The suit goes on.

While Druh Farrell may fancy herself as the Queen of Kensington, her royal status held little weight today in court. The judge appears not to have cared if the timing of the legal action is of inconvenience to Druh’s election campaign.

Farrell moved to have the suits filed against her dropped today. While the suits were combined from two into a single suit today, the legal action against Farrell continues.

The press release from representatives of the Terrigno family can be found here. 

Farrell clearly tends to feel insecure about her ability to get re-elected as it appears that this is not the first time she has tried to sway the timing of events away from election periods.

In the evidence presented against Farrell, there is a sworn statement from her associate Jeremy Sturgess where it appears that Farrell was trying to influence the timing of the Terrigno’s land redesignation application in order to avoid the application becoming an election issue as can be seen below.

Original scan of the document can be found here

Nothing more inconvenient to face during an election campaign than having to answer questions about development proposals in your ward I guess.

Today the Terrigno family saw a small victory as the effort by Farrell to have the lawsuit tossed out was quashed.

It will be interesting to see what the final ruling on this suit will be. The evidence does appear quite compelling.

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This is what defamation looks like.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The document in its entirety can be found here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Druh Farrell. The poster child for term limits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters_to_Druh_Farrell_Asking_her_to_recuse_herself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Video tour of Calgary’s public art projects.

I have to admit, my expectations were pretty low when I went out with Jane the other day to have a look at the $500,000 Bowfort Towers art display along Highway 1 on the West side of Calgary. I tried to keep something of an open mind but found myself utterly underwhelmed. This was simply a waste of $500,000 that was spent on a foreign artist.

This got me to wondering just how many arts projects at massive costs we do indeed have out there. Most Calgarians don’t have the time to go tour all these fine works as they are busy working in order to pay their ever increasing city tax bills in a recession.

The City of Calgary website lists and gives some good detail on public art projects. I picked a nice loop that I could drive and tour a handful of these pieces of work.

I took video so I could share with taxpayers in detail just where their hard earned dollars are going. My narration could be better, but I think I tend to get the point across.

The sites I visited were essentially random and based on what made for a good circuit of travel.

First I went to Ralph Klein park on the East side of the city. The park is quite nice with some natural wetlands and paths to enjoy. There was what looked to be a very nice interpretive center. I imagine students and such come down to learn about wetlands and water treatment. The other thing that was striking was the totally empty parking lot. Jane and I were literally the only people in the entire park aside from a few City of Calgary vehicles though it looked like the lot could fit at least a hundred vehicles.

Despite it being a beautiful evening not a single Calgarian was out enjoying the art piece.

Now on to this fine piece of work, the one is called the “Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels”. In the tradition of Calgary art projects, it was designed by an artist from New York. Much like the Bowfort Towers, it consisted of a few pieces of rusted metal along with a couple hills of dirt. Another thing the Sentinels shared with the Bowfort Towers abomination was a lack of direct access.

For whatever reason, the city has fenced off all access to the Sentinels. We could see that paths had been initially built so that visitors could go up to the “art”. Now those paths and the hill was overgrown with weeds and park benches were bleaching in the sun. What could be seen of the art project had to be done at a distance of about 100 meters.

Another departure from the Bowfort Towers was the price. The Sentinels clock in at a healthy $1.57 million. 

How the hell does it cost so much to erect a couple of rusty pieces of metal and push up some dirt???

I will let the video do the rest of the talking on this one.

Next I took a short drive to see a modest piece entitled “One Puck Hollow”.

Nestled deep in the Foothills industrial park, this art piece was accompanied with an empty parking lot just like the last one.

As with the last couple art pieces, this complex design was created by an artist from New York.

The price tag on this work was relatively low at $150,000.

What we got for $150k though was utter bullshit. There was mounded dirt (a favorite for New York artists apparently) ringed by metal railing with a rock in the middle. It was perhaps 20 feet across. How in the hell could this possibly cost that much to create?

We are getting screwed here folks.

Next I drove to the Calgary “Poop Palace” in Forest Lawn. Next to yet another empty parking lot and behind a chain link fence topped with barbed wire we have a sewage lift station. Along the walls there is something of a light show which really looks like any Christmas light home decoration set from Wal Mart if a person wants to spend a few bucks.

Because this was “art” however, the “Poop Palace” rings in at $236,000.

The only redemption here is that the artist is apparently Calgary based. The only one I found on my tour.

Next I drove to find the “Bow Passage Overlook”. This is accessed through the park on the East side of Inglewood. It took me quite a bit of walking to find this thing as there were no signs to direct me and there were pathways all over the place. I was somewhat out of breath as I shot the video. Guess its a sign that I need to get out hiking more.

This little pavilion/park or whatever you want to call it was actually quite nice. It is surrounded by construction right now and there were no people there but it is a very nice spot.

The question here though is the cost. This was sourced out to an American artist of course and the bill came in at $3.12 million.

We could build a mansion with better landscaping than this spot for that kind of money. While the site is nice, clearly Calgarians got ripped off again.

My fifth and final stop was on the Bow River again just West of Crowchild Trail.

In my opinion this was the most perverse and utter waste of tax dollars on what was a truly ugly display.

This piece of garbage was entitled “Outflow” and was designed by…… wait for it… an artist from New York.

I guess the tall foreheads at city hall decided that this storm water drain needed to be prettied up.

For the low price of $1.85 million they found a New York artist to rip us off and design one of the worst art projects in the entire city. The forms still show seams, the bottom of these weird creations is filthy and full of debris and it is simply ugly. Nobody was admiring these of course though it is on a busy pathway. It really made me think of the cheap decorations you see at old theme parks such as the old Flintstone Park in Kelowna back in the 80s.

It is almost criminal that nearly two million was spent on this atrocity.

There are dozens and dozens of other public art pieces around the city. These five were essentially a random sample so one can expect pretty much more of the same.

There will be no better time than now to pressure elected officials to end this public art scam upon taxpayers. An election is coming in just a few months and you will never see politicians more receptive than when their jobs are on the line. Hell, even Druh Farrell is finally calling for reform of the city arts policy.

No, I am not calling for an end to all public art. I don’t think many folks are. I am not calling for an endless string of simplistic pieces either. What we desperately need to do though is fix what is clearly a broken system for tendering, choosing sand placement of public art. Millions are being wasted on projects that nobody is enjoying and it is simply waste. If we don’t speak up, it won’t stop.

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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.

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Calgary city councillors need to learn what their mandate is

 

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

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

pinhead

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

druh

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

dcu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Druh Farrell and her goofy anti-auto ideology yet again.

jaywalking-downtownThe tiny yet vocal anti-automobile crowd in Calgary love going on and on whenever an auto/pedestrian accident happens about how this is due to our sick car-culture and such. They love to paint a picture of Calgary’s streets as if it is a never ending scene of carnage with cars mowing pedestrians down at will. Due to the laws of physics, pedestrian vs. automotive collisions often do end in tragedy and we should examine ways to reduce these sorts of accidents as much as is reasonably possible. This is where anti-auto ideologues such as Druh depart from common sense yet again.

druh

This week’s incidents proved that people like Druh Farrell and her supporters don’t really care about pedestrian safety. Their goal is simply to attack personal automotive usage however possible.

If we truly want to look at reducing accidents involving pedestrians the approach has to be multi-facetted and look at a number of things. Infrastructure, traffic movement and the enforcement of traffic laws all are factors in road safety. The anti-auto set only wants to look at one factor however and that is personal automobiles. They endlessly call for traffic calming projects, reduced speed limits, increased enforcement of traffic laws against drivers and even the outright removal of many roads. What the anti-automobile gang never mentions however is that we need to crack down on reckless pedestrians too if we truly want to reduce collisions.

Construction is a pretty common thing in a growing city like Calgary. With construction, we occasionally have to close some sidewalks temporarily for reasons of space and safety. BOMA Calgary excellently explains all of that here.

Sidewalk closures are clearly marked with bright orange signs and a simple detour making people walk on the other side of the street is typically required. At a construction project at 7th Avenue and 5th Street, many pedestrians were lazily and dangerously ignoring the clearly marked detour and walking in the roadway rather than crossing the street as directed. This led to a great hazard for both drivers and pedestrians and led to complaints. This led Calgary police to set up and write 40 warnings and 90 jaywalking tickets.

peds

Are the signs bright enough? Is the detour not clear enough? I think the picture above says it all. It is even a short block and it is not like it is mid-winter when walking is uncomfortable.

The straightforward enforcement of traffic laws on pedestrians made the usual suspects in the anti-auto set go haywire on social media led by the ever vapid Farrell who tried to imply that the construction company was somehow at fault for these jaywalkers. Druh feels that the pedestrians are not 100% to blame in this and they are sometimes “forced” into traffic. Pardon me? Forced? How? Only by their own laziness. There is a perfectly safe crosswalk and more than enough signage to show them how to get there. Nobody was forced to break the law Druh.

Some called this a cash grab. Really? A few officers for a day issuing 90 tickets? How much was the net fiscal benefit of this? A fraction of that of any red light camera or speed on green I imagine. If they simply wanted to make money, there are many lucrative speed trap spots they like to set up in.

Some said that if the police really wanted to stop the jaywalking they would have stopped people from doing it before they jaywalked rather than waiting and ticketing them afterwards. Huh??? Does that mean the only way for officers to stop speeders is to tail vehicles to make sure they never do it? Can we only stop trespassers who ignore signs by standing there and stopping them? Do we need to assign a police officer to stand day and night at every sidewalk closure to inform people what those bright orange signs mean? No! The signs are clear. The police did exactly the right thing and set an example. If common sense won’t stop these jaywalkers, perhaps the threat of fines will.

Reducing pedestrian collisions requires increases enforcement of all traffic laws and that certainly includes jaywalking. If anybody claims that they want to reduce pedestrian/automobile accidents in Calgary yet opposes enforcement of laws against jaywalking that person is clearly and simply full of shit. Drivers who run red lights and go through crosswalks with pedestrians in them should be ticket just as idiot pedestrians who blindly step into traffic should.

If nothing else this weeks incidents proved yet again that folks such as Druh Farrell and her anti-automobile supporters are driven only by blind ideology as opposed to outcomes. Anybody who is outcome driven and truly wants to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities would have applauded the Calgary police service and their crackdown on jaywalkers.

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Gian-Carlo Carra’s $100,000 “high-level rendering”

OK, it is hardly news when Gian-Carlo Carra and other members of the Flakey Four on Calgary city council waste the tax dollars and time of Calgarians. It is no shock that Carra want’s to transform a portion of his ward into some unpronounceable European modelled walkway at the expense of automotive infrastructure.

Gian-Carlo Carra has really outdone himself this time though when he went begging to city council for $100,000 to study this inane proposal a year ago and we are now presented with the “high-level rendering” below.

rendering

bathers

Yes, $100,000 and one year to create drawings that look like they were done by a 6 year old.

The rest of the “high-level” renderings can be found in a Metro article here. The quality and depth rivals the picture above.

Simple words such as “picnic” apparently are beyond the spelling ability of these folks doing this fine study and they depict nude sunbathers in the pictures too (not well drawn unfortunately).

There really is little more to be said about this. It is just another gross example of finite city of Calgary tax dollars being wasted on the whimsical notions of a city councillor. I really wonder what the tendering process is (if any) to do these six figure studies that take a year to draw stick people.

Just wanted to document this beauty so people have yet another thing to point at when Nenshi and his Flakey Four allies on Calgary city council (Druh Farrell, Brian Pincott, Evan Woolley and of course Gian-Carlo Carra) try to claim that we need to keep imposing record high property tax increases as there simply is no waste to be cut in city hall.

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Bureaucracy run wild in Calgary costs a homeless charity $350,000 per year.

homeless

Examples abound but this one is a truly magnificent demonstration of the anti-car idiocy that has taken over  in Nenshi’s city hall. It is hard to write anything about the actions of Calgary city hall without the word ridiculous being used too much.

The Mustard Seed is one of the most respected charities in all of Calgary in helping with homeless people. They expanded to a large new building downtown. The new facility provides 228 affordable housing units and three stories for education and employment services. Due to city regulations, the building had to contain 79 parking stalls and 60 secured bike racks.

Due to the reality that homeless people typically don’t need parking spaces, 70 of the parking stalls and all of the bike racks are languishing empty.

Thanks to years of city hall’s anti-auto strangling of parking spaces, Calgary is second only to New York city in all of North America for the highest prices for downtown parking. These rates will only be going up as hundreds of downtown stalls are going to be removed for a bicycle track “pilot” program. This has the side-effect of making downtown parking spaces a very lucrative possession, that is if you are allowed to rent them out.

The Mustard Seed could make $350,000 per year renting out those empty and wasted parking stalls. Unfortunately adding parking goes against the anti-auto ideology of Calgary city hall these days so they refuse to allow the spaces to be rented out. The volunteers and staff at the Mustard Seed get to look at those empty spaces every day and wonder what charitable works $350,000 per year could be dedicated to if only Nenshi’s city hall transportation could drop their ideological agenda and let a little reality creep in.

According to this story, the Calgary Transportation department told the Mustard Seed that letting them rent out their parking spaces would encourage traffic.

Essentially a charity like the Mustard Seed will be paying $350,000 per year to remain in keeping with the anti-auto agenda of city hall councillors such as the Flakey Four (Pincott, Farrell, Woolley & Carra) and their leader Naheed Nenshi. Anti-auto ideology trumps simple common sense and Calgary’s charities are paying the price.

Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu has thankfully been speaking up on this issue.

chu

Evan Woolley, the councillor for the ward that the Mustard Seed is in has so far remained utterly silent on this issue.  In the next week, I hope we see some more city councillors questioning transportation bureaucrats on this latest idiocy. I expect we will hear nothing but silence from the usual anti-auto suspects. I wonder how good they feel knowing the homeless get to subsidize their anti-auto agenda?

 

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Time to clear up some things on the Calgary Southwest ring road

The hard-left collective four on Calgary’s city council (Druh Farrell, Brian Pincott, Gian-Carlo Carra and Evan Woolley) have managed to stir up quite some discussion through their hyperbolic posturing during a committee meeting the other day. Discussion on issues is always a good thing. The Flakey Four (ht. Rick Bell) however are on more of a water muddying mission than any real pursuit of facts. It has been something of a dark comedy as we listen to these four initially claim to be concerned about costs (they never have shown such concern before), yet invariably go on anti-auto tirades as soon as extended discussion ensues.

The four aforementioned city councillors are all inner-city representatives with long-established reputations of being anti-suburb. These four are extremely ideologically driven and consistently oppose anything they view as being supportive of suburban development or automotive infrastructure. Their opposition to the ring road has utterly nothing to do with the cost of the project and everything to do with the fact that the road will serve the needs of suburbanites.

It’s time to cut through some of the BS.

For starters, this is a provincial issue and not even within the jurisdiction of Calgary’s city council. The province has already made it clear that this project is going forward no matter how much noise inner-city councillors make.

Next is a demonstration of need. Opponents of the ring-road are simply claiming that we don’t need it. In the poorly edited image below I will demonstrate the need.

ringroada

I couldn’t find an image that combines current traffic flow with the projected ring road location so I cobbled one together. If you can squint really well or expand the image you can see the need for this traffic artery demonstrated.

The poorly drawn yellow line is an approximate rendering of where the ring road is going to go. The dark purple lines on the map indicate roads that carry over 100,000 vehicles per day. People familiar with Calgary’s Southwest will recognize the traffic bottlenecks immediately. Glenmore Trail, Crowchild Trail and 14th Street SW are all heavily congested with both commuter and trucking traffic. As can be clearly seen, all of those roads will see a great reduction in traffic with the coming of the ring-road as traffic can and will by-pass those narrow and traffic-light laden routes.

The red line is pointing to where development will be happening in the city of Calgary. The city boundary includes those areas and development down there is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Calgary is a fast growing city and despite the efforts of our density obsessed members of city council, 92% of people are choosing to live in the suburbs. Most People just do not and will not squash themselves into inner-city condos no matter what the inner-city ideological four think.

Hundreds of thousands of people will be building on and living in the Southwest region of Calgary in coming years. Is not one of our common complaints that infrastructure is always built after the fact rather than in anticipation of growth? The need for the ring road is already there and will only become more acute with time.

The need for the ring road is clearly established. The Flakey Four loves wistfully talking about the amount of LRT tracks that could be laid with the money but that will not aid in the movement of goods and services. Your plumber is not going to ride the train to your house, a parent of a family of five is not going to ride the train to get groceries and the grocery store will get it’s stock by truck, not LRT.

With the need established, the more realistic area of contention is the cost. It must be remembered, the need is not going away and the cost will not be going down over time. That said, the ballpark cost of $5 billion is a very large number. We need to break down and work out why it is in that range as much as we can before the province lays out more detailed information on this.

For a history of the ring road click here. The gentleman who created this blog has done a fantastic job of digging up and documenting the history of the road as well as reporting new developments on it. Considering it appears that the province’s first approach to the Tsuu T’ina band on this road was in 1947, there is a lot of history to cover.

The largest cost factor that differentiates the Southwest leg of the ring road from the rest of the segments is that the road goes through the Tsuu T’ina native reserve. This brought about a great deal of added costs as compensation for land and other factors came into the deal that other legs did not have to deal with. Dealing with potential burial grounds and other culturally sensitive issues arise on the reserve.

There are clauses in the agreement that guarantee some of the contracting on the construction of the road to the reserve. When working in the North, mandatory hiring of native contractors is usually part of our obligations in permits to work on crown land. The reasons why it costs so much more to use native contractors would be fodder for an entire series of blog postings. Be assured though that while native contractors can often do a fantastic job, they cost a great deal more than any other contractors tend to.

The ring road goes through the old artillery range of CFB Calgary. The clearing of the land of potential unexploded ordnance before construction is a huge and unique cost.

The Southwest ring road is in some environmentally sensitive areas that other legs of the road did not have to deal with. Crossing upstream of the  Weaselhead area is one example as well as crossing smaller water bodies like Fish Creek.

From the ring road blog:

The Southwest Ring Road includes:

  • 26 km of six and eight-lane divided roadway
  • 37 bridges
  • Crossings of Elbow River and Fish Creek
  • Rail flyover
  • 13 interchanges:
      • Westhills Way SW interchange
      • Sarcee Trail SW interchange
      • Old Strathcona Road SW interchange
      • 90 Avenue SW interchange
      • Anderson Road SW interchange
      • 130 Avenue SW interchange
      • 146 Avenue SW interchange
      • 162 Avenue SW interchange
      • Stoney Trail/Highway 22X systems interchange
      • Spruce Meadows Way SW/James McKevitt Road SW interchange
      • Sheriff King Street SW/6 Street SW partial interchange
      • Macleod Trail SW interchange

 

As demonstrated above, this is a very large project with many unique costs and challenges.

It took two referendums and decades of negotiations to get an agreement with the Tsuu T’ina band to get this ring road going. Part of the agreement also says that if the province does not have this road going within 7 years of the land transfer, the deal will be void. There is no time to dither on this. We can’t navel-gaze and think about it for a few years now. It would take decades longer and unimaginable compensation to do this deal again if we break it with the Tsuu T’ina now.

I don’t know how much it would cost to simply break the agreement right now but be assured there is a clause that states we would be paying the Tsuu T’ina  a great deal of money just to get out of the contract. Something that can’t be measured in dollars would be the lost faith and trust between the Tsuu T’ina band and the province/city. Trust is a limited commodity with First Nations as it is. Breaking new deals won’t exactly help.

One more thing that many folks are neglecting to mention is that the projected costs include 30 years of the maintenance of the ring road. The $5 billion is not simply for construction, it covers decades of maintenance that will be expensive under any circumstance.

It was irresponsible for Alberta Transportation to toss out what they now call a “ballpark” figure on the cost of the ring road. We need more detail before we can properly understand and absorb the costs associated with this critical piece of infrastructure. Having no detailed breakdown for the costs leaves room for opponents such as the Flakey Four to speculate and it is difficult to counter such unfounded speculations.

We need detailed costs and we need our provincial representatives to debate and work on these costs. There probably is room to reduce the cost of this project if we look closely enough. Let’s be clear though, the ring road is going ahead. To cancel the deal now simply is not a realistic option no matter what some inner-city councillors are dreaming.

Sideline the Flakey Four when it comes to further discussion on the ring road. They would oppose the project if it was 1/4 of the projected cost. Their issue is not with cost, it is with ideology and it always will be.

The ring road needs open and rational discussion and the place for it is in our legislature rather than city hall.

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