The Progressive Conservative establishment selected their candidate

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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).

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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.


Even in an obscure ministerial role, Jansen could not help but let her Liberal elitism leak out as she embarrassed herself by berating electricians as being too low of form of trade to maintain political roles.
Jansen quickly scurried into hiding and let the party take care of damage control due to Sandra’s rather embittered outlook on tradespeople was exposed.

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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.

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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.

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We will find out in the next few months.

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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’s 12 Ave bicycle track causing nearly 1/4 million extra driving hours per year for commuters

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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.

Naheed Nenshi said in a radio interview that on 12th Avenue alone the cycle track has added a 2 to 2.5 minutes for drivers to get a short 14 blocks.

While those numbers sound small at a glance, one really needs to look at the cumulative impact of these tracks and in that context they are staggering and bad.

When crunching the numbers and being generous on 12th Ave alone, we see the addition of nearly a quarter million driving hours per year in the city due to the tracks!


12th Avenue SW in Calgary moves between 15,000 and 21,000 cars on an average weekday. It is a very busy avenue on weekends too as it is a main artery. I picked the lower part of the average and used 17,000 cars per day.

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.

Sad when the damage and cost is considered.

 

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Calgary taxpayers give Nenshi a loan.

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From yesterday’s CBC article: The city is picking up the tab for Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s legal battle with developer Cal Wenzel, but he now has to fundraise in order to pay the city back.

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.

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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 hope he has pursued insurance for future suits.

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Getting real with homelessness

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.

::rant off::

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Calgary urbanist extremists going out of bounds in their vitriol

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.

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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.

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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.

In a tragic event last week, troubled teen Tyla Chipaway was killed after she was struck by a taxi when she was laying in the middle of 16 ave NE in Calgary at around 3:30 am. 

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.

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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:

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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.

Ian Robinson wrote a column in today’s Sun that excellently points out that while Nenshi has created a lot of hype, he really has not actually accomplished much to speak of in his years as Mayor. This lack of progress does explain some of the almost desperate actions of Nenshi’s frustrated followers.

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.

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Quit peeking over the fence!

fenceAs I have grown and matured, I have learned a few lessons (still lots of maturing and learning to go). I am going to share one thing that has greatly reduced stress in general in my life and I hope that many learn to take this one to heart.

QUIT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO!

Before school I envied the toys of others. In elementary school I got outraged thinking some kids got preferential treatment from teachers. In high school I thought it was unfair how some guys got the girl of my fancy while I did not. In my first few years in the working world I constantly stressed over which co-workers made more money than me or had what I perceived to be better positions or roles within the company.

It took me some years but I have learned to stop caring what others have or do as long as it doesn’t impact me. I must say, this has been one of the most relaxing revelations of my life.

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In this last week folks on both the right and the left have been acting as fools as they fret about things people do that have utterly no impact on them at all.

The debate on gay straight alliances has really brought out more intolerance than I imagined still exists. The comments on my blog post just prior to this one were disappointing to say the least. If people have different sexual orientations why do some other people care? Really, how the hell does it hurt you? Why do some folks fret and lose sleep at night because some same sex couple is happy together? Nobody is forcing you to be gay (nobody could), in fact nobody is forcing you to do anything so why so bothered?

To the indignant social conservatives who are getting ulcers over same-sex relationships I say get over it! Quit looking over the fence and quite worrying about it. People being gay isn’t impacting you a bit but your working yourself into a lather over it is bad for you. If you would just quit worrying about what others are doing, just imagine how much extra time you could dedicate to your own activities.

Now I sure as hell am not giving the left a pass here. The left loves to fret about the possessions of others despite it not impacting them at all. The left thrives on the politics of envy and they lose sleep at night wondering what in life happens outside of what their perception of “fair” is. The bitching about the lifestyles of the “rich” truly is intellectual sloth at it’s finest as of course the effort taken to get to this “rich” position is always overlooked. The contributions to society through mass taxation, philanthropy and the employment of others is overlooked as the left whines about a shiny bauble that another may have.

A new gated community is opening in Calgary and the collective short-dick whining from people over this is disgusting. Even city Councilor Gian-Carlo Carra got in on the action saying that people moving into such a community are participating in a “douche move”.

Yes, the commentary loaded with the obtuse politics of envy on this new community is sad indeed. How does it hurt you when people spend their own money choosing a gated community? Do you really think that the world will be better if all these “rich” were dragged down to your economic station in life? I assure you it has been tried many times and failed so why go this route? Look up North Korea if you don’t believe me.

Get over it and stop peeking over the fiscal fence! Either aspire to that financial status and get to work or just relax and get comfortable where you are. Berating the successful is morally worse than the supposed greed that the successful practice as it means that you want all of their possessions but are too lazy to do what it takes to get there.

Reduce the stress and quit worrying over what others have or do. It is not your concern and you are only hurting yourself in spending time on it.

Will close with the great Joe Jackson 80s ballad on the futility of envy.

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Have a rental crunch? Don’t be dense!

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Scarce and increasingly expensive rental properties in Calgary have been making the news lately. Mayor Nenshi took advantage of the issue to ignore basic supply and demand principles while trying to label Calgary landlords as being greedy and gouging.

It is no secret that Naheed Nenshi is a very ideologically dedicated to increasing urban density within Calgary by any means possible such as Calgary’s virtual suburban development freeze. While hindering and freezing outward growth in a city will indeed lead to increased urban density it will also inevitably lead to a higher cost of living, particularly in the rental market. This makes it understandable as to why Nenshi wants to distract people from the consequences of his development policies with a baseless and divisive attack on landlords within Calgary. It would be rather difficult for Nenshi to sell his density mantra if more people realized just how hard those density policies end up impacting low and middle income Calgarians.

The vast majority of people simply do not want to live in crowded downtown situations. That is why when the market is allowed to develop naturally, cities will grow outward to fill demand and it will keep real-estate and rental properties within the bounds of proper market price. When outward growth is hindered by obstacles such as an ocean or ideological city council, higher urban density along with greatly inflated housing costs soon follow.

Don’t just take my word for it though. The numbers tell the tale and the very direct correlation between urban density and high rent is very easy to see.

Below I have listed American cities in order of declining density based on people per mile square and then have the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in US dollars next to it.

New York City   27,778 people per sq. mile       Average rent: $2,933

San Francisco 17,867 people per sq. mile         Average rent: $3,413

Boston  13,340 people per sq. mile                    Average rent: $2,080

Chicago 11,864 people per sq. mile                   Average rent: $1,628

Miami    11,765 people per sq. mile                    Average rent: $2,049

Seattle  7,774 people per sq. mile                      Average rent: $1,402

Cleveland 5,107 people per sq. mile                  Average rent: $635

Portland Oregon 4,375 people per sq. mile       Average rent: $1,106

Houston 3,662 people per sq. mile                    Average rent: $1,191

Dallas 3,645 people per sq. mile                        Average rent: $1,090

Phoenix 2,797 people per sq. mile                     Average rent: $776

Las Vegas 1,659 people per sq. mile                 Average rent $766

The pattern is pretty stark. While variables such as local economy, taxes and desirable real-estate have an effect, it is clear that the higher the urban density you have, the higher the rent.

Even with a strong economy and an incredible landscape, the hipster’s Mecca of Portland Oregon keeps rents reasonable through outward growth and low urban density.

Houston and Dallas are commonly demonized by density proponents for their evil “sprawl” but they clearly offer a great standard of living as they both have strong economies and low rents. Phoenix and Vegas have all sorts of space to grow outwards and it shows with their very low density and their associated low rents. Calgary has plenty of room to grow outward too if we would just allow it.

Keep these numbers in mind as Mayor Nenshi continues to promote high urban density and constant tax increases. While Nenshi may indeed create his high-density utopia but it will come at a very heavy price for people with low or fixed incomes as rents inevitably continue to rise quickly. High density and low rent simply does not happen in the developed world.

 

 

 

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A repugnant anti-Christian display in Alberta

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In the selfie above, it can be seen that I sport a tattoo of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was formed in 2005 in response to a ridiculous court ruling in Kansas that called for the teaching of “Intelligent design” alongside the teaching of evolution in science classes in public schools. The rationale was that nobody can prove that God didn’t create the Earth thus it must be given equal footing in science class. A brain-dead judge in Kansas agreed. Nobody can prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster PBUH didn’t create the Earth either thus the church of FSM made an excellent point along with some great humour. More information on FSM can be found here.

What the picture demonstrates aside from my having a bad haircut and even worse taste in tattoos is that I am not a Christian by any means and am strongly opposed to seeing theology integrated into the public school system again. I have little use for any organized religion in general but do feel that people indeed have every right to believe in whatever fairy tale that they like as long as they never feel the need to have the state impose the delusion of their choosing upon others. This is why my ire is most often directed at the crescent moon rather than the crucifix when it comes to these matters.

Having established my lack of faith in Christianity, I will state clearly that I am not supporting the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta either. I have no simple photo to demonstrate that but there are dozens of postings on this site that pretty clearly demonstrate where I stand on things.

Now, on to the anti-Christian crap that has annoyed me. Premier Jim Prentice appointed Gordon Dirks as Alberta’s next Education Minister and this has caused elements on the left to go haywire calling the appointment controversial, inappropriate and even outrageous.

Why is the appointment of Dirks such an outrage? It is not that he is not well qualified. Dirks served over a decade as a trustee with the Calgary Board of Education, has a masters degree in education from the University of Regina. and served in multiple cabinet roles in the Saskatchewan government. Dirks has no record of controversy or extreme views so what the hell is the problem?

The problem is that Gordon Dirks is openly and unapologetically Christian!

Dirks has not called for bringing religion into the classrooms nor shown any indication that he wants to do so. He has not been a part of any of the crazy Street Ministries in Calgary or led any loony marches. All he has done is dare be open about his faith.

If Dirks starts moving towards trying to integrate church with government or classrooms I can assure you that I will be in the front of the line demanding that he be fired as minister at the very least. Until then though, the only real basis of opposition to this man is an overt and rather offensive anti-Christian outlook.

It has been said before and it is worth saying again, would these usual suspects be calling his appointment scandalous due to his faith if he were Muslim, Hindu or Jewish? Not for a second of course because those on this anti-Christian bandwagon are simply being shallow, hypocritical, anti-Christian assholes. Really folks, bigotry is bigotry no matter what faith you are pointing at. It is the actions one needs to be concerned with rather than the faith and we have not seen any controversial actions or intent from Dirks.

We are a free nation. That means that a person’s faith should not impact whether they qualify for a job or not. Do these anti-Christian folks not realize that when they say a person is not fit for cabinet due to their faith that this is the exact sort of prejudice that they love sending people to the Human Rights Commissions for?

Irony or hypocrisy it is distasteful all the same. The same crowd of folks who support people being dragged before Human Rights Commissions for the supposed crime of publishing cartoons feel that it is OK to disqualify a person from a position solely based on what their faith is.

The other thing that is annoying me here is that this display of anti-Christian attitudes is giving credence to idiots like Craig Chandler who like to claim that those who don’t like them must be “Christaphobes” Chandler just called me that name last week as a matter of fact. Just to clarify, my issue with Craig Chandler is not that he is a Christian. My issue with Craig Chandler is that he is a belligerent, unprincipled asshole who is poisoning Alberta’s entire political atmosphere. Let’s not give guys like Craig more excuses to play the victim here.

Being secular means keeping religion out of government, it does not mean keeping people who have religions out of government. I think that some of those folks who have been so outraged at the appointment of Dirks need to take a good long look into a mirror and think about who really is the intolerant one here.

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Let’s get real on secondary suites in Calgary

lawnpark

Every time secondary suites come before city council in Calgary, we hear the usual chorus bemoaning the status of secondary suites in the city. The process is indeed tedious and not an efficient use of city council time as every suite application comes before council for discussion for approval or rejection. There is no doubt that this is a terrible system of approval and it needs reform. That being said, this does not justify the radical changes to zoning that the secondary suite obsessed want to see throughout the city.

Nenshi has a vocal cult following and secondary suites have always been a frustrating pet issue of his. This of course has led to quite the crusade over the years by his faithful to push to have secondary suites legalized throughout the entire city. Every year the hype gets louder and if these zealots were to be believed, everything from homelessness to nose-warts would end if only those darned stubborn NIMBYs in the city would allow widespread secondary suites.

What we have is a mess in the system for approval and regulation that indeed needs to be addressed. The potential benefits of widely legalized secondary suites have been grossly exaggerated by proponents for years though and we have to get back to reality here.

To begin with, how many new secondary suites would Calgary really gain if they were legalized throughout the city? A study back in 2008 estimated that there were 50,000 to 80,000 “illegal” suites in the city already. In the six years since then the city has grown of course so those numbers are likely higher. What this tells us is that those who want to build secondary suites are building them already despite current regulations. Clearly whatever legislation there is against secondary suites is of little to no deterrent for people who want to build these suites. Getting realistic, how many more suites could we expect if the suites were legalized? To be blunt, not a hell of a lot.

The numbers above do not mean that there is no benefit to legalization of more suites, but it does demonstrate that legalizing suites will not be the panacea to solve issues of high rents and homelessness in the city as the fanatical pushers of these suites like to imply they are. The supply really won’t grow by that much.

druh

 

Druh Farrell has long been a strong proponent of the mass legalization secondary suites throughout the city. Druh loves to wax on about the misery of tenants living in illegal suites as they have limited protections in landlord/tenant issues and can often live in unsafe conditions. Druh then loves to point out how high rents are and how limited availability is within the city. The true depth of Farrell’s rationale came to light in a radio interview though when she vapidly went into circles in confusion when confronted with the reality that if we found and regulated all of these illegal suites as she wants us to that we would actually end up with less suites and much higher rent. Druh and her ideological kin have always had something of a deficit when it comes to the concept of supply and demand.

We may have as many as 100,000 “illegal” (grey market) suites in the city of Calgary. Likely well over 75% of them need at least some upgrades to bring them to code in a legal and regulated market. Bringing a suite up to code in Calgary can range in cost anywhere from $10,000 to over $100,000. It simply isn’t cheap. Landlords who find themselves confronted with the sudden legal need to upgrade these suites will have to choose between closing the suite and evicting the tenants or doing the renovations and raising the rent considerably to recoup their costs. Landlords are not charities people. The bottom line is that we will either lose a suite or costs will rise. Neither of those two options aids in availability of suites or rental costs of course (that supply and demand thing). We need to work to ensure that suites are safe but let’s not pretend that enforcement won’t have a very big impact on supply.

Now the next question is whether or not a big market of prospective landlords is waiting in the wings just salivating at the prospect of opening a secondary suite but has not done so yet because it is illegal. The city of Calgary waived their ridiculous $4,500 application fee which is a good thing. This led to what was described as a “rush” by homeowners to apply for rezoning. How many applications were in this “rush”? 11!!! Yes, folks even with free application costs the grand total of initial applicants for zoning was 11 people. There were a couple dozen more pending. We are speaking numbers in the dozens in a city of well over a million people. Folks who want to rent secondary suites are already doing so in the grey market and will continue to no matter what the regulations.

We need some degree of oversight and regulation on where we will or will not allow secondary suites. Some neighborhoods simply are not well designed to handle them. Some people purposely seek out neighborhoods with low numbers of rental properties and they pay a premium to live in these neighborhoods. These people have a right to speak up and be concerned if the city wants to suddenly change the deal in zoning. The fervent followers of Nenshi spit out the NIMBY term at such folks of course but it has to be kept in mind that most of those followers are hipster renters who dwell in the Beltline who have little regard for the property values or taxation of others. These are issues that cant be dismissed.

There is a great deal of overreaction to prospective suites too. As I pointed out, there really are not that many folks who want to open new suites out there and having a suite or two on your block wont be a disaster by any means. Stuffing 10 suites into a cul-de-sac however will cause havoc and that is why rezoning still has to be considered case by case even if not by city council itself.

There is a need to reform policy on secondary suites in Calgary. Let’s set aside the zealous density ideals though and be rational about what needs to be done and what benefits can be gained. If one’s concerns are about availability and cost of living in the city, they should aim their guns at the essential suburban land freeze that Nenshi’s administration is practicing. The effect that broadly legalized secondary suites will have on homelessness and cost of living in Calgary will be negligible at best.

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