said, I think that they have made a serious financial error by rejecting this offer.

Earlier this year, Chief Big Plume confirmed that the deal has to make economic sense. His quote is as follows: "Being so close to a major urban centre, we have to understand — and we gotta think 100, 120 years from now — where this nation will be and what kind of foundation this is going to leave. What kind of footprint it's going to leave for them. And in today's society, it's all economics, it's all fiscal responsibility, so we want to ensure that we leave a strong economic base for them." So, is it more than a simple economic transaction or not?

The money that the province would have provided could have been used to improve the housing situation on the reserve. ( Oh wait, I forgot that the Casino funds will eventually do that). The off ramp sites could have provided some excellent commercial development for the band, which could have generated even more long term funds for them. But again, it is not about money I guess?

I hope that the City/Province move onto other plans now and close the negotiation with the Tsuu Tina on this matter. Take the $200+ Million dollars and use it on another option. Once ( and if) we ever get the ring road built, I hope the plans call for a bridge over the entrance to the Grey Eagle Casino and the proposed Office/Retail Park they are planning on the "Black Bear Crossing" site. By doing this, we can avoid having Calgarian's vehicles enter onto their "Sacred Land Trust" and continue to respect the Band's wishes.

The Tsuu Tina people have spoken, so lets move on.