Saturday, June 9, 2007

Op-Ed in today's Herald

Today's Herald op-ed starts to set out the results of much of the BCC's work over the last several months, into a bit of a manifesto. The piece is not available on-line (strangely, op-eds on the letters page never are), but the major points include:

UPDATE: the full test is indeed posted on the Herald's website.

Ending urban sprawl. The growth patterns we see in Calgary are not natural evolution; it’s because of the choices we have made that 80% of Calgary neighbourhoods lost population in 2005, a year of incredible growth. We have chosen to subsidize new homes on the outskirts of the city, while making it difficult to redevelop inner-city and existing suburban neighbourhoods. We need to ask ourselves why bureaucrats measure the height difference between a “deck” and a “patio” for home renovators while we pay almost full freight for the infrastructure needed in new areas.
Renewing our focus on public transit. Everyone who has studied the issue comes to the same conclusion: new roads create traffic, they don’t remove congestion. Transit, on the other hand, is the answer to so many of the issues that big cities face: congestion, pollution, social isolation. We have to work hard to make it the best possible choice, not the choice for those who have no other choice.
Fighting urban poverty and homelessness. While big cities have inequities in income almost by definition, homelessness is not inevitable. How is it that Calgary, with its sometimes-brutal winters, has far more homeless people per capita than Vancouver?
Building vibrant, missed communities. Arts and culture really matter – even if people never go to the ballet, they want to live in a city with a ballet. Even more important is the backgammon-and-bocce stuff I discussed at the beginning. Cities need an urban vibe, attractive and attracting public spaces, and neighbourhoods that are welcoming, safe, and mixed.

We'll post the full article in the next couple of days, after the Herald's exclusive expires.

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