Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Media Roundup

City Hall isn't on summer vacation yet, and neither are we!

Here are a few media hits over the last week or two.

Naheed was on CHQR 770 talking about City Hall priorities. The interview can be downloaded here.

The Herald has been doing a series on citizen apathy municipally, which can be accessed here. It includes stories on campaign finance reform and making City Hall more accountable and transparent, as well as surprisingly mild editorials from the Herald itself, and luminaries such as Heather Douglas, the CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

Naheed's response, and our attempt to put campaign finance reform back on the agenda, is in today's Herald, here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Naheed on Sounds Like Canada

Here is Naheed on Sounds Like Canada, with Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations. You do have to listen to a bit of k.d. lang on either end, but that's a pleasure.

Sounds Like Canada interview

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Naheed on Sounds Like Canada today

He's actually on the CBC twice today, once on Sounds Like Canada discussing cultural diversity in cities, and once on Wild Rose Forum talking about shopping (!) but the first is likely more interesting to readers of this blog. We'll post a link as soon as the CBC gets it up online.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This week's Herald Op-Ed

Naheed is still wondering about all the attention being paid to the West LRT when the NE LRT design is even worse.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Property taxes and living wage

How odd that these two things came to Council on the same day. Naheed's been doing some media rounds on this, and should be on QR as well as the Eyeopener on Radio One tomorrow at 8:15 AM.

In short, he's been saying that both debates miss the point a little. On property tax, we should spend a bit less time discussing a tenth of a percent here and there and more time talking about whether the property tax is the right way to fund a city.

Similarly, instead of getting hung up on the concept of the living wage, should we not be thinking about the true goal, which is to make sure that people working for the city and its suppliers are not living in poverty? How does ensuring every part-time lifeguard and day camp assistant is paid $13 per hour accomplish that?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Text of today's Herald op-ed

Seems that there was a technical problem keeping the article from being posted online, so we've posted the full test after the jump.

Come with me to the new McKnight-Westwinds C-train station, a lovely place, built on a human scale. No giant stairs to negotiate, really magnificent public art that reflects the neighbourhood.

From here, looking northwest, on a clear day we can make out the airport terminal, across bare land which will one day be a new runway. Rather than planning to extend the C-train in that direction, it’s going to turn its back on the airport and move further northeast into Saddleridge.

There is an excellent question, by the way, about why that alignment cuts through the right through people’s backyards in wonderful neighbourhood, Martindale, and there is no discussion of burying this portion, but that’s a topic for another day.
More important is ensuring access to the airport, both by car and LRT. Barlow Trail north of McKnight will be closed soon, and the plan has always been to connect Airport Trail from the new East Freeway to the airport and Deerfoot, tunneling under the new runway where Barlow used to be.

Recently, the new alderman for the area, Jim Stevenson, learned that John Hubbell, the city’s transportation boss, sent a letter to the Airport Authority a year ago, abandoning plans for the tunnel.

For a variety of reasons – maybe the shocking incompetence of the previous alderman, Helene Larocque, a general apathy to the northeast, or a desire not to think about how much money the tunnel might cost – no one did anything about this. No other alderman took up the fight, the mayor didn’t say a word – if he was even told – and the transportation department didn’t seem to tell the planning department.

This is a very big deal. 18,000 people work at the airport and surrounding lands, and a very large chunk of them live in the northeast. (We are, after all, as a city, encouraging people to live near where they work.) Let’s just conservatively say that one-third of them are commuting from the east side of the airport for 6,000 round trips a day.

A little messing with Google Maps shows that the distance from Coral Springs to the airport using the new tunnel would be about 12 km or a 15 minute drive. Without the tunnel, this drive becomes a 24 minute commute via Country Hills Boulevard, or only 20 minutes on Deerfoot, but an additional 5 km.

May not sound like much, but when you do the math, it means we are looking at an additional 60,000 km per day on our already-congested road network, or an additional 1000 person-hours per day wasted.

As Alderman Stevenson is fond of saying, it would be as though Macleod Trail had no exits between City Hall and Heritage Drive, and everyone going to Lindsay Park, Chinook Centre, the Stampede Grounds and all the neighbourhoods in between would have to circle around Heritage to get there.

It would be even better if these folks could take the LRT to work. Most discussion of transit links to the airport focuses on travelers, but it’s even more important for commuters. While the airport’s long-range plan focuses on building an expensive people-mover to connect to a proposed north-centre LRT line, this is an incomplete solution at best. Even if it’s built in our lifetimes (unlikely) it won’t help workers at all. Who would go from Martindale all the way downtown to come all the way back up to the airport?

The proposed tunnel must include an LRT right-of-way for a future spur of the NE line. Indeed, including the LRT in the proposal could even bring some federal government money to the table.

No one save Stevenson looks good in all of this – the airport authority told the city a tunnel would cost an astronomical $450 to $500 million before sheepishly admitting that this number included three interchanges as well. Even after the transportation department said no, the planning department and Council merrily continued to approve area plans that include the tunnel, and developers have committed millions assuming that their projects would have easy access to the airport and lands west.

Stevenson, who estimates the cost to be more like $50 – 150 million depending on design, was hung out to dry by the city administration and his fellow councilors, who told him to go find the money on his own – a pretty big step for a rookie alderman.

This would be funny if it weren’t so deadly serious.

Once that runway is built, we will never have the chance to connect east Calgary to the airport, nor to extend the NE LRT there. If we don’t solve this now, generations to follow will regret what we failed to do.

Naheed Nenshi, instructor of Nonprofit Studies at Mount Royal’s Bissett School of Business, volunteers with the Better Calgary Campaign (

Op-ed in today's Herald

We haven't been posting many of Naheed's op-eds (generally every second Thursday in the Herald) because he's been writing about non-municipal issues, but check out today's piece on transport to the airport.

Doesn't seem to be online (for some reason, pieces that appear on the letters page are not easy to find online) but we'll post the text here after tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's really on Calgarians' minds

Yes, we need to discuss transit, and the city's mildly insane budgeting process, and the importance of the Airport Trail tunnel, and we will, but for now, can we talk hockey?

Here's the single best analysis of the playoffs we've ever seen. Watch it and forward to everyone you know....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ten year plan on homelessness released

The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness has released its 10-year Plan. While we might quibble with a few points (why not a stronger stance in favour of legalizing secondary suites across the city, for example?), this is strong, solid work. Moving dollars away from the shelter program and into Housing First is smart, proven policy. Given Chair Steve Snyder's appointment to the Alberta Homeless Secretariat, we can bet he has the ear of the province in these pre-election days. We may see some real leadership on this file yet.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Big week

In the next two days, we will finally have the release of the 10-year Plan from the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness. As well, City Council has a strategic planning meeting in which they have the opportunity to make a hugely symbolic move: to defer suburban edge growth in favour of focusing on density. Both moves have the potential to change the fabric of the city, and we'll be watching closely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We're still here...

Thinking, advocating, responding, presenting, just not so much posting.

What do you think that BCC should focus on in 2008? What should be the priorities of the city and of the City? Respond in comments here, or via

And, to whet your appetite, or cure insomnia, here is Naheed speaking with Shelagh Rogers on CBC's Sounds Like Canada. Click on "The Cost of Commuting", just above the cute story of the traveling puppet (who despite an uncanny resemblance is not Chima).