One of the defenses often spat out by our illuminated proponents of all things tax-funded is claiming that every crackpot project from city hall will somehow help promote tourism to our city. It is rather hard to believe that there is a subculture of globetrotters out there who will come to Calgary to see the art work at our water treatment plant, to walk on a closed major city artery on a hot summer day, to look at our hideously ugly and massively overpriced bridge that is under permanent construction or to ride some smelly bike in a tax funded foolish bike share program. I don’t see planes becoming overbooked in the future as people scramble to hear a live reading from our future official Poet Laureate either.
There is a small but clearly influential subset of people who unfortunately and clearly have a strong impact in Calgary’s city council in that these endless, stupid, tax-funded ventures keep surfacing and actually getting approved. Step back a few feet folks and look at some of the aforementioned initiatives and try to think of how much positive impact they have on our tourist economy.
Even if those idiotic things do manage to draw a few people to Calgary, what kind of people are these and what kind of spending are we talking?
How much will we get out of a bunch of bike riding hippies who likely will try to squat in our parks anyway? Set aside an acre downwind of the city with a hotel built from hemp if they really need a destination. The smell of patchouli will drive away good tourists if we keep them around.
Calgary draws many visitors on it’s own merit as a city. I am sick and tired of these self-loathing fools who feel we must somehow try to transform Calgary into some sort of arts utopia while using models like Paris and Venice for a comparison.
It must be kept in mind that European cities have existed for millennia which has allowed them to slowly build and acquire their stunning architecture and art pieces. Calgary is barely over 100 years old.
It is Calgary’s youth as a city that is her strength. We have untouched prairie and mountain environments on our very doorstep and we have the energy and vigour that only a modern and fast growing city can demonstrate. Yes, our downtown is full of modern skyscrapers. Instead of whining about them, admire them. The Bow building is a striking building that represents our city and will remain in the memory of visitors. The river-spanning fingertrap while perhaps memorable is out of place and only detracts from our city.
We should be embracing what what we have and what we are as a city while ignoring the detractors who think we should be something else. Let’s celebrate our ambition and free market ways. Those who really despise this should consider moving to Toronto where entitlement and laziness is more appreciated.
Now, on to the Calgary Expo. This non-profit group worked hard and pulled off a coup in landing the entire principle cast from Star Trek the Next Generation at their coming show. In the world of Trekkies this is huge. Never has the cast of that entire show been reunited like this and I can assure you fanatical Star Trek fans are booking flights and hotels right now so they can participate in what will be an historical event in their fandom. The event will draw countless people and our city will gain prominent coverage in areas that we had not been very visible in before. The benefits from this event will last for years and we didn’t need to spend a pile of tax dollars or build any ugly new structures.
Now what kind of people will this event draw? As opposed to the Druh Farrell/Brian Pincott sort of affairs that draw hippies who draw tax dollars, the Calgary Expo will draw self-funding dorks and geeks.
Lets face it though, nerds are in these days. Look at the success of shows such as the Big Bang Theory and look at the status that folks such as Bill Gates have. Nerds make money and they spend money. When the dorks descend on Calgary motels will be packed, comic sales will explode, hypo-allergenic products will experience a run and escort agencies will not be able to get enough Wonder Woman outfits for their staff. From the exhibitors at the event itself to pretty much every other service industry in the city we will see a hike in business that weekend.
The Calgary Expo has happened every year and it has always been a benefit to the city. They have worked hard to build their profile and have earned the credibility required to draw the celebrities that they have for their show this year. They should be applauded and emulated.
Again, let’s quit pretending that Calgary is something that it is not and work on our strengths. We can and do draw other conventions and events and should focus on more of them. We have the service infrastructure and increased demand will only help it grow. People will come to Calgary for the event and will come back to Calgary in the future for everything else the city has to offer. Honesty and celebrating what we are is what will keep our tourism growing and yes I am speaking of the Calgary Stampede that the arts crowd bitches about every year too.
And hey, if I seem to be a little too hard on geeks let me state that I am one as well though not as stuck on comic books and fandom. I believe that the video of dueling economists below was robbed in not being nominated for a Grammy and would cross the world to see a live debate between Keynes and Hayek were they to be somehow raised from the grave. It is Superbowl Sunday and I am blogging. Geeks come in many forms.