When Necole Hines moved to Calgary from Toronto nine years ago, she was offered teller positions at four different banks. When she got laid off from a recent job at a stock photography company, she easily found another in sales and administration at a magazine.
Ms. Hines – who spent a year in university but has no degree – has always made lower-end but respectable wages, most recently around $50,000 a year.
But that salary doesn’t go very far in what has become one of Canada’s most expensive cities, where an oil boom has created reams of new money and driven up the cost of everything from housing to groceries.
The signs of wealth are everywhere – from the frenzy to build the new tallest skyscrapers, skyrocketing sales at the four-year-old Bentley dealership, and plans for high-end malls and neighbourhoods at every turn.
In the country’s energy capital, where business people, lawyers, engineers and geologists earn some of the highest salaries in Canada, households making less than a six-figure income – who many would classify as middle class – face a tough slog.
Calgary families earning up to $68,175 still qualify for a three-bedroom social housing unit, proof that even amid Calgary’s wealth, middle-class households are being increasingly squeezed. The tight labour market created by the expansion of the energy industry has not eliminated the issue of income inequality. Far from it – the rise in the cost of living is adding to the pressure.
Ms. Hines will attest that if you’re not working for an oil and gas company, or one of the other corporate towers that make up the landscape of the downtown, it’s an expensive place to be.
“If you don’t get into that right industry, you’re still having to pay for the same things as somebody else making that amount of money,” Ms. Hines said.
She found she needed a car because public transit isn’t reliable, and food basics such as produce and cereal are more expensive. (The Consumer Price Index was higher in Calgary in 2012 than any other city in Canada, except for Edmonton.) In a city where home ownership is prized, the average single-family home costs more than $516,000, so the single mother of three rents the main floor of a house. Although she is the main breadwinner for her family, Ms. Hines has never felt as if she’s been able to get ahead. “In this city, it’s not that easy.”
Alberta’s bountiful oil and gas resources have given many people steady work, and have made others rich. Calgary is home to more than one in 10 of Canada’s wealthiest tax filers, those with an annual income of at least $201,400. Between 1989 and 2010, its share of the national total more than doubled, to 11 per cent from 5 per cent.
But the influx of money and 20,000 newcomers to the city each year – whether it’s for views of the Rocky Mountains or the low unemployment rate – means the demand for every service, from housing to hairdressers, has gone up.
“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in Calgary,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in an interview. “There are a lot of people who are vulnerable. There are a lot of people who are living on the margins.”
While Calgary has become home to one of the country’s highest family median annual incomes – now at $93,410 – increasing wealth has not affected everyone equally. In an analysis of Statistics Canada income-tax data, the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute says Calgary is Canada’s most unequal city, as the bottom 90 per cent of income earners saw an average increase in pay (adjusted for inflation) of only $2,000 between 1982 and 2010.
Alberta has the highest average hourly wages in the country, but certain sectors routinely benefit more than others. For instance, while people in business, finance or sales saw large average increases in hourly rates over the past 12 months, wages in art, culture and recreation occupations dropped.
I’m still processing the announcement that the Braves are abandoning a 17 year-old ballpark for a new ballpark in the Atlanta suburbs. But in the meantime, here are my initial thoughts:
- If anyone sees what the Braves are doing and STILL argues for public funding of ballparks, they should have their head examined. Turner Field was built for the Olympics and converted for baseball at great cost — some private, some public — and remains a more or less new and near state-of-the-art ballpark. Now Cobb County is going to pay for a new park. At some point it should begin to dawn on governments and tax payers that professional sports teams are playing them, but I’m not sure when that point is.
- We live in a world where the Rays are stuck in Tropicana Field and the A’s are stuck in the Oakland Coliseum, yet we will soon have two perfectly wonderful ballparks in the Atlanta area, serving a team that rarely fills one. Thanks antitrust exemption. If baseball owners were forced to deal with the same competitive environment as most business this wouldn’t happen. Someone would come take over Turner Field. Or move to New Jersey. Whatever the case, this is sorta perverse.
- That said, the impulse for the Braves to want to move makes some amount of sense. The Braves are a business and their goal is to make money. They have a crappy TV deal so stadium revenue is paramount for them. They are clearly making a calculation that they can make way more money in the new ballpark under new circumstances than they can hope to make in Turner Field. The Braves released a map today which shows how large a proportion of their ticket sales come from the northern suburbs, where the new ballpark will be. They’re not idiots. The financial incentives in play are probably pretty compelling.
It’s that time of year again when people start searching the web for Christmas gifts for loved ones. For the last several years I have published a gift guide of what to get for your husband on JordonCooper.com and this year is no different. So without further ado (and I know how much we all hate ado), here is my Christmas gift suggestions for your husband/boyfriend/father (and all of the other men in your life). If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments – Wendy.
Sony RX-100 II
If you are looking for the world’s best point and shoot compact camera, here it is; the Sony RX-100 II.
- It has a huge one inch sensor (which means better low light performance and more vibrant photos)
- It features an extremely fast F1.8 Carl Zeiss lens which again will mean excellent low light photos and action shots.
- Connection to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or if you have a new Android powered phone, NFC.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $748
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $549
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $120
GoPro Hero 3+
You have probably seen one of the hundreds of amazing videos that have been posted to the GoPro YouTube Channel or seen one of the many thousands of more videos that have been posted over the last couple of years with these amazing cameras. While GoPro has competitors, none match the features that GoPro offers or any of the many mounts that GoPro has to secure the camera to your car, head, chest, poles, floatation devices, or bikes with ease. For $20-$30 you can literally mount a GoPro on anything.
The camera itself is a lot fun with a super wide angle view, HD video, slow motion video, and time lapse features that allow you to film your ideas. Jordon has one and has had a lot of fun over the years with it. Your guy will as well. An added bonus is that GoPro has released a free video editor so you can easily edit and upload your adventures.
- Purchase the Black Edition from Amazon.com | $399
- Purchase the Silver Edition from Amazon.com | $299
- Whatever edition you choose to get, you’ll need a Micro SD card. You can get a high speed card from Amazon.com for $23.
The bright f/1.8 lens lets you capture quality pictures not normally possible with a compact camera. Noise is kept to a minimum without boosting sensitivity, while camera-shake and subject motion are prevented due to high shutter speeds. And thanks to the large aperture, you can also create attractive "bokeh" blurred background effects.
With it’s retro styling, it’s also a camera guaranteed to be noticed even before you take those great photos.
- Purchase at Amazon | $249
Electronics is cool but so is writing stuff down with pen and paper and nothing beats a Moleskine notebook and a quality pen to do that with. You can find really nice Moleskine notebooks in any bookstore but for about half of that, you can find journals at your local Staples or office supply store.
- Purchase Moleskine notebook at Amazon | $29
- Purchase Parker Metro Fountain Pen at Amazon.com | $17
- Purchase Cambridge Business Notebook at Staples | $12
I purchased Jordon a pair of Bose IE2 in ear headphones last year. He put them in his ears and could not believe the difference between them and the $20 headphones he had used forever. As he said, "It’s like hearing my music for the first time again". For Father’s Day, I got him a pair of Bose AE2 headphones that go over the ear and the sound was even better. It’s easy to dismiss high end headphones as not being worth the money but I can really say that these are. Both are incredibly comfortable and bring a bit of luxury to your world no matter where you are listening to them at. Everyone needs a retreat and this does that. I can’t recommend them enough.
If you are looking for a less expensive option, check out JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme headphones. $16 gets you an attractive bass booming set of in ear headphones that are great for everyday use.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $16
For over the ear comfort and sound at a great price, check out Sony’s MDR-ZX100 headphones. We have a couple of pairs around the house and they are much loved and oft used.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $15
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff | Jordon grew up with Detroit cable television and for many in our city, they have a close affinity with Detroit. This is the story of what went wrong and is told from a personal perspective. Back in his broken hometown, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charlie LeDuff searches through the ruins for clues to its fate, his family’s, and his own. Detroit is where his mother’s flower shop was firebombed in the pre-Halloween orgy of arson known as Devil’s Night; where his sister lost herself to the west side streets; where his brother, who once sold subprime mortgages with skill and silk, now works in a factory cleaning Chinese-manufactured screws so they can be repackaged as “May Be Made in United States.”
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $21
The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- by Paul Wells | This is the book that every one of our friends is reading or wants for Christmas. In The Longer I’m Prime Minister, Paul Wells explores just what Harper’s understanding of Canada is, and who he speaks for in the national conversation. He explains Harper not only to Harper supporters but also to readers who can’t believe he is still Canada’s prime minister. In this authoritative, engaging and sometimes deeply critical account of the man, Paul Wells also brings us an illuminating portrait of Canadian democracy: “glorious, a little dented, and free.”
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $20
Samsung 2.1 Channel 100-Watt Dual Audio Dock | If the guy you are shopping for is a music lover, you will want to consider this amazing Samsung wireless speaker dock. Incredible sound and rich, warm styling makes the Samsung DA-E750 wireless audio dock the perfect addition to your home. The unique vacuum tube amplifier technology lets you hear music the way it was meant to be heard. Compatible with both Samsung and Apple phones, this device lets you stream music using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, or load it from a USB memory stick.
- Purchase 100-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $459
- Purchase 40-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $249
- Purchase 10-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $85
If your husband is a fan of the radio (nothing better than baseball on a summer’s night over the radio), check out the SANGEAN WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio. Elegant simplicity combined with state-of-the-art performance sets the Sangean Model WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio head and shoulders above the competition. In true Sangean tradition, AM/FM reception is excellent providing clear and static free listening. Rotary dials adjust the volume, selects AM/FM bands, and precisely tunes your station selection displayed in a softly lighted analog display. An LED tuning eye assures you’re achieving the best reception for your selected station. In addition, a stereo headphone jack and provision for an external AM and FM antenna is also provided. An AUX-In jack for playing your favourite MP3 music from your portable devices is available as well as a Record-Out jack for routing to your recording equipment or external devices.
Plus baseball just sounds better played on one of these radios.
- Purchase from Amazon | $85
X-Mini II Portable Capsule Speaker | Jordon gave me one of these last year and I thought it looked cute and didn’t think much more about it but they work fantastic. The big difference with the X-Mini II speakers is that you can link them together to create better sound as well as more volume. We take ours with us everywhere and its nice at the cabin or even in a hotel room on a vacation. There are some other two speaker options as well but you can find the X-Mini’s almost everywhere and they are about the same price.
- Purchase from Amazon | $20
Keep your belongings, and yourself, stylishly organized with Kenneth Cole’s lovely messenger bag. Contrast stitching accents its rich leather body, while a short handle and long, adjustable strap keep your carrying options open. The flap closure opens up to reveal a roomy main compartment, complete with a full-length zipper pocket for your smaller necessities. Front gusseted pockets include a cell phone pocket to keep it handy and within reach.
Soft, Columbian full-grain leather and casual, but polished styling make this messenger the perfect bag for work and everyday. The interior is simple, but versatile enough to carry a laptop, papers, books, etc. There is even a cell phone pocket plus organizer features in the front gusset pockets.
- Purchase from Amazon | $68 (you save $180)
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $24.99
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $149.99
RCAF Dopp Kitt | Unlike many women who require a small suitcase for their toiletries, a traveling man needs only a few essentials to be happy. Nevertheless, a man needs a place to stow these items. Enter the Dopp kit. Now you can get a $5 shaving kit from Wal-Mart but that has no class What you want is something with personality and I think we can all agree, this dope kit has personality. Not only will it keep you guy’s stuff organized, it will be something he holds on to for years and years.
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $45
Sipping Stones is the aficionado’s choice for chilling a drink. It eliminates a common problem for all connoisseurs of fine whiskey: it cools your drink perfectly without the dilution from melting ice. Now all your favorite drinks are able to be served the way they were intended to be, perfectly pure and precisely chilled. Sipping Stones are non-porous meaning there is no odor or taste to tarnish your drink. And unlike ice, Sipping Stones provides a smooth chill that does not overwhelm the character of your beverage. Each set of Sipping Stones comes with nine finely crafted cubes made from soapstone, a safe alternative to ice. Sipping Stones is a great gift for anyone who loves the perfectly chilled beverage. Or you can use it as a conversation starter at your next party. Simply keep the Sipping Stones in your freezer until you are ready to chill your next glass of whiskey.
- Purchase from Amazon | $15
Finally, how much fun would any guy have playing with an AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter. It’s easy to fly, records in HD video and if he does crash it (you know he will), there is a large stock of replacement parts.
That being said, the automated features of the AR Drone 2.0 make it almost impossible to crash making it stable platform to fly, do stunts with or film video with. Take a look at the video below to see how it performs
Purchase at Amazon.com | $299
Netatmo Urban Weather Station
The Netatmo Weather Station contains a unique set of sensors to monitor your living environment and wirelessly transmits all your data to your Smartphone. The Netatmo App displays your Station’s indoor and outdoor measurements into clear and comprehensive dashboards, graphs and notifications. All of your data is recorded online and made permanently accessible for you, on your Smartphone or PC. Seamlessly measure, track and monitor your Weather and Environment, indoor and outdoor, at any time and from anywhere. The Netatmo App is available for free at the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. With the app you can:
- Connect multiple Stations to your Smartphone or computer
- Check the your Stations from any Smartphone or computer
- Share the info on your favorite social networks
We spend 80% of our time indoor, resting, playing with the kids or at the office. The Netatmo Station monitors your indoor air quality (CO2 concentration), and reminds you to ventilate, at the right moment. The Netatmo Weather Station allows city dwellers to monitor indoor air quality, get real-time updates on local Air Quality Index report and pick the best moments for outdoor activities.The Netatmo Weather Station also monitors noise pollution and measures home or office acoustic comfort.
- Purchase at Amazon | $180
Bushnell 10×42 Binoculars
Bushnell Powerview Roof Prism Binoculars are designed to provide high-quality optics in a versatile and durable format at an affordable price. Constructed with a rugged, shock absorbing rubber armor for a comfortable, non-slip grip and equipped with the roof prism system for increased durability, Powerview Binoculars are suitable for multiple applications from sports to nature viewing. The 10×42 Powerview Binoculars offer powerful 10x magnification with larger, light-gathering 42-millimeter objective lenses that will perform well anywhere you use them–from a bird watching hike to a stadium. Meanwhile the BaK-7 prisms and multi-coated optics provide high-level image resolution and clarity. Additional user friendly details include a center focus knob for easy adjustments, fold down eye cups, and a tripod adaptable base. Bushnell Powerview Binoculars carry a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for the original owner.
Purchase at Amazon.com | $69
Give the gift of great coffee. Tonx sources the best beans from exceptional coffee farmers who are as fanatical about tasty coffee as we are. To make the best cup, you have to start with the best ingredients. Tonx has years of experience finding and working with the best farmers in the world.
They then ship that amazing coffee to your house. It costs you $19 per 12oz shipment and you have a new shipment coming every two weeks. That’s right, fresh coffee beans coming to your house every second week. How awesome is that?
Purchase from Tonx | Prices vary according to plan
He Likes Black Coffee | This is a mug for Jordon. Over the years I have given some cool (and not so cool) gifts but his eyes light up every time he sees a cool coffee mug. Of course there are some limitations. Your guy has to like black coffee but if he does, he will love this gift.
Purchase from Indigo | $10
I am biased because Jordon has been selling some amazing photographs of shots he has posted to The Daily but have you considered the gift of art this Christmas? Image Kind has hundreds of incredible artists selling amazing art on archival quality paper. Not only are you supporting local artists but you are getting someone you love something that they won’t get at your local big box store. Check out his Saskatoon, rural, and travel galleries. You may be surprised at what you will find there.
Am I missing anything? Do you have some great ideas I should be thinking of? Let me know in the comments.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season!
If you are a cyclist, pedestrian, or motorist, you may want to head over to Better Bike Lanes and sign their petition for inserting quality (in other words safer) bike lanes in downtown Saskatoon. Quality bike lanes means that our roads are safer for all modes of transportation, they reduce congestion, and help build a more sustainable city at a really low cost.
Saskatoon has some of the poorest bike lanes in North America and the result is collisions, cyclist riding on the sidewalks (for their own safety) and traffic congestion. Our politicians can do better and we need to let them know this is a priority so head on over, read, watch some videos and sign the petition.
A free wireless Internet service in Saskatchewan is being shut down six years after it was introduced.
SaskTel has announced that the “Saskatchewan! Connected” initiative is being terminated across the province due to lack of use.
The service was launched by the provincial government, providing a basic level of Internet service throughout the certain businesses districts and post-secondary campuses in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, and Prince Albert.
At the time government ministers insisted it would “build on Saskatchewan’s reputation for innovation and being in the forefront of technology advancement.”
It was used by a lot of homeless men and women at The Lighthouse who had wifi capable cell phones but could not afford the extremely high data rates to stay connected to others. Since The Lighthouse had the worst network I have ever seen, I found myself having to use Saskatchewan Connected on more than one occasion but found it was unusable after mid-morning which suggested to me that it was being used a lot.
It’s a short sighted decision by the Saskatchewan Party that hurts those without internet access tremendously.
I love Cairns Field. It seats 5000 people which is small enough to feel cozy yet large enough to feel like an event. The best part of it is that if you are there, you are watching some pretty good baseball being played by the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets on a warm Saskatoon summer night.
The bad part about Cairns Field is it’s location. It’s tucked away between Holiday Park and the South Industrial section. It’s hard to get to and even hard to find. I have had more than one person that was going to meet us at the game text and ask, “now where exactly is this Cairns Field”.
Cairns Field represents Saskatoon’s best chance at professional sports. Professional basketball in Canada is the Toronto Raptors, we aren’t big enough for MLS or even NASL soccer, the CFL won’t put an additional team in Saskatchewan, and those that think that the NHL is coming are delusional (I’ve heard the arguments and they aren’t based in reality). Minor league baseball (and maybe an AHL team) is the one team that can thrive in Saskatoon but it’s going to be hard if it is stuck back in it’s current location.
So where do you put it? Well baseball needs to be close to downtown and close to amenities. That is going to be a challenge anywhere in Saskatoon unless we can put it in the North Downtown redevelopment where the city yards are currently located.
I am not saying it is ever going to happen but it would be an amazing place to walk down to and have dinner and then watch a game followed by a couple of drinks at a nearby pub. They have done it in Winnipeg and for 50 nights each summer (plus playoffs) up to 7481 people come downtown to enjoy The Forks and watch a game (and spend money while down there).
A cozy stadium of 5,000 seats in the heart of Saskatoon with affordable ticket prices? I can see that working. Especially if we can find a way to up the quality of ball being played to A or AA baseball.
If that fails, maybe the city can build a decent website for the field that makes it clearer that it exists and how to get there. That would be a good first step.
When the Traffic Bridge closed a couple of years ago, the city was in a near state of panic. Idylwyld Bridge was being repaired and traffic was atrocious. People screamed for a replacement bridge despite a) few people ever used it b) whenever we take one of our bridges offline, Traffic Bridge or not, downtown backs up.
Now we have a new South Circle Drive Bridge and soon will have a new North Commuter Bridge which will change traffic patterns even more. Despite that, City Council has decided that we need three bridges within a kilometre of each other and is dedicated to rebuilding what the city administration basically described as a surplus bridge.
There is another alternative and that is to turn it into a pedestrian bridge, something that could strengthen the ties between Nutana and the downtown core/River Landing tremendously.
1.new views 2.public gathering place 3.zip-line 4.enclosed vertical garden 5.separated bike/pedestrian access
As they see it.
This resulted in a ‘new’ bridge, one that retains some glory of its former self but a ‘new’ bridge that sets out to enhance the existing qualities of the river valley. While it maintains its original connection points on either side of the river it also presents new stronger connection to existing conditions. Its reconfigured spans offer new views in all directions including glass portholes that let users see below the deck. The ‘new’ bridge also proposes a zip line as a new form of passage that reconnects the bridge to Rotary Park and adds new adventure for thrill seekers alike. There is ample opportunity for gathering and a separate bicycle lane to ensure safety. It is a hub for artists, theatre groups, musicians, poets, festival and event organizers. And because Saskatchewan is known for its culture of growing, the ‘new’ bridge would provide the infrastructure required to support a vertical community garden that produces food year round.
This story ends with a ‘realized’ project that retains a piece of its past but reinterprets its trajectory to better serve and enhance the existing and future community through a representation of a perceived experience.
As other cities have shown, pedestrian cities bond a community more than a traffic bridge does. With Saskatoon unable (and unwilling) to even clean it’s bridge decks in a timely fashion, crossing any of Saskatoon’s bridges on a wet or dry dusty day is not the most pleasant experience. No wonder people prefer to use pedestrian bridges, especially ones that look like the rendering by OPEN.
Especially if there is a zip line.
The Regional Planning Association of America produced this film in the late 1930′s, hoping to put an end to the growth of large overcrowded cities and instead promote new suburban communities better suited to the needs and well-being of people.
What’s interesting is that the idealized suburb/cities presented in the film are all walkable and bikeable. Autos are part of the urban disaster that is to be left behind by progress. We see from the air the familiar cul-de-sacs of today’s America but there are no six-lane arterial roads, no massive shopping centers with enormous parking lots. Kids ride around on bicycles along paths that look very much like what you see in the Netherlands of today, and in a few American cities such as Boulder, Colorado, or Davis, California.
In case missed it, we interviewed Jason Roberts at OurYXE last weekend. He had a great talk about neighbourhood organizing, tactical urbanism, and how we can make our cities a better place to live with grassroots community organizing. Its well worth listening to.
A pedestrian bridge in that location could be an incredible asset to Saskatoon in linking together the Nutana area and downtown, similar to what Calgary has experienced with their pedestrian bridge. It’s a place where people want to be.
A group of Saskatoon residents who are renewing calls to rethink the future of the derelict Traffic Bridge say a new bridge shouldn’t involve vehicle traffic at all.
“Lots and lots of people have changed their minds about that bridge. We’ve lived without it for three years,” said Marcel D’Eon, one of the founders of the Saskatoon Coalition to Revisit and Reimagine Our Urban Bridge. The group, formed in June, is the latest to call for a pedestrian-and cycling-only bridge to replace the iconic 104-year old span, which was closed permanently in 2010 because of safety concerns.
During initial public consultations, a majority of residents said they wanted a pedestrian-only bridge. Despite those findings, city council pushed ahead with plans to build a $35-million replica steel truss Traffic Bridge capable of carrying vehicles as well as people and bikes.
While there is still no funding for the bridge, city officials have applied to the federal government’s P3 fund for joint Traffic Bridge and Parkway Bridge projects that have a combined value of over $230 million. The province’s portion of the cash is expected to come through the provincial government’s SaskBuilds program. Neither level of government has confirmed its support for the project.
If funding is approved, the Traffic Bridge would be complete by 2017. It would be financed under the same scheme and built by the same company as the parkway, to save around $250,000 in costs.
By bundling the construction of a new Traffic Bridge with the north parkway project, council effectively decided for the second time that the bridge would be a vehicle bridge.