This is what defamation looks like.

Defamation — also calumny, vilification, and traducement — is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.[1]

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed

To cover my own butt, what I am writing on is still in the stages of being alleged and has yet to be proven in court.

Sworn affidavits from people close to the defendant are some pretty strong evidence though.

I wrote recently on how Druh Farrell refused to recuse herself from an issue regarding a development proposed by the Terrigno family in which it appeared that she had pecuniary interest.

There are a number of questionable actions that apparently have been done by Councilor Farrell which have led to the lawsuit against her launched by the Terrigno family.

A large part of the defamation element of the suit revolves around Farrell apparently claiming that Mike Terrigno was a member of the mafia.

While this allegation sounds sort of comical at a glance, it is very serious when it is coming from an elected official and is directed at a business family. There are few things more damaging to the reputation of a business than being seen as being criminal.

If a person is ever going to state that another person is a criminal, they had better damn well be able to prove it or there will be and there should be legal consequences. It is a gross assault on a person’s character that simply can’t be ignored.

Naheed Nenshi certainly figured this out when he found himself sued for calling a local business man and philanthropist a “Godfather” like figure. That statement alone led to Nenshi having to settle with issuing a groveling apology, retraction and eating nearly $300,000 in legal fees (which he dumped on the taxpayers for a time).

If the statements in the affidavit sworn by Jeremy Sturgess are true, Druh Farrell went well beyond Nenshi’s vague statements with Wenzel and outright stated that Mike Terrigno is “the mafia”.

Like Nenshi, Druh Farrell has an unusually close relationship with her preferred architects.Jeremy Sturgess appears to be something of a favorite for Druh. Jeremy Sturgess has a number of ties to this lawsuit but I am sticking to the defamation aspect for now.

The sworn statement of a close associate of Councilor Farrell on this issue is quite compelling. It is not like Sturgess is a friend of the Terrigno family by any means. He is just giving a sworn and likely honest statement on what he remembers Druh Farrell having said to him about Mike Terrigno.

Below, Sturgess speaks to how long he has had a professional relationship with Farrell along with a reiteration on her apparent mafia allegations about Terrigno.

The document in its entirety can be found here

Seriously, just who do these elected officials think they are?

Do people like Nenshi and Farrell even think twice about how their statements can impact innocent business people? It appears not. It does appear that the courts are taking on the task of instilling the decency and common sense into these members of city hall that they somehow are personally lacking.

If Druh Farrell was telling Sturgess that Terrigno was mafia, who else has she been telling this to? How far has this rumor spread? How much damage has it and will it do to their family business?

Elected officials are entrusted by the public on a number of levels. City councilors hold a higher degree of public profile than your average citizen. This makes it more incumbent upon them to be careful with what they say about others as their words can have a very serious impact on them.

Farrell has dumped her legal fees upon the taxpayers without hesitation as she hunkers down with this lawsuit. Hardly tax funds well spent.

It is indeed election season. I think it is pretty clear that Ward 7 desperately needs new and responsible representation. Farrell has developed far too much entrenched entitlement to properly serve her constituents and the legal fees she is wracking up are simply far too expensive.

Lets hope the usually sleepy civic electorate gets up and votes Druh Farrell out of office next month. Taxpayers deserve it.

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Druh Farrell. The poster child for term limits.

While Naheed Nenshi may get yet another term as Mayor of Calgary, his popularity has been steadily dropping year by year with Calgarians. The number one complaint about Nenshi has been his insufferable arrogance when dealing with businesses in Calgary, fellow members of council and the public at large. The longer Nenshi resides on the municipal throne, the more his arrogance will grow as connection with the real world outside of city hall degrades.

Arrogance led Nenshi to label a leading Calgarian philanthropist and businessman as a “Godfather” type figure. In other words, Nenshi implied that Cal Wenzel was a criminal. Not a minor label to drop on a person without a solid foundation in truth (which Nenshi lacked). Nenshi’s arrogant mouth led to him being sued. As it became apparent that Nenshi was going to lose in court, he settled with a grovelling retraction and apology and found himself saddled with a legal bill nearing $300,000. Nenshi then backtracked on his word not to dump his legal bills on the taxpayers. Calgarian taxpayers carried Nenshi’s legal fees interest free for him for years while he raised funds from donors (while offering charitable receipts) to cover the cost. This is the price of arrogance.

While Nenshi’s arrogance has been around since the day he was elected, it is indeed growing. Druh Farrell has allowed her arrogance to grow and fester over 16 years in her comfortable council seat. This entitled arrogance has led to Farrell feeling that she can label innocent Calgarians as criminals as well.

Druh Farrell is more honest than Nenshi in some ways. Farrell has never made bones about dumping every penny of her legal fees upon Calgarian taxpayers. Farrell’s contempt for taxpayers and business people alike shows a profound disconnect with reality that has developed due to being in office for too long.

One of the first legal terms that any elected official should learn is “Pecuniary interest” if they want to stay out of legal hot water. It is critical that elected officials recuse themselves from discussions and decisions that will directly impact their personal finances for better or for worse. It is laid out quite clearly in Alberta’s Municipal Governance act. 

The Terrigno family has owned and operated the Osteria de Medici restaurant in Kensington for nearly 30 years. They have unfortunately been butting heads with Druh Farrell over their operations and their plans to redevelop since 2008 when Druh began acting to interfere with the restaurant’s annual Stampede event.

Druh Farrell owns a home just 160 meters from the Terrigno property. This means that actions on that property and developments very clearly could have an impact on the value of the property that Druh Farrell owns. In light of this pecuniary interest, any councilor exercising common sense would know that it would be best to recuse themselves from any city hall actions with regards to that property and leave it to the discretion of the other 14 members of city council. In the arrogance bred from sitting too long on city council however, Farrell never considered stepping back on issues with the Terrigno property.

As things heated from conflict over the restaurant’s Stampede event on to Druh’s apparent heavy interference with the family’s intention to develop the property, a formal request was submitted asking that Farrell recuse herself due to such clear pecuniary interest in the matter.

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It would appear that the letter was of no effect and Farrell doubled down on her conflict with the Terrigno family.

Would Farrell have recognized the rationale for staying clear of this in her first eight years in office? I think it is much more likely. Farrell would not have grown the entrenched sense of entitlement and arrogance that she displays today in being enthroned within Ward 7 for nearly 20 years.

Eight years is plenty of time to get a mandate done in city hall. Hell, even twelve may be reasonable. Once we get beyond that, the initial fire in the belly has been lost and elected officials lose sight of why they got into office in the first place. Arrogance and entitlement replace genuine ambition to make change and the goals of councilors then become fixated on control and maintaining their perch on council.

Moving to four year terms was a good move municipally. Setting a two term limit would be even better. It would ensure a steady flow of fresh thinking and would cut back on these local battles between entrenched elected officials and business people that only lead to costs for the taxpayers. It would allow politicians to leave office on a high point and with dignity rather than ignominiously as they finally cross the line with the electorate or even at times with the law.

Farrell went beyond simply interfering with the Terrigno’s development. It does appear that Farrell went deeply into some pretty unforgivable defamation in her battle with that family.

I will post the documents indicating Farrell’s acts of defamation and how damaging they can be in a new posting soon.

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It doesn’t matter what the law says if you’re dead.

The law is pretty clear. Sexual assault is a crime and perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law no matter how the victim presented themselves. In theory, a young lady should be able to walk alone through a shady part of town after having a few drinks and while dressed scantily without any fear of being assaulted because she is under the protection of the law. In reality, such a choice would be very stupid and being legally in the right would be of the coldest of comforts after one has been assaulted.

In theory, I should be able to leave my wallet full of cash on a table in a seedy bar while I go to the washroom and expect it to still be there when I get back because it would be against the law for somebody to steal it. In reality that choice would be idiocy and I likely would lose my wallet. I could scream indignantly to my heart’s content but would not get satisfaction despite my being legally in the right.

What I am getting at is that if we truly want to mitigate crimes and victims we need to look at prevention as well as simply legislation against criminal actions.

Calgary has some of the safest pedestrian stats on the entire planet.

Despite our great record on pedestrian safety, our local anti-auto ideologues have been working to manufacture a false pedestrian crisis by loudly and hysterically highlighting every reported pedestrian incident as they happen. Never mind that in a city of over a million people that having less than one incident per day is actually incredibly safe. Never mind that the pedestrian is often at fault rather than the automotive or train operator. Never mind that these incidents are often minor (though they can often be tragic too). These people want to create a scenario where folks feel that autos are too plentiful and going too fast in hopes of justifying more expensive and idiotic infrastructure such as underutilized bike lanes in order to hinder traffic.

The fact that traffic hindrance costs millions of hours in productivity and is terrible for the environment is lost on these ideologues. They have a simplistic goal of creating a downtown hipster’s Nirvana where the personal vehicles no longer exist and all folks walk to the local coffee collective together to read poetry while bills and taxes somehow magically pay themselves. If it means grossly exaggerating pedestrian incidents in the city, so be it.

All that being said, it certainly is a good thing to try and reduce pedestrian incidents on the streets even if the stats are already good. What we need to focus on though is what actually will work rather than what will hinder cars.

Below is a rather graphic video. It is a collection of pedestrians getting nailed by cars as they mindlessly walk out into busy streets. Many of these pedestrians were in crosswalks and were legally in the right. Alas, the law and a coat of white paint did not protect them from the law of physics and many have been grievously injured and killed.

 

The bottom line is that it is incumbent on pedestrians to pay attention to their surroundings because in a traffic incident, they clearly have the most to lose. It doesn’t matter what the damn law is and cracking down further on cars isn’t the answer if mitigation of actual accidents is truly the goal. We need to change that entrenched and entitled attitude that many pedestrians have where they seem to think that white paint can stop a car dead in it’s tracks.

To any drivers reading this, I know you have seen incidents where pedestrians simply stride into the street without pause or looking left and right as they know they are in a crosswalk. How many times have you had to slam on the brakes and think to your self “I sure am glad I wasn’t adjusting the heat in the car or something or I would have nailed that foolish son of a bitch”.

Hitting one of those crosswalk buttons to make the light flash does not bring cars and trucks to an immediate stop. It takes time for the lights to register, for the brakes to be applied and for the vehicle to stop. One of the things we need to do is change those lights so that they don’t immediately light up upon pushing the button.

I worked in Stillwater Oklahoma for a few months a few years back. It is a college town and at lunchtime or class breaks, the streets and walks are completely flooded with students. Despite this, traffic flowed rather well. The reason was that while there were countless light controlled pedestrian crossings, those lights did not turn on immediately when a pedestrian hit the button. The lights were much like traffic lights in general. The pedestrian would hit the button and wait. Within perhaps 30 seconds, the light would flash a warning to drivers and then would go red so that pedestrians could cross. This forced pedestrians to pause and pay attention. This also gave warning to drivers. On top of it all, it made things more efficient as 20-30 pedestrians would cross and then the light would change so that autos could move again. Otherwise we would see that endless stream of pedestrians that often frustrates drivers into unsafe actions and mires traffic for blocks.

Scramble crossings are another good idea to move large numbers of pedestrians with minimal impact on traffic. Like the lights in Stillwater though, they are only on for certain periods and pedestrians are not allowed in the roadways otherwise.

With uncontrolled crossings, there still is no substitute for pedestrian awareness and education. People need to look out before stepping into that damned street no matter how legally right they are. How can they assume that the driver coming down the road is paying attention? The price is too high to assume that the law will protect you.

Barney covered it well with children. It seems that the lesson didn’t stick into adulthood with many.

 

Law enforcement is still important of course. Drivers should be heavily ticketed for blowing through crosswalks and lights. It is terribly dangerous and should not be taken lightly.

That said, we need to see more crackdowns on jaywalking and dangerous pedestrian practices too. Many pedestrian accidents are fully the fault of the pedestrian.

More than anything though if we truly want to mitigate damage we need to look towards personal responsibility.

That means dropping the anti-auto rhetoric and seeking real solutions.

I don’t expect that from Calgary’s distorted transportation department soon unfortunately but perhaps we will see change after next year’s election.

In the meantime, don’t forget to look both ways….

 

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Calgary city councillors need to learn what their mandate is

 

Some members of Calgary city council have been complaining for some time now that they are overworked and that we need more city councillors to help share the burden. As is often the case, I have to call bullshit. If anything, Calgary city councillors have too much time on their hands. How else can we explain the amount of time that they dedicate to myopic pet projects that are way outside of their mandate and jurisdiction as a council?

Brian Pincott wants to ban fire pits and end the odious trend of apparent light pollution as well as banning people from cutting trees on their own property. Those all pale in comparison with the council time wasted trying to ban types of soup from restaurants however. With all those foolish initiatives, can we really believe that poor Brian doesn’t have enough time on his hands?

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Druh Farrell came up with the profoundly stupid “Bow River Flow” festival which was nothing more than an excuse to close a main road and poke a stick in the eyes of drivers. It failed terribly after a few seasons and thankfully was tossed in the dustbin.

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Diane Colley-Urquhart took on a pointless crusade against e-cigarettes which sadly has now been taken on by Mandel on a provincial level. I wonder if she opposes methadone treatment for addicts too or nicoderm patches?

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City council now has a triumvirate of twits wasting council time trying to get rid of payday loan companies as they apparently prey on the poor. Can we assume that liquor stores, tobacconists, used car dealers and rent-to-own outfits will be targeted as well? Lower income people tend to make up a disproportionate portion of the client base of those businesses too.

What have all the idiotic, busybody initiatives above got in common?

None of the above pet projects of our supposedly overworked city councillors land within the mandate of city hall!!!!

Below I will quote directly from the Alberta Municipal Government Act. The act is hundreds of pages long but our esteemed councillors really only need to read one part. It is three simple lines and I will quote them below.

Purposes, Powers and Capacity of Municipalities
Municipal purposes
The purposes of a municipality are
(a) to provide good government,
(b) to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality, and
(c) to develop and maintain safe and viable communities.

There you have it folks. A very direct and simple mandate. Nothing about specifying which soups are legal or not. Nothing about banning things like e-cigarettes or regulating or punishing businesses that may be predominantly serving folks in the lower income bracket of society.

Every month we see at least one or two mind-blowingly foolish pet projects and initiatives from our city council in Calgary. It is galling that this collection of officials can waste so much time and money on these things and then whine about being overworked at the same time.

To Calgary city councillors: read those three lines that describe what your mandate is supposed to be. Follow those instructions! The workload will suddenly be reduced and we will get better government for it.

Sad that council will need to be directed to that act over and over again as they seem to think that they govern some sort of city state with huge, intrusive authority to govern our lifestyle or business choices. If they really want to build such a nanny state, may I suggest that our city council pursue federal seats in parliament as that is where such potential powers lie, not in city hall.

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Going Postal! Brian Pincott burning tax dollars in Calgary to fight progress.

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As we see Calgary’s city council pleading poverty while they slam Calgary with year after year of record tax and fee increases, we also see council members pissing tax dollars down the drain on pointless pet projects and studies.

It is old news that Canada Post will be eliminating door to door home delivery in the very near future. The crown corporation has been bleeding red ink as the demand for home letter mail withers away due to advancements in modern communications. Just as pasteurization and modern refrigeration removed the need for a milk-man to deliver dairy products to our doors, the internet has eliminated the need to have a person deliver mail to our doors. Bill payments are predominantly automated and communications are now electronic.

Canada Post began moving towards community mail boxes rather than home delivery 30 years ago. Most of Calgary’s new districts have never had home mail delivery and they are served perfectly fine in getting their junk mail at nearby community boxes. It is a proven means of mail delivery and there really is little need to study further.

But wait!!! Who is this White Knight riding to the rescue of the fast-disappearing unionized postal carrier??

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Yes, it is none other than Calgary city councillor Brian Pincott. Pincott has a well-earned reputation as a fool who loves to waste tax dollars on things outside of council jurisdiction such as wasting countless dollars trying to  ban types of soup. Pincott also wants to ban homeowners from cutting their own trees or having fire pits and wants to tell you what kind of lights you can turn on. I guess we should not be surprised when we see that Pincott wants to try to protect an utterly obsolete line of work. Perhaps Brian will spend tax dollars studying Calgary’s loss of blacksmiths next.

What Pincott is proposing is to use city bureaucracy to waste time and money to try and hold up Canada Post as they try to establish their community mailboxes. From the CBC article on it: “He wants a community consultation process developed and a report back to a council committee by this December.”

What is to study? What is to report? This type of delivery has been used for decades. There is nothing that a new process will uncover here. This is nothing more than a stall tactic.

Pincott has to know that the evolution away from home mail delivery is inevitable. I am sure Pincott is well aware that this is utterly outside of the jurisdiction of city council. Pincott loves to call for all sorts of studies and consultations so he has to be well aware that these things cost untold millions to taxpayers cumulatively. Why then is Brian Pincott pursuing this foolishness?

The answer is simple. Brian Pincott is propped up by union support. Pincott was very strongly contested in the 2013 election. He needs to maintain whatever support that he has. What Pincott is essentially doing is pissing away untold thousands of taxpayers dollars on a move that is utterly futile in order to kiss the collective asses of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Be assured that the CUPW will likely toss a nice healthy contribution towards Pincott’s next campaign and encourage their mail-monkeys en-masse to help knock on doors for him.

Getting back to why the City of Calgary is constantly hiking taxes, when there are unprincipled councillors like Brian Pincott tossing around  and wasting tax dollars like that, how can we be surprised? Be happy taxpayers! We all just donated to Pincott’s next campaign!

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With Calgary’s cycle track proposal, numbers do indeed matter.

With the next Calgary Transportation committee meeting on the proposed (and ridiculous) cycle track network for downtown looming, people are paying more attention to the numbers in this issue and the numbers do not look good for cycle proponents.

Hard examples are building up that simply put lie to the tiresome “if you build it, they will come” theory with bicycle infrastructure. Calgary has one of the most extensive pathway networks on the continent. Still the number of cycle commuters was barely over 1%. “We must build bike lanes!” was the cry of the cycle advocates.

Bike lanes sprung up throughout the city. Numbers were batted around by the cycle proponents claiming as many as 12,000 people cycle into Calgary’s downtown daily. Search as I may, they could not be found. With multiple counts throughout the city it was confirmed that there were still only a tiny number of cycle commuters going downtown despite all the lanes. Some lanes hardly draw more than a couple cyclists per day even. Other counts can be found here and here.

Having clearly established that the 12,000 cyclist claim was utter nonsense, the cry now moved to “We must build separated bike tracks!”

Portland Oregon and Vancouver BC both tried extensive bike track networks. By the business numbers, the network in Vancouver was a failure and by the usage increases both networks were failures.

Well 7 St SW got a separated bike track and the results are as dismal as the rest of the initiatives. Just today I went down there to have a look. With good weather on a busy weekday the lanes and bike racks were empty.

The only thing missing was tumbleweed.

Now when members from Calgary Transportation stand before a committee and try to imply than more than 1000 rides per day are happening on that lane, is it any wonder that tempers get frayed and words like bullshit are used?

We would like to think that Calgary’s Transportation planners would try to be as objective as possible when using figures such as traffic statistics. What we are seeing from Calgary Transportation is gross exaggerations based on short measures that can only lead us to mistrust them even further. Are these transportation planners or advocates?

Just as we can’t measure all cycle traffic based on a measure at 2am on a -30 January day, we can’t plan based on numbers hi-balled in a short count at a peak time in August.

The numbers matter. The numbers are in $10s of millions of tax dollars when the infrastructure being impacted is considered and the numbers of cyclists appear to remain insignificant. We are talking about closing lanes on Macleod Trail and 12 Ave here. These are critical roadways for personal autos and transit alike.

If Calgary’s cycle network can only be justified through massaging the numbers and exaggerating the demand, I think it is safe to say that the network is not worthwhile.

We are not getting lost in a numbers game. It is the only game that counts in the end.

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There is only one way to increase affordable housing in Calgary, increase the supply!

News story after news story are coming out and pointing out how Calgary is experiencing a crunch in housing supply that will only get worse if things do not change and soon. Calgary’s rental vacancy rate is sitting around 1% right now and the average price of a home is expected to reach almost $600,000 this year. This problem will only grow more acute in coming years unless our density fixated city hall starts to release more serviced lots and soon!

Yes, there are some other ways to increase some supply of housing. Nenshi has had the legalization of basement suites as something of a pet project for some time though it has not been able to pass council yet. More basement suites will help to some degree should they be added but what Calgary really needs is new housing and soon. Changing the status of the legality of basement suites will only add a limited supply as there really are only so many people out there who want to rent out part of their houses. Many of those who do want to rent out their basements are already doing so illegally.

Like the law of gravity, the law of supply and demand is not terribly flexible. Calgary has high demand for housing and city hall has been strangling the supply. Something will have to give. Some reports are even predicting that Calgary may be nearly running out of serviced lots by the end of 2015. As stated in the article, there is a world of difference between planned lots and available ones. The city needs to stop meddling around and release these new developments.

There is an ideology that has become prevalent in Calgary city hall that almost fervently calls for increased urban density at all costs. That sort of ideology led to the hiring of planning extremists like Rollin Stanley. Despite squeezing supply in hopes that Calgarians simply throw up their hands and move into condos, developments such as the much vaunted “East Village” wither while the vast majority of new Calgarians seek homes in the suburbs.

It seems to be forgotten that over 85% of Calgarians do NOT live or commute downtown. To try and force more population into the core will actually make commute times longer for many as they head to industrial areas, schools, hospitals or one of the myriad of other employment zones that are distant from downtown. We need to plan and develop with this reality in mind.

The bottom line is that Calgary does not need extremely high downtown density. The city is surrounded by literally thousands of square miles of available land. Calgary is not like a coastal or mountain city with hard limits on where it may grow. There is no excuse or good reason to keep trying to hinder the natural outward growth of the city.

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Finally, density efforts have been an utter failure that has actually led to even more of the ever demonized “sprawl” anyway. People are voting with their wallets and feet and are moving to bedroom communities in record numbers. Okotoks lifted it’s growth cap, Chestermere has just put forward a massive new growth plan and Airdrie and Cochrane are experiencing explosive growth. Despite what some may wish, Calgary can’t put up an iron curtain to keep people from leaving the city limits to escape the escalating costs due to a lack of land supply.

If the powers that be in Calgary City Hall truly do want to address the shortage of affordable housing, it is simply without question that more serviced lots and developments must be approved and as soon as possible. How critical will Nenshi and City Hall let this problem get before they relent, face reality and begin to release the supply of land that Calgarians are demanding? We have the space, let’s use it!

 

 

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Let’s put the proposed Macleod Tr. bike track to the test.

Nobody should fear a test unless they have reason to believe that they will fail it.

To say that taking a lane from Macleod Tr. Southbound (1 St. SE) in Calgary’s downtown in order to give the space to a tiny minority of bicycle commuters is a radical plan would be a gross understatement.

Calgary transportation planning appears to be actually trying to go ahead and take away 25% of the lane space from a piece of roadway that services 25,000 vehicles per day. This initiative appears to be based on some very weak speculation and projections of how much further Calgary’s traffic will be congested or how many new cyclists such a plan could draw. It doesn’t take a deep study to know that the claim by the transportation department that such a move would only increase people’s commute time by one minute to know that such a statement is nothing less than utter hogwash.

Calgary taxpayers paid tens of millions of dollars to build the roadways that will be covered by this rather aggressive cycle track network plan. It is not too much to ask to see some simple testing conducted to assure us that the impact upon downtown traffic will be reasonable and that these invisible thousands of potential cyclists will indeed pop out of the woodwork?

We should put the Macleod Tr. bike track to the test by temporarily setting the track up and getting true, hard figures on how well this may or may not work. Again, when we are talking about 10s of millions of dollars in infrastructure at risk here, the cost of such a test is negligible. No more cute artist’s depictions of how the new street would look. No more projected numbers on how many people would give up their cars in favor of a bicycle. Let’s lay down the barriers and see how it goes.

The required barriers are cheap and doubtless the city keeps them in stock for construction projects.

barrierThere are plastic barriers that are very cheap and easy to install as well.

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For intersections, temporary lights have been used on construction projects for decades. We are in the days where a $50 cell phone can store and play an entire feature film. Programing temporary traffic signals is pretty easy.

stoplightWe will need a little painting done. We know that we have spare city staff as they used 10 of them to paint the simple little green box below and now are all fully qualified in road painting.

bikeWith one weekend of construction we could take the lane from Macleod Tr. South and give it to those masses of awaiting cyclists. Let’s say we do this in May so the proponents can’t use the weather excuse and let’s say we leave the barriers up for a full 30 days.

With such a simple and reasonable test we can find out definitively just how traffic will be impacted by this proposed bike track. We will also find out how many new cycle commuters will be drawn to the new track. Most importantly, we will give commuters and businesses downtown a good taste of what the cycle plan has in mind for them as they target all of Calgary’s busiest central roadways for more cycle tracks.

The cycle proponents should be thrilled with such a concept. They are confident that most Calgarians want to give up main roadways for cycle tracks. They are confident that thousands of auto commuters are just waiting to cycle to work every day but have not done so due to the lack of a track. This experiment should prove the cycle advocates correct right?

Imagine how easy it will be to sell future bike tracks once Calgarians see that traffic is not impacted and that the bike lane looks like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting with commuters on bicycles mingling with happy families all riding together with beatific smiles on their faces as they enjoy these vibrant, sustainable lanes!

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Doing tests and pilot projects for major changes to roads is actually standard practice in many Calgary transportation initiatives despite their not doing this with the bike track plans.  When I was living in the Northwest a couple years ago, temporary barriers were installed along 4 st NW as a pilot project for traffic calming. The barriers were changed and moved a couple times after real impacts were measured and citizen input was taken into account (people in the neighborhood were not pleased).

On Macleod Tr. South, a pilot project was undertaken to change morning congestion around Avenida as things had been bottlenecking. As can be seen with this detailed report, the pilot project led to a significant saving in commuter time and was made permanent. Had the project not aided traffic flow, it simply would have been scrapped. This is simple good planning. There is no reason why such pilots and tests can’t be applied to cycle tracks.

Edmonton Trail and Memorial have both seen major pilot projects on traffic flow and doubtless every major road in the city has seen some testing at one time or another.

Let’s put this whole debate to rest and put the case for cycle tracks at the expense of major road arteries to rest once and for all!

I suspect that the cycle track proponents will adamantly oppose the concept of such a test for the reason stated in the very first sentence of this posting.

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Reality on the impacts of Macleod Trail lane closure for bike lanes

Macleod Trail

One of the most vapid cases to be made in justifying the closure of major road arteries is the old: “Auto commuters should support this as every car taken off the road makes more room for them!”

If indeed Calgary’s proposed cycle infrastructure was complimentary to the existing roadways that statement would be true. Since Calgary’s proposed cycle tracks are all coming at the direct expense of existing roadways the above contention of car removal is simply BS.

The section of Macleod Trail (among the busy roads targeted) that the city wants to close a lane on moves about 25,000 cars per day. When transit is taken into account (bus riders will have their commute times extended by this too) we are looking at roughly 1.3 occupants per vehicle out there for about 32,500. Now in removing 25% of the roadway, we will be displacing 8125 people. As that section of road is one-way, we need not cut the number in half as most will only travel that stretch once in a day. Let’s be generous and make the figure 8000 then.

For the proposed bike track on Macleod Trail to actually reduce traffic we would need to see at least 8000 people who drive only on Macleod Trail alone to give up their cars and ride their bikes to work.

Reality dictates that we would only see a few hundred people leave their cars in winter at best on Macleod Trail and lets be generous and say 1000 in summer. The remaining 31,000+ commuters will be jammed into a much smaller roadway which in turn will extend their daily commute times which will lead to more idling and emissions and leads to reduced productivity and quality home time for daily commuters.

This is not theory folks, this is simple math.

Until the cycle proponents can convince us that nearly 25% of commuters will give up their cars and ride bikes to work all year round the case that bike tracks at the expense of automotive lanes is nothing more than pap.

 

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Nenshi advises silence in hopes that fallout from sexual assault case goes away.

 

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In what appears to be one of the most scandalous and criminal issues to come from Calgary City Hall in years we have a response from Mayor Naheed Nenshi that is as scandalous as the issue itself; Nenshi has told council members to shut up in hopes that it goes away.

 

Rather than express outrage, rather than call for further inquiry, rather than at least express remorse over the issue, Naheed Nenshi has chosen to send an email to the other members of city council advising them not to speak to the public about this issue.

 

 

A woman while employed by the City of Calgary had been sexually assaulted repeatedly by her supervisor so many times that an arbitrator has ruled that she should be compensated $800,000 (not that any dollar amount can fix this). It appears that her attempts to end the assaults were ignored and possibly even covered up by her superiors. A tremendous hole in city procedure has been exposed here at the least. We should not be quietly wondering how this happened, we should be screaming and demanding to find out how this outrage happened and ensuring that this can never happen again! Instead of such strong demands, Calgary’s Mayor’s first response has been to try and get people to stop talking about it.

 

 

While hysterics and witch-hunts are not what we need in response to this issue, at the very least we need some open and frank discussion on this and we need it right now, not later. Deferral is a specialty of city hall and we can’t let that happen on something this important. The first step in trying to indefinitely defer an issue is to try and get people to stop talking about it. Nenshi knows this quite well.

 

 

Does Naheed Nenshi understand that it is a culture of gagging people on these issues that allows this to happen? Telling others to shut up is exactly what happened to facilitate the ongoing horror that this poor woman endured and it appears that Nenshi’s first instinct is to try to quietly cover up the issue rather than shine a large public spotlight upon it to expose the ugliness. This is an even bigger issue than the overpopulation of white people in city hall that Nenshi described his dislike of.

 

 

As with any problem that people get squeamish to address (such as addiction for example), the hardest but most important part is to admit that there is a problem in the first place. No more silence, no more excuses, no studies or committees are required here. That this incident happened repeatedly and over such a period demonstrates without question that there is a major problem in the management of City Hall. It is time to spread the cleansing light of true transparency (that buzz word that Nenshi pays lip service to but hasn’t followed through on) upon City Hall’s procedures and practices for sexual harassment. Most large administrations ironed this sort of thing out fairly well in the 1980s but clearly Calgary needs more work here. We need to open things up to see where the rot is but in order to do so we need leadership that is ready to speak to the issue to the public rather than hide it as Nenshi did with his request to city council members stating: “I would very strongly suggest not speaking to the media,”

 

 

In municipal politics, we have no official opposition that helps ensure responsibility on the part of government management. We in the public rely upon the media to at least report on issues so we can see a snapshot of what is going on in there. To suggest that our elected officials refuse to speak to the media (public) on such a critical issues is nothing less than abhorrent.

 

 

Having stepped into it on this issue, I am sure that Nenshi will be returning from Switzerland with a prepared statement full of flowery terms speaking of changing the “culture” of city hall in the pursuit of more “inclusiveness” and “vibrancy” and such. I am sure that part of Nenshi’s attempt to silence councilors on this issue was to ensure that they didn’t dare take a leadership role and address the issue before Nenshi himself could climb to the pulpit and tell us all why and how he will make it all better.

 

 

There is more to leadership than tweeting witty quips and hamming for cameras at every ribbon-cutting and festival in the city. Sometimes a leader has to take on some tough issues and they have to do it publicly and openly.

 

 

We have seen the first instinct from Nenshi on this critical issue and his instinct was to try and hush people up. That in itself is very telling and the sensitive and carefully crafted words that are sure to come from him soon on the issue will be ringing rather hollow in light of his initial response.

 

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