In 2010, Nenshi ran on a platform of “better ideas.” His No. 1 better idea was secondary-suite reform.
Last December, for the umpteenth time, council blocked this effort — despite consensus among citizens and organizations that reform is long overdue.
Some on council were miffed when, ahead of the vote, Nenshi publicly asked business leaders to pressure five on-the-fence councillors to vote “Yes.”
“If I were to vote for secondary suites now, people would say, ‘Joe knuckled under to the mayor,’” Coun. Joe Magliocca told the Calgary Herald. “That just burns my ass.”
That’s unbelievably puerile on Magliocca’s part — try considering the good of Calgarians, pal, rather than your own image — but Nenshi’s approach of publicly pressuring his colleagues clearly backfired.
While Nenshi revels in adulation, he struggles to build crucial relationships and is notoriously poor at handling his critics on council and off. (Remember when he aggressively berated that AM770 caller last year?)
Yet for all his flaws, Nenshi has a strong vision for Calgary’s future. The same cannot be said of the cadre of councillors that often oppose the mayor — the likes of Magliocca, Ward Sutherland, Sean Chu and Jim Stevenson.
This bunch would eagerly take Calgary back to 1973 if they had their way. They can’t imagine a city where people bike to work and live in secondary suites.
Saskatoon’s Chamber of Commerce feels the same way about cycling
Because Nenshi embraces the future of cities, he’s a magnet for top talent to Calgary.
City chief planner Rollin Stanley and Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek have both said the mayor was a factor in their decisions to come here.
It benefits Calgary when Nenshi is celebrated nationally and internationally. Now his challenge is to build the right allies locally.
If Nenshi can do that, he might be able to salvage this council before it’s too late.
This is what I want my mayor to do, embrace the future of cities. It’s what Don Atchison has never seem to be able to do, he has embraced the way Saskatoon used to be and wants us to be that. In a war to attract top talent, Saskatoon will keep falling behind when we have councillors and a mayor that looks back to the past and not forward.