It has hardly been a secret in the last few years that the anti-“sprawl” zealots have held a disproportionate degree of sway over Calgary’s city council and planners. Despite the vast majority of the city not being within the barista/hipster city center crowd, city decisions have acted as if most of our populace wanted to live in some sort of expensive, dense Manhattan style of city.
I am not exaggerating when I describe the anti-“sprawl” crowd as zealots either. If you are on twitter, only a short observation of the Calgary bike cult or the armchair city planners on #yycccc will quickly drive home that there is a collection of people who are outright fervent beyond reason when it comes to the idea that our city is growing outward and that people are daring to drive cars. This would be simply laughable if city hall treated these folks as the fringe element that they are but in light of the ridiculous decisions and plans from city hall it is clear that this minority tail is heavily wagging the majority dog here.
The reality is that 97% of Calgary’s growth has been in non-core areas. People do not want to live in a dense, bike laden hipster’s paradise and they are moving in droves to the suburbs. Despite the infrastructure challenges of a fast growing city, our city council has been focused on idiotic navel-gazing about how to find millions to decorate a new LRT line with art projects and building ugly pedestrian bridges.
One of the great (and sadly plentiful) bizarre plans that our city planners have vomited out has been to remove a lane on Macleod Trail to make room for bike lanes!
This folks is how simply stupid it is getting. Even if that idiotic plan does not actually get implemented, how much did we spend to have these fools design it? They have actually targeted one of the most congested roads in the entire city and are proposing to make it smaller! Do you really think there is a traffic backup of bikes just waiting to use new lanes? Do you really think that people will give up their cars in the tens of thousands to ride bikes to work in January if we simply choke off enough major arteries in our city? Our fanatics in city planning seem to think so.
The hiring of the controversial and extreme city planner Rollin Stanley reflects the mindset of city hall right now. Ignoring how clearly city residents are voting with their feet and wallets in moving to the suburbs, the city has sought out and found a planner who wants to somehow force upward growth in Calgary. This is a man who actually celebrates parking problems and does not hide his disdain for strip-malls (that service the majority of the city population).
Despite City Hall and it’s hired zealots trying to force-feed us into some utopian urban density, they are failing (though expensively). Citizens are moving from the core in droves and now in a brilliant move, Imperial Oil has decided to relocate their headquarters to the suburbs.
The game is vicious in downtown Calgary as corporate headhunters snipe talented employees from each other. It is critical for every energy company to gain the best people that they can from geologists to production accountants and Imperial has just played a master stroke.
City hall and their density obsessed planners have always worked under the assumption of “if you build it they will come”. These planners have assumed that if they simply force the issue though congestion and zoning that citizens would comply and resign themselves to living in an urban environment. People have put lie to that with their home purchases and now corporate Calgary is following the people.
Every other energy company in Calgary should worry about any of their employees who live in South Calgary right now. Downtown workers have endured years of wasted time due to the purposeful choking of traffic into and out of downtown Calgary by our deluded city managers and planners. Downtown workers have spent countless millions in parking fees and fuel to get downtown. Now with Imperial Oil able to offer employees in the South an extra ten hours a week of their lives along with the parking and fuel savings, they will be very well placed to snipe and retain some prime people.
I have seen some caught up in the density cult already chirping about putting punitive taxes and such on Southern heathens who may dare to live and work within the suburbs. This again demonstrates their total disconnect with the simple and invariable concept of supply and demand.
Okotoks crowed for years about their growth cap as a community outside of Calgary. Reality and consumer demand caught up and Okotoks has rescinded what was an unviable and idealistic policy. Now should our city be foolish enough (and I fear it may be) to continue to harangue suburban dwellers, all we will see is movement to satellite cities such as Okotoks, Strathmore, Cochrane etc. as corporate offices move to city fringes to follow the people. Sorry kids but in such a circumstance there will not be enough coffee shop facilities and bike rent stations to keep the “vibrant” urban core that some desire. You need real players and real money for that and our city is driving them out.
I feel that the idiot who proposed closing a lane on Macleod Trail for bikes should be fired for complete incompetence and disconnect with reality. On the other hand though, I almost hope that our city council is indeed stupid enough to rip up all six lanes of Macleod with this purpose in mind. That perhaps will finally be the final straw which will encourage voters to get off their butts and vote out the extremists we have on council such as Druh Farrell, Brian Pincott and Gian-Carlo Carra.
I am not sure what else it would take.