I've heard it said that a person's true personality comes out in a crisis. If that's true, then thousands of people may well have fallen (further) in love with Calgary's own Mayor Nenshi these past few days. When Nenshi ran for mayor three years ago, he wasn't a serious contender according to the pollsters. Still, my husband and I put a sign on our lawn, believing that this Harvard-educated, articulate, and worldly young Calgarian was the future we wanted for our city.
As we observe the historic flood and the damage it has done to this marvellous city and its neighbours, I wanted to list the great many things to celebrate about Calgary and southern Alberta. It's a reminder of why you should visit, once the water has receded and the restoration has begun.
As I lay here in my home in south Calgary I consider myself lucky and grateful. My home is completely dry, just like my home in Winnipeg back in the Flood of the Century of 1997. Although I was left unscathed I can still feel the confusion, frustration, and shock.
We've only lived here for a year and a half but Calgary has been home to me for much longer than that. As a city we are blessed with incredible public services and fantastic first responders. And I'm watching as our flooded city floods them with love.
Early Monday morning I received a phone call from an urban hen owner and contributing member of CLUCK Canada (Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub). She had just been served by Calgary bylaw for possession of livestock, her three hens (no roosters), and was ordered to remove her hens. She was fearful for her pets.
Why would millions of kids walk away from sports which are meant to be fun? Well, the reason is it's not fun, not when Mum and Dad are "Yellers". Children are embarrassed by parents behaving aggressively on the sideline of junior sports event, especially their own. Telling a 16 year-old, "you're not trying hard enough" or, "you'll be cut from the team" is bad enough. But telling a 6 year-old is, surely, unacceptable.
Speak to Mark McEwan about Top Chef Canada and you'll get the sense the show has many seasons ahead of it. McEwan, the head judge for the popular Food Network cooking competition, said he is thoroughly enjoying the production, which wrapped up its third season on Monday night.
In early January of this year, I met Glenda Zamzow at a book signing in Calgary. A week later, after having read my book she contacted me. Glenda told me that she had been inspired by my story, which led her to organize a family meeting with her husband Richard and sons 11 year old Derek and 14 year old Marcus. As Glenda told me "I really felt we should do something - we've been given such great opportunities. You always hear people say 'Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps.' But disadvantaged kids, they don't have boot straps. If it were me, I'd want someone to advocate for me".
There is an old image of Boy Scouts helping little old ladies and men across the street. Perhaps that is not a bad idea sometimes, but I suggest that, more often than not, those little old ladies and men are very busy helping the family raise that Boy Scout, filling in and cheering them on when parents cannot be there. Life is a continuation of all things.
If you live in Calgary and you check your property tax bill this month, rest assured you are not imagining things: property taxes really are on the rise and way above inflation. Some background: Calgary's property tax bill has two components, with the city's share at 56 per cent and the province's at 44 per cent.
One of my earliest memories as a child was going to Prince's Island Park in Calgary every June to walk The World Partnership Walk. Back then, I looked forward to it because we made it a family affair. I would head down to the park with my family and it seemed that in exchange for walking a mere 8 kilometers or so, I would receive a delicious chili lunch, have a chance to part in some fun activities, get my face painted and even come away with a few prizes (it was all well worth the stickers).
Every year, 3,000 youth drop out of high schools in our city. When I share that statistic with people in our community, they often can't believe it. I see why. We live in a prosperous city and province with one of the best education systems in the world and, yet, Alberta has one of the lowest graduation rates in Canada, at 74 per cent. This is just unacceptable.
Calgary is an amazing city to raise a family in, there is no question about that. If you find yourself questioning that statement then my reply would be to consider the context and perspective of alternate choices.
The fact that Joe Beef has been voted Canada's best restaurant isn't going to come as a surprise to enthusiasts of the nation's food scene. But many will be shocked that the iconic restaurant's hometown, Montreal, trails Calgary in the number of entries placed in the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide.
There is nothing wrong with encouraging your fellow citizens to be involved in the political process by supporting candidates, voting, making donations, or even by trying to persuade them to vote for candidates more in line with your (and, hopefully, their) interests. All of these behaviours are part of a healthy democracy. Given the low voter turnout in many elections, more rather than less such engagement is required.
The current scandal surrounding the real estate developers in Calgary and their efforts to influence the October 2013 municipal elections is evidence of an industry feeling entitled to proceed with business as they see fit but unable or unwilling to innovate or think strategically or critically about their direction.