- So yeah, the infection in my leg is taking over my body again. The specialist was hoping we had it killed but it came back in under 48 hours and started to move through my body. Am back on antibiotics but right now my throat, ear, eyes, leg, and many joints hurt. Also the fever is something else. It was a year ago that I dragged myself into St. Paul’s Hospital and the doctor simply said after doing blood work, “this infection is killing you”. A year later, it still seems able to do that. Yes it still sucks.
- Why do dogs sense that you have a fever and decide at that moment above all else, they need to hold you. I love Marley but I am sick, the last thing I want is to wake up to a dog sleeping nose to nose with me and touching me. She has twice tried to cover me up today as well. Also, where is that service when I am cold and she is taking my covers?
- I keep hearing that Bev Dubois is running for mayor. This could be the greatest thing over for the Charlie Clark campaign even if Atch does drop out.
- I watch Ken Burn’s The Roosevelt’s the other day. The entire documentary series may be his best yet. If you haven’t seen it, it is on Netflix.
- I’m missing something but I don’t understand Black Lives Matter protesting and disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade. I am totally okay with protesting but I don’t know what disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade accomplishes when they are clearly not the ones that Black Lives Matter has an issue with. Also, how does a festival that is about inclusiveness has a history of “anti-blackness”. Then they wanted to kick out the Toronto Police floats who BLM sees as racist, even if their new chief is black. At the end of the day, I don’t understand activists.
- Kudos to John Tory, Kathleen Wynne, Naheed Nenshi, Justin Trudeau and all of the other politicians who took stands and participated or lead Pride parades in their cities. You will notice that I left Atch’s name off that list. His refusal to march in the parade like almost every other liberal and conservative politician in Canada boggles my mind.
The other day I walked into my favorite restaurant and was immediately swarmed by the owner, the cook, and the waiter who all thanked me for mentioning their restaurant in The StarPhoenix and in an media interview I did. They mentioned how people have come by because of what I say on Twitter and my blog as well. I thought the whole thing was kind of cool but as I said, “I’m not the one making the killer lunch specials.”
We all know that social media advertising works but one thing is that I have never understood about how politicians don’t use it more to promote their own ward businesses. Economic development is an important part of any politicians local goals and I think they ignore the platform that being elected and their social media profiles give them to promote just that to promote business in their ward or constituency.
While I want my elected officials to look at the big picture, promoting the underdogs in the ward can be a good thing and as Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi has shown, it’s something that can be easily done in the evening during quieter hours. Whether as a mayor or a councilor or MLA, what cooler project would it be to visit and promote your constituents businesses and organizations to a wider audience. I’m talking Walmart’s but the family owned businesses that make up our smaller commercial districts.
Does it make a difference. You should check out my email when either Wendy and I blog about a local business. I write about it, you click on it, some of you stop by and buy from them and people are happy. More politicians need to do this. If it makes a difference for local businesses when I do it, imagine what can happen when they do it.
Well that was fun. My column this morning on the Mayor missing the first day of the Big City Mayor’s Conference got a lot of feedback. When I say feedback, what I am really saying is that most people hope I move out of the city soon.
One friend asked me that if I was Atch’s chief of staff, what would I do to make him a better mayor in 2016. I really don’t have a problem with Atch personally and I think some things can’t change but here would be my list for what I think any mayor should do.
- Represent us on the national stage well. That means showing up for things like the Big City Mayor’s Caucus when the federal government changes.
- Engage the population well. Nenshi, Tory, Ivison, and a lot of other mayors use Twitter to not only communicate but listen to citizens. He needs a website. My preference would be that we did mayor.saskatoon.ca but even mayorofsaskatoon.ca would work as his platform for which to inform the public. A couple of years ago I visited Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral website. I was blown away but the design and the content. I could find essential services information, New York City research, and all of his initiatives. Really, how much does that cost? It’s all being prepared anyways, so why not make it available to the citizens. Using social media, you can not only talk to people but listen and make them feel heard and connection to their mayor. Some do it better than others but there are people who have ideas, problems, and issues with the city. Give them a voice and help them be heard.
- Be transparent: That debate over Atch posting his schedule online (which he did exactly once) was insane. All he has to do is post the special interests he meets with. Nenshi does this on this website. It lists community groups, consular visitors, business leaders, and the occasional celebrity. It doesn’t give away secret negotiations (which the Mayor doesn’t often do, city managers do) or even his lunch plans. It does let Calgarians know what their mayor is up to and what people are shaping his decisions. Why can’t Saskatoon’s mayor do the same thing? Why can’t the Mayor of Saskatoon have the same disclosure as councilors do over travel and other expenses?
- Acknowledge all of the data that is out there instead of going, “Saskatoon is different”. This isn’t just about complete streets, density, homelessness, suburban sprawl, bike lanes, or policing. It is all of them. Other cities have fought our battles, been confronted by our problems (and found solutions) and many have researched the results. Yet that kind of thinking if rarely shown in Saskatoon. It is the kind of thinking that should come from a Mayor’s chair. They are the one that is there full time, has a staff, and sets the tone. Can you imagine a data driven City Hall adopting best practices from across the continent? No I can’t either. Is it too late to recruit Michael Bloomberg into Saskatoon?
- Be able to articulate where you want the city to go and become. I am not just saying “1 million people” but do you want it to be a car driven city that is all about freeways or a city based around public transit and alternative forms of transportation? You can’t be for everything, have a vision and drive it. Let the people decide what they want, if it isn’t that vision, well that is the cost of leadership.
- Be financially responsible but understand the need for good investments that will save the city money down the line.
- Hire the best managers in the country. Get managers who will push council as much as they will be directed by them. Calgary’s manager calling for investment in the city was great. Jen Keesmat calling out John Tory’s plan for the Gardiner Expressway is how cities are supposed to work. Strong leaders bring conflict but they also bring out great ideas because they are all working on making Saskatoon a world class city. I loved to see Mike Gutek battle with City Council, not because I liked to watch the fireworks but because I honestly felt that we were making progress as a city during those questions and answers. Hard questions were asked and hard answers were given back. That is often where progress is made. On the flip side, the transit debacle showed that competence is hard to come by in our own City Council and administration when they locked out the ATU once illegally and then tried to do it again. If you are going to lock out the transit drivers and make your own citizens going through hardships, at least do it correctly. Maybe it is time to look outside the city for top talent.
- Speak bluntly about the city’s issues. I miss Ralph Klein but we all know what Calgary was going through when I lived there. The same thing with Nenshi today. We are going to face some challenges ahead and some of them are because of the federal and provincial governments. Others are going to be from the business and non-profit communities. Call a spade a spade. The Mayor doesn’t need to be everyone’s best friend, they need to be the leader of the city with our interests at heart.
- Go the galas but attend the community barbecues as well. There are a lot of people in this city that will never be able to afford a Mayor’s Cultural Gala or Swinging with the Stars but things like a community barbecue mean a lot to them. Be at the events on both sides of the river and for all economic classes. There is more to the westside then the Farmer’s Market.
I don’t know if anyone running has those traits but the more they do, the better off the city will be.
When your Mayor has a vision for your city, this is what it looks like.
Saskatoon loves to talk about how it is a business friendly city and touts our lower taxes. As other cities have learned, being business friendly means a lot more than lower taxes, it means less red tape.
In 2010 the City of Calgary created theÂ Cut Red Tape program to reduce red tape at The City of Calgary. The focus of the program was to remove red tape and make changes that result in our citizens and businesses seeing visible improvements. Some of those changes were small, constant irritants and others may be larger, fundamental issues in regulations or business processes. The aim is to shift our culture from a regulator perspective to a facilitator. The program has been supported by Council and funded through approved applications to the Councilâ€™s Innovation Fund on a project-by-project basis.
There are some real cost savings both to taxpayers and to the city. Â Take a look below.
Cities around the word are hearing from world class businesses that “business friendly” is a lot more than low taxes, it’s about creating a climate where business can be conducted easily. Â It’s something that Saskatoon has a way to go on but as Calgary is showing, it is something that can be improved.
As Michael Bloomberg recently wrote in the Financial Times, great urban centres, like New York, London and Toronto, canâ€™t outpace the rapidly growing cities of Asia or Latin America simply by offering lower costs, tax breaks or other subsidies. â€œFor cities to have sustained success, they must compete for the grand prize: intellectual capital and talent,â€ he said. â€œI have long believed that talent attracts capital far more than capital attracts talent. The most creative individuals want to live in places that protect personal freedoms, prize diversity and offer an abundance of cultural opportunities.â€
Florida also asks the bigger question of why the best and brightest are not thinking about running in municipal politics in some cities.
A while back, at a dinner party, a friend who occupies a vaunted position in Torontoâ€™s entertainment industry asked me: why is it that Toronto canâ€™t attract the best and brightest to local office? World-class global cities face thorny problems that require top-flight leadership. In Boris Johnson, London has a media-savvy, Oxford-educated conservative mayor who cares deeply about the quality and diversity of his city. Rahm Emanuel in Chicago is an immensely experienced, extraordinarily capable former U.S. congressman and chief of staff to Barack Obama who is governing effectively from the left of the political spectrum. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman, is a pragmatic moderate who calls on the best minds from all sectors and strata. Even Newark, the city of my birth, one of the most economically disadvantaged cities in America, now has the dynamic Cory Booker, a Stanford grad and Rhodes scholar with a law degree from Yale University, as its mayor. Here in Canada, Vancouver has Gregor Robertson, a former organic farmer and businessman whoâ€™s delivering on a green agenda and actively addressing homelessness, public health and affordable housing. And Calgaryâ€”to which Torontonians love to feel superiorâ€”has in Mayor Naheed Nenshi a young, Harvard-educated Muslim whoâ€™s intent on reforming council and growing his prosperous city in a fair and sustainable way.
While other cities are attracting effective mayors from across the political spectrum, our mayor has become a symbol of Torontoâ€™s plight. Yet that plight is not of his making. Municipal governments across Canada have limited powers. Times are lean, which leads to shrill debate about how best to achieve these goals. Battles about bike lanes and library hours and plastic bags fill the daily media, but they distract us from the reality that the cityâ€™s future is being shaped by global forces we ignore at our peril.
Of course he ignores, that many did run but could not beat Ford but he does get around to the answer.
To start, Toronto requires the rudimentary governance tools needed to chart its future course. It makes little sense that this nationâ€™s largest city canâ€™t govern itself and plan its future. The mayors of U.S. cities have considerably more power, which is one reason the Bloombergs and Emanuels are attracted to the job. The political theorist Benjamin Barber has charted the highly innovative, pragmatic solutions on everything from fighting crime and improving schools to economic growth and climate change developed by this new breed of mayoral talent, and argues that much of economic and social life would be better â€œif mayors ruled the world.â€ Canadaâ€™s mayors cannot even rule their own cities.
Over the years, the federal government and provinces have downloaded many costs and obligations to the cities, but little authority. As the philanthropist and Maytree Foundation chair Alan Broadbent has pointed out, Canadaâ€™s cities essentially â€œrely on the kindness of strangers,â€ notably the provincial and federal governments. This, he suggests, leaves cities with essentially no control over their destinies. Canadaâ€™s cities need to become more like provincesâ€”with real power and real revenue to solve their problems and build their economies.
Toronto has a wealth of city builders and city-building organizations. What it needs is more effective leadership vehicles that can braid their myriad efforts together as a real force for change. Richard Daley Jr., the Democratic mayor who spearheaded Chicagoâ€™s global rise for more than two decades, told me recently that the key to much of the success he had was progressive business leadership. In Chicago, that type of leadership goes back more than a century. The 1909 Burnham Plan, which envisioned a revitalized city centre, was supported by the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group of businessmen who responded to the need to make improvements to their fast-growing city. Today, a group of private sector leaders called World Business Chicago, whose mission is to build a â€œglobal economic powerhouse,â€ is focused on attracting new corporations to the city.
He also talks about the need for regional planning
One illustrative example comes from Silicon Valley. Not too long ago, this area south of San Francisco had little long-term strategy or vision, just a welter of competitive entrepreneurs intent on developing the next big thing. After the recession in the early 1990s, the entrepreneurs came together to form an organization called Joint Venture: Silicon Valley. As its name implies, it was formed as an inclusive network of business, political, labour and civic leaders, and organizations from multiple cities and jurisdictionsâ€”a stark contrast to the top-down organizations and old boysâ€™ clubs found in older cities. It based its deliberation on data-driven analyses of the local economy, measuring variables that shape the regionâ€™s prosperity. Armed with such facts, and backed by many of the major institutions and players in Silicon Valley, Joint Venture became a highly effective agent of change, identifying key issues the region faced, and bringing state and federal attention to problems and opportunities it identified. It focuses on issues like unaffordable housing, transit, growing inequality and a burgeoning class divide. Sound familiar?
Toronto needs to act in harmony as one region, not a city versus its suburbs. Joint economic development would enable municipalities to grow together. It makes no sense for separate towns to compete for businesses that are going to locate in a shared region. Daley organized the mayors of greater Chicagoâ€™s municipalities and would actively help them land new business prospects rather than compete against them. By working together as a single region, we can stretch our boundaries, leveraging the broader capabilities that can enable greater Toronto to compete with much larger cities around the world.
There is a path to greater prosperity in Saskatoon but we just don’t want to take it. Â Instead we hang on the mantra of lower and lower spending and taxes. Â We are the Walmart of North American cities.
This is a great responseÂ to the election of Joan Crockatt
â€œI mean, whatever. Not like backbench MPs have any ability to do anything. Sheâ€™s very nice, sheâ€™s shown up at a lot of events [and is] certainly more present after the election than during the election, which is interesting. Most candidates are not like thatâ€¦ Have we seen any real difference in how the federal government treats the city of Calgary now that weâ€™ve returned another Conservative MP? Not yet.
You would be amazed at the amount of non-profits who tell me that their project is making progress because a backbench MP likes what they are doing. Â I hate telling that the opinion of a backbench MP has no influence at all on party policy as they are not part of the government. Â Cabinet ministers and their staff are the only opinions that matter and that is what Nenshi is getting at. Â Today, MPs exist to run to get Diet Coke while the important decisions are made and then sell those decisions to their constituents.
It is a rare glimpse into some of the backroom politics going on in Calgary, ahead of Octoberâ€™s municipal election.
Global News has obtained a recording of a November meeting hosted by Cal Wenzel, founder of Shane Homes. In the video, Wenzel presents a plan to defeat select members of city council who are perceived to be anti-development.
Some in the housing industry have been clashing with the city over growth and who should be responsible for infrastructure.
In the video, Cal Wenzel tells the group, apparently made up of about 150 industry leaders, that while Mayor Nenshi is unbeatable, that may not be the case for other council members.
â€œDimitri asked me the question a little earlier on, â€˜Can anyone beat Nenshi?â€™ And I said â€˜no, likely notâ€™. I am not sure what heâ€™s hoping for â€“ I donâ€™t think he can and I had in my notes here, â€˜I donâ€™t think he is beatable. But you know when I talked to [former mayor] Dave Bronconnier, Dave is sitting there saying, â€˜it doesnâ€™t matter if youâ€™ve got the mayor on your side or not. You need eight votes. As long as you have eight votes you can control whatever happens.â€™
â€œSo for whatever and however, we have to ensure that we end up with the eight votes.â€
Wenzel runs through a list of councillors he approves of and says he is supporting with campaign donations including Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating, Ward 13 Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart, and Ward 14 Councillor Peter Demong. He also names those he does not support or is unsure of.
â€œOne time where [Ward 6 councillor Richard] Pootmans was kind of guided as to maybe vote for us, when it comes up he forgot to ask any questions and forgot to vote the right way.â€
Wenzel claims millions of dollars a year are at stake for developers.
â€œUnless we get somebody in there that is you know really going to be on our side, rather than the dark side you know, we are talking another four years after next October.â€
So they have raised quite a bit of money and have a celebrity supporter.
Preston Manningâ€™s name is also mentioned at one point in the tape. Wenzel talks about a big donation from members of his group to the right-wing think tank founded by the former opposition leader.
â€œâ€¦in order to bring Preston on board, 11 of us put up $100 thousand, so a million-one, so itâ€™s not like we havenâ€™t put up our money and we are going to be there to put up again, and we are also supporting candidates.â€
I love the response by Cal Wenzel
Cal Wenzel has declined Global Newsâ€™ repeated requests for comment until he sees the video.
Part of the problem may be the lack of campaign finance rules in Calgary.
While candidates pump out press releases and smile for news cameras, Fast Forward has been digging into campaign records from the 2004 civic election and investigating the way these campaigns are financed. Compared to other Canadian cities, Calgary has few campaign finance rules. Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa have rules on how much candidates can fundraise and when, but Calgary candidates fundraise and spend without limits anytime they want â€” and they can keep whateverâ€™s left over for themselves tax-free.
Candidates arenâ€™t required to report where many of their contributions come from, and their contribution statements are littered with errors. Many candidates donâ€™t file their statements at all. â€œBasically, there are no rules,â€ says Naheed Nenshi, of city hall watchdog Better Calgary Campaign. â€œItâ€™s the Wild West out here.â€
How bad was it? (in 2004)
Of Bronconnierâ€™s $673,498 war chest, more than $150,000 came from development, construction and real estate companies. If engineers and architects are added to the calculations, the number reaches almost a third of his total contributions. â€œThatâ€™s tradition,â€ Bronconnier says. â€œThe development industry is interested in what happens at city hallâ€¦. Just like the oil and gas guys contribute to the provincial campaigns, because theyâ€™re interested in what happens.â€
Most contributions from developers go to incumbents. Ward 10 Ald. Andre Chabot learned this first-hand in the 2004 election, which he lost. â€œI wasnâ€™t ever viewed as a front-runner by some of these guys that typically will contribute to whomever they think has a chance of winning,â€ he says. After Chabot won the 2005 byelection, developers regarded him differently. â€œTheyâ€™re all coming left, right and centre. I canâ€™t even keep track of all of the contributions that are being given to my office.â€
Remington Development Corporation donated to 10 of 13 incumbent aldermen in 2004, with sums ranging from $300 up to $2,500 for Ward 2 Ald. Gord Lowe. Remington donated to only one non-incumbent. President Randy Remington says his company uses â€œsimilar principles applicable to finding the best candidate for any jobâ€ when deciding which candidates to support. â€œBoth businesses and individuals have a responsibility to the city in which we work and live to ensure the best leaders are in civic office,â€ Remington says.
All the current aldermen took donations from developers. â€œThey are key partners in building the city, and so access to the political process is hugely important to them,â€ says Ward 8 Ald. Madeleine King, who got over $16,000 from those in the industry. â€œWe need to recognize that and dignify it.â€ However, King says voters hold the most power. â€œI donâ€™t feel theyâ€™re getting short shrift.â€
In other Canadian cities, many of these donations from developers would be illegal for one reason: theyâ€™re too big. A contributor canâ€™t give more than $2,500 to a mayoral candidate in Toronto, and no more than $750 to a councillor. In Winnipeg, the cap for mayoral contributions is $1,500, and $750 for councillors. Contributions are also capped in provincial and federal elections, but in Calgary thereâ€™s no such rule.
Some of Bronconnierâ€™s developer donors arenâ€™t based in Calgary, or even Alberta. Trinity Development Group, an Ottawa company currently building a big-box complex in northwest Calgary, donated $7,250 â€” almost 10 times the amount that would be legal in Ottawa. â€œThereâ€™s a real problem at the municipal level because there are so many people whoâ€¦ contribute to political campaigns who stand to get some kind of benefit out of political decisions being made,â€ says Danielle Smith, Alberta director for the Canadian Federation for Independent Business (CFIB). â€œIt doesnâ€™t look really good.â€
It’s a question cities throughout Western Canada have been grappling with for decades: does new development pay for itself ? Does the city spend more money servicing new neighbourhoods than it collects from the developers who buy the lots and build houses?
A new report released by Saskatoon civic administrators that says not all costs of new suburban development are paid for by the service rates charged to developers is stirring up the debate.
“Most of the direct services – most of the capital costs to build a neighbourhood – are included in the overall developers’ fees, but there are a number things that are not covered like leisure centres and fire halls and other things,” said Randy Grauer, Saskatoon’s acting city manager.
Some cities, such as Calgary, have decided to dramatically increase development levies. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says it’s an attempt to recoup the real cost of growth.
Some planners in Saskatoon say the same model should be considered here as the city’s population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
“The city has been encouraging developers to go develop on the outskirts, and now we are paying for it because we cannot afford to maintain the infrastructure,” said Avi Akkerman, a professor of regional and urban planning at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Everything that is associated with it is unsustainable.”
Of course developers disagree
“The new areas are paying a large portion of the tax burden,” said local developer Ron Olson, a former president the Canadian Home Builders Association. “The new areas are subsidizing the older neighbourhoods.”
Olson said city planners have to be careful not to “drink the Kool-Aid on this densification.” Restricting development on the outer edges of the city will only force young families to move outside the city – to places like Warman and Martensville – where they can find more housing choices.
“Calgary is a prime example of what we are talking about. The mayor has decided that new growth and suburban growth is a bad thing, and that kind of policy is regressive. You will have a bunch of satellites around Calgary, and those satellites are because young people want to live in single family homes,” Olson said.
Actually I would challenge Ron Olson’s assertions about Calgary. Â I would suggest that the Calgary satellite communities have everything to do with house price than a desire to live in single family homes. Â The farther you are away from Calgary (or Saskatoon), the less access you have to amenities and then less you have to pay for housing.
Of course the other point is that it isn’t about housing, it is about the cities ability to pay for sprawling infrastructure. Â It’s weird but some still see libertarian values as something that needs to be met, even in the city.
City-building is never easy, and Albertaâ€™s largest urban centre is a good example why. Despite the efforts of a growing number of people, sprawl in Calgary ranks amongst the worst in Canada.
According to some, fully 95 percent of population growth in this city of 1.2 million happens in the â€™burbs, which already occupy vast swaths of land surrounding the downtown core. Calgary is one of those nose-to-the-grindstone cities that empty out at night after workers return home to the hinterland.
On the other hand, this is also the municipality that elected Naheed Nenshi its mayor, a politician as dedicated as any in Canada to urbanism. It is also the city that commissioned Spanish architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava to design a footbridge across the Bow River. The Peace Bridge caused outrage when it was announced; most critics were unable to get beyond the $25-million pricetag.
But Calatrava, whose Toronto work includes the Galleria at Brookfield Place and the Mimico Creek Bridge, is arguably the best bridge designer in the world. His projects garner an international audience regardless of where theyâ€™re located. Local anger notwithstanding, Calatravaâ€™s beautiful bridge brought Calgary to the attention of many whoâ€™d never heard of it, let alone visited.
Today, of course, the colourful structure is one of the most popular in town. Calgarians cross it in droves; they stare, smile and take endless pictures. Wedding parties show up to have photographs taken. A year after it opened, it has become a hugely popular destination.
But as its champion, Calgary Councillor Druh Farrell, likes to say, the scars inflicted during the planning and construction of the project match the cross-bracing of the bridge.
â€œIt was hell,â€ Farrell recalls. â€œIâ€™d never want to go through that again.â€
She was accompanied to the opening a year ago by four burly men, just in case. As Nenshi asked a plannersâ€™ conference this week, â€œWhy do we make it so hard to do good stuff?â€
He wasnâ€™t talking about the bridge, but Garrison Woods, a neighbourhood built in recent years on a former military base in Calgaryâ€™s east end. With narrow streets, street-level shopping and apartments above, this looks â€” and functions â€” like an older part of town. It has a 19th-century scale and sense of connection.
A proud City of Calgary featured Garrison Woods on the cover of a recent planning document. The irony, Nenshi pointed out, is that the neighbourhood everyone loves broke â€œevery single ruleâ€ in the planning book. Getting it done took more than a decade as the city fought its own requirements every step of the way.
At the same time, developers continue the discredited and ruinous â€œmultiplication by subdivisionâ€ approach that has turned the outer reaches of Calgary into endless tracts of cookie-cutter housing.
It was no surprise, then, that Nenshi and Calgaryâ€™s biggest homebuilders group have just ended a nasty spat during which the mayor kicked the association off all city hall advisory committees and demanded an apology. Developers had accused Nenshi of imposing a suburban building freeze; something he, sadly, denied.
â€œWhy do we persist in building stuff people donâ€™t want and that doesnâ€™t work?â€ Nenshi asked planners.
Saskatoon needs to answer that question as well.
If you are going to be mocked, you might as well be mocked by the best.Â Hilary blogs OurYXE’s podcast.
Jordon starts talking about Nenshi and how heâ€™s not afraid to take a stand and defend his causes. In case you didnâ€™t figure it out, I think Jordon really, really likes Naheed Nenshi. If you offered Jordon the choice between being Nenshi for a day or going to any in-camera meeting of the executive committee he would have a difficult decision
Calgary has been accused of being a “bully” for trying to actually enforce our policies (based on the province’s own Water for Life strategy) for responsible water development.
The best example of this occurred in 2011 when the City was asked to provide water and water servicing for a large industrial development outside the city, in Rocky View County. This is precisely the kind of development the Plan envisions, but since the County has not signed onto the Plan, the City’s policy doesn’t allow for it.
But the province, without telling anyone, decided to pay for the water connection itself. The details are unclear, as the province has never publicly released them, but it’s almost certainly true that their solution cost taxpayers millions of dollars more than if they had legislated the Plan, and it’s not at all certain they will ever be able to recoup the cost.
Last week, the Premier met with the council of the Municipal District of Foot-hills (another of the holdouts), and was quoted in the local paper saying that she would not “force” the MD into the Plan (meaning she would not legislate the plan). She also implied that she is not sure the Plan is needed at all. The same day, her Minister backpedalled furiously, saying the Premier’s words did not represent government policy, that the decision was his to make, and that he would continue working to a resolution.
You might forgive me for being a little confused.
What I am not confused about is that the future prosperity of this city is the future prosperity of this province.
Treating the City government as the farm team in this relationship and managing important files as cavalierly as this is not good for Calgary, and it’s certainly not good for Alberta.
It’s weird seeing a mayor take this approach to government relations. Â You see it with the provinces and the feds all of the time but rarely with cities and their province (Toronto would be the only other city that plays hardball with the province). Â In Saskatoon former mayoral candidate was mocked for this desire to be more aggressive in asking the province for more. Â We seem to have resigned ourselves to be reduced to thanking them for government handouts when they are so inclined. Â Nenshi took a different approach and not only got his meeting with Premier Redford but also was offered mediation from the province.Â Â
According to this column by Don Braid, there will be a political cost to pay.
Even as Mayor Naheed Nenshi was being invited to meet with the premier, provincial needling continued Thursday over the city charter.
The PCs donâ€™t forgive readily, and they never forget.
Premier Alison Redford implied that Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel co-operates, and Nenshi doesnâ€™t.
She said both Edmonton and Calgary city councils are satisfied with talks on the charter. So is Mandel.
By leaving out Nenshi, she suggests heâ€™s the unreasonable renegade.
In an interview Thursday, the mayor said none of thatâ€™s true. He and Mandel agree on most points of the charter, he insists. Nor is he offside with his own council.
The mayor also points out, correctly, that he never called anybody names in this dispute.
He did say in a Herald op-ed piece that the province is fumbling civic issues and treating Calgary like a â€œfarm team.â€
Technically, he was only calling Calgary a name. But even that mild comment deeply irked the provincial types who, in recent years, have become almost fanatical about suppressing criticism from local municipalities and authorities.
In the midst of this dispute, Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said Nenshi has â€œan election coming up; heâ€™s going to puff up like a peacock and be tough.â€
Answering a question Thursday, Griffiths said: â€œIf thereâ€™s tension, itâ€™s on his side. I donâ€™t feel any tension.â€
But the PCs do. They have ever since ex-mayor Dave Bronconnier scared the heck out of them 2007, when he accused then-premier Ed Stelmach of a â€œbroken promiseâ€ over infrastructure funding.
Facing an election, the government had to back up. Bronco won that contest by a knockout. Everybody knew it â€” especially the provincials. They fumed, but didnâ€™t forget.
During the 2008 election campaign, Jack Davis, then CEO of the old Calgary Health Region, declared a medical emergency and demanded extra funding from the government. Again the PCs were livid.
Within four months, the health regions were abolished.
There were many reasons for that decision; but one was the growing tendency of the health regions to speak up about local problems.
It will be interesting to see what this is going to cost Nenshi.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi is reprimanding the top Calgary home builders group for speaking out against the cityâ€™s planning department.
In a letter sent Thursday, Nenshi informed the Calgary branch of the Canadian Home Builders Association that its members are sidelined from city advisory committees â€” until its president recants statements he made to an industry dinner last month.
The advisory work includes cutting red tape and reforming the entire planning department.
Nenshi told the Herald the city would continue to work with the development industry and home builders, but it â€œwill find our representatives from the home building industry elsewhereâ€ until they clarify comments the mayor contends contain â€œmisleading and inaccurate information.â€
Nenshi is taking issue with a speech made by Charron Ungar at the CHBAâ€™s Jan. 9 economic forecast dinner, which was attended by Premier Alison Redford.
Ungar was critical of the cityâ€™s planning and accused the city of freezing surburban development in favour of increasing density in existing communities.
â€œCurrently, there exists a significant (divide) between city hall and our industry on this issue of how we are going to grow,â€ the Herald reported Ungar saying at the meeting.
Ungar, an executive with a major homebuilder, called the cityâ€™s plan to balance growth by increasing density in existing communities â€œessentially a suburban development freeze.â€
He told the group increasing density in existing communities shouldnâ€™t be done â€œat the expense of suburban growth. Ensuring proper and adequate housing in all areas of our city should be our main focus – and not a byline of a grand experiment in planning.â€
Nenshi said Ungarâ€™s comments to colleagues contradict what CHBA has been saying directly to the city.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t mean we canâ€™t disagree, we disagree with one another all the time, but we need to do so in a respectful, thoughtful way,â€ Nenshi said in an interview.
The mayor also says that Calgary â€œis up to pre-recession year levels in housing starts.â€
Although the group president made passing reference to Nenshiâ€™s past comments about â€œcrapâ€ development applications, the mayor says his reprimand isnâ€™t about a personal grudge.
The CHBA is an influential organization whose members build the houses and condos of Calgaryâ€™s suburbia, and also redevelop existing neighbourhoods. Theyâ€™re a top lobbying force in the city, and its home-builder members are among the top civic campaign finance donors.
If you let the market decide how to build homes, they will build for profit. Â One of the roles of a city planning development is to take in considerations on how the development will impact the city and those that live in it. Â Most cities abdicate that role because they don’t like fights like this with developers. Â It’s a gutsy stand to take, especially with an election next year. Â That being said I think it is the only stand a mayor can take here. Â Calgary suburb lots are being sold at a lifetime lost. Â The city isn’t making back the money needed to install and maintain the sprawling sewers, roads, and other infrastructure during the lots life which means that Calgary is subsidizing quite heavily each and every new suburban lot in Calgary. Â That is a path that has taken many American and especially Californian cities to bankruptcy.