Transparency and Accountability

civiccamp

Transparency and accountability are words that we hear constantly from politicians and advocacy groups. Despite the prolific nature of the words in politics, the principles they represent are often not practiced by those who claim to want to see more of this. The term for that is hypocrisy and brazen hypocrisy detracts terribly from the credibility of any group.

When it comes to advocacy groups, full and clear transparency will naturally lead to accountability. With this in mind, when we launched the site for the new non-profit society (CivicCamp) we ensured that all of our expenditures, income and the principle people within the group were all openly listed on the “about” page. We also registered the society with the Alberta registrar after having had a NUANS search to ensure that the name of the society was not in use. Being registered as a society provides a degree of oversight that protects the members of the society and the public in that a degree of transparency and governance is required under the Societies Act. We wanted to be clear that we are hiding nothing about ourselves.

Our launch as a society has sent a loose collection of advocates into hysterics as they feel that they were somehow entitled to the name of our society though there is no legal record indicating that they ever went through the simple process required to secure a name as a society within Alberta. The reason this collection of folks did not register as a society of course is that they did not want to undergo the mandatory transparency and accountability that would come with such registration. These individuals were quite content to keep raising money, expending money and directly lobbying our municipal government with utterly no accountability of their own (despite demanding such from electoral candidates).

Some folks are annoyed that the founding of our society has perhaps undercut this collection of folks and are saying that we have attacked a volunteer group of some sort. Well again, no such group has ever been registered. Being “volunteer” based does not absolve a group of any accountability or ensure that all of the volunteer efforts are based on altruism. How do we know this group was all volunteer? They apparently have somehow gotten a grant and some union funding. With no mechanism of controls, visible people in charge or real transparency we have only their word to rely on that that these solicited funds did not go into the pockets of any members of this group.

This group has been claiming to be unbiased and acting only in the interest of civic engagement too. That is simply and utterly untrue and is very easy to disprove. This group of people has a very distinct political agenda and it is reflected quite clearly in the document below that was presented to and which was accepted by Calgary’s city council during budget deliberations. Budget presentation letter

As can be seen in this letter, this group of folks brazenly asked for no less than a 75% property tax increase as well as wanting to dip deeply into the ideological world of socialism in having city council somehow implement a “progressive” form of utility billing. They referenced the ever kooky ImagineCalgary document in their letter as well.

Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a group of people presenting their views to people on all levels of government. It is called advocacy and it is an integral part of our democracy. The problem comes when a group of people has such a strong ideological and partisan slant and then tries to present itself innocently as a as an unbiased volunteer organization facilitating election forums at election time. When this sort of disingenuous activity comes from a group of people, folks like me are forced to call bullshit.

Refusing to register as any formal sort of group allows a group to mask the accountability that comes with having the principle members listed and open to public scrutiny. When one looks at the names that pop up in association with this apparent volunteer group that I aggrieved I can understand why they would not advertise it. People like Grant Neufeld who compares people who travel by air to murderers and slave owners or Chelsea Pratchett who was deeply involved with the Occupy Calgary squatting in a city park  come up in association with this group and yes hardly add credibility to them or any sense of a lack of bias to them. I can understand why some would want to mask the involvement of these kind of people in their informal group but alas, it costs accountability and credibility when a group refuses such transparency. The names associated with this collection of people read like a who’s who of Calgary’s extreme left activists. There is nothing wrong with that but this should not be hidden.

As the saying goes: you can’t both suck and blow. Is this loose collection of people an unbiased volunteer group that just wants to facilitate electoral participation or is it a highly ideological advocacy group that wants to press for specific policies in city hall? This bunch of people has tried to be both and have tried to hide their intent through a total lack of transparency.

CivicCamp is now registered as a non-profit society with full transparency and is not pretending to be unbiased.

I have not taken away the right of a motley collection of activists to either advocate for their policies or to volunteer for election activities. They may do either. I only have taken away the mask that they had been using to try to play both sides. If these folks want to keep advocating or volunteering I say good on them! If they try to mask themselves again though I will expose them yet again.

What’s so hard about transparency? It took five of us a couple hours, a meeting, a form to fill out and $100 to register a non-profit society. I suggest that other groups aspiring to have advocacy organizations do the same. It lends credibility, adds transparency and perhaps most important of all, protects the name of your organization.

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Quick posting on Naheed Nenshi and ImagineCalgary

I have ranted many times at length on that ridiculous, tax-funded document that we not so fondly call “ImagineCalgary”. Naheed Nenshi was one of the contributors in the creation of that mad plan and today I see that Nenshi still sees it as a plan for Calgary’s future as he tweeted as much.

 

Since I began writing a small series dissecting that oddball plan, many people have said to me “Wow, I never actually read that thing before. It’s nuts!”

As ImagineCalgary so clearly reflects Naheed Nenshi’s ideology, I thought that I had better organize my postings on it a little better so I have created a page with the handy dropdown menu at the top of this page.

One can simply click here to see the listing of postings on the new main page too.

I really suggest people give ImagineCalgary a good read and then think long and hard about supporting Nenshi and some of his allies on city council in Calgary.

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On Calgary’s 7th Street Bike Track: I like it!

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As regular readers here know, I have been rather critical of the city of Calgary’s addition of bike infrastructure at the expense of automotive infrastructure based on some extremely questionable utilization numbers. My main targets have been bike lanes placed on automotive routes where either residential parking is stripped and or expensive automotive lanes are reduced altogether despite there being a paltry number of cyclists at best.

I see downtown Calgary as something of a different story. While the number of daily bicycle commuters to downtown Calgary has been greatly exaggerated by some, through multiple counts in different locations and with a long drawn out twitter debate with pictured below; it was established that a few thousand people per day commute to work in downtown Calgary.

bikestat

Three thousand is a tiny fraction of those who commute downtown in Calgary daily and is a far cry from the completely unsubstantiated twelve-thousand number that some folks have tossed out there. That being said, this is still a sizeable number of commuters and we should reasonably ensure that the infrastructure exists for these people to safely get to work and back.

In doing my counts, I found that while bike lanes on roadways had limited bike use, the Bow River bike path is quite busy with hundreds of cyclists riding it daily. I personally feel that the path should be expanded somewhat to reduce pedestrian/bicycle issues but that is a separate issue right now.

The Bow River bike path gives excellent access from East to West across downtown Calgary. What has been lacking is a safe bike access from North to South in the core and the 7th Street bike path has provided this (on the West side of downtown at least). Now a cyclist can get to many parts of the Calgary core while greatly minimizing the time spent on the open road with automotive traffic which can be a hair-raising experience to say the least.

In visiting the bike track today, I thought it looked very well done. Esthetically it was good and not looking too utilitarian. Directions for both cyclists and auto drivers appeared pretty clear. 7th Street was never really a main automotive artery and the number of cars displaced by the track is negligible. Parking was lost but it can and should be made up elsewhere if city council can get off their policies of choking it.

One thing that was terribly lacking on the 7th street bike track though was actual cyclists.

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Today was what I would consider to be ideal cycling weather. While cars were evident in the thousands as always downtown, I saw only a handful of cyclists using the track. In the next day or so I will get to the track in rush hour and see what sort of traffic the cycle track is drawing but in mid-day the cycle track almost could have sprouted tumbleweeds.

In wandering further downtown, I walked down 5th St. SW which parallels the 7th St. bike track only two blocks away. What I saw there was somewhat dismaying. I saw about as many cyclists on the street with no track as the one with one. In the 10 minutes on 5th, I saw one cyclist going the wrong way on the one way street, another pair riding side by side with a long line of traffic behind them and another riding while texting. Two of those are pictured below. I really do have to get a better camera for this stuff.

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To be fair, another thing I witnessed (wish I had been able to get a picture) was an idiot driving down the separated bike track in a Toyota pickup. Had there actually been bicyclists on that track there could have been a terrible accident as the barriers would leave the cyclists no room to escape. The point of the track is to provide a safe place for cyclists to ride and fools like the one I saw defeat this purpose.

While liking the track and the concept, I have to now wonder what it will take to get cyclists to use it in larger numbers. I used the term reasonable earlier when referencing bicycle infrastructure and I mean it. If bikes refuse to even go two blocks out of their way to use the track, how much infrastructure is reasonable? We can’t put tracks on every street in light of how tiny a portion of commuters ride bikes.

If we build infrastructure for cyclists only to find that pedestrians on sidewalks are still dodging bikes and auto-commuters are still being delayed by cyclists I have to ask: what is the point?

In Calgary we should start to look at bicycle infrastructure with real need, demand and traffic flow in mind. We can use more separated bicycle infrastructure but dammit if we are going to build that I expect a majority of cyclists to actually use it. With a couple more tracks built, I contend we could then heavily enforce and ticket bike users on sidewalks and designate some roadways downtown as being automotive routes only (and enforcing this). Just as no car should be on a bike track, there is no need to displace pedestrians and autos further with bicycles if the alternative infrastructure exists for them.

I am looking forward to seeing how rush hour goes on the new cycle track and do hope to see well built infrastructure in the future. If we continue to idiotically keep bike lanes on roads such as 11 St. SE that has a few bikes per 24 hours at best while taking an entire two automotive lanes up I think my hypothesis of Calgary’s bicycle strategy being one of an anti-automotive bent rather than pro-cycle will have been proven. There is no excuse.

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Nenshi’s charade of consultation.

 
The Purple Peacock
 

It has been brutal watching Naheed Nenshi and his gang on Calgary’s city council circling like hyenas over the spoils of an unbudgeted $52 million tax increase that they acquired through essentially stealing a tax break given to Calgarians by the government of Alberta. As Calgarians took notice and began to show ire towards this sudden gouge upon their wallets, Nenshi and the rest of council scrambled to cobble together a supposed consultation process on what to do with this money they were absconding with. As it became evident that Calgarians were overwhelmingly choosing to demand that the ill-gained money be returned to them, Nenshi upped the ante and created a literal circus-like atmosphere and held an idiotic public game show where it was discussed how Calgary’s unbudgeted tax hike should be spent.

Despite Nenshi’s dog and pony show, it still was becoming abundantly clear that most Calgarians simply wanted their damned money back. In light of this, Nenshi turned this already foolish “consultation” process into a total joke by making it “qualitative” rather than “quantitative” in nature. What this is essentially saying is that they do not care what the majority of respondents to their little poll chose as those asking for things like a refund of stolen money clearly were giving answers of low quality. It does not matter if 90% of Calgarians wanted their money back in the city poll as those figures are apparently not important. In other words, Nenshi and his cronies can come up with whatever conclusion they like from this circus and claim that it was endorsed by over 10,000 Calgarians.

All of this is not surprising as Nenshi took part in a similar joke of a consultation with Calgarians only a few years ago. This multi-million dollar disaster was coined “ImagineCalgary” and supposedly the product was created through the input of no less than 18,000 Calgarians. Few things can better demonstrate the utter idiocy and waste with these supposedly “qualitative” consultations than the ridiculous ImagineCalgary document itself which can be found in full here.

Below are the five simple questions (familiar number) that were asked for ImagineCalgary.

 What do you value about Calgary?What is it like for you to live here?
What changes would you most like to see?
What are your hopes and dreams for the next 100 years?
How can you help make this happen?

From the above simple and fluffy questions Nenshi and others excreted the 210 page ImagineCalgary document that really is so bad that it can’t even be found in full on the ImagineCalgary website. Even those employed in promoting this mess are ashamed of the product of this exercise. Shouldn’t such brilliance be front and center on their site otherwise? Alas, it is hidden deeply in the bowels of the City of Calgary site. I provide it here too of course.

I don’t think I could possibly drop enough LSD to make sense of the mess created in ImagineCalgary. It truly is a crowning achievement in the concept of baffling with bullshit through only five simple questions. No wonder Nenshi was so eager to try and do it again to mask his sudden $52 million tax hike upon Albertans.

Below is a top 10 list of what came from apparently asking 18,000 Calgarians five simple questions. I am not sure which are worse, the ones that set targets so unrealistically high that they will never be achieved in a million years, the ones that would come with government interference so deep that Stalin would blush, or the ones that simply look like the product of a person who had just ingested a 1/2 pound of pot. I will list a few of each.

By 2016, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that they have opportunities to express their unique gifts and talents

Only three years to go here. Hope those barriers are torn down soon whatever the hell they are.

By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens agree that “Calgary is a city with soul,” which is defined as citizens having meaning and purpose in life and experiencing ongoing feelings of connectedness with some form of human, historic or natural system.

Oh good, we have a realistic timeline here. It will take at least another decade to get even 50% of Calgarians to give a shit if municipalities have souls much less wonder if their own has one.

By 2036, 100 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel respected and supported in their pursuits of meaning, purpose and connectedness, and that they extend respect and support to others who meet this need in ways different from their own.

No less than 100% here. Lofty indeed. I do hope that I can live until 2036 so that I can be the one asshole left in Calgary who did not feel supported in my pursuit of connectedness thus killing their goal. I am just nasty that way.

By 2016, 95 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods and walking alone downtown after dark

This one will be tough as 50% of Calgarians will feel unsafe when approached by strangers after dark asking them if they feel safe. How else will Nenshi know if we have hit the 95% mark? This will be tougher if Pincott’s crusade against light pollution continues too.

By 2036, 95 per cent of children aged two to five years exhibit high levels of emotional well-being and age-appropriate levels of attention span and impulse control, as measured by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.

I was thrilled when my two year old kids made a poopy all by themselves in a toilet. Can’t imagine 95% of them taking part in detailed questionnaires but who knows. I bet their answers will make more sense than most of those in this loony ImagineCalgary document.

By 2016, by the age of six years, 95 per cent of Calgary children exhibit school readiness, as reflected by physical well-being and appropriate motor development; emotional health and a positive approach to new experiences; age-appropriate social knowledge and competence; age-appropriate language skills; and age-appropriate general knowledge and cognitive skills.

Come on, how many of the 18,000 put down that mouthful as a priority? One? Two?

By 2036, the consumption of urban- and regionally produced food by Calgarians increases to 30 per cent.

Here come the food tariffs. Say goodbye to those bananas.

By 2016, governance is restructured to allow governments to create or reallocate authority so that effective decisions are made at the geographical scale that matches the processes involved.

Say that ten times quickly. Now drink until it makes sense or you pass out. Whatever comes first.

By 2036, 80 per cent of non-violent criminal offences are handled in the community in which the victim lives.

I guess courthouses for prostitutes, drug dealers and car thieves will be set up in every community. Nenshi had better let the other levels of government know he is bypassing the constitution and having the civic government assume authority of criminal issues. May cause a smidgen of confusion there.

By 2036, 85 per cent of Calgarians, in all age groups, maintain excellent or very good mental health.

All those in poor mental health shall be deported in order to achieve civic goals!

Well folks, there you have it. This is what Nenshi and his compatriots can compile through a qualitative analysis of five simple questions.

Nenshi and company will simply fabricate whatever outcome they like from this latest façade of “consultation”. After creating ImagineCalgary, coming up with ways to blow a $52 million tax hike will be a breeze.

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Want to do something for the poor? Stop voting for progressives.

To begin with on this rant, I will shed the label “progressive” for policies and refer to them for what they are on the spectrum: “left wing”. The left/right political spectrum is an accurate measure in describing general political leanings particularly with policies if not with people. Many keep wrongly trying to claim that the left/right concept on the political spectrum is out of date or inaccurate. Almost invariably those trying to hide from the left/right descriptor are people who land on the left side of things as they try to describe themselves as “progressive” (despite opposing most forms of progress). Left leaning folks in Canada are understanding that hard left-wing policy is unsalable to the electorate when presented openly thus while retaining the philosophies they try to mask the real intent politically. We see this most often in civic politics where the lack of a party structure has allowed many hard-left leaning candidates slip by the electorate when they typically would have been rejected.

 One of the biggest contradictions in the left-wing world has been their constant claims of wanting to support the poor while supporting so many policies that harm the poor further. There are two factors that strongly affect people in low income situations; the economy and the cost of living. If we really want to ease the pain for low income people, we should be ensuring that we have a strong economy so that income may be found for those who seek it and that the cost of living remains as reasonable as possible. Unfortunately, left wing initiatives only harm the economy and shoot the cost of living through the roof.

With the left gravitating so much towards civic politics, we have seen quite a trend of an almost religious-like urbanism that is zealously focused on increasing population density at all costs. In Calgary we have seen this with the importing and hiring (at huge cost) of American municipal planner Rollin Stanley who is so obsessively density focused that he is actually controversial and somewhat well known. It takes quite the extreme viewpoints for one to stand out so much in the typically dry world of urban planning but Stanley has managed to do so with his unreasonable anti-vehicle and consumer outlooks.

Through regulatory abuse and red tape, Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with left-wing allies on council such as Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott have essentially frozen suburban development. 97% of Calgary’s growth has been in the suburbs over the years and there is a good reason for that: it is affordable and people don’t want to raise their families squashed like sardines in a dense urban environment. Despite such overwhelming demand by consumers, the density obsessed are working hard to take away consumer choice through regulation. There is a great little saying about socialism: “Ideas so good that they have to be mandatory.” We can’t let those unwashed citizens choose where to spend their lives and dollars! It is upon the urban planners to force these people into what we see as “sustainable” living.

Now when one meddles with the law of supply and demand there is always a consequence. In Calgary (and many other cities) housing is being choked by ideologically extreme councils thus causing the cost of housing to go through the roof. Many of density zealots love to wistfully speak of Manhattan and San Francisco as great density models to follow. What these ideologues constantly forget to mention is that these centers are catastrophically expensive to live in with average homes costing over a million dollars in Manhattan and nearly as much in San Francisco.

Housing is one of the largest expenses in everybody’s lives. People with low incomes are harmed terribly when housing supply is choked. The poor who the left claim to care about get pushed further and further from urban centers seeking affordable housing which of course leads to even more suburban growth which is second only to the holocaust in it’s evil! To fight this trend, Nenshi has been supporting huge property tax hikes every year along with development levies in order to make suburban living as expensive as living in a downtown density paradise. The left wing density gang does realize that they can’t reduce the cost of living downtown so they hope that in raising the cost of living artificially elsewhere that they can at least equalize the poverty throughout the city.

The poor in cities are now being driven further and further out from the city centers as left-wing policies make living untenable for them. While Nenshi and his followers love to pejoratively toss out the word “sprawl” and feed a myth that the suburbs are subsidized, they are actually feeding outward growth as they raise the cost of living for our most vulnerable. While bedroom communities offer more affordable housing, they often have less employment opportunities nearby so lower income folks either have to commute great distances (environmental evil) or remain unemployed.This comes at a cost to the low-income in lost personal time and in transportation.

The cycle only gets uglier as civic governments try to battle with reality along with supply and demand. Large urban governments are constantly demanding more taxation powers along with charters that will allow them to bully neighboring smaller communities. Satellite cities have seen explosive growth as people retreat from the high costs and purposely traffic-hindered downtowns caused by density focused civic governments. Mayors like Nenshi want to use taxes as a hammer along with control of neighboring communities in order to force a halt to the consumer exodus from their cities.

As the urban poor get hammered by high housing costs caused by left-wing local governments, they get hit yet again through increases in their costs of consumer goods. Protectionism and opposition to big-box product distribution causes the costs of all goods to rise quickly. Mayor Nenshi called new big-box developments “crap” when trying to justify why city hall was using red tape (something Nenshi claimed to oppose) to hinder a viable development. Well, Nenshi not every person can afford to ride a bike to Kensington to purchase handcrafted items from local artisans. Those poor that the left claim to care about get harmed terribly when affordable consumer options are taken from them.

In the early 90s I made my living through pizza delivery. Much of my diet consisted of food from work and what other consumer goods I bought at that time were limited and dear. I remember financing the purchase of a VCR over two years. I think I paid about $500 dollars for that thing by the time I was finished paying. Through open foreign trade and big-box distribution, those types of items along with clothing and countless other things are a fraction of the cost that they were 20 years ago. Despite this, the left wing opposes free trade and large product distribution. Let the poor buy designer clothing I guess.

Ahh but electronics are wants not needs right? Well the left leaves no stone unturned and is ensuring that needs are expensive too. Despite scientific realities proving no nutritional benefits to organic produce, grossly lower crop yields with organic produces, no definable flavor difference with organic products and a massively higher cost for organic products, the left supports these products. GMOs have proven to be harmless and have greatly increased yields thus lowering the cost of food around the entire planet. Despite this, the left hysterically opposes GMOs as the real target of the left is an anti-corporate outlook rather than food safety or affordability. Meanwhile the cost of foods goes up and up.

Idiotic “100 mile diets” which ignore our local climate and consumer demand are pushed along with a raft of other loopy food policies laid out in Calgary’s food plan which was inspired by the insane ImagineCalgary plan which Nenshi participated in building. These plans go as far as trying to force food stores to carry local products and to force them to build into areas that don’t have enough consumer demand to support them (to save the world from long shopping drives). These costs are of course passed along to the consumer and yet again the poor get hit hard.

Now it is pretty clearly established that left-wing policies hurt the poor terribly when it comes to the cost of housing, eating, entertainment, travel and pretty much every other consumer good, let’s have a look at how the left harms the economy.

Lowering the cost of living helps mitigate some of the challenges of being low-income but it does not solve the problem that put the person into a low-income situation in the first place. Big intrusive government does not ease poverty. What people in low income situations need is a strong economy with growing local employment leading to a high labor demand which of course leads to full work weeks at higher pay. Left wing people really do have some sort of mental deficit that makes the concept of supply and demand incomprehensible to them unfortunately. This leads to those who claim to care for the poor constantly championing against industry which is actually the only thing that will ease the poverty.

An area where both business viability and cost of living are very strongly affected is in energy. The left always strongly latches on to environmental causes whether there is an alternative or not. The initiatives within Calgary plans such as Planit and ImagineCalgary are crazy in their limitations but emissions control is used to justify trying to force people into forms of energy generation and use that simply are not viable or affordable. High energy costs cause every product to rise in cost and are a huge factor in business viability. There are few better ways to harm an economy than raising the cost of energy. Ontario’s rush to embrace “green” generation has been a catastrophe which is costing business and consumers alike. This has very strongly hurt the poor who yet again find less employment and a higher cost of living.

 The left has become so fanatical against conventional energy generation that they now oppose all initiatives no matter what. Even the reversal of a safe and harmless pipeline is now being opposed though these extremists never present realistic alternatives to the energy that they are opposing. Until we see an invention of the flux-capacitor or some other fictional (for now) form of energy generation, fossil fuels are by far our best means of powering our society. The left’s chronic opposition to all forms of energy is costing the poor terribly.

One of the best ways to keep a strong local economy is to have a business friendly climate. A couple weeks ago Mayor Nenshi went on a tirade where he demonized local business leaders and referenced jetsetting and such in ways that would have made Marx proud. Nenshi is now fundraising and building a polarized us vs them climate in Calgary where the affluent and hardworking are demonized. Now think about it, as a business considering locating in a city like Calgary would you really want to move to a place where the Mayor is prone to decrying you as an evil rich industrialist? It is hard to measure the exact amount of damage being caused by Nenshi’s anti-industry attitude but it is very real. While Calgary’s Mayor is not attacking all business people, he has made it clear that he will not hesitate to do so when he feels irked. His tantrum with the homebuilder’s association was almost embarrassing in it’s vitriol.

How about having city hall break it’s own bylaws by allowing a radical advocacy group fundraise in city hall itself to raise money to battle against Alberta’s industries? Not exactly a pro-business welcome mat being laid out by Calgary city there.

The left does like firing out the simplistic cries of “tax the rich” or “tax the corporations”! People should have a look at where the vast majority of charitable contributions come from. When people of any income get tax hikes they re-examine their expenditures and charities often are among what gets cut from spending. Charities are often much more effective in poverty mitigation as they target their programs based on real need as opposed to government organizations that more often are based on mass employment of bureaucrats and scoring points for political optics.

The left almost always overlooks philanthropy when attacking those they have determined to be “too rich” in their envious and divisive eyes. As Naheed Nenshi continues his crusade against Cal Wenzel in Calgary, I wonder how this will affect Wenzel’s decisions on his charitable works in the city? Cal Wenzel’s donations to the arts and housing charities in Calgary are well into seven figures. Why should he continue to invest in a city like that when the Mayor works so actively to demonize him?

Naheed Nenshi is a classic example of one who campaigns from the center and governs from the left. One need not scratch Nenshi’s increasingly thin skin much to find that the color underneath is not purple, it is very red. Nenshi’s quest for larger government, higher taxes and his clear loathing of industry are showing his true nature and this bodes poorly for attracting new industry or retaining current industry in Calgary.

Yes indeed, some rich folks do jet around the world and live in big houses. Some of them drive big cars and some can be pretty darned arrogant (though Nenshi has no high horse to ride on regarding arrogance). You don’t have to like those nasty successful people but you had better recognize that we need them. The arrogant rich guy may be annoying but he also potentially employs thousands. While your altruistic Uncle Bob may be a real sweet guy, he won’t be building industry in a city. We need those large industries and the general income that comes with them.

Demonizing the affluent and taxing the crap of them only causes them to leave. Capital and people are mobile and they can and will leave. Yet again in such cases, the poor are stuck holding the bag.

Let’s imagine such a city without evil industries where those nasty, selfish business people have been driven out. Oh what sort of paradise would we have? Well, last year I worked on a contract in Stuebenville Ohio for a while and took some video while down there. Have a look at how a city looks when the rich have gone away.

Imperial Oil, CP, CN and other companies are leaving downtown Calgary. These businesses will go outward to follow the labor migration to the suburbs and to escape the demonization of their industries by local governments and the fanatics supported by them. Developments are fleeing too and we will see more giant malls such as Cross Iron Mills being built just outside of the city limits to avoid punitive local governments. Supply and demand will always win in the end but ideologues such as Nenshi can do terrible damage to the poor in trying to fight it.

The world is full of contradictions and hypocrisy. There are few areas more glaring in this than that of the left claiming to care about the poor. If you care for the state of the poor, avoid “progressives” at the polls at all costs.

 

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ImagineCalgary document dissection Pt. 4

 

Most of the ImagineCalgary document delves into areas that are completely outside of municipal jurisdiction (for now). That in itself indicative of just how much Naheed Nenshi and Brian Pincott who are among the authors of the document such plan to expand the size and reach of our city government at any cost. In this installment I will go into their plans for housing which at least is directly within the scope of a municipal government though the plans are no less extreme and unrealistic. I will get back into their plans for our children’s collective self-esteem in the document in later posts (yes they even go there).

The depth of the density zeal is evident in the sudden firing of planner Stan Schwartzenberger in order to make room for the controversial density extremist Rollin Stanley. Schwartzenberger sued the city of Calgary asking for $640,000 and eventually settled for an undisclosed amount that doubtless is well into six figures.

Rollin Stanley has quickly gotten to work and has alienated citizens and developers alike with statements as ridiculous as comparing Calgary to Stockton California as he tries to make his case for an extreme civic density agenda. That prompted homebuilder Avi Amir to take out an article to correct Stanley’s hogwash which of course brought on the increasingly petulant wrath of Nenshi who does not care for the exposure of his hired density zealots such as Rollin Stanley.

Now, back to the crazy $3.4 million dollar Calgary city plan called ImagineCalgary:

HOUSING

Goal:
Calgarians have a choice of housing options that are affordable, accessible and eco-efficient and that support a variety of lifestyles. Housing reflects local environmental conditions and resources and is adaptable over time to reflect changes in technology, climate and demographics.

The housing section begins with the fluffy statement above. What is lost is that such a choice already exists in the free market. People can buy homes at whatever price range, accessibility and eco-efficiency that they like. Not all people are in a position to afford all choices but that is covered in later sections where ImagineCalgary feels that the city government should control income levels in Calgary.

STRATEGY 1
Support an increase in residential density, particularly in strategic locations at transit stations, in employment areas and close to goods and service providers.
Change the Municipal Development Plan policy to allow higher densities within new communities.
Communicate/increase awareness of the ecological impacts of low-density housing.
Develop housing intensification policies for strategic locations (e.g. near LRT stations and employment areas).

They get straight to the point of increasing density which is unsurprising. There is nothing wrong with straightforward goals. As the document continues though, the motive and means become more apparent and disturbing.

The MDP does not need to be changed to “allow” more density in newer communities. The battle in new developments is to try and spread homes out as it is. “Sprawling” developments are labelled as “crap” by Mayor Nenshi as he defends the essential abuse of the regulatory system in order to hinder developments that don’t fall within his density vision. The city does not want to “allow” more density, they want to force it. That is a huge distinction.

Part of the plan is in “increasing awareness” of the apparent ecological merits of Manhattan style density. That means spending our tax dollars to “educate” and shame our suburban butts for daring to live in homes with yards.

STRATEGY 2 Increase the mix of uses within communities.
Encourage livable streetscapes that are active throughout the day.
Educate consumers to increase awareness of different housing types and mix.
Develop of standards for complete communities.
Promote existing mixed-use developments in Calgary.
Develop mandatory design guidelines.
Revise City policies that restrict opportunities for the development of mixed uses.

None of the above is all that unreasonable. They are coming out and using the word “mandatory” at least rather than talking around it using the word “encourage” as they usually do. They feel that they must “educate” us unwashed folks further though which is condescending and irritating.

Planning communities and having city enforced standards is a reasonable thing. It is a matter of the degree of course and the use of guidelines to throttle “crap” as Nenshi likes to do that is a problem.

STRATEGY 3 Support the development of underdeveloped land for population-intensive activities and uses.
Support changes to the tax system to encourage the development of vacant lands within established areas.
Provide mortgages, guarantees and revolving loans for brownfield sites that meet restoration criteria.
Support the remediation and redevelopment of brownfield sites for appropriate development.
Encourage the redevelopment of greyfield sites (old malls and commercial sites that are no longer economically viable).
Support the intensification of existing communities, particularly in strategic locations like those near transit stations.

Whoa whoa whoa folks! I have to quote this again below as this is the sort of thing that leads to disasters and government bankruptcies.

Provide mortgages, guarantees and revolving loans for brownfield sites that meet restoration criteria.

That’s right, the ImagineCalgary folks actually want the City of Calgary government to provide loans and mortgages as well as guarantee other high risk loans. The loans in question would of course have to be high risk or they would not need a guarantee in the first place.

It is not enough to choke and regulate developments that do not fit within their density visions. The visionaries behind this document understand that it is economically unviable to invest in their ideal communities thus they must provide taxpayer financing to build these developments.

One needs only to look at the outright fiscal disaster South of our border to see what happens when government gets into the mortgage business. Lending institutions have come up with their lending standards for damn good reason. If people don’t qualify for a loan with established lending institutions, then they simply should not be loaned money.

We are not paying our tax dollars so that the City of Calgary can lend them to high risk borrowers!

What is this supporting changes in the tax system about? One can only imagine that it would be selective tinkering with rates so that preferred development gets breaks while we tax the piss out of those evil folks in the suburbs. The city is prepared to fight consumer choice and supply and demand with every tool at their disposal.

“Encourage” and “support” are terms for some very heavy market meddling with a very high risk of loss of tax dollars invested according to ImagineCalgary.

STRATEGY 4 Promote innovative housing forms that are able to adapt to a variety of housing needs.
Support backyard infill housing (e.g. granny suites).
Encourage co-housing or other forms that provide innovative living arrangements.
Encourage flex-housing to enable the spaces within residential units to be converted over time to meet changing household needs.
Support streamlining processes for housing developments that are innovative and support more sustainable lifestyles.
Develop a provincial strategy to address the shortfall of affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities.

Now with this statement we have to wonder to what extent “promote” goes to. More education for us? More loans and subsidies?

Infill housing can be a good thing but the degree has to be watched. Parking and general neighborhood densities are real issues despite the utopian bicycle and pedestrian’s paradise envisioned by these planners. Those who purchase a home with a yard in an area with other single occupancy dwellings do so for a reason. It is not reasonable that they suddenly have a neighbor who tosses in an infill and basement suite and suddenly has groups of revolving renters coming and going.

This apparent supporting of streamlining of processes that are “innovative” and fit within what they define as “sustainable lifestyles” is an admission that the city wants to purposely abuse the regulatory regime to model things to fit within their idealism. Either streamline all regulations or none. The selective route is just a disingenuous means to choke supply and demand.

What exactly is a “sustainable lifestyle” anyway and who the hell are these guys to tell us what that is? The City of Calgary endorsed ImagineCalgary plan actually takes it upon itself to manage our choice in lifestyles. Again, the term social engineering is not at all an exaggeration here.

This calls for “developing a provincial strategy” as well. These people don’t even consider for a second that this is a civic document. What other municipalities do is none of your damn business. Rest assured the pap within ImagineCalgary is intrusive enough without trying to expand to controlling other cities.

STRATEGY 5 Review the rules for housing construction and community development to determine how they may be unnecessarily limiting innovative housing options.
Develop flexible rules within the Land Use Bylaw (create opportunities for mixed use, building setbacks, etc.).
Explore options to streamline the permitting process to encourage desired housing forms and make them more financially feasible.
Review the Alberta Building Code to identify how it may be limiting innovative housing options.
Research the appropriateness of alternative policy mechanisms, such as objective-based policy versus prescriptive-based policy.
Research options for alternative housing forms, such as legalized basement suites.
Research options to improve the Ward system of political representation.

Develop “flexible” rules? Either we have solid rules or we don’t. Selective application of rules means no rules at all but it sure does empower City Hall to pick and choose who they will or won’t enforce laws upon. Again, in knowing that consumer choice does not allow for their goals in city modelling the planners here want to take a disingenuous, backdoor route to their objectives.

Streamlining permitting to encourage desired housing forms? How about streamlining it all? Yet again these people want to abuse regulatory systems in order to force development into ways that would not normally happen. Maybe these developments are not “financially feasible” for a reason. Financial feasibility has never been a real priority for the kind of folks who built ImagineCalgary though, remember Druh Farrell’s name is attached to it.

The looking into options to improve the Ward system of representation is a neat one. What is at issue for the drafters of ImagineCalgary here is that due to the rep-by-pop nature of the Ward system, our city gets properly represented by the majority of the population which predominantly resides in the suburbs. Suburbanites are tiring of the demonization coming from city hall and they will clearly wake up electorally as the kind of goals such as the ones in ImagineCalgary are pursued. To get around this pesky democracy things, the ImagineCalgary bunch want to change the whole system of local representation. Why else would they mention revising the Ward system under the heading of housing? There is already an entire section on governance in ImagineCalgary that I will eviscerate later.


TARGET By 2036, all new and retrofitted residential buildings are built to be within five per cent of the highest energy-efficient design available out of all economically competitive products, as measured on a life cycle basis.

Want to see a great way to drive cost of living right through the roof? The above statement is the way to do it. Don’t believe that “economically competitive” statement for a second, they have ignored that principle in the entire plan. Why would they care what is economically competitive now?

STRATEGY 1 Develop education and awareness programs that identify the benefits of eco-efficient design.
Identify the ecological impacts of different forms of commercial development.
Provide benchmarking to indicate how eco-efficient non-residential buildings are and where we rank against other cities of similar size and characteristics.
Develop a system to rate commercial types according to eco-efficiency standards.
Develop a single comprehensive labelling system for “green” buildings, products and technologies.

Most of the above is not all unreasonable. It really all depends on how extreme the standards get set at.

The labelling system sounds like a disaster though and working towards potential shaming of businesses that fall outside of what the city considers as “green”. Really not their turf.

STRATEGY 2 Streamline the development approval process for buildings that demonstrate eco-efficient standards.

How about just setting standards and following up on them? Why the constant call to use the approval and permitting process as a hammer?

STRATEGY 3 Develop incentives for adopting eco-efficient standards in buildings and site design.
Consider subsidies for eco-efficient buildings and site design.
Provide financing incentives for buildings that are more energy efficient.
Support local groups and businesses that offer green building products and technologies through information and awareness packages.

Ahh we knew they couldn’t last too long before wanting to jump right into direct subsidies for businesses that they determine to be green.

We can’t let these people begin picking and choosing businesses to give our tax dollars to. Corporate welfare is bad enough on the federal and provincial levels. We do not need the city to piss our money down this road.

There are few realms that invite corruption better than giving government power to directly subsidize businesses. If these efficiencies are so good, rest assured businesses will be pursuing them even without having our tax dollars lavished upon them.

Wonder why our city is so deeply in debt while our road infrastructure languishes? This is a good indicator. The city feels it is mandated to spend however and wherever they please.

TARGET By 2036, all commercial buildings are accessible to people with disabilities.

A good enough goal. It depends on how much it would cost with some existing buildings though. A degree of grandfathering has to be allowed here.

TARGET By 2036, all Calgarians have the option of spending less than 30 per cent of their gross family incomes on housing.

Now this is quite the target. An irony (or idiocy) of this kind of goal being in ImagineCalgary is that high density cities all have huge housing costs. Have a look at housing costs in Manhattan or San Francisco to see what happens when you build a density paradise. It is through the expansion of a city as a whole that housing costs are kept under control. This is totally lost on ImagineCalgary though.

STRATEGY 1 Encourage innovative practices or standards that reduce the costs of new housing.
Explore modified parking standards to reduce housing costs, especially where housing is close to transit, pathways or employment.
Research if quotas could be applied to affordable housing.
Ensure a certain percentage of rental units are for low-income households.
Investigate options for setting land aside for affordable housing.
Research options for providing more affordable housing, such as legalized basement suites.
Establish policy and land use districts to support single-room occupancy units.
Support programs that help integrate affordable housing into the community at large.
Support an increase in funding for programs that meet the complex needs of those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
Support the construction trades to ensure we have enough labour to fulfill the demands for housing construction.
Develop information and awareness on choosing the housing trades as a career.
Support streamlining processes for housing developments that are innovative and provide affordable housing.
Encourage mixed-income neighborhoods. Explore options for alternative financing to integrate affordable housing within all communities

OK where to begin. Many of these things are already happening. The only thing debatable is the degree. Do we really need to force the construction of a single-room occupancy building in an outlying suburb for example?

They do save the best at the bottom of their lists of strategies of course. Is it the city’s role to direct career choices of people? They appear to think so. Better to keep cost of living low and attract the tradespeople who will continue to be drawn to Calgary. These folks can’t let market determine such things though of course.

Next we get into “alternative financing”. This goes back to that call to have the City of Calgary provide mortgages and loan guarantees. Do you want the city to take your tax dollars to give to an unviable low income complex (future slum) to be developed next to the dream home you worked your ass off to buy? That I exactly what ImagineCalgary wants to do.

STRATEGY 2 Support the concept of a living wage for all Calgarians.
Identify a living wage standard for Calgary.
Develop awareness programs for employers on the benefits of paying employees a living wage.
Develop training programs that enable people to earn enough to afford housing and to sustain this affordability over time.

Now they are dipping deeply into the well of insanity again. The ImagineCalgary planners want to tell employers what they have to pay their staff.

“Living wage” could be anything these zealots determine. It need not be based in reality and it sure as hell won’t reflect market demand. Policies such as this would bring down the cost of living as businesses flock from the city to avoid these policies though. Doubtless we could look forward to more “incentives” for businesses that adhere to this living wage policy.

Training programs? It looks like our city will be opening trade schools and other sorts of post-secondary institutions too. Just how big do our civic officials think they can make city hall?

If we want affordable housing the answer is simple; open up the thousands of square miles of undeveloped land surrounding our city for development. The virtual suburban development freeze that we have right now is pushing real-estate prices through the roof.

STRATEGY 3 Support public/private partnerships to develop integrated affordable housing.
Encourage government to act as a land banker to absorb the risks of providing affordable housing in new communities.
Support streamlining processes for housing developments that are innovative and provide affordable housing.
Encourage mixed-income neighbourhoods

Ahh great. Our City Hall not only wants to become a banker that provides mortgages, it wants to become a “land banker”. Why simply risk tax dollars in cash when we can put whole tracts of city owned land at risk as well? Quebec has cracked down on their civic corruption lately. I bet their municipal gangsters would love to get a piece of these city business and land partnerships.

It is frightening how many ways these people can imagine to take our money and redistribute it based on their idealism.

By 2036, the Calgary market can meet the housing needs of those below the Low-income Cut-off (LICO).

Again a nice but frightening goal. We are talking about a massive civic welfare state here and nothing less. This simply is not a municipal government’s role.

STRATEGY 1 Fully integrate non-market housing into communities throughout the city, with a mix of rental, owned and mixed-income tenures.

Want an ever growing pile of government owned housing tenements opening up in your neighborhood? That is exactly what this is calling for. The theory is that if government owns enough of the housing that they can control the overall costs of housing for all. The cost to fund this will be through ever increasing taxation upon the productive of course which will drive more of them into low income situations creating need for more low income housing meaning more tradespeople will need to be trained in City owned trade schools…….. Big government just keeps getting bigger.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to tour Moscow in the 80s. I assure you that large cities full of socialized housing are not terribly pleasant.

STRATEGY 2 Increase the stock of affordable housing along the continuum: from emergency shelters, to transitional housing, to non-market rental units, to formal and informal rental units, to affordable owned homes.
Support the development of hostels and single-room occupancy dwellings like boarding houses, special care facilities and lodging houses.
Support the development of emergency and transitional housing to accommodate specific subgroups within the homeless population, including youth under the age of 18, families, women with or without children who are fleeing violence, people leaving addictions treatment and people with mental health issues or cognitive or physical disabilities.

Some of this is OK but how much? How many hostels are we obligated to provide for travelling hipsters with Liberal Arts degrees for example?

STRATEGY 3 Research and develop new ways of providing non-market housing.
Develop new ways of providing non-market housing in Calgary by having The City’s Affordable Housing Implementation Team work with the Community Action Committee addressing homelessness, the Community Land Trust and other partners in public, private and community sectors.

The repetitiveness of the goal of increasing state-owned housing is rather telling. ImagineCalgary see’s no other recourse for housing issues without massive state participation. This strategy has failed everywhere else but hey, lets let Calgarian taxpayers try just one more time.

STRATEGY 4 Identify specific buildings and parcels of land that can be set aside for the development of non-market housing.
Provide the option of subsidizing people, and not projects, to expand the supply of affordable housing.

Oh look, another strategy to pursue more state owned housing tenements. How creative of them.

STRATEGY 5 Bring together developers and non-profit organizations and guide them in seeking federal and provincial funding for the development and operation of affordable housing.

Well this is something interesting at least. They want to bring others with them when they go begging for more money from other levels of government. Nenshi may have a hard time getting those homebuilders to come with him if he keeps banning them from his committees when he has his periodic tantrums though.

STRATeGY 6 Support appropriate relaxations to regulations on a site-specific basis for development that meets the needs of low-income households.

Oh good, let the standards down on the low income developments. Hell, get rid of the smoke detector requirements and allow smoking within them. That should reduce our low income population right quickly.

We either need regulations for all developments or none.

STRATeGY 7 Support initiatives to eliminate homelessness.
Mobilize community partners and other orders of government to develop a comprehensive 10-year plan to eradicate homelessness that would lead to a shift from our current temporary/ transitional shelter approach to one that uses prevention combined with rapid re-housing and supportive housing practices.
Focus short-term efforts on families with children that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, as well as on children and youth at risk of becoming homeless later in life due to childhood housing instability.
Support a Mayor’s task force to reach out to vulnerable group at risk of becoming homeless.
Continue to introduce and support social programs that help the homeless become self-reliant.
Enhance programs and supports that help unemployed and low-income people achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Use a collaborative and shared investment approach with not-for-profit, industry and government sectors.
Provide adequate training or education and services for life skills development, job preparation and job placement to the homeless population and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Support various employment supports, including transportation subsidies, child care and eligibility for health benefits.
Support early childhood development that assists parents in providing children with healthy environments for full development.

Most of the above is standard fluff in speaking to homelessness. When they say “eliminate” though, reality is already lost. Homelessness can be mitigated and reduced but it will never be eliminated. If we don’t plan for realistic outcomes we will never see the ones we want. Many of the initiatives listed above are already in existence. The term “enhance” is used to mask a call for increased spending though.

As usual, ImagineCalgary goes way beyond civic mandate though in calling for child care and health benefits. Early childhood programs are not a municipal role either so lets just get off it.

Well, that is the ImagineCalgary housing dreams in nutshell along with interpretation and in only 4000 words. Writing on their self-esteem goals in a future installment will be a cakewalk after having written this one. 😉

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ImagineCalgary document dissection Pt. 3

For today’s trip into the surreal world of the ImagineCalgary civic plan I am going to have a look into the city of Calgary’s plans to manage our goods and services. This section demonstrates just how intrusive Calgary’s city management wants to get in our lives and businesses.

The first part of the ImagineCalgary goods and services plan delves into food. They really do want to tell us what to eat. That plan inspired the more in-depth;  “CALGARY FOOD SYSTEM ASSESSMENT & ACTION PLAN” which is possibly even more crazy than the ImagineCalgary document itself. I broke down the food plan in all it’s loopy glory in last year. I do recommend reading it and will leave the food section of ImagineCalgary alone in this posting.

Now on to ImagineCalgary’s plan to micromanage our goods and services. In this case they start with fluffy statements and then get more specific into the crazy direct interventions as you read along to the point of proposing free land for select business friends.

System Built environment and infrastructure
Goal
Calgarians access a wide variety of locally produced goods and services and consume these in a responsible manner. We support and consume responsibly produced goods and services from around the world.

OK here is the broad goal. Not only we are to access locally produced goods (I hear those Calgary bananas are terrific), but we are expected to consume these goods in a responsible manner. Does that mean I can’t eat too many of these locally produced bananas lest I get fat? Does this mean I will be monitored to ensure that I compost the peel?

Now I see below that this “We” does indeed support consumption of imported goods (again only if done so in a manner that they deem responsible) as long as these goods and services were produced in a manner that they deep to have been responsible.

This of course is the sort of garbage that inspired the delusional city councilor Brian Pincott to crusade against legal items on menus in Chinese restaurants in Calgary. The ImagineCalgary people and their flakey proponents like Pincott truly do want to tell us what we are allowed to eat or utilize as consumers in general. Courts in Ontario have already proven that this is totally out of the jurisdiction of civic governments. Despite these legal realities, our ideologues on city council want to waste court and legislative time further trying to beat those legal precedents.

As I have said before, if one has the stomach to delve deeply into the ImagineCalgary plan, one can see where much of the city council lunacy stems from.

1 TARGET By 2036, over 50 per cent of Calgary businesses adopt a protocol for sustainable practices and report on it regularly.

The along with the word “vibrant”, the ImagineCalgary crowd loves to beat the hell out of the word “sustainable”. The word appears well over 100 times in their blueprint alone. The reason that word is beloved by the framers of ImagineCalgary is that the definition of the term is vague and can be bent to whatever need they like. Environmentally sustainable? Ethically? Economically? The word is only limited by the user’s imagination.

Now in light of it being so tough to determine what “sustainable” means in this context, it does make it disturbing to imagine half of our city’s businesses being strong-armed into adopting binding protocols on this that as is said above would have to be reported regularly. Reported to who? The sustainability police? What if the business does not meet the definition of sustainability that day? Will there be fines? Revocation of licenses? Sanctions? Finger waggling?

Business people are ambitious and independent minded. I can’t see even 10% willingly binding themselves into something like this. Clearly the ImagineCalgary creators realize a bit of this as this is one of the few goals that they have with less than 90% compliance expectations. All the same, I fear for how these busybodies plan to get half of businesses to get on board with this.

Oh but wait, they of course do give some indication of their strategies:

STRATEGY 1 Develop incentives to support businesses that operate in an environmentally sustainable way.
Support the attraction and retention of sustainable industry. Support the design of eco-efficient industrial and business centres.Enhance e-commerce infrastructure within Calgary.

Now none of the above strategies needs any help from the city. The free market will decide which industries can be sustained here and efficiencies in consumption come rather clearly through supply and demand.

To allow market choice would be to lose control and the ImagineCalgary gang could not abide by such. Real markets likely would not fit within their definition of sustainability thus must be stunted.

Develop incentives? Attract and retain?

Let’s face it folks, the only way governments try to do this is by taxing the hell out of the successful businesses in order to pad and subsidize the economically non-viable ones.

There are few better recipes for market collapse and corruption than the empowerment of government to pick and choose businesses that they will “support” at the expense of others. We can’t let Calgary city hall get any more deeply into this game than it already is.

STRATEGY 2 Develop a sustainable business ethic that Calgary businesses can sign on to.
Promote sustainable business and products (through labeling, associations, etc.).

This kind of gimmick is neat. It is a form of public shaming that local governments can use to push businesses around.

First, bureaucrats at city hall draft a “sustainable business ethic” of their own definition. An business association of sorts is created that of course only allows businesses who have bound themselves into this sustainability definition. The city will use tax dollars to promote and advertise that consumers should try to only go to businesses that display such and such sticker to indicate they are part of this association.

While I am sure the city would never outright tell us not to go to a particular business, they will happily imply that you perhaps are not a good citizen should you take your money to one of those icky businesses that refused to sign on to their protocol and join their new association.

Now we start to see how the ImagineCalgary folks expect to get as many as 50%of businesses to sign on to their “protocol” thus losing choice in operating their own enterprises. Sneaky but effective. Not really a new strategy, think back to the “look for the union label” campaigns only imagine a powerful government doing it.

STRATEGY 3 Ensure Calgary businesses adopt cradle-to-cradle responsibility of products. Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services.

When they go from “encourage” to “ensure” one rightly hears alarm bells. This is the sort of statement that leads to legislation and penalties.

What is “Cradle-to-Cradle” you say? In short it is a flakey environmentalist ideology that would demand profound market intervention to enforce and would put the cost of consumer goods through the roof. It is an ideological theory that businesses are welcome to willingly embrace but we would be crazy to allow our city busybodies to enforce such practices as they would like to.

STRATEGY 4 Encourage the trade of locally based goods and services.
Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services

This one starts with “encourage” but ends with “ensure” so again we see the barrel of the government gun-to-the-head peeking out.

In this case “encourage” when it comes to protectionism means tariffs. Of course such things usually only apply to countries. Now we can see part of why Naheed Nenshi and many of his compatriots are so eager to expand the taxation powers of the city. Taxation is not simply a way to raise government funds, it can be and often is used as a punitive form of control over citizens and enterprise.

The ways of “ensuring” along with targeted taxation are limitless and who defines what is thinking in the longer-term? Will this be a license requirement for business? Another mandatory-but-not-mandatory business association?

Alas though, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg with where these people want to go in building their ideological utopia out of Calgary.

TARGET By 2016, Calgary has a strong and diverse portfolio of locally based businesses.

This one has a very short timeline and really is a fluff statement with no measure. Most of the targets in the plan have those ridiculous targeted percentages attached to them. I guess we should be happy that this one lacks this.

The entire goal above can be reached simply through having a good environment in which to do business. That means reasonable (needs reduction) red-tape and regulation. Reasonable local costs for real-estate, taxation etc. and free consumer and business mobility to ensure that services develop to fit the needs.

Sadly, the ImagineCalgary goal is to massively increase market intervention through regulation and raised taxes as well as raising cost of operation due to explosive real-estate prices through mandated density targets. This will only backfire with catastrophic consequences but despite so many world examples of why government needs to stay clear of business the likes of the ImagineCalgary gang plan to push forth and micromanage our lives and endeavors.

Now on to the strategies. It is not an exaggeration to call the strategies below socialism. This is the definition of it, only the degree is in question.

STRATEGY 1 Provide incentives to diversify our economic base.
Provide seed money to help support the establishment of local businesses and industries in strategic sectors.

Explore options for utilizing publicly owned land to help support/incubate locally owned businesses.

Explore the option of using vacant and underutilized buildings as local business incubators.

Support tax incentives for local business.

Create economic development programs to diversify local business.

Well in this one they come right out and say it: “provide seed money” and in “strategic sectors” of course. I imagine organic hemp-shops and bicycle repair shops will be determined as “strategic” thus worthy of being lavished with “seed money” that will be taken from the pockets of the productive through taxation. This is corporate welfare even if the recipients may indeed to be from some smaller businesses. This is direct market intervention and this will fail at monumental cost to us all as it invariably does.

While these folks are in love with the term “sustainability” the concept is completely lost when the word “economic” is placed in front of it. There are reasons why certain businesses do not exist. Usually it is because nobody wants the damn things. Supply and demand have been proven infinitely more effective in determining what businesses we need or do not need than any government ever has. It is ridiculous that our City Hall wants to go down this insane road.

Google MagCan or Novatel Alberta to see to relatively recent and local examples what happens when idiotic bureaucrats determine that they can create local industries with “seed money” from taxpayers.

Of course just giving money to friends and preferred businesses is not enough for these utopian urban-planners. This plan calls for giving land to certain businesses as well. Why dedicate civic land to things like parks and paths when it can be given to vibrant, sustainable, handpicked business ventures with some tax dollars on top?

Oh but as we see, land and money are not enough alone. The plan here also says that buildings that they determine (by what measure) to be underutilized can be given to the business friends they have gathered as well. This does not even specify if these are public-owned properties or not, only that they have determined that these have been underutilized by some unknown measure. What sort of utilization quotas are we speaking of now?

If free money, free land and a free building are not enough for the Chosen Ones to flourish as businesses, we can see that there are plans for “tax incentives” as well. In other words, these businesses that are determined by the tall-foreheads will get tax breaks in order to ensure that they may directly compete and possibly eliminate other businesses that do not offer the practices, goods and services that ImagineCalgary deem to be good for the collective.

STRATEGY 2 Develop information that promotes locally based businesses in Calgary and its region.
Create a directory of locally based businesses.
Create economic development programs to diversify local business.

I guess one should go farther into the ideology of what these people consider “locally based businesses” as are not all businesses in Calgary based locally by their very nature? You see, this is another of those ambiguous terms that can be used when they begin to pick and choose between the businesses that they feel are good for us or bad. WalMart while employing thousands and providing affordable consumer goods for example is bad as they are multinational and sell foreign produced goods. A small shoemaker who considers himself an artist and only uses organic leather from nearby cows that were massaged daily and put to sleep with poems from Calgary’s poet-laureate would be a good local business and must be preserved and promoted at all costs.

Create a directory of locally based businesses? With all of the money and time spent on this documents and these assholes suddenly have decided that they can invent the Yellow Pages???

The framers of ImagineCalgary while being ideological zealots are not complete idiots. They know that countless directories on paper and online list local businesses. What they are getting at is that they will determine their own list of worthy businesses and advertize them in order to create yet another competitive edge for their Chosen Ones.

Money, land, buildings, tax breaks and now free advertising for certain businesses. As one can see, it can pay very well to be connected to the right folks in Calgary City Hall as these plans develop.

STRATEGY 3 Support flexible standards to encourage a wide variety of local businesses. Enable buildings that can adapt to a wide range of business types.
Provide land use districts that facilitate the development of flexible spaces.
Support mixed-usecommunities.

As with many portions of the ImagineCalgary document, this is a bit vague.

Like the sudden discovery of the yellowpages though, it looks like ImagineCalgary has stumbled across the concept of the shopping mall when speaking of buildings that provide a range of business types.

Of course all of these things can and will come into being without the direct manage of City Hall. To allow nature to take it’s course in these matters would be to lose some control. That clashes directly with the goals of ImagineCalgary.

There is so much more to cover in this blueprint of madness. I have hit all I can for today. In finishing on the theme of control though I do want to hit one more target.

TARGET By 2036, all Calgarians consume more responsibly.

It is the short and sweet targets that scare one the most. How will they get us all to consume in what they determine to be a responsible manner? Not just some, but “all”.

Lofty and scarey goals indeed.

Remember, Naheed Nenshi some members of our current council took part in making this document. These people believe in the goals and means within ImagineCalgary and intend to pursue them.

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ImagineCalgary document dissection Pt. 2

All too often we hear from people scratching their heads asking aloud “where do these nuts come up with this stuff?” when speaking of some of the loony initiatives and plans coming from Calgary City Hall. Much of their plan is actually documented in a giant blueprint that was commissioned a few years ago and coined as “ImagineCalgary”. Apparently this abomination of a municipal plan is the fruit of “consultation” with 18,000 Calgarians who answered 5 simple questions. People often disappoint me but I really find it hard to believe that there are that there really are that many people in Calgary who would be crazy enough to express the goals in the ImagineCalgary document.

There really is too much lunacy packed into the document to cover it all in one posting. I began with a post last week simply evaluating the “social” portion of the document.

Members of city council constantly reference this document and references to it are sprinkled all over the City of Calgary website. The fact that the city and some council members take the pap in this initiative seriously is a serious issue in itself. With this being an election year, I strongly suggest asking every candidate for council what they think of ImagineCalgary. Run like hell from any candidate who thinks this plan is a good idea.

The plan in full can be found here. Now on with part 2:

MEANING, PURPOSE AND CONNECTEDNESS

No, the above is not a long typo. This plan feels that our City Hall must address the apparent deficits in meaning, purpose and connectedness among the citizenry. This well hidden catastrophe among Calgarians warrants a category all to itself in ImagineCalgary. Lets see what we have to do to deal with this.

 

1
TARGET By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens agree that “Calgary is a city with soul,” which is defined as citizens having meaning and purpose in life and experiencing ongoing feelings of connectedness with some form of human, historic or natural system.

Wow. That is quite an order. I personally am an agnostic and am not even sure if I have a soul much less if my municipality does. Is this civic soul immortal? Does it need to worship? Hold sacrifices?

What if I don’t like the denomination of my city’s soul? What if it turns out to be a fundamentalist soul that is intolerant of some groups or practices? I am not sure if I can be supportive of such a soul. Would the Human Rights Commission intervene if my city’s soul was of the wrong faith?

We had better make sure we do something about this. I would hate to envision our city’s immortal soul being condemned to hell if we don’t take care of it’s spiritual needs. Lets see what the strategy is on this.

STRATEGY 1 Celebrate local inspirational and spiritual leaders from all faiths, cultures and traditions.

That will be quite a celebration indeed considering the diversity of our city. What kind of celebrations are we talking about? Block parties? Fireworks? Collective pats on the back? As per the usual question, is it our municipal government’s role to celebrate these things?

STRATEGY 2 Provide opportunities for individuals to strengthen their own senses of meaning, purpose and connectedness.
Ensure diverse forms of public expression and discussion are readily accessible.

How will these opportunities be provided? City built churches? Meditation gardens? Will we recruit motivational speakers to come and try and instill a sense of purpose among us all?

I never really noticed that we lacked these opportunities but then as one who likely has no soul I guess this should not really be a surprise.

TARGET By 2036, 100 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel respected and supported in their pursuits of meaning, purpose and connectedness, and that they extend respect and support to others who meet this need in ways different from their own

100% reporting that? Come on. I bet you would be lucky to find that even 80% of Calgarians could read that entire statement of idiocy without breaking out laughing.

It is nice to know I can still be surprised no matter how cynical I get. I really still am shocked that we paid people to come up with this crap.

The strategies are no less crazy than the goal of course.

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report respect and support levels related to the diverse ways that people meet their needs for meaning, purpose and connectedness.
Establish a “state of our people” report that reports measured respect and support levels related to meaning, purpose and connectedness and the ways that citizens care for one another.

These strategies invariably call for developing measures to report things on Calgarians. Indeed we may eventually employ the entire city as pollsters as we all try to measure each other’s outlooks.

As the goal is not 80%, not 90% and not even 99.99999% it will indeed take a great deal of measurement to ensure that not a single Calgarian feels unsupported in their pursuit of “connectedness”.

This “state of the people” report will apparently report measured levels of respect. Just how the hell do you measure respect? I will save you guys one number to dial in your polling. I have utterly no respect for the taxfunded idiots who came up with this crap and will continue to hold them in utter contempt no matter how many times my respect levels are measured.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure citizens build empathy, acceptance, respect and interdependent thinking skills to foster respect and support for others.
Develop and implement educational programs and informal learning opportunities that focus on building these skills

Uh Oh. They plan to ensure that we build respect. Will my repeated reports of contempt rather than respect bring about the city’s newly found “respect police” or something?

Building empathy. Very nice. How is that measured though? How much empathy and for who?

People who use the term social engineering are often dismissed. What else could these goals be called?

STRATEGY 3 Promote the unique cultural attributes of Calgary citizens.
Create community-wide opportunities to celebrate our diverse city.

Not much to this one. Continued festivals and cultural celebrations. OK.

STRATEGY 4 Create opportunities for dialogue between different religions, faith traditions and cultures.
Establish open forums, cultural celebrations and policy/program discussions that encourage this kind of conversation

Ooh the city will take on establishing forums and policy discussions between different faith. Gee can’t see any issues with this.

I really look forward to putting on a flak jacket and attending the first open policy discussion to be held between Hasidic Jews and fundamentalist Islamic community members.

Looks like the City of Calgary is ready to take on the faith divisions that have been at issue around the entire world for the last couple millennia. This should make the squabbles between soccer moms look tame.

Well, that is about all of the ImagineCalgary goals that I can stomach for Part 2. Once settled I will work on some of the brilliant economic ideas in ImagineCalgary for Part 3. It is a profound example of vapid market intervention.

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ImagineCalgary; a blueprint for big government madness. Pt. 1

In 2005 it was determined by the municipal powers that be in Calgary that we apparently had way too much time and general resources as a city and had to piss much of it away in what was one of the world’s largest of municipally funded navel gazing exercises which they coined: ImagineCalgary.

Apparently 18,000 Calgarians were asked the five simple questions below:

What do you value about Calgary?
What is it like for you to live here?
What changes would you most like to see?
What are your hopes and dreams for the next 100 years?
How can you help make this happen?

Groups were formed that included the likes of Naheed Nenshi, Brian Pincott and Druh Farrell who interpreted the answers to these questions and created the almost surreal 211 page document called the: imagineCALGARY Plan for Long Range Urban Sustainability.

This document is so packed full of pie-in-the-sky pap, calls for insane goals and massive government intervention that one would think this is some sort of satirical parody rather than a serious (and bloody expensive) municipal planning blueprint. While the ImagineCalgary website is packed full of platitudes, it is near impossible to find a copy of the document itself. I suspect that even they realize that if Calgarians actually take the time to read the idiocy within it that they will reject it universally. I have kindly loaded the entire document on my site where people can access it in perpetuity through the link in the paragraph above this one.

Below I will be going through the notions in this document piece by piece.  The ideas within do indeed prove that fact is indeed often stranger than fiction. I really don’t think I could make up stuff as loony as what has been packed into the ImagineCalgary manifesto. This is indeed going to be a long posting.

Now dear reader, before we get into this dissection I am sure that many are thinking: “So what? The city wastes money on stupid studies all the time. This one is eight years old and the money is gone. Note it and get over it!”.

I do wish this was something that was just a passing notion that we could forget about but unfortunately Calgary City Hall under Nenshi’s guidance is using the ImagineCalgary document as their main planning plank. The density obsessed “Plan It Calgary” states right on it’s main City of Calgary page that it is modeled directly from the ImagineCalgary lunacy. Our city planners and managers are actually trying to put this insane document and it’s recommendations into action.

At the City of Calgary’s “Office of Sustainability” (yes there actually is one) site, ImagineCalgary is highlighted along with the crazy local food policy that it inspired which I covered at length in a past blog posting.

So yes folks, what I will be looking at below is not something from tinfoil hat country or anything that I made up. These are real items from the long-term plan for Calgary City Hall under Naheed Nenshi’s leadership.

I will begin with the goals laid out under “Social” in the document today. It is going to take a series to cover all of what is packed into ImagineCalgarys’s goals and strategies. This part of the document is among the most lucid so I may as well begin here.

TARGET By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens report that Calgary is a beautiful city.

Isn’t that statement cute? Doesn’t that just feel nice? Now of course, there are few areas more subjective than that of judging what is esthetically pleasing. How exactly these folks plan to get 9 out of 10 Calgarians to agree on what is beautiful is not very well laid out but it sure is a pretty goal and well worth spending a fortune trying to reach is it not? Strategies are laid out for this of course.

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions regarding the beauty of the city.

Ahh good. Measuring opinions of beauty is priority one indeed! I expect we shall be opening an office of “Measuring Calgarian beauty opinion” in city hall right away along with the associated supports and bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Establish design performance standards for new residential, commercial and industrial construction to ensure beauty is considered in all new development

Of course we can’t let those unwashed Calgarians determining all by themselves what they feel is beautiful! We must enforce through legislation as the above quote from the plan states! An office of “Establishing and enforcing construction beauty standards” should be opened in city hall along with associated supports and bureaucracy as well as a field measuring and enforcement arm!

What better way to get all those Liberal Arts graduates who are currently making coffee into more lucrative employment than to create a department of City Beauty Police?

STRATEGY 3 Create and protect beautiful public spaces to provide more opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment.

Ahh but of course. We can’t simply rely on home and business owners to make things beautiful no matter how hard the Beauty Police come down on them. We must purchase, create and protect even more beautiful things and places in the city. We can always borrow funds and/or raise taxes again to cover all that.

STRATEGY 4 Foster an understanding of and appreciation for the aesthetic value of our built environment so that citizens, developers and others can enhance our physical resources.

Huxley would be proud of the newspeak used in the strategy above. We can’t assume that these unwashed taxpaying citizens will really understand or appreciate all these beautiful things that are being built for them. We must “foster” these sorts of things. Perhaps mandatory courses in aesthetic value should be held. Maybe these courses will only be required if the Beauty Police find citizens who do not perform the appropriate “oohs and ahhhs” at the city’s great beauty initiatives. Either way, we clearly can’t let people simply decide for themselves what may or may not look good!

STRATEGY 5 Create and protect developed and uncultivated natural areas to ensure we can enjoy these areas now and in the future.

Yards and gardens bad! Natural areas good!

There is something of a clash here with density goals too but that can be ironed out later. I am not sure if these folks have heard of Nose Hill and Fish Creek parks yet.

Time for a new target:

TARGET By 2036, 95 per cent of Calgarians report that they have a range of opportunities for the aesthetic enjoyment of nature, arts and culture.

I can’t think of a day that goes by when I don’t see a Calgarian seated on a curb weeping openly due to the deficit in aesthetic enjoyment opportunities in their lives. This travesty indeed must be addressed!

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions regarding the range of opportunities available for aesthetic enjoyment.

Step one: open office of “measuring Calgarian satisfaction with aesthetic enjoyment opportunities”.

I see now that Calgary City Hall will have to build a new office tower to house all these new departments. I hope their design passes the muster of the Beauty Police.

STRATEGY 2 Increase public support for the arts to develop additional ways for citizens to enjoy natural and created aesthetics.

Money! Money! Money!

We can’t hire every Liberal Arts grad in the Beauty Police department. With spending of more money though, we can contract the rest to decorate the city further.

STRATEGY 3 Undertake cultural impact assessments for all public or private initiatives, so we can properly consider and enhance the cultural life of our city.

Oh good! Let’s not just let any initiative happen whether private or not! We must assess how that will impact culture! I expect we will spend many millions defining what our culture is and how we intend to enhance and consider it. In the meantime, I guess we will just sort of cook these assessments.

It certainly calls for an entire new “office of cultural assessments” along with the associated bureaucracy.

TARGET By 2016, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that they have opportunities to express their unique gifts and talents

They certainly set the bar high. I am more curious about how many Calgarians actually feel that their unique gifts and talents are actually being hindered. Let’s see how our city plans to get us all to that nice 90% zone.

STRATeGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions of the availability of opportunities for creative self-expression.

Ahh yes. Why did I even wonder? What we need first is to form a department of measuring “availability of opportunities for creative self-expression” along with the associated bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure Calgarians have the support systems necessary to foster artistic excellence and innovation as expressions of their gifts and talents.

This looks like a nice expensive and rather wide open strategy. What does it mean? Art schools on every corner? Free galleries? Subsidized advertising? Free paint? Who qualifies? How? How many?

Yes, this is a formula for a tax-dollar sinkhole.

STRATEGY 3 Identify ways for the full range of stakeholders to co-operate and create connections to realize the full potential of the arts.

The above is pretty much fluff but I imagine money can and will be spent identifying these required “ways”.

STRATEGY 4 Ensure the Alberta Government continues to recognize and strengthen its level of financial commitment to arts and culture in Calgary.

This strategy is easy to figure out and not now. Beg for more money from other levels of government. Nenshi is already demonstrating a strong talent in this.

STRATEGY 5 Boost the strategic roles of the cultural industries and local media for their contributions to local identity, creative continuity and job creation.

What exactly is a “cultural industry” and how and why do we need to “boost their strategic roles”? I am not sure if I want to hear the answer.

How about the apparent “boosts” to media when it comes to their apparent and possible contributions to local identity? How so? Do Calgarians not have an identity? Is it the media’s role to create and maintain this identity? Is this identity defined and is a goal to be reached?

STRATEGY 6 Provide accessible informal and professional arts educational programs to Calgarians of all ages and abilities.

Yes, in this target the best and most expensive strategy was saved for last. We as taxpayers are to be obligated to provide both informal and professional arts educational programs to people of all ages and abilities. I do love that they include “abilities” in there. It means we should have to pay for shitty artists to be taught along with talented ones. 🙂

Yes folks, ImagineCalgary expects the Calgary taxpayers to create an indiscriminate arts Mecca here in Alberta. Police and fire services can wait.

TARGET By 2021, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that Calgary is a city that promotes creative freedom.

While I haven’t seen evidence that creative freedom is being stifled in Calgary, it apparently is a critical goal to ensure that we promote creative freedom even further somehow. How so though?

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions of how well we promote creative freedom in our city.

Boy I sure didn’t see that strategy coming. Create an office of “Measuring Calgarian’s opinions of how well we are promoting creative freedom” along with the associated supports and bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure the arts and culture sector plays a leadership role in Calgary’s future, so we can build creative freedom into the most influential levels of decision-making processes.

OK this one is getting interesting. I would say considering how much artistic pap has been included in this ImagineCalgary plan that the arts and culture sector is already leading too damn much. How much more is required?

“Build creative freedom into the most influential levels”? How influential? How built?

Are we talking artist quotas at senior management levels? Seats preserved on city council exclusively for folks from this apparent arts and culture sector?

Will these artists have veto power on every project? What will their budget be?

STRATEGY 3 Promote the development and continuity of the cultures of First Nations, Metis and other indigenous people, as they are the bearers of the historic and interactive relationships with our land.

Ahh yes because native culture is not promoted and funded enough by every other level of government. Why do once what can be done over and over again? This is a municipal priority? I think not.

STRATeGY 4 Ensure newcomers from other regions and countries can access, participate in and express themselves through the evolving culture of Calgary, ensuring the richness of our creative freedom is continuously strengthened.

They already can.

STRATeGY 5 Review, revise and develop policies and practices that foster creative freedom, rather than censorship.

Would love to see some examples of this apparent censorship. Hate to think how much will be spent trying to find it though.

TARGET By 2026, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that participation in creative activities is an important part of their lives.

Now we are getting to the real attitudes here. The Nenshi gang loves to be dismissive when people use the term “social engineering” but what else can you call the above city target?

Here we have a city document setting out a goal that 9 out of 10 Calgarians must consider creative activities (to be determined by city bureaucrats) as being an important part of their lives.

Piss off! I don’t have to consider those things important nor does anybody else. It sure as hell isn’t the cities role to make me prioritize what I feel to be an important part of my life.

How are we to get there? Let me guess:

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report citizens’ opinions of the importance of and levels of participation in creative activities.

……along with associated bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Create public opportunities for all Calgarians to recognize the intrinsic value of arts and culture as an important element of our vibrant city.

I have to admit I am surprised that I got this far before encountering the term “vibrant”.

Public opportunities to recognize this eh? We already have those so it must be assumed that we are expected to go further. Mandatory presentation at workplaces? Street displays during rush hour? Ads on TV during the Stanley Cup playoffs?

What if some of us refuse to recognize these things as being intrinsically valuable to us or important? Are we allowed?

STRATEGY 3 Ease or eliminate restrictions on the forms of creative expression that can occur in public spaces, so citizens can participate in and appreciate a wider range of formal and informal creative activities.
Consider abandoning or easing busking bylaws for musicians and artists.
Identify ways to lessen the impacts of liability insurance requirements.
Assess the types of signage regulations that affect the development of murals and other informal expressions of visual art.

OK where to begin.

Not all of us want to listen to some untalented nut playing bongos or be followed by a mime begging for quarters while we eat our lunch outside. We may not even want to listen to the artists with real talents at all times. We have appropriate areas and times for these means of expressing and generating income. Busking need not be banned but yes it damn well needs a degree of regulation in crowded urban environments.

“Lessen impacts of liability insurance requirements”????? Now you nuts are starting to scare me. The only way to lessen those impacts would be to have somebody else assume liability for the actions of street performers. That somebody would be the city and that means me! There is a reason for these requirements. I do not expect nor deserve to be on the hook as a taxpayer when some mentally unstable performance artist hits a passerby with body fluids!

Now on one hand the city wants beauty police and on the other they want to reduce laws so that we can see an expansion of graffiti throughout the city. That idiotic experiment already failed dismally with a city park and would continue to do so elsewhere. Some call them “graffiti” artists and most call them vandals. This strategy is nothing but newspeak for decriminalizing graffiti and seeing even more ugly spraypaint visually polluting our environment. It will take a lot of work for the Beauty Engineers to get 90% of us to say that graffiti is making our city look better I assure you.

STRATEGY 4 Promote creative expression in public spaces to make Calgarians more aware of, and allow them to participate in, a wider range of cultures and creative experiences

Just more words saying more buskers and graffiti.

STRATEGY 5 Build the leadership and facilitation skills of cultural leaders, so they promote the kinds of events that directly engage people in creative experiences.

OK I guess first we will need to find these cultural leaders. Which cultures? How will we build these skills? Free courses? Books? Seminars?

Why is any of this a city responsibility?

STRATEGY 6 Attract and support new talent and creative leadership in the community, including support for and the promotion of local artists from diverse communities.

Attract new creative leadership? What about all those creative leaders that we are already grooming and facilitating in Strategy 5 above? How many creative leaders can we maintain? What if we have creative leaders clashing? Creative turf wars? General chaos!!

Really though, what are we speaking of here? Classified ads in other cities? Craig’s list?

The word “support” is used multiple times. That is an easy translation of course: lavish with tax dollars!

STRATEGY 7 Ensure Calgary artists are recognized for their excellence, to honour the important roles they play in encouraging other citizens’ to participate in and value creative self-expression.

OK we don’t really need this but it will be cheap and easy enough to do. Issue a ribbon for participation for every artist in Calgary and be done with it.

Well that is a breakdown simply on the “Social” portion of the ImagineCalgary plan that is the model for almost all current city initiatives. Believe it or not, the above goals and strategies are among some of the more rational in the ImagineCalgary plan.

In days to come I will break down: Conflict resolution (some beauties in there), Equity, Transportation, Environment, Equity, Employment, Waste Management, Economic, Access, Governance, Health and Infrastructure from within the document.

This will be a long and cynical road but in going through ImagineCalgary one at least can see where the City of Calgary’s government inspiration and plan is coming from even if it is unattainable and irrational.

If Calgary really keeps trying to follow through with ImagineCalgary’s plans, we will make Stockton California look like a paradise within a couple decades.

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