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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
To begin with on this rant, I will shed the label “progressive” for policies and refer to them for what they are on the spectrum: “left wing”. The left/right political spectrum is an accurate measure in describing general political leanings particularly with policies if not with people. Many keep wrongly trying to claim that the left/right concept on the political spectrum is out of date or inaccurate. Almost invariably those trying to hide from the left/right descriptor are people who land on the left side of things as they try to describe themselves as “progressive” (despite opposing most forms of progress). Left leaning folks in Canada are understanding that hard left-wing policy is unsalable to the electorate when presented openly thus while retaining the philosophies they try to mask the real intent politically. We see this most often in civic politics where the lack of a party structure has allowed many hard-left leaning candidates slip by the electorate when they typically would have been rejected.
One of the biggest contradictions in the left-wing world has been their constant claims of wanting to support the poor while supporting so many policies that harm the poor further. There are two factors that strongly affect people in low income situations; the economy and the cost of living. If we really want to ease the pain for low income people, we should be ensuring that we have a strong economy so that income may be found for those who seek it and that the cost of living remains as reasonable as possible. Unfortunately, left wing initiatives only harm the economy and shoot the cost of living through the roof.
With the left gravitating so much towards civic politics, we have seen quite a trend of an almost religious-like urbanism that is zealously focused on increasing population density at all costs. In Calgary we have seen this with the importing and hiring (at huge cost) of American municipal planner Rollin Stanley who is so obsessively density focused that he is actually controversial and somewhat well known. It takes quite the extreme viewpoints for one to stand out so much in the typically dry world of urban planning but Stanley has managed to do so with his unreasonable anti-vehicle and consumer outlooks.
Through regulatory abuse and red tape, Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with left-wing allies on council such as Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott have essentially frozen suburban development. 97% of Calgary’s growth has been in the suburbs over the years and there is a good reason for that: it is affordable and people don’t want to raise their families squashed like sardines in a dense urban environment. Despite such overwhelming demand by consumers, the density obsessed are working hard to take away consumer choice through regulation. There is a great little saying about socialism: “Ideas so good that they have to be mandatory.” We can’t let those unwashed citizens choose where to spend their lives and dollars! It is upon the urban planners to force these people into what we see as “sustainable” living.
Now when one meddles with the law of supply and demand there is always a consequence. In Calgary (and many other cities) housing is being choked by ideologically extreme councils thus causing the cost of housing to go through the roof. Many of density zealots love to wistfully speak of Manhattan and San Francisco as great density models to follow. What these ideologues constantly forget to mention is that these centers are catastrophically expensive to live in with average homes costing over a million dollars in Manhattan and nearly as much in San Francisco.
Housing is one of the largest expenses in everybody’s lives. People with low incomes are harmed terribly when housing supply is choked. The poor who the left claim to care about get pushed further and further from urban centers seeking affordable housing which of course leads to even more suburban growth which is second only to the holocaust in it’s evil! To fight this trend, Nenshi has been supporting huge property tax hikes every year along with development levies in order to make suburban living as expensive as living in a downtown density paradise. The left wing density gang does realize that they can’t reduce the cost of living downtown so they hope that in raising the cost of living artificially elsewhere that they can at least equalize the poverty throughout the city.
The poor in cities are now being driven further and further out from the city centers as left-wing policies make living untenable for them. While Nenshi and his followers love to pejoratively toss out the word “sprawl” and feed a myth that the suburbs are subsidized, they are actually feeding outward growth as they raise the cost of living for our most vulnerable. While bedroom communities offer more affordable housing, they often have less employment opportunities nearby so lower income folks either have to commute great distances (environmental evil) or remain unemployed.This comes at a cost to the low-income in lost personal time and in transportation.
The cycle only gets uglier as civic governments try to battle with reality along with supply and demand. Large urban governments are constantly demanding more taxation powers along with charters that will allow them to bully neighboring smaller communities. Satellite cities have seen explosive growth as people retreat from the high costs and purposely traffic-hindered downtowns caused by density focused civic governments. Mayors like Nenshi want to use taxes as a hammer along with control of neighboring communities in order to force a halt to the consumer exodus from their cities.
As the urban poor get hammered by high housing costs caused by left-wing local governments, they get hit yet again through increases in their costs of consumer goods. Protectionism and opposition to big-box product distribution causes the costs of all goods to rise quickly. Mayor Nenshi called new big-box developments “crap” when trying to justify why city hall was using red tape (something Nenshi claimed to oppose) to hinder a viable development. Well, Nenshi not every person can afford to ride a bike to Kensington to purchase handcrafted items from local artisans. Those poor that the left claim to care about get harmed terribly when affordable consumer options are taken from them.
In the early 90s I made my living through pizza delivery. Much of my diet consisted of food from work and what other consumer goods I bought at that time were limited and dear. I remember financing the purchase of a VCR over two years. I think I paid about $500 dollars for that thing by the time I was finished paying. Through open foreign trade and big-box distribution, those types of items along with clothing and countless other things are a fraction of the cost that they were 20 years ago. Despite this, the left wing opposes free trade and large product distribution. Let the poor buy designer clothing I guess.
Ahh but electronics are wants not needs right? Well the left leaves no stone unturned and is ensuring that needs are expensive too. Despite scientific realities proving no nutritional benefits to organic produce, grossly lower crop yields with organic produces, no definable flavor difference with organic products and a massively higher cost for organic products, the left supports these products. GMOs have proven to be harmless and have greatly increased yields thus lowering the cost of food around the entire planet. Despite this, the left hysterically opposes GMOs as the real target of the left is an anti-corporate outlook rather than food safety or affordability. Meanwhile the cost of foods goes up and up.
Idiotic “100 mile diets” which ignore our local climate and consumer demand are pushed along with a raft of other loopy food policies laid out in Calgary’s food plan which was inspired by the insane ImagineCalgary plan which Nenshi participated in building. These plans go as far as trying to force food stores to carry local products and to force them to build into areas that don’t have enough consumer demand to support them (to save the world from long shopping drives). These costs are of course passed along to the consumer and yet again the poor get hit hard.
Now it is pretty clearly established that left-wing policies hurt the poor terribly when it comes to the cost of housing, eating, entertainment, travel and pretty much every other consumer good, let’s have a look at how the left harms the economy.
Lowering the cost of living helps mitigate some of the challenges of being low-income but it does not solve the problem that put the person into a low-income situation in the first place. Big intrusive government does not ease poverty. What people in low income situations need is a strong economy with growing local employment leading to a high labor demand which of course leads to full work weeks at higher pay. Left wing people really do have some sort of mental deficit that makes the concept of supply and demand incomprehensible to them unfortunately. This leads to those who claim to care for the poor constantly championing against industry which is actually the only thing that will ease the poverty.
The left has become so fanatical against conventional energy generation that they now oppose all initiatives no matter what. Even the reversal of a safe and harmless pipeline is now being opposed though these extremists never present realistic alternatives to the energy that they are opposing. Until we see an invention of the flux-capacitor or some other fictional (for now) form of energy generation, fossil fuels are by far our best means of powering our society. The left’s chronic opposition to all forms of energy is costing the poor terribly.
One of the best ways to keep a strong local economy is to have a business friendly climate. A couple weeks ago Mayor Nenshi went on a tirade where he demonized local business leaders and referenced jetsetting and such in ways that would have made Marx proud. Nenshi is now fundraising and building a polarized us vs them climate in Calgary where the affluent and hardworking are demonized. Now think about it, as a business considering locating in a city like Calgary would you really want to move to a place where the Mayor is prone to decrying you as an evil rich industrialist? It is hard to measure the exact amount of damage being caused by Nenshi’s anti-industry attitude but it is very real. While Calgary’s Mayor is not attacking all business people, he has made it clear that he will not hesitate to do so when he feels irked. His tantrum with the homebuilder’s association was almost embarrassing in it’s vitriol.
The left does like firing out the simplistic cries of “tax the rich” or “tax the corporations”! People should have a look at where the vast majority of charitable contributions come from. When people of any income get tax hikes they re-examine their expenditures and charities often are among what gets cut from spending. Charities are often much more effective in poverty mitigation as they target their programs based on real need as opposed to government organizations that more often are based on mass employment of bureaucrats and scoring points for political optics.
The left almost always overlooks philanthropy when attacking those they have determined to be “too rich” in their envious and divisive eyes. As Naheed Nenshi continues his crusade against Cal Wenzel in Calgary, I wonder how this will affect Wenzel’s decisions on his charitable works in the city? Cal Wenzel’s donations to the arts and housing charities in Calgary are well into seven figures. Why should he continue to invest in a city like that when the Mayor works so actively to demonize him?
Naheed Nenshi is a classic example of one who campaigns from the center and governs from the left. One need not scratch Nenshi’s increasingly thin skin much to find that the color underneath is not purple, it is very red. Nenshi’s quest for larger government, higher taxes and his clear loathing of industry are showing his true nature and this bodes poorly for attracting new industry or retaining current industry in Calgary.
Yes indeed, some rich folks do jet around the world and live in big houses. Some of them drive big cars and some can be pretty darned arrogant (though Nenshi has no high horse to ride on regarding arrogance). You don’t have to like those nasty successful people but you had better recognize that we need them. The arrogant rich guy may be annoying but he also potentially employs thousands. While your altruistic Uncle Bob may be a real sweet guy, he won’t be building industry in a city. We need those large industries and the general income that comes with them.
Demonizing the affluent and taxing the crap of them only causes them to leave. Capital and people are mobile and they can and will leave. Yet again in such cases, the poor are stuck holding the bag.
Let’s imagine such a city without evil industries where those nasty, selfish business people have been driven out. Oh what sort of paradise would we have? Well, last year I worked on a contract in Stuebenville Ohio for a while and took some video while down there. Have a look at how a city looks when the rich have gone away.
Imperial Oil, CP, CN and other companies are leaving downtown Calgary. These businesses will go outward to follow the labor migration to the suburbs and to escape the demonization of their industries by local governments and the fanatics supported by them. Developments are fleeing too and we will see more giant malls such as Cross Iron Mills being built just outside of the city limits to avoid punitive local governments. Supply and demand will always win in the end but ideologues such as Nenshi can do terrible damage to the poor in trying to fight it.
The world is full of contradictions and hypocrisy. There are few areas more glaring in this than that of the left claiming to care about the poor. If you care for the state of the poor, avoid “progressives” at the polls at all costs.
There has been a trend lately by some to try and paint the tried and true political spectrum of left/right as being outdated or irrelevant. Much of this attitude is of course coming from some with political interests who are trying to find some mythical middle ground that will appeal to a vast majority of voters. Today the CBC released a poll that concludes that: “Ideology is not guiding Alberta voters.”. That conclusion is simply wrong. Ideology guides all voters to varying degrees. The only thing concluded is that people no longer self-identify as much with their place on the political spectrum. If a person does not consider themselves to be on the right or the left in political thought, it does not mean that their personal philosophy does not land to the left or the right. This if anything is more an indication of the growing political apathy and indifference. People don’t put time or thought into ideology even if they unconsciously follow one.
The left/right spectrum is a simple measure and does not cover everything. Very few people fall fully on one side or the other in every regard. To do so is the mark of a fanatic actually.
Most issues will have responses that clearly can be considered to be either on the right or left side of the spectrum. Just because some people land on different sides at different times, it does not mean that the spectrum is not valid or that it does not exist.
The right/left measure of ideology is a broad measure and is of use when looking at groups such as political parties. While a party may have indeed have policies landing on both sides of the spectrum, it is their general slant that truly identifies the party as a whole and again the left/right measure is the most basic yet indicative and important of measures for this. A voter has to make their choice based on the broad ideology of the party rather than one policy at a time.
Here is a note by the way, an almost fanatical pursuit of a mythical “center” is an ideology in itself.
Can it be denied that Alberta’s NDP is on the left or the Wildrose is on the right? Sherman’s Liberals just released a platform calling for increasing taxes on those they perceive to be “rich” and Redford’s PCs just released another big-spending budget which drifts both parties to the left.
While some try to cloak their leanings in claiming a center ground and putting out vague and inconclusive policies, their roots always show clearly in the end. Twitter is a great way to see the true leanings of groups and individuals. What you do is watch the tweeters and see which side of the spectrum they pejoratively spit about when annoyed. When a large group of people is prone to bitterly spitting out “right wing” and “right wingers” when somebody has a policy they don’t like, you have just been able to accurately place them on the spectrum even if they did not want to be placed there. In Alberta we have the Kitten & Rainbow party that tries it’s darndest to hide their place on the spectrum. In their being led by a former NDP candidate and in their supporters online loathing of the nasty “right wing” they expose themselves.
If the electorate truly was free and clear of ideology they would have rushed to embrace the Alberta Party that furiously is trying to claim the center. Alas, the disingenuous stance of this is transparent to voters and is reflected in the Alberta Party sitting at 2% in the polls despite years of claiming center ground. People may not self-identify much in ideology, but clearly they chose sides when it comes to parties.
Recognizing and understanding left/right positions is important when consuming data from think tanks too. If one doesn’t recognize the Fraser Institute as right or Parkland Institute as left, then you will not be able to take that grain of salt when looking at their statements and studies.
Left and right are indeed only two sides of a complex equation but they are still valid general measures. To broaden things into a four way measure, Political Compass brings authoritarian and libertarian into the mix. Left and right are still rather essential of course. While the quiz is not perfect or all encompassing by any means, it is fun and does give an interesting measure of where one lands on the spectrum.
Now below we see where I land. Looks like a dead-zone when compared to existing and past political leaders. This may indeed explain much about my history of personal political success 😉 Either way my ideological place is distinct if in a minority and there is utterly nothing wrong with measuring it and thinking about it.
A person should not pidgeonhole themselves within one side or another of the spectrum. That closes thought and is indeed the route to extremism whether left or right. Most people have thoughts that land all over the place. The center is a moving target. There is no sense fighting to find it. Choose your place issue by issue. It will be found by most that trends emerge and one isn’t as close to the center as they imagined they were.
Left and right don’t measure it all but they exist as sides on issues and are valid. They are not going away and we should quit pretending that they are.