Last week Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi took great umbrage when Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Doug Griffiths implied that with an election looming that Nenshi would be prone to puffing up like a peacock on issues. It appears that Griffiths’ statement was quite prophetic as Mayor Nenshi is indeed puffed up and posturing at the Calgary Home Builders Association in what can really only be considered a temper tantrum on the part of the Mayor.
Naheed Nenshi took Calgary’s mayoral throne in the 2010 municipal elections thanks to a vote-split by the center-right and an impressive galvanization of the normally electorally apathetic hipster population of Calgary. Nenshi has since enjoyed something of a love-in from national left-leaning media outlets such as the CBC and Toronto Star since then but the realities of his role as the mayor of a major city are beginning to cut through the limelight for Nenshi and they are clearly getting on his nerves.
The thin veneer of Nenshi’s support of free enterprise and citizen choice really faded away when notable planning extremist; Rollin Stanley was sought and hired to pursue an extremely questionable and ideologically driven obsession with increasing city density in Calgary despite the wishes of citizens who are increasingly moving out to the suburbs. Taxpayers have already seen the cost as settlements have been paid to planners displaced by the new density driven specialists.
Nenshi is now discovering that despite his density agenda, citizens and businesses are simply moving to the suburbs or even out of the city to escape the urban congestion of his creation. Nenshi wants to increase taxation powers, set up a charter and drag neighboring municipalities into His municipal fifedom. Finding himself halted by provincially elected officials, mobile citizens and those developers that Nenshi so clearly despises, Mayor Nenshi is now beginning to lash out in a way that can only be described as childish.
Nenshi has called new developments “crap” and has been unapologetic in using city bureaucracy to hinder legitimate city expansion that does not fall within his personal utopian visions. When developers dared to speak up and address this at a dinner, Nenshi went off the handle and is now trying to ban developers from city planning activity.
The tone and condescending arrogance in the letter sent from Nenshi’s office to Calgary developers is simply stunning. From the Sun:
The letter demands “a written apology, satisfactory to our office, be sent to each of your members” and posted on its website, the CHBA must also acknowledge they have been an active and supportive participant in City initiatives and they must “commit to working with the City and other industry partners in a constructive and
Honestly Nenshi just who the hell do you think you are? You differ with the views expressed at a dinner and pull this sort of stunt? These are Calgary business leaders who represent the interests of the hundreds of thousands of Calgarians who have utterly no interest in living in your crowded downtown dream. As other Councilors are pointing out, you probably don’t even have the authority to ban these important people from city committees anyway.
Nenshi had better learn quickly that not everybody shares his vision and business indeed does have the right to vocalize that view. While it is unlikely that Nenshi will be unseated in this fall’s election, he still indeed is only one vote on council and may find himself regularly defeated in votes if he does not lose this growing thin-skinned Messiah complex.
The Mayor is supposed to bring leadership and vision to City Hall. Right now all we are seeing is petulant arrogance and an antagonistic approach to Calgary business leaders and provincial Ministers. This is not going to lead to any kind of “smart growth” and I do hope our Mayor smartens up and grows up himself soon.