While outrage over one horrific public art project or another has become something of an annual tradition in Calgary, Mayor Nenshi still doggedly denies that anything is wrong with the public art policy in the city. What would all those filthy taxpayers know about art anyway? How dare they question how city hall spends their money!
Nenshi likened critics of the latest arts abomination to a “lynch mob”.
Acclaimed Blackfoot artist Adrian Stimson took issue to this but then again, what would he know about Blackfoot inspired art? Can’t he just bow down to the wisdom of the handpicked city committees who choose these fine “arts” projects? No wonder he earned Nenshi’s insults.
Nenshi expanded to point out how it is “dangerous” to make judgements on something that hasn’t been “seen” or experienced.
OK. I went and saw and experienced the $500,000 “Bowfort Towers” for myself this evening.
The only thing that was dangerous was getting even close to the ridiculously placed display. It is set between two busy roads where vehicles are whizzing by at upwards of 100 kph as they approach an underpass. Hardly a nice spot for a person to pause and reflect on the piece of “art” that costed as much as an average city house does.
As can be seen below, I paused and reflected on the piece.
I gazed. I contemplated. I meditated. I came to a conclusion.
This piece of very expensive “art” is a turd that can’t be polished. Its is simplistic. It is terribly placed. It is aesthetically unappealing and it is apparently rather insulting to local First Nations. This was an utter waste of half a million dollars while most Calgarians are trying to recover from a recession.
Video of my visit can be found below.
Look, most people are not opposed to all public art. We are tired of “art” that is expensive, poorly placed and to be frank, damned ugly.
We have multiple pieces of art that we paid for that we cant even access as they were built in city industrial sites. We have a blue ring that is a national embarrassment. We have a silver ball that nearly lit a person on fire. The list goes on and on and on.
The policy is broken and Nenshi and his little “arts” crowd had better come to grips with this. Taxpayers are tired of being insulted and talked down to when they question the merit of their precious dollars being spent on art where the word “shit” is a generous description.
The backlash will grow if we don’t change this ridiculous policy soon. Fear city councilors who want to dramatically cut all forms of public art? Well I assure you, you will only empower those councilors when you deny that there is a problem and continue to defend this abhorrent waste of tax dollars.
There are many models in countless cities around the world that produce far better public art than what Calgary is generating. It is time that we emulated them rather than cling to this broken model that only produces crap.
I attended my first Pride Parade back in the late 1990s. My girlfriend at the time worked with a man who was singing in a choir during the event so we went to watch him. It was a great time and a fun experience. The whole day was jovial and people from the LGBTQ community and folks not from that community alike had a great time. While I haven’t attended every year since then, I have attended many times since. Unfortunately the theme and tone of Pride events has changed so much that I can no longer bring myself to attend.
I understand that I am straight, am not a key organizer or sponsor. I know that my attending or not attending certainly will not make or break their events. I suspect though that I represent a growing group of people who have tired out with the increasing politicization of the event and this is sad.
Pride. The word in itself says and means so much. The gay community for so long had to work and fight in order to be able to live their lives openly and without shame. Acceptance of the gay community has been a slow process but it has made fantastic inroads in the last 40 years or so. In looking at some of the comments on my last blog posting, it still has a way to go.
While laws against homosexuality were rightly repealed over 40 years ago, it still took a generation for real acceptance to become common place. Gay bars still were hidden with back alley entrances. Gay bashing still happened and authorities often did not investigate or prosecute those assaults with the vigor that they merited. I grew up in a time where I could be sent to the principle’s office in school if I called another student an asshole but likely would get little more than a finger wagged at me if I called them a “fag”. That pejorative was in common use back then and I can’t pretend that I didn’t use it back then.
While I certainly was never involved in gay bashing and always felt that gay people deserved equal rights, I held some sad views in my younger years that had to be shed. I was still uncomfortable around openly gay people and tended to avoid them. I had to grow up. I had to meet and get to know people from the LGBTQ community in order to learn that they simply were people like anybody else. That happened in my early 20s and I am still growing to this day.
An element that helped me and countless other straight people who needed to learn these lessons was Pride events. What better place to simply get together, enjoy time outside and celebrate the open display of a love and acceptance of different sexual orientations in an open environment?
A community of people who were shunned for holding hands or kissing in public could at least for a day fully express and enjoy themselves without judgement from those around them. Yes, it would be (and hopefully will be) great if that judgement never existed outside of Pride events but we still have a way to go. Pride parades and celebrations do awesome work to end that stigma.
In being critical of the foolish decision by Calgary Pride to demand that the Calgary Police Service not wear their uniforms in the parade, I have been criticized and essentially told to shut up as I am not part of the LGBTQ community. Indeed, I do recognize that this is their event and they have every right to run the event as they please. I still retain the right to be critical of their choices however.
While Pride events are run by and made for people in the LGBTQ community, they are critically important to people outside of that community too. As Pride keeps venturing into controversial issues outside of the core meaning of the event, people like me will stop attending and the great bonding of communities that used to happen will begin to erode. The event used to be focused on inclusiveness and now is drifting deeply into exclusivity.
All over North America Pride events are bowing to extreme movements. BLM managed to bully Toronto Pride into removing its visible police presence. Other Pride parades are battling as anti-Israel groups are demonstrating in them.
Politicians are invited but are bound by long lists of demands in order to participate. If a politician cant attend for whatever reason, they are often demonized.
Yes, the police in the past used to be one of the worst offenders with the LGBTQ community.They often overlooked gay bashing. They constantly busted gay nightclubs and bars for lewd behavior. Those days are long gone. Gay bashing is heavily prosecuted and gay clubs are simply bound by the same AGLC rules as any other bars.
I can understand an element of distrust of the police remaining among the older members of the gay community. All the same, what better way to remove that distrust than to have the police openly parading in full uniform and in support of Pride?
They hypocrisy of Pride organizers is galling. They say that they welcome the police participation as long as they don’t identify in uniform as being police officers.
This is much like employers who used to tell gay staff “I welcome gay employees but you have to keep your gayness to yourself.”
Hey, its your event people. Run it as you please. If Pride wants to keep drawing and educating the public as a whole however, they will have to get back to what the whole affair was all about. We want to support the LGBTQ community but don’t feel that we have to be drawn into a whole list of other left wing causes in doing so.
Until that happens, I no longer have time for Pride events and I suspect that a growing number of other people who don’t want to get mixed up in those things.
Pride did some great work and helped make great societal inroads. I hope that they can do so again one day.
Can you believe that it has been over three years already?
Why, it feels like only yesterday that Naheed Nenshi had an epic social media temper tantrum when he found out that the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation had done a FOIP request to see if the Mayor had dumped his legal bills on the taxpayers.
You could almost hear Nenshi’s fingers indignantly hammering his keyboard in rage as he expressed his ire over having been questioned on this issue.
The twitter thread stems from this tweet back in June of 2014
Yes indeed. Three years already. That means that it has been nearly four years since Nenshi defamed Cal Wenzel on a radio show. That defamation led to Nenshi’s grovelling apology and a legal bill that was nearly $300,000.
That legal bill was dumped on Calgarian taxpayers and Nenshi still has not paid it back.
Yes, despite Nenshi’s petulant outbursts it appears that Canada’s most highly paid mayor (depending in the year) still dumped the fruit of his act of defamation upon innocent taxpayers.
Nenshi is claiming that the bill will be paid soon. Nenshi of course claimed so stridently that the bill would never been dumped on us so he holds little credibility in this regard. It now becomes a thing of, “I will believe it when I see it.”
I guess this could be part of why Nenshi got caught up in a scandalous $5,000 per plate pay to play fundraiser just weeks ago.
As a small business owner, I sure could use an interest free loan for a few hundred thousand to make some capital improvements. Alas, these sorts of benefits only apply to Mayors I guess.
As it has been years now, we should be reminded that it is an election year. In a few short months, Calgary voters can choose to elect a mayor who is less inclined to dump his legal fees upon them.
I sure hope that the voters lose their apathy and do so.
While the last 4 years went by quickly, a further 4 years of Nenshi would be agonizing.
Let’s face it. Druh Farrell has never really been the sharpest knife in the Calgary city council drawer. Despite having resided in a council seat for nearly 16 years, there really has been little of note accomplished by Druh. The only real hallmark of Farrell’s extensive term has been a propensity to vapidly jump on and lobby for whatever the latest self-styled, hipster trend is happening these days whether its taking countless hours to try to regulate what sort of soups restaurants may serve to the completely catastrophic Memorial Dr. closure for her failed anti-automotive initiative called “The Bow River Flow”.
In Calgary, a councilor typically needs only to be mediocre in order to maintain their seat in perpetuity. Dale Hodges managed a council career that spanned decades and used the simple strategy of conveniently timed bathroom breaks to ensure that he never had to vote on a contentious issue. Druh however has made sure to be vocal on any issue where she can take shots at the things she despises in life such as automobiles, suburbs and successful businesses. This trend of blind ideology has led to a steady decline in Farrell’s support to the point where she only gathered 37% support in the last municipal election. This is an appallingly low level of support for an incumbent and it was only through a fortunate splitting of votes that Farrell managed to cling on to her cushy spot.
Having served so long in city hall, Farrell views Kensington as her own personal little fiefdom where she hopes to build a small, inner city hipster’s paradise where her name will go down in dreadlocked history as the founder of this miniature Portland North. That would explain Farrell’s hypocritical opposition to a project that would add density and economic expansion to her little demesne. While Farrell strongly opposes, suburban expansion and supports increased density throughout the city, she is the ultimate NIMBY in her own neighborhood and has pulled every string possible to fight these elements in her own community.
This hypocrisy leads up to the battle that began in 2008 with the owners of the Osteria De Medici property that has now landed her in the middle of a rather comprehensive looking lawsuit.
It begins with Farrell apparently trying to use city of Calgary bylaw officers as something of her own personal army in working to shut down an annual Stampede parties at Osteria. Farrell couldn’t abide by seeing so many unwashed Calgarians celebrating Western Canadian culture in her neck of the woods. Only drum circles and vegan tastings are appropriate! Apparently after failing in getting bylaw services to shut down the popular event, Druh began a personal vendetta that finally led to changes in rules surrounding popular Calgary Stampede parties.
This began the feud between Osteria and Farrell which clearly has only gotten worse over the years.
The statement of claim contends that Farrell coached people to defame the Osteria group in city hall. Farrell then apparently reiterated the the claims that the family was made of up criminals. This all has to be proven in court still of course but is sure sounds familiar. Nenshi’s forced apology and settlement with Cal Wenzel proved that the courts do not look kindly on accusations of criminality being leveled at business people by elected officials.
Even uglier, the statement claims that Farrell through an agent essentially tried to extort from the group through demands for a campaign contribution, a commitment by the group not to support any other candidates and a commitment to hire her preferred architect in order to get her support for a new development on the Osteria land. If any of this is indeed proven true in court, Farrell indeed is unfit to serve in office any longer.
I cant see Farrell’s support getting any stronger over the last few years and I don’t expect that this legal action will aid in her chances of re-election.
The arrogance displayed by Farrell in this matter and in her behavior over the last 8 years or so has at least brought about some very serious conversation about term limits for city councilors and some new ethical guidelines being brought down. A silver lining perhaps. Maybe a new accountability guideline can be dubbed “Farrell’s law”.
I suspect that Farrell has burned enough bridges over the years. She very likely will not retain her chair this time around.
It is time to reform accountability for city councilors in the future though or we may simply see a Druh Farrell by another name assume the chair she vacates.
This will be an interesting court proceeding to watch to say the very least. I am sure that more than a few elected officials will be watching it in Alberta as these sort of actions may come their way too if they don’t take care.
Now that the remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party old guard have finished trying to rig their leadership race rules as tightly as possible in favor of the party status-quo (which is moribund and indebted), they have now settled on their preferred candidate.
For those who want to turn the clock back and return to the Progressive Conservative Party that held no solid principles and governed simply based on the rationale of retaining power, Sandra Jansen is the clear candidate of choice.
Through her own actions over the years, Sandra has exemplified the shallow, self-serving, opportunism that the Progressive Conservative Party had come to represent after holding power for over four decades in Alberta.
Jansen never held or shared any conservative principles with the party of her choice. Jansen is and was a Liberal through and through as she demonstrated many times over the years. Sandra was canny enough to realize that if she aspired to rise above an opposition seat in Alberta and gain a cabinet position or even the Premiership, she would have to pretend to be a conservative and gain her seat through the party that appeared to her as being an unbeatable juggernaut (at that time).
Jansen happily jumped on board with Alison Redford as Redford sold her party’s political soul to unions in order to win the party leadership (Redford later betrayed those union supporters too of course). As a loyal Redford supporter, Jansen was rewarded with a minor associate minister’s portfolio.
As Redford fell into disgrace, Jansen wisely kept a low profile and waited to see who the next leader to latch on to would be. That person of course was Jim Prentice. In hopes of climbing the cabinet ladder, Sandra Jansen happily sponsored what would turn out to be a disaster in the first incarnation of Bill 10.
Despite claiming to be a champion for LGTBQ kids, Sandra Jansen sponsored a bill that would force those kids to appear before a judge in court in order to form support clubs in schools if the school or board refused them. As the backlash over Sandra Jansen’s bill grew, things got more absurd as the PCs of the time said that LGTBQ kids no longer would have to appear before a judge in order to form clubs, they would simply have to get an order from the Education Minister. It was also implied that these kids could simply form clubs down the street and away from school property if need be. Gee how progressive Sandra. Would they get off property washrooms and fountains too if there were more concerns?
Sandra Jansen’s version of Bill 10 was a complete catastrophe that offended most of the province. Prentice was forced to intervene and pull the bill off the table in order to try and rework it into something palatable in the spring.
Below we can see Jansen meekly standing aside as Prentice takes over and works to clean up her mess.
Jansen has since claimed that her sponsorship of the bill was a terrible mistake. Hindsight helps that way. In reality, we all know that if the bill had passed in the legislature in it’s first incarnation and had Prentice not disastrously lost the general election that Sandra Jansen would happily be sitting in a cabinet seat in the Prentice government today doing what she is told and aspiring to his role in government.
A strongly principled person would never have sponsored legislation that goes against their personal principles. A person who puts ambition above principle however will do so without hesitation as we saw Jansen do.
If Sandra Jansen had what it takes to be a leader, she would have passed on sponsoring that bill or even spoke against it. Some in the PC caucus of the time did so. What other principles will Sandra Jansen set aside if she feels they will hinder her personal political path? Only time will tell.
The Progressive Conservative Party took what should have been a terribly humbling loss in the last general election. Their complacence and arrogant practices led to Alberta accidentally electing an NDP government. Despite this, the remaining old guard within the party feel that the best course of action is to bring in another leader that is weak in principles and carries the baggage of the last two leaders who left in disgrace.
The PC party has an opportunity to look ahead and re-brand with a new approach or they can elect a retread of Alison Redford who is a little less bright.
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.
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.
The numbers are starting to come in from Calgary’s controversial and expensive bicycle track experiment and they aren’t pretty. Proponents highballed numbers claiming as many as 12,000 cycle commuters per day when pushing for the tracks. They then moved the goalposts to the more realistic couple thousand per day for a baseline when the tracks went in. Despite those number crunching efforts and an extremely mild winter, the cyclist numbers simply are not that impressive. The tiny but vocal cycle lobby has been sadly trying to cherry pick numbers such as a nearly insignificant uptick in female ridership in hopes of claiming success but it is falling on deaf ears for commuters tired of languishing in traffic only to see empty cycle lanes taking up parking and laneways.
In splitting the difference in Nenshi’s numbers, we get an average of 2.25 minutes of driving time per driver due to the tracks which adds up to 637.5 extra automotive hours per day on that road.
When those extra hours are applied over the course of a year, we have 232,687.5 extra hours per year that cars are running on 12 Ave SW due to the empty cycle tracks.
So much for proponent claims that these tracks would reduce traffic.
The cost of so many wasted hours cant be understated.
What kind of environmental impact is caused by an extra 232,687.5 hours of active vehicular traffic?
What does this add up to for consumers as extra fuel is purchased and extra wear and tear is imposed on vehicles due to this slow, start and stop traffic?
How about productivity? I bet if those 1/4 million hours were applied to work rather than sitting in traffic, we would see some benefits.
How about quality of life? 232,687.5 unnecessary hours are being wasted sitting in cars. What if that time was spent with family? Perhaps in the gym? Maybe simply sleeping or getting a better breakfast. Pretty much anything is better than sitting in traffic without cause.
These numbers are from just one avenue in Calgary. The cycle tracks are on many other streets and are impacting traffic there too. What kind of extra commute time numbers are we talking when all of the cycle tracks are added up? Possibly into the millions of hours.
Millions of hours of time wasted with fuel burned by Calgarians so that a handful of hipsters can use cycle tracks downtown during good weather. Is this a good trade?
Calgary has one of the best cycle path systems in North America but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the few but shrill downtown cycle lobbyists.
City council needs to look at the real and cumulative impact of these tracks downtown. They are a failure and should be removed if the interests of the majority of Calgarians are to be taken into consideration.
Of course, if the interest is an anti-auto agenda rather than that of the majority of Calgarians, we can expect these tracks to stay no matter how terrible the numbers are.
When Nenshi found himself rightly being sued for slandering a Calgary businessman and philanthropist during a radio interview, many people were rightly concerned that taxpayers would find themselves on the hook for the legal bills.
Nenshi could have easily ended this entire mess with a simple retraction and apology years ago. That is exactly what he ended up doing in his settlement anyway. Clearly Nenshi was on the losing end of that settlement as he had to humbly apologize and didn’t get his legal fees covered.
I suspect that His Worship in his arrogance was so confident that he would come out on top in this lawsuit that he never thought twice before screaming to any and all critics that he would pay all the legal bills.
One has to wonder if Nenshi would not have dragged out this legal mess as long as he did if the city wasn’t going to backstop the legal bills for him until he could pay them back? How many employers will pay 6 figures in legal fees on a loan for employees who are in the midst of getting sued for slandering somebody and outside of their employment duties? Nice loan if you can get it.
The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation acts as a watchdog on political spending on all levels of government. This is very important in municipal politics as there is no official opposition working to ensure that our elected servants are being responsible with our money. In doing his job at the time, Derek Fildebrandt made a request to ensure that the Mayor indeed was going to pay his own damned bills.
Fildebrandt’s inquiry set off a classic, petulant Naheed Nenshi public tantrum. Calgary’s Mayor truly does sound like a six year old when he gets upset.
Roger Kingcade with QR77 radio in Calgary did a fantastic, dramatic reading of Nenshi’s social media hissy fit which can be played at the link below. Nenshi Vs Fildebrandt tantrum.
Nenshi sure was sensitive to the issue.
As Canada’s highest paid mayor ($216,401 per year), I guess Nenshi felt he could absorb the costs if he had to.
Now it looks like Nenshi will be asking others to pay his bills through contributions. How long that will take and how that may work on a political influence level is tough to tell at this point.
One thing that we can be sure of though is that taxpayers have tied up a bunch of capital in covering Nenshi’s legal fees until he can find a way to pay them. Will there be interest charged? Service fees? Loans typically aren’t free and I don’t see why an exception should be made for our Mayor who dug his own legal hole.
We can doubtless look forward to more outbursts from Nenshi on this and other issues.
We must follow up on this though as no matter how hard Nenshi howls, the bill simply isn’t paid until Nenshi finds a way to pay it.
For now as usual, taxpayers remain on the hook for the cost of Nenshi’s big mouth.
I had an unusual experience in the last few days. A homeless gentleman showed up in my pub one evening. He was friendly enough. He paid for some food and a few drinks and then hung about with some of our regulars for the evening who ended up putting him up for the night. While homeless folks are pretty common in Calgary, it is unusual in Priddis as we have little in the way to shelter them.
The next morning the fellow showed up in our coffee shop and hung about there for the day. Again, he caused no problems and bought a couple items. He is pretty rough around the edges though and made our younger staff members in the coffee shop a little uncomfortable. He then moved into the pub for the evening when it opened. He ate a pizza and then wandered off to where he had camped.
This morning the poor devil showed up at the coffee shop at 7am quite frozen and exhausted. It turns out that while he had a tent, he had no sleeping bag or blanket. He says he had heard large animals moving about in the night which is very possible as we have many cougars and black bears in the area. He was quite miserable and had barely slept.
I had tried to coax him into coming to Calgary with me yesterday to no avail. He was quite eager for a lift into the city today after his experience last night. I drove him in and dropped him off downtown today.
I had a long conversation with him on the drive. It sounds like this guy led an interesting though rough life (as I am sure is the case with many homeless). Substance abuse had taken it’s toll on him physically and while I am not a professional by any means it was pretty clear to me that while the gentleman was quite smart, he had some serious mental health issues.
This man was harmless and troubled. I very much hope he finds some help and settles in somewhere.
Now what I am getting to with this long ramble is that we have to get over this ridiculous and ongoing notion of “ending homelessness” and get more realistic in mitigating it. The man I was dealing with in this last couple few days will never be able to hold down a regular job and likely will never be able to place himself into a position where he can maintain an independent living arrangement. This man needs help mentally and fiscally and will need a degree of care to ensure that he doesn’t come to harm.
Rent controls, forcing developers to build certain housing units, secondary suites etc. and all the rest of that trash that comes from these initiatives to “end homelessness” will do nothing to aid folks like the man I met this week and the thousands of others who are in similar states yet this is exactly what these people who claim to want to end homelessness keep focussing on.
We need to realize that there are some people who will forever be transient no matter what we offer for housing. Some of these people will never kick their substance abuse nor will they somehow beat mental health issues.
Let’s work with those realities and see how we can best help these people with realistic mitigation and care options instead of pursuing expensive pie-in-the sky housing goals that will not help the people who have truly fallen through our cracks in society. I know that the authors of these countless initiatives are predominantly well meaning, but they are also blinding themselves to the true realities of some of these situations.
We need to invest more heavily in mental health facilities and yes, even have some people institutionalized at times. We also need to invest much more in temporary sheltering and substance abuse treatment. The funds wasted chasing potheads around would be well spent on this for example.
Like so many things (such as native issues), we need policy makers to work on dealing with hard realities rather than fluffy ribbon cuttings. It will make a world of difference to us all down the road.
It is no secret that Naheed Nenshi has been practicing a polarizing style of politics in order to try to get an ideological agenda through City Hall in Calgary. While creating opponents for himself and trying to pit different factions against each other in local politics, Nenshi has created an atmosphere that is becoming increasingly personal and toxic. While proving to be a terrible leader within council due to his inflated ego and petulant style, Nenshi has proven himself to be able to gather a small but very vocal and almost cult-like following among Calgary hipsters who are becoming increasingly distasteful and aggressive in responding to anybody who may critique the Mayor.
To make sense of much of this mess, one has to go all the way back to the multi-million dollar, ridiculous navel gazing exercise called “Imagine Calgary”. Nenshi was one of the creators of the Imagine Calgary document which reads like a surreal dream of some utopian world of art and density which is all strongly controlled by a central council. Sound extreme? Read it yourself. I have broken down many elements of it. The document speaks for itself.
Imagine Calgary is important in that if you look into it, you will see that nearly all of Nenshi’s initiatives tend to spring from it. He says so Himself:
Imagine Calgary serves as something of a bible to His more fervent of followers.
An element of Imagine Calgary that has been hitting council lately has been the “Pedestrian Strategy” as can be seen below.
Councillor Sean Chu is familiar with the ridiculous goals of Imagine Calgary and he sits on the Transportation Committee in City Hall. A presentation was made to push forward with this Imagine Calgary themed pedestrian strategy despite a lack of costing or substance to the plan. What we have is a recipe for a pointless boondoggle which may employ a number of bureaucrats and lead to even more traffic congestion in the city if this strategy is not carefully monitored and scrutinized. In doing his job, Sean Chu questioned elements of the strategy and ultimately voted against it.
This was of course a form of blasphemy in the eyes of Imagine Calgary zealots and led to some brutal and outright offensive attacks upon Chu on social media.
Perhaps we will never know why Tyla was laying in the middle of a main road like that at such an hour. It was a terrible loss of a person so young.
Not to let an opportunity to attack pass, blogger and noted Nenshi sycophant Mike Morrison tweeted and tried to imply that Chu’s opposition to the Imagine Calgary based pedestrian strategy somehow contributed to this accident or one’s like it.
How on earth would any pedestrian strategy possibly have prevented that tragedy? What possible motive would there be in trying to connect that accident to how Sean Chu voted in a committee?
This was political opportunism of the worst and most repugnant of sort. Note that 23 others jumped on the bandwagon to retweet Morrison’s odious tweet.
Being unrepentant Morrison carried on which whipped up even more fervor on social media which led to this:
The urban cycle aficionado and Nenshi supporter above actually came right out and told Sean Chu to go back where he came from. What century are we living in again? Retro indeed.
Like Morrison, this @Ruebyretro character has offered no apology for this disgusting behaviour. She has simply switched her twitter account into private and is laying low.
The bottom line is that these people are so fervent in their faith in Nenshi and the goals of Imagine Calgary that they truly feel they have done nothing wrong in attacking a political opponent like this. Taking advantage of the tragic fatality of a teen to try and score political points and sinking into blatant racism are tactics considered to be fair game by these people. Rather disturbing.
I do have to differ a bit with Ian though it that Nenshi has done one thing to change the face of Calgary. Naheed Nenshi has created the most vicious and divided civic political environment seen in a generation within Calgary. A dubious honor at best but a noteworthy accomplishment all the same.
As we see noted philanthropists and council members dragged through the mud in our city by our Mayor and his following, we really have to hang our heads in shame in having re-elected that man as our Mayor. These ongoing incidents are getting embarrassing.