Monday, September 26, 2011

Gian-Carlo Carra Vs. The Ramsay Community Association

 I was a little dismayed when I read about Ward 9 Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra's announcement that he would no longer be dealing with the Ramsay Community Association board, following a "breakdown in communication" with the volunteer association.  Mr. Carra had confirmed in a hand delivered letter to Ramsay residents that he will no longer deal with the current board executive and will instead work with the citizens directly. ( A copy of the letter can be found here..)
 As a community association president myself, I found myself wondering what could have led to such a disasterous stand off to occur in the first place?   Alderman Carra has confirmed to me on Twitter and on the CBC Eyeopener this morning that his position has nothing to do with "development"  yet the letter mentions his dismay at the boards NIMBY-ism and that he is not interested in a "coup", but the letter urges people to come to the AGM to sign up for a Carra led "Ramsey Design Initiative".  While I do not believe for a minute that the conflict has to do with Carr's newsletter being rejected due to its length, but if you read the letter it is clear that there is likely more at play here than meets the eye.

  I personally think that Gian-Carlo is one of the most intelligent Alderman at City Hall ( and really, who doesn't dig his accent!) but his letter really concerns me.  While he confirms his support for community associations, he states that he is working with the Mayors office on a new policy outlining the role that community associations play in the "governance of our neighborhoods".  If you read between the lines, perhaps some people in council hate when volunteer citizens restrict their own personal development views.

  While I believe that all community associations should be well governed, I would hope that their intent is always to be a "voice" for the residents when it comes to civic matters.  These are volunteer organizations made up of passionate, dedicated community members.  For Mr.Carra to blindly shove them aside is upsetting as it diminishes the roles that these groups play in our city.  Based on the comments that Mr. Carra made, I am sure that the both he and the Mayor's office relishes the day when CA's are relegated to bake sales and BBQ's.  This way, they will not have to listen to their citizens concerns ( via those "pesky CA's" regarding development when they do not fit their own personal agenda's. 

  I will be watching to see what comes of this story as I think there is way more to this than either side is letting on.  I hope that they can come to some sort of adult resolution soon.


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  1. TedtheSith (on Twitter)September 26, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    He is repeating the very sentiment on QR77 right now. As I said, you either believe the man and take him at his word, or not.

    If not, it has to be more than just "it's my view", don't you think?

  2. Well Ted,I can only state again that this is my view. Why include the comments about his work at the mayors office to amend the roles of CA's at all? Plus, his actions with the CA do not jive with "supporting" CA's, but again this is my opinion.

  3. I especially like the part where the Alderman says that City Hall is going to decide on the role a community association will play in civic affairs. I notice he didn't mention that community associations will participate in that discussion.

    Ultimately, I have no problems with the Alderman disagreeing with a community association's position on an issue, or not participating in a dialogue with them. Publicly demanding that they fall in line with his vision seems to be a bit over the top. Politics is the practice of compromise between competing interests, and I'm not sure there's much compromise on the Alderman's part here. What happens if Ramsay does elect a new board that happens to be more antagonistic to his condescension?

    I suppose we could ask Helene Larocque what happened when she got into a pissing match with a community association.

  4. Great point Brent. There visions of the future role of CA's worries me. I can see it being a real issue going forward. Glad I'm not the only one to ask the question.

  5. i am not confident that the Ward 9 Alderman knows the meaning of compromise... I believe he is more concerned with promotion of self interest via his "design initiative" work in Inglewood and now Ramsay, along with his self proclaimed mandate to redefine Calgary's land use and planning process. Residents and community associations represent important views but are not the only stakeholders (altho they are the "electors"), consider ALL property owners, businesses (aka employers), social agencies and other non profit sevice agencies as having a community voice as well.

  6. Can't thank you enough for your "view" Shane. You hit the nail on the head...hopefully all is revealed soon.

  7. Finally someone who "matters" has stood up to the tyranny that is the Ramsay Community. The reality is that they are a bunch of uninformed people that do not have any understanding of what a vibrant community might entail much less the ability to read plans and evaluate them. The amount of power they weild as ordinary citizens on decisions is preposterous - thank god someone has noticed and dared to stand up to it - the City of Calgary certainly hasn't.

  8. Dig a little deeper into Mr Carra's donor's list, and you'll see why he had a meltdown, when the Ramsay community refused to rubber-stamp his infill and redevelopment plans.

    There needs to be a complete ban on business donations to Civic candidates, as the current system revolves around influence-peddling. This is an even bigger problem with Druh Farrell, in Ward 7.