Invisible ghost town.

At a glance Calgary’s downtown appears to be vibrant and thriving.

Huge modern buildings shine and tower while cranes are hard at work building even more. Traffic appears to be bustling until one realizes that this is more due to lane reductions from bicycle tracks and poor traffic light synchronization rather than a volume of commuters. Parking lots are expensive and bursting at the seams but then one realizes that this is due to a purposeful strangling of parking supply by the city of Calgary which led to Calgary being second only to New York city in parking costs throughout North America only a few years ago.

The reality is that Calgary’s downtown is languishing with near a whopping 30% vacancy rate!

People don’t see it but this is nearly catastrophic when measured against other major cities in North America. A 10% vacancy is considered high. 30% is unimaginable (except in Calgary).

Of course most of this is due to the crash in Alberta’s energy industry but there is a great deal more to this picture than that. Large companies were bailing out of Calgary’s downtown well before the most recent crash.

CP rail moved their headquarters out of the core in 2012 in a move that saved them an estimated $19 million per year. 

Imperial Oil decided to move from downtown to Quarry Park in 2012. 

The trend of companies leaving Calgary’s congested and expensive downtown has been going on for quite some years now. The energy crash only made the trend much more acute.

A friend of mine who was working in multiple buildings last spring shared some video with me of the spaces.

It’s almost eerie seeing these modern yet abandoned spaces. Some are portions of buildings, some are entire floors.

Some areas are gutted, some are partially renovated.

Some offices are still furnished.

Some even have packing boxes left behind almost as if folks were fleeing an impending disaster (I guess in a sense they were).

This urban catastrophe could actually be turned into an opportunity but Calgary city hall will need a complete change of attitude and ideology in order to take advantage of it.

We have all of this modern space within a city with an international airport. In the right conditions businesses could be flooding into the city.

To begin with, the city needs to court small to medium businesses to fill all of these gaps. It was almost embarrassing to see tossing their figurative panties at Amazon as they dove into a spiral to the bottom in whoring themselves in hopes of gaining a massive new entity. Logistically Calgary was never in the race for new headquarters. Why on earth would a company that specializes in shipping items stay on the same side of the continent as their current headquarters in an expansion? They needed an eastern location with modest labor costs. While Calgary only spent $600,000 and didn’t offer massive subsidies to draw Amazon, it still was utterly wasted money on an unrealistic dream.

The powers that be in Calgary city hall now want to piss away 10s of millions chasing an Olympic dream which may cost billions if we get it. Meanwhile Calgary’s downtown ghost town gathers dust.

Instead of chasing these whales that demand massive taxpayer subsidies, the city needs to look for those small to medium businesses that are flourishing within the modern economy. All these offices are virtually plug and play as some are even furnished.

As was written recently, Calgary’s business taxes are outright out of control. 

It’s a competitive world. Businesses simply won’t move to a location where taxes are too high and Calgary’s are way too high. Sadly Mayor Nenshi and most of city council are obsessed with vanity projects such as the Olympics and ugly public art projects which consume tax dollars when they should be seeking ways to reduce spending in order to reduce taxes.

Unless Calgary reduces the business tax burden, Calgary’s downtown will keep its vast number of empty offices.

Calgary needs to drastically reduce the parking rates.

Parking costs downtown amount to another tax on businesses down there. Companies either have to spend to pay for their employees parking spaces or compensate their employees more in order to offset the cost for the employees.

This is due to an ideological push from Calgary city hall over the years to try and force people out of their cars and into public transit. The city owns the bulk of the parking spaces downtown which allows them to essentially set the baseline price. In keeping supplies of parking spaces down through regulation on new buildings and in taking spaces out for barely used bicycle tracks Calgary managed to get the grossly expensive parking rates that were highlighted earlier.

The effort failed. Calgarians still overwhelmingly choose to live in the suburbs and they choose to drive their personal vehicles to work. They won’t ride bikes or get on cramped sporadic buses. City hall needs to face reality and accommodate consumer demand by reducing parking costs downtown and adding more spaces as needed. Despite their rainbow and unicorn ideals professed, companies don’t choose headquarters based on the number of bike tracks. They look at the dollars spent and the comfort and convenience of their staff.

Next, the city of Calgary needs to massively reduce their regulatory burden on businesses. Just this week it was in the news how a local brew pub had to spend over $10,000 and wait 11 months just to get a tiny patio approved. 

This is ridiculous but this is typical. Calgary city hall is massively bloated and massively over managed. Useless regulatory burdens cost businesses in the city untold millions in compliance. These regulations cost taxpayers millions in administration and staff that we simply don’t need. City hall needs a strong bureaucratic suppository to flush out the clingons which would allow for the tax cuts that businesses to desperately need.

Calgary is run by a tax and spend administration right now and we all are paying the price for it. Council and administration need a massive change of attitude which likely won’t happen for at least another 3 years.

Small business needs to be courted and embraced rather than seen as a tax cow to be milked and regulated.

Downtown Calgary needs to be seen as a place to do business in rather than being a giant pet project where a pipe dream of some sort of bike riding, pedestrian utopia is to be created with tax dollars despite the wishes of citizens.

Until all the above changes are made, the massive empty spaces sitting in downtown will remain as an opportunity lost.

The silent majority in support of energy is finally speaking up.

For decades we have let the anti-progress, eco-extremists set the dialogue and the agenda on proposed energy projects. We were too busy working. We aren’t the type to spill into the streets. Their protests aren’t going anywhere right?

Well we were wrong.

The extremists are winning and all of Canada is paying the price as we lose billions in energy revenue and untold billions in general investment as we are seen as a nation that is a slave to minority protesters.

Finally people are getting up and not letting the extremists control the messaging.

Last month thousands of ordinary Calgarians came out on a cool day to show their support for the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The demonstration was productive and peaceful. Great speeches were given by activists and politicians and many in Canada took notice as they finally saw people taking interest and getting out to show their concern with the state of our energy industry.

This is quite a contrast from the increasingly violent and extreme anti-energy protests that we are seeing.

Polls are indicating that Canadian support for the Trans Mountain pipeline is actually increasing in light of the ongoing protests against it.

Normal Canadians are tiring of the extremists and nutcases dominating discussion on important energy infrastructure projects.

That said, politicians still live in abject terror of the tiny minority of crazed protesters who set up grimy camps and illegally chain themselves to equipment. The influence of these extremists is disturbing to say the least.

We need to beat them at their own game and we are beginning to do so.

Today a protest was being planned by the usual suspects where they intended to make a racket outside of the downtown Calgary Marriot in hopes of disrupting an Enbridge shareholders meeting in the hotel.

The group Rally 4 Resources organized a counter demonstration with just two days notice and the result was excellent.

 

 

Well over 200 concerned citizens came out on a rainy Wednesday afternoon to support the Line 3 expansion.

An orderly demonstration of support was held while the dozen or so extremists found themselves lost in the background pounding their drums in futility.

Had people not come out in support of our energy industry, the little handful of anti-progress demonstrators would have had full control of the messaging and headlines today. Instead they failed and were exposed as being the tiny minority that they are as they were dwarfed by the positive demonstration of energy supporters.

This is what we need to keep doing. I know that we have things that we would rather do. I know that we need to earn a living as opposed to taking grants from American interests as the anti-pipeline lobby does. Despite that, we need to keep coming out.

We need to blunt the disruptive tool of demonstrations that the anti-progress lobby uses. The best way to do that will be to keep coming out to show just how tiny their support levels really are despite all the noise they make.

I don’t know the folks at Rally 4 Resources personally but I do want to thank them for putting this together. They did a great job.

The only thing that was lacking was a large media presence.

The well funded anti-energy types are very skilled in media communications and they play it well. We need to work on that front as well in future gatherings. People need to hear from the majority for a change and that means working to get that message to the media.

I look forward to the next rally.

Cash Cow

 

Anybody who has traveled on Highway 22X in the last few months know’s what I am talking about.

Last summer, a great deal of construction began over a 10 kilometer stretch of the highway in what I assume is part of the Southwest Ring Road construction project. While little work was done on the highway itself, there was a lot of activity near it so the speed limit was reduced to 70 KPH for the entire stretch.

As a man who worked many years as surveyor, I had many opportunities to work on roadsides while jackasses speed by at what feels like mere inches from my setup. I understand the need for construction zone speed limits and I fully support the strong enforcement of those limits.

The problem with the zone on Highway 22X is that there has not been any active construction in months but the limit is still 70 KPH!

As soon as the snow flew, all construction stopped. The equipment left and everything went to normal aside from the reduced speed limit signs.

Construction will not start again for months so why the hell are we still being forced to slow down?

As can be seen above, we are talking about a wide stretch of divided highway with large shoulders and not a single corner. In most places, the limit would be as high as 110 or at the very least 90. 70 KPH is utterly pointless and painful to maintain for that long stretch.

As soon as you leave city limits on the highway, the limit goes to 100 KPH.

What difference is there between those two pictures aside from the speed limit signs? What factor made the above picture unsafe to drive at 100 KPH while the one before that was 70 KPH?

The answer is none. The limiting of speed provides utterly no safety benefit whatsoever or the entire highway would languish at that absurd speed limit.

So why keep the limit low? Who benefits?

The picture below tells you.

Highway 22X has become a favorite fishing hole for lazy City of Calgary police officers who want to fill their quota of tickets with the least amount of work.

Cops know that commuters are frustrated with the unreasonably low limit and that they will eventually simply speed eventually as it almost hurts to crawl along so slowly on such a fine piece of road. Due to this, they set up on that stretch constantly and nail commuters who while they were indeed speeding, they were not putting anybody in any danger at all.

If the cops truly were pursuing traffic safety, they would be enforcing in areas with a high degree of risk or a high number of accidents. Actual active construction zones (there is no shortage of them) or playground zones come to mind.

Alas, many officers prefer to set up to try and get a big fish as they nail people going 30 kph over the limit as that is a safe speed to drive on the road despite the limit.

With the cash rolling in from these fines, there is little incentive for the powers that be to change the limit to something realistic until the construction starts again.

Foothills councilor Suzanne Oel has posted on facebook advising that people contact the powers that be with the project. 

I imagine that Ms. Oel is getting tired of constituent complaints on this issue.

Lost hours are lost living. Thousands of vehicles are delayed daily from this idiotic limit which cumulatively leads to countless hundreds of thousands of people’s hours wasted in driving. While folks who don’t need to do this commute may brush this off, this is a large irritation for those of us forced to do this drive daily. Especially if we have been nailed with one of the ridiculous tickets that the cops are handing out like candy on Halloween in the area.

Remember, the next “construction zone” could be in your area next.

As usual, it takes citizens to initiate what should be common sense as the bureaucrats are incapable of it.

Please email info@SWCRRproject.com or call 403.212.0565 to tell them to pull their heads out of their asses on this one.

It may help them apply a little common sense on the next project.

 

 

New city charters could spell fiscal disaster.

An issue that has been sliding under the radar in this municipal election has been that of the proposed new city charters.

Naheed Nenshi and other tax and spend style civic politicians have long been salivating at the prospect of gaining new powers of taxation in a city charter. Left wing politicians prefer to simply suck ever more dollars from the productive rather than take the time, effort and difficult choices required in order to balance their municipal budgets.

Thankfully, in the new proposed municipal charters there are no new taxation powers being offered. Notley jealously guards her taxation powers and doesn’t want to share them with municipal governments. This is one of the few benefits we can see from having multiple layers of left wing administrations.

While we dodged the taxation bullet in the city charters, there are still two proposals within them that cause some serious concern. The charters give municipalities the ability to run deficits, and allow municipalities to get into the finance game.

Right now under the municipal government act, municipal governments cant run deficits. Under the proposed changes, municipalities will be able to run deficits as long as they budget to pay them off over the subsequent three years. Lets not beat around the bush here. We know damned will that most of our free spending municipal politicians will run huge deficits that they will claim are short term. They will then hit the fiscal wall a few years later and come crying cap in hand to the provincial government. How that mess will be solved is anybody’s guess but you can be assured that taxpayers will be the losers in the deal as usual.

A more subtle but even more serious concern is in giving municipalities the ability to lend money to individuals and developers in order to finance housing. This could lead to an utter disaster.

I view banks as a necessary evil. They are a pain in the ass to deal with and you often feel more like a supplicant when dealing with them rather than a customer.

That said, banks simply are essential and they are good at what they do when they are left alone. The requirements for mortgage qualification are very carefully crafted to be able to service as much of the market as possible while minimizing risk of default. This can be frustrating for folks with limited capital, or poor credit when they are trying to enter the housing market but it simply is necessary. If the requirements are lightened, defaults will rise and interest will shoot up as non-defaulting mortgage holders are forced to take up the slack. In other words, the productive get punished for the actions of the irresponsible (socialism for short).

Many on the left hold a misguided notion that there is a giant pool of people out there who are would be able to responsibly maintain a mortgage if only they were given the chance to get into the market. We should overlook their poor or non-existent credit ratings. We should ignore their spotty employment history. We should set aside the need for a down payment to secure financing. If we just got these people into houses, they would do fine!

Alas, the above notion is utter bullshit. It is that kind of thinking that led to the US subprime lending disaster which caused the real estate collapse a decade ago that some regions are still trying to recover from. Backed through the government agencies of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, countless loans were given to people who simply would never qualify for mortgages otherwise.

In what should have been obvious to everybody, the whole thing collapsed as defaults exploded.

If we give municipalities the ability to lend money for housing, we can rest assured that flocks of well meaning but delusional municipal politicians will go on a lending binge to people who really should not get loans. The defaults will be inevitable and the damage will land as always on responsible home owners and taxpayers as the market artificially grows and then collapses. This is not theory people, it happens every time when government gets into the mortgage business and sets aside reasonable loan requirements.

Whether we like it or not, there simply are a great deal of people out there who are incapable of managing and maintaining a mortgage for countless reasons. Perhaps one day, these people will get there. Setting aside conventional credit requirements wont teach these folks responsibility.

I doubt that these charter proposals will become dominating issues in this civic election but I wish that they would. These are some time bombs waiting to go off on us all. I hope people corner their candidates and question them on these proposals. It may not save us from them but its worth a shot and we will know exactly who to blame when it all falls apart.

 

On Nenshi, public art and bullshit.

Public art in Calgary is back in the news again. This is not surprising as the public arts program in Calgary is nothing less than an embarrassing and expensive catastrophe. Countless pieces of grossly overpriced and ugly “art” are commissioned from artists all over the world (rarely local) and placed in locations where few people can see and admire them (if indeed there is anything to be admired).

Every year we see an explosion as one wretched piece of expensive public art hits the news and every year Nenshi pays lip service to reforming the system while not actually doing anything about it.

It is time that more than words are applied to this terrible program. With the tens of millions spent, Calgary could indeed be on its way to being an arts center worthy of visiting to see the displays. Instead the arts are generally an embarrassment.

Nenshi has moved on into blatant bullshit territory in his defense of the latest art scandal in Calgary. At first Nenshi called critics of the piece a lynch mob. Nenshi then spoke of how they consulted natives and implied that this was native inspired art. Today Nenshi is claiming that the piece has utterly nothing to do with natives. Nenshi is tying himself into knots as he trips over bullshit of his own fabrication as he tries to do everything possible to maintain Calgary’s public arts program without changing it.

Shane Keating and Sean Chu have put forward a motion to suspend funding on arts until a proper system can be built.  The Mayor has signed on to this motion as well but it will take follow through in order to make change. 

The Mayor used the word “tweak” when speaking of changing the policy. It needs a hell of a lot more than that.

Its election season folks. There is no better time to pressure candidates to do the right thing. We know Nenshi wont change anything, but with the right set of councilors the system can be changed despite the Mayor’s objections.

Ask your candidates where they stand on Calgary’s public arts policy and vote appropriately.

Otherwise, we will see these annual, expensive embarrassments continue.

I came! I saw! It sucked!

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.

Otherwise, get used to “lynch mobs”.

Pride has given in to extreme elements and has lost its way.

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.

Where has the time gone?

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

 

Roger Kingkade did a fantastic dramatic reading of the exchange here.

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.

Has Druh Farrell finally gone too far?

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.

The statement of claim against Farrell can be downloaded in full here.

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.

The Progressive Conservative establishment selected their candidate

janse

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).

liberal liberal2
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.