Calgary: In Need Of Real Change
The Calgary flood of 2013 is over. People are still cleaning up, but Calgary is ready to bounce back. Almost every single councillor stepped up and served their wards admirably. Now it's time to get back to politics. This October there will be a civic election and Calgarians will be forced to decide whether to re-elect some of their leaders. First, Calgarians will have to accept that Nenshi and council handled Calgary's devastating flood no differently than anyone else would have. They were doing their jobs. Calgarians should look beyond the flood and look at what our councillors and mayor have really accomplished. It's easy to get tied up in the moment, but the disaster has passed. It's time to start thinking clearly again. While the Canadian media continues its inappropriate love affair with mayor Naheed Nenshi, fawning over his every action and tweet, Poletical will give you another perspective. In moonbat culture, Nenshi is a super hero. In reality, he's an empty shell with a facade of wit and charm – just like another political idol to the south of us.
This isn't just about Naheed Nenshi. It's about Calgary's entire city council, particularly a few lifers who have been “serving” the city for way too long. The city's residents have exhibited a level of rare political complacency for a city of one million people. Complete apathy in most of Calgary's wards has resulted in the same councillors being re-elected, perpetually, regardless of their performance. The same situation has gripped Regina and Saskatoon, two sparsely populated cities that have evidently vowed to stick with the status quo forever. Last October, Reginians put Michael Fougere in office to replace Pat Fiacco. Essentially, they elected Fiacco's best friend on council while allowing a majority of councillors to keep their jobs. The same will probably happen in Calgary this year.
If you're happy with the city's deteriorating roads, abhorrent traffic conditions, bad planning, rogue cyclists, outrageous parking prices, and the latest 52 million dollar cash grab which proved to be so unnecessary that some councillors considered giving it back until the flood, then you might want to consider splashing cold water on your face and bidding your apathy adieu.
While Naheed Nenshi spends much of his time contradicting himself and engaging in extravagant narcissism on Twitter, several councillors spend their time drifting further from reality. This is a symptom of excessive job security and an expired, rotten tenure.
Take Druh Farrell, serving her fourth consecutive term as councillor and inching closer to wrapping up her twelfth consecutive year in office. She helped spearhead Calgary's cycling strategy, which aims to encourage more cycling and help Calgary's rebellious cyclists get along easier, while encouraging them to learn the rules of the road. The strategy hasn't worked. As frustrated downtown drivers deal with a number of cyclists who dodge between cars, run red lights, and race through crosswalks, Farrell continues to work diligently to ensure that these cyclists are better accommodated. If Calgary's cycling strategy aims to put more ornery cyclists on the road, it needs to be discontinued. If Farrell has no intention of running for mayor this year, she needs to step aside and let fresh hands take the wheel.
Take Dale Hodges. Elected in 1983, he is serving his tenth consecutive term. He represents Ward 1, or Bowness. Thirty-nine years is a long time to forget what real people, living real lives and working real jobs, want and need. The people of Bowness have become so complacent that they've managed to grant an aloof elder too much job security. Hodges has stood up for some simple free market principles in his three decades, but he has also drifted into dark waters. He is one of two councillors trying to spend $75,000 worth of taxpayer money to lecture dog owners about cleaning up after their pets in off-leash parks. Really? This old man is so out of touch that he forgot whose money he'll be throwing into the wind. In 2006, Hodges also argued that the city's smoking ban would harm charities (like bingos), but he somehow failed to mention how it might harm private businesses. Mr. Hodges is sailing further and further from reality with every passing day. It's time for him to retire.
Ray Jones has been serving his seventh term and twentieth year. Long lost to lassitude, Jones' term has exhausted his perception of reality. Spending so much time in office has made him run out of things to do. He became so bored in 2011 that he found himself trying to convince city council to add more councillors. Apparently the bureaucracy wasn't big enough for Jones. So, why not create more wards, he thought. Creating more wards and putting more councillors on the public payroll is a horrible idea, not to mention unnecessary. Calgary's current wards are sufficient. Perhaps Mr. Jones should find something else to occupy his time, like a full-time job in the private sector.
Andre Chabot, serving since 2005, following a voter fraud scandal in his ward, opposed a bylaw outlawing public spitting and urination. Chabot must think Calgary is Paris, where residents should be allowed to whip it out and pee on every street corner. Most Calgarians don't want to dodge puddles of piss and globs of phlegm. Calgarians want a clean, sanitary city with some level of decency. Even if that decency has to be enforced.
Naheed Nenshi's handling of Calgary's flood was fine, but – following the Bonnybrook Bridge incident – he attempted to pass the blame to the federal government and CP Rail. Railways are under federal jurisdiction, but the bridge still runs through Calgary. "There are a lot of questions," Nenshi told media. Perhaps, as mayor, he should have asked these questions before the bridge was opened. Maybe he should have scrutinized CP's apparent inspections when they announced that the bridge would be opened. There must have been some sort of communication between municipal, federal, and provincial governments. If there wasn't, the blame falls on the leaders of all levels of government.
Furthermore, railways fall under federal jurisdiction for reasons of efficiency, consistency, and simplicity. If trains had to follow the rules of the many hundreds of municipalities they passed through on a weekly basis, movement would be slow and restricted. National rails fall under one jurisdiction for a reason. For a Harvard graduate, Mr. Nenshi should understand that.
For a further examination of Nenshi's policies and confusing leadership, feel free to scope Poletical's archives.
None of the councillors mentioned have attempted to tackle Calgary's most fundamental problems, like traffic, rapid growth, soaring property taxes and the city's history of poor planning. Calgary's traffic is notorious in Western Canada. The excuses hurled at taxpayers by incompetent councillors has ranged from other cities having worse traffic to excessive growth being the cause. Both of these excuses are just that – excuses. Of course Vancouver and Toronto have comparable traffic, their populations are two to three times larger than Calgary's.
Despite what councillors say, these problems are fixable. No councillor should have the right to pass the buck. We hired them to fix things, not to make up excuses. A cycling strategy won't solve Calgary's problems, neither will increased transit fees. The problems stretch much deeper into Calgary's overall design. Unfortunately, many of Calgary's planners have followed the long tradition of presenting bad ideas. Take the new 8th Street plan as an example.
For another example of a bad decision, take a drive down 9th Street SW, just off of 17th Avenue. Three large concrete slabs block the road at 19th Ave, forcing traffic to hit a dead end. These blockades are often formed by petitions signed by residents, other times they're done by city managers for unexplained reasons. The 9th Street blockade is just one of many artificial dead ends across Calgary. Stopping traffic flow in a city with congestion is outrageous and shouldn't be allowed without reason.
17th Ave itself is a staple of poor planning, using the parking allowed on an already narrow street as an example.
How about Deerfoot's notoriously bad design?
Years ago, Calgary was praised for the good condition of its roads. Today, many roads are riddled with pot-holes and protruding (or sunken) manholes. Even roads that were built or repaved less than five years ago. The deteriorating condition of Calgary's roads are not going unnoticed. The question is: what's being done about it?
After the “Great Flood Of 2013”, Calgarians had a way to consider spending the 52 million dollar surplus that was unnecessarily taken from them. Before the flood, people wanted it back. It now serves a purpose – or that's what council wants us to believe. Despite the futility of the 2012 tax hikes, there's no talk of reducing Calgary's property taxes. When governments experience an excess of funds, they don't think about cutting taxes, they try to find new things to spend it on. This is a big problem. It's a problem that Calgarians should fix.
Calgarians have a choice to make in October. They can do their own research and find out whether their own councillors and mayor are worth re-electing. Likely, most of Calgary will choose to give Naheed Nenshi another term. Those who don't like that should make a point of voting in October. If Nenshi wins by acclamation, Calgarians still have a choice. They can elect councillors that won't be afraid to challenge the Purple Peacock at City Hall.