Calgary Property Tax Protest

Monday, June 10th, 2019. 7:30am. In front of city hall. Bring your tax bill.

Calgary Small Business Rally - Come Hell or High Taxes.png

Are you happy now, Mr. Nenshi? Your inability to run this city has led directly to this. You have without a doubt proven that academics with egos the size of the planet do an abysmal job of running a city.

Calgary Small Business Rally - Keep Calgary Open.png

I have a question for you Mayor. How is it that in a downtown with an office vacancy rate like we have, property values seem to have increased? And by a LOT. Who is making these assessments up?

Calgary Small Business Rally - I love YYC Small Biz.png

How many more businesses are going to be forced to close or relocate? This city has already been crippled by economic blight, and now you and your cohorts on council are about to kill it dead. Your job is to ATTRACT business remember? How is this going to attract more businesses to come to Calgary?

Calgary Small Business Rally - In This Together.png

Such things are not priorities for you however. your interests lie in building the Nenshi Legacy, whatever that may be. At one point it was going to be the 2026 Winter Olympics, until the people of this city rightly shot that to pieces before your eyes.

Calgary Small Business Rally - Grow Local.png

Calgary businesses are joining together to send you and you colleagues a message on Monday morning, and I’ll be joining them. I’m inviting all Calgarian,s whether you pay property/business taxes or not to come and join the protest. Remember, those higher proerty taxes will get passed along to consumers/renters. This effects everyone.

Calgary Small Business Rally - Here to Stay.png

Premier Kenney has said that he would not fire you and this dysfunctional council, as would be his prerogative. Perhaps enough of a sustained cry from the electorate might change his mind. Even if it doesn’t, it will still serve to remind Calgarians of your incompetence for the next two and a half years until the next municipal election.

Save Calgary hasn’t died out yet, in fact I’d say it’s stronger than ever thanks to you. The number of groups and individuals, like myself, who are going to take a public stand against you will only continue to grow.

Join me on Monday, June 10th at 7:30 am, to support small business and send a message to the mayor and council.

http://www.yycsmallbiz.com

Calgary Crime Statistics: Person Crimes 2014 – 2018

A Detailed Look At Crime In Calgary By The Numbers

Person crimes are those where a person or persons have been victimized by a crime involving violence. These include:

  • Assault
  • Robbery
  • Sex Offenses
  • Domestic Violence

Separate detailed domestic violence statistics were introduced starting in 2016.

Assault

There are a number of types and levels of assault, however I will be looking closely at three in particular which I am highlighting in bold below:

  • Level 3 – Aggravated
  • Level 2 – With A Weapon/Causing Bodily Harm
  • Level 1 – Common
  • Assault Of A Police Officer
  • Discharging A Firearm With Intent
  • Other Assaults

The total number of assaults in 2018 was 45% higher (+2790) than 2014. Of significance in this category:

  • 2018 Level 2 Assaults were 75% higher (+1101) than 2014.
  • Level 1 offenses were 35% higher (+1524) in 2018 over 2014.
  • Assaults on police were an incredible 79% higher (+150) in 2018 compared to 2014.

Robbery

Robbery encompasses five different offences:

  • Financial
  • Commercial
  • Person
  • Home Invasion
  • Robbery Of Firearm

I did an analysis on all but Robbery Of Firearm, as there were very few of these offences. Again, as with other categories, there is a significant increase in offences in 2015 followed by a reduction in 2016, and then steadily climbing through 2018.

On a percentage basis financial robberies saw the biggest increase in 2015 up 66% (+23), Home Invasions rose 60% (+30), and Commercial Robbery was up 55% (+107). The total number of robberies rose 17% (+149) in 2015 and ended 2018 up 20% (+176) over 2014.

Sex Offences

Sex Offences fall into five categories:

  • Level 3 – Aggravated Sexual Assualt
  • Level 2 – Sexual Assault With A Weapon or Threat Of Violence
  • Level 1 – Sexual Assault
  • Indecent Acts
  • Other

The total number of Sex Offenses rose at a somewhat stable rate between 2014 and 2016 climbing by 10% (+86), but it took a 22% jump in 2017 (+205) and another y-y increase of 11% (+128) in 2018.

It is the increase in the number of Level 2 offenses that is the most dramatic and perhaps the most alarming of all.

So many questions.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/police-say-four-more-detectives-needed-for-sex-crime-investigations-as-metoo-movement-grows

The growing #MeToo and #TimesUp movements resulted in a 32 per cent increase in the number of sex crimes Calgary police dealt with last year, with 391 files compared to 296 in 2016, police say.

It certainly would not be unreasonable to think that the #metoo movement would result in an increase in the number of reported sexual assaults. Across North America police were noticing an increase in the number of sexual assault reports filed.

However this does not entirely explain the results being seen here in Calgary. The #metoo movement began in October of 2017, which is the third quarter. But statistics show that the number of Level 2 Sex Assaults began to increase in the first quarter of that year. There was an increase in Q3, but the trend for the entire year was up over the previous year.

It’s also reasonable to assume that the number of Level 2 Sex Assaults would go up after the 2018 review. However I can’t say for certain whether this would be the cause of the massive increase.

Could there have been a file “coding” problem previous to 2017 that had already been rectified by the time the review started? Should the review of case files gone back further than the period that was reviewed?

“Of the 48, one was reinvestigated, the other 47 were recoded as inactive,” Sparrow said. “There was evidence in the investigation to prove that the offence occurred, but there wasn’t enough evidence in the investigation to identify the offender.”

Police commission chair Brian Thiessen said lack of training was the cause of the coding error, but added that officers will be retrained by the sexual offence co-ordinator so it won’t happen again.

In addition to the increase in caseload, the Sex Crimes unit saw a corresponding reduction in the number of crimes solved. In 2014, the unit solved 57.1% of their cases. By 2018, that number had plummeted to only 17.5%.

The huge increase in the total number of sex assaults, coupled with the fact that the unit had not had a corresponding increase in manpower, would account for this result. But is this the only reason? Could there be something else going on that might cause this?

This raises the question of whether or not the Sex Crimes Unit has received the extra manpower that it requested to handle this burgeoning caseload. If not, at what point will officials decide that the safety of the public is so at risk that they have no choice but to act?

Total Person Crimes

The total number of Person Crimes was up by over 57% between 2014 and 2018, showing no signs of slowing down. If this doesn’t serve as justification for additional police resources in Calgary, I honestky don’t know what would.

Safety at risk

These results show that there has clearly been a sharp increase in crime since the oil collapse of 2014. What this translates to is a significant increase in the risk to public safety, as well as to front-line officers. Just today, another member of the Calgary Police Service was wounded in the line of duty while responding to a domestic situation.

This also raises questions as to the operation of the department. Whether it’s a matter of decision making by the top brass or the need for additional resources, something will absolutely have to be done. Otherwise the risk to the public and to front line officers will only increase to an even higher level than it is now. This city desperately needs for things to start turning around, and the sooner that happens, the better off we’ll all be.

D.B.

Calgary Crime Statistics: Property Crime 2014-18

A Detailed Look At Crime In Calgary By The Numbers

When the Blue Line of the LRT opened in late 2012, it brought with it a very noticeable, if not unexpected, increase in crime in the neighbourhoods that it passes through. I wanted to find out for myself exactly what the situation was in my neighbourhood, beyond what I was seeing myself and hearing about from others.

I looked up the statistics that the Calgary Police Service (CPS) has available on their website. There I found a great deal of information, some of it very detailed, which helped me get an understanding of what was going on not only in my community, but in every community in Calgary. The data went back to 2012, so I used that as a starting point, and began collecting and analyzing it up to the end of 2018.

All figures refer to number of offenses committed and were gathered from Calgary Police Service monthly and quarterly statistics.


https://www.calgary.ca/cps/Pages/Statistics/Calgary-Police-statistical-reports.aspx

Social Disorder

I started out by looking at the statistics for “Social Disorder” calls to CPS. These calls constitute the bulk of the calls frontline members deal with on a daily basis. These include:

  • -Disturbance
  • -Drugs
  • -Indecent Act
  • -Intoxicated Person(s)
  • -Landlord/Tenant
  • -Mental Health
  • -Neighbor Dispute
  • -Noise Complaint
  • -Party Complaint
  • -Possible Gunshots
  • -Prostitution
  • -Speeder
  • -Suspicious Person(s)
  • -Suspicious Vehicle
  • -Threats
  • -Unwanted Guest

Starting in 2009, the Total Number of Social Disorder Calls increased year to year until 2018, when it finally contracted slightly. Between 2009 and 2017, there was a 37% increase in the Total Number of Social Disorder Calls. The largest increases appeared in the sub-categories of Suspicious Vehicles (+4,004), Disturbance (+4,423), Unwanted Guest (+8,886) and, Suspicious Person (+10,578).

Vehicle Theft Incl. Attempts

Vehicle Thefts also rose dramatically in 2015, up 66% over 2014 (+3148). After dropping again in 2016 it has also risen steadily into 2018 ending the year 45% higher than 2014 levels (+2131).

Property Crime 2014 – 2018

Between 2014 and the end of 2018 property crimes in Calgary rose 37% with the largest percentage increases occurring in B&E’s (66%), Fraud (58%), and Theft (47%).

Break & Enter

Overall most forms of theft saw huge increases between 2014 and 2015, the beginning of the economic downturn, dropping back after that but still higher than 2014 levels.

The biggest increase in Break & Enter thefts from 2014 to 2018 was in Commercial B&E’s which were up by an incredible 145% (+3896). Overall B&E’s were up by 66% from 2014-2018 (+3896).

Theft

The total number of thefts between 2014 and 2018 increased by 47% (+9426). The biggest increase on a percentage basis was in Theft Over $5000, which saw an increase of 206% (+559), followed by Theft From Vehicles which was up 88% (+6731). Shoplifting Under $5000 was up 53% (+2115).

Total Property Crime

The number of property crimes exploded in 2015, up by a whopping 36% from 2014. The number settled lower the following year but then rose again into 2018. 2018 ended 37% higher (+15435) than 2014.

Grounds For Separation, Part 2

The Devastating Impact.

6. Unemployment Rate

In February of this year, Calgary once again reclaimed the title of Highest Canadian Metropolitan Unemployment, reaching 7.6%, edging out St. John’s, Nfld where the rate remained a steady 7.4%.

It spent most of 2016 and part of 2017 on top of this list before it got a reprieve, but it would top the list again early in 2019. The unemployment rate in Calgary rose and fell in a gentle slope on a line chart. It covers the period of time that most people would have been eligible for unemployment benefits. The fact that the rate fell by no means that those unemployed found work, it only means that their benefits have run out and they are no longer technically “unemployed” for statistical purposes.

By all accounts there are over 200,000 unemployed in Alberta at this moment. Many of them worked in or relied on the energy industry for employment. Based on anecdotal evidence there is a very large population of unemployed geologists and land men in Alberta right now. These were good paying professional jobs, and now many of these geologists have no more savings, the unemployment ran out years ago, had to sell their homes and vehicles, and are now on the verge of economic ruin. Men who previously made $100,000 a year are now begging to flip burgers for $15/hr.

Many energy companies now no longer operate in Alberta due to the fact that it is no longer feasible for them to do so. Policies put in place by the provincial and federal governments have scared off investment in Alberta, leading to the increase in unemployment in the energy sector.

7. Bankruptcies

Between 2014 and 2018 the number of personal bankruptcies and consumer proposals in Alberta jumped an incredible 76%, going from 8,281 in 2014 to 14, 555 in 2018. Comparatively, the national rate rose by a mere 5.8%.

Alberta business bankruptcies during the same period rose by 46% going from 141 in 2014 to 206 in 2018, while nationally the amount actually decreased by 15% going from 4,219 in 2014 to 3,580 in 2018.

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/bsf-osb.nsf/eng/h_br01011.html

8. Income Support

In Alberta, the Income Support program provides assistance to low-income individuals and families. Child and health care, subsidies, and income assistance are among the services available. Households are categorized according to group: Single, Single with One or More Children, Couples, and Couples with One or More Children.

These are then further categorized by;Expected to Work(ETW):Unemployed and Able to Work, Unemployed and Unable to Work (ie. due to Illness, caring for family, etc.) and, Barriers to Full Employment(BFE) in which recipients are unable to work due to chronic long-term illness. The amount of benefits available depends upon marital status, number of dependants (if any), and, level of ability to work.

Starting in the year 2014, I measured the number of households receiving income support benefits in the month of July, until the current year where I measured the month of January.

A massive increase.

In July of 2014 there were a total of 33,522 households receiving assistance. By January of this year that number had nearly doubled to 59,940.

The number of people who were not working but were available to work skyrocketed from 5,820 in 2014 to 21,745 in 2019, more than three times what it was four and a half years before. Those unavailable to work rose by 50% going from 7,979 in 2014 to 12, 338 in 2019.

The segment of the population hardest hit has been single people. In 2014, of the 33, 522 households on benefits, 22, 037 were single individuals or 66%. In January they accounted for 69% of the 59,940 households collecting benefits. This would be an increase of 79% over 2014.

9. Crime

During periods of economic instability, crime rates tend to increase. This is no more evident than in Calgary, where crime rates soared in 2015 following the collapse in oil prices. In the years that followed, although the rates have stabilized, they remain high and show no signs that they will be coming down.

Crimes across virtually every category rose sharply in 2015. Naturally there were significant increases in “the usual suspects”, Property Crimes, Theft, Robbery, and Domestic Violence. There has also been an alarming increase in the number of violent crimes as well, especially in the number of assaults. There has also been a disturbing increase in the number of assaults on police officers.

They are categorized as 1) Social Disorder, 2) Property Crime (Theft, B&E, Robbery, Vehicle Theft, Fraud) and, 3) Person Crime (Assault, Domestic Assault, and Sex Offenses.

I will be providing more details in another post addressing Calgary crime statistics.

9.1 Social Disorder 2014 – 2018

Social Disorder calls are the ones police respond to the most in a typical day. They include such things as: Drunk, Disturbance, Indecent Act, Juvenile Complaint, Landlord/tenant, Mental health concern, Neighbor dispute, Party complaint, Prowler, Suspicious person, Threats, Drugs, Noise complaint, Possible gunshots, Unwanted guest/patron, Prostitution, Speeder, Suspicious Auto (grouped as Social Disorder), Fire, Property damage and Abandoned auto (grouped as Physical Disorder). 

Defying my expectations, the number of Social Disorder calls fell for the first time in nearly five years. It wasn’t alot, roughly one percent, but at least it is moving in the right direction. Among the complaints seeing the most significant deceases year over year were:

  • Disturbance – 348 (8.8%)
  • Drugs -104 (13.2%)
  • Intoxicated Persons -128 (13.7%)
  • Landlord/Tenant Issue -70 (7.6%)
  • Noise Complaint -115 (9.3%)
  • Party Complaint -56 (13.2%)
  • Speeder -33 (13.2%)
  • Suspicious Vehicle -412 (10.8%)
  • TOTAL SOCIAL DISORDER: -910 (1%)

9.2 Property Crimes: B&E, Theft, Vehicle Theft 2014-18

There was a large spike in property crimes in 2015 as unemployment began to rise. The increase in drug use, especially crystal meth, has contributed to them remaining at high levels, placing further strain on police resources.

Between 2014 and 2018: Break & Enters rose 68.7% (3,994), Thefts increased 50% (9,903), and Vehicle thefts were up by 44.5% (2,131).

9.3 Person Crimes: Robbery, Assaults, and Sex Offenses 2014-18

Crimes against people didn’t see the dramatic increases in 2015 as property crimes did. There has however been a steady increase in the number of these crimes, especially the number of assaults and sex offenses.

Between 2014 and 2018 the total number of Assaults rose by 51% (3,037) while Sex Offenses were up by 63% (490). Among assaults, the number of assaults against police is seeing a dramatic increase, up 79% (150).

In 2018 Sex Offenses were up by a dramatic 63% over 2014 (+490).

10. Suicides

Sadly, the spike in the number of suicides in Alberta in 2015 was also to be expected, as the number of people who took their own lives rose by 22% over the previous year. The biggest increases occurred in 5 age groups: 25-29, 40-44, 45-49, 55-59, and 65-69.

A similar statistic is seen in Saskatchewan at the same time. Information from the Government of Saskatchewan shows that suicides rose by 27% in 2015 over 2014. Most significantly, the number of men rose by 43% year over year. This trend was not seen on other provinces, however there were other trends evident in other provinces, and at different times.

The suicide rate in Alberta, and likely everywhere else, is not a true representation of the number of suicides. I can say this with certainty because recently somebody I knew committed suicide, and their death was ruled an overdose. Had a complete death investigation done I’m confident the correct determination would have been made, but such investigations cost money and often aren’t done. Many suicide deaths are wrongly attributed to overdose, accident, or misadventure.

https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/alberta-suicide-stats-region-age/

Conclusion

The human impact of the economic crisis in Alberta has been immense. With over 200,000 unemployed, many for an extended duration, it is critical that steps be taken immediately to create an environment that will attract investment

Although Jason Kenney will do what he can to salvage the Alberta economy and get it moving forward again, the biggest impediment to a Alberta’s success is and will always be lack of pipeline access to a deep-water port. By opening up these markets, Alberta will ensure that it, and Canada, will receive the maximum benefit from Alberta’s resources.

Alberta’s fate is being left up to others to determine, and this has proven to be as disastrous in the past as it is now. The only way to end this is to either make some serious changes to the equaliztion formula (highly unlikely), or for Alberta to separate and control its own destiny (the best option).

The people of Alberta deserve better.

D.B.

Grounds For Separation

Alberta has ample grounds to walk away.

I started this blog back in January with the post “The Last Good Day”. It was intended to provide a thorough and comprehensive statistical view of life in Alberta, with an emphasis on Calgary.

In order to provide the best overall picture of the situation, I have chosen the statistics and information rerlating to a number of areas including:

  • Population
  • Federal Payments to Provinces
  • Oil Prices
  • Alberta Government Revenues
  • Downtown Calgary Office Space Vacancy
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Personal and Corporate Bankruptcies
  • Provincial Income Support Levels
  • Crime Rate in Calgary
  • Suicide Rate in Alberta

While these numbers may come as a shock to some, others simply will not care, engaging in schadenfreude at Alberta’s expense. For others nothing short of the complete destruction of Alberta would satisfy them.

This message isn’t for them. It’s for anyone who wonders why we in Alberta feel the way we do. This is why we are angry and so many of us are ready to break from Confederation. We have plenty of good reasons to want a better deal and if one isn’t forthcoming then the only alternative is to strike out on our own.

A joint effort.

To be fair, what has happened in Alberta isn’t solely Justin’s fault. Regressive job-killing policies and taxes on the part of former Premier Rachel Notley and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi have also contributed to the ruination of Canada’s former economic engine.

With Jason Kenney now at the helm in Alberta things will slowly atart to improve, but if justin Trudeau somehow manages to win in October, any hope of recovery will be ruined.

I told you what was going to happen.

Back in January I warned that if something didn’t happen to help the Alberta economy, and soon, the effects would soon be felt throughout the Canadian economy.

The latest economic numbers seem to be bearing this out, and soon, the numbers that are being seen in Alberta will be seen across the country. If Justin Trudeau and the rest of the Worst Canadian Government Of All Time aren’t voted out of office in October, Canada will become an economic basket-case.

1. Population

For reasons that confound me, more people continue to come to this province than leave it. All this is managing to do is add more stress to a system that is already strained. With continuing high unemployment, unless these people have jobs to come to Alberta for they will only be a drain on the social system.

Link to Q3 Alberta Population Report:

https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/aa3bce64-c5e6-4451-a4ac-cb2c58cb9d6b/resource/a71df6d9-4a40-446f-b209-e7e1feb22a21/download/2018-q3-population-report.pdf

2. Federal Payments to Provinces

Equalization and Transfer Payments

Major Federal Transfers

The Government of Canada provides significant financial support to provincial and territorial governments on an ongoing basis to assist them in the provision of programs and services. There are four main transfer programs: the Canada Health Transfer (CHT), the Canada Social Transfer (CST), Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing (TFF).

The CHT and CST are federal transfers which support specific policy areas such as health care, post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, early childhood development and child care.

The Equalization and TFF programs provide unconditional transfers to the provinces and territories. Equalization enables less prosperous provincial governments to provide their residents with public services that are reasonably comparable to those in other provinces, at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. TFF provides territorial governments with funding to support public services, in recognition of the higher cost of providing programs and services in the north.

https://www.fin.gc.ca/access/fedprov-eng.asp

Equalization and Total Federal Payments Charts 2012-2020

Ontario goes from receiving 21% of Equalization funding in 2012/13 and by 2019/20 that number would dwindle to 0%. Quebec would pick up Ontario’s share however as it goes from receiving 48% in 2012/13 to 66% in 2019/20

The total amount of federal support going to the provinces remains at a constant rate from year to year. What changes is the amount being distributed. In 2012/13 those payments totaled nearly $57 billion and have risen to over $78 billion in 2019/20, an increase of 72%.

3. The Price of Oil

The closing prices on May 6, 2019. WCS $49(US)/bbl. WTI $58.70(US)/bbl. A price spread of $9.70(US).


The benchmarks off of which our oil is priced are West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Western Canadian Select (WCS). WCS is the grade of crude produced by the oil sands. It is heavier, and not as easy to transport as the light and medium grades of crude oil, such as WTI, therefore goes for a lower price. The difference in price between WTI and WCS is called the “spread”.

The price difference can also be attributed to other factors, such as supply and demand. The price of WCS plummeted in relation to WTI in November of this year, and the spread hit an all-time high of $55(US)/bbl as inventory levels reached capacity. Over time, the lack of pipeline capacity has resulted in an over-supply of WCS, translating into a lower price.

There has been slightly less volatilty in the price since measures were put in place to reduce inventory levels, however the province is still losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to the lack of a pipeline to a deep water port.

4. Alberta Government Revenues 2013/14-2017/18

Fiscal 2015/16 saw a huge drop in resource revenue for the Province of Alberta, falling by 50% over 2014/15. Bitumen royalties fell from $5.04 Billion in 2014/15 to $1.22 Billion the following year. Crude oil royalties plummeted from over $2.2 Billion to under $700 Million and natural gas royalties fell from $989 Million to $493 Million. This would also translate into lower income tax revenue for the province.

While the amount of personal income tax collected fell slightly between 2014/15 and 2017/18, the amount of corporate income tax collected fell by over 40% over the period. The amount of fuel taxes rose by over 45% in 2015/16, due in large part to an increase in the provincial fuel tax in 2015.

The “sin taxes” collected also seem to tell a story. Albertans gambled less after 2015/16, drank more between 2013 and 2018, and seemed to be smoking about the same amount of tobacco. After realizing a budget surplus of $1.1 Billion in 2014/15, the Government of Alberta ran budget deficits totalling $25.1 Billion between 2015/16 and 2017/18. The forecast for 2018/19 is for a deficit of $7.5 Billion.

The one thing Alberta does have going for it right now is that Jason Kenney can set about making things right again, but we still don’t know the true extent of the damage the Notley regime did to the provincial finances. In any event, it’s going to take time.

The increase in fuel tax revenue was due to an increase in the tax rate by the Notley government.

5. Downtown Calgary Office Space

In Q1 of 2014 there was over 40 million square feet of downtown Calgary office space with a vacancy rate of 8.13%. The average rent for class “A” office space was $34 per square foot. In Q1 of 2018 there was close to 44 million square of downtown Calgary office space and the vacancy rate had jumped to over 27%.

The average rent for class “A” office space was down to $14 per square foot. Assuming the same vacancy rate and price per square foot over this period, this translates into a loss of $2 Billion in rental income, and a report released in March suggests the city has lost $250 million in tax revenue as a result of the decline in non-residential property values.


To Be Continued In Grounds for Separation, Part 2

The human impact of the crisis in Alberta with a look at unemployment, bankruptcies, income support, crime, and suicide. See the toll the last 5 years has taken.

Perfect Storm

How The Results Of 3 Disastrous Elections Have Left Calgary Reeling

Hit hard by the oil crash of 2014, Calgary’s economy continues to struggle, a result of the decisions made by politicians locally,  provincially, and federally. In a three part series, I will examine the roles the mayor, the premier, and the prime minister have had to play in this economic crisis.

Part One: Municipal Mis-steps-The Mayor 

As Calgary enters 2019, there is debate as to whether or not the Alberta economy is recovering as some analysts have suggested. Many Calgarians would tell you that things haven’t improved at all, and statistics tend to support this view.

What everyone seems to agree on, is that we have entered uncharted territory. This is the longest period of economic turmoil in the history of the province, and we are by no means out of the woods.

In 2014, when world oil prices collapsed, Alberta was hit hard, and another bust period was upon us. More than four years on, it is unlike any that have happened in the province’s history. The reason for this, is that it is now about more than just the price of oil. The policies of the federal and provincial governments have just as much to do with the lousy state of our economy, and, in Calgary, the local government shoulders more than its share of the responsibility for the crisis we find ourselves in.

In this first of a three part series, I look at the role city hall has played in this disaster, while parts two and three will look at the roles that the provincial and federal governments have played.

The City of Calgary

The old city hall is covered by a protective canvas while restoration work is done underneath. According to the city, it spent $165,000 on the canvas, which depicts the building underneath.

There are people around these parts who think that, as a whole, the current Calgary City Council will be known as the worst one ever. I count myself among that particular group. In the roughly 15 or so months since being seated, this council has proven to be the most dysfunctional this city has ever seen. The normally boring routine of council meetings has been broken, and replaced with moments of drama worthy of reality television. The person who can take credit for this, is the chair of those meetings.

Naheed Nenshi, World Mayor, Uber Patron

The Mayor

Meetings of the sort council holds are run by a chair, and the chair of city council meetings is the mayor, Naheed Nenshi. In order for the chair to be effective, they have to have a neutral approach to the meeting, allowing for all voices to be heard equally. It is also important that the chair remember that the meeting is not their own personal forum, and that they are there to act as a facilitator.

Anyone who has seen Nenshi in action for themselves will tell you, this is not the way he runs a meeting. For starters, he is someone who likes to hear himself talk, and given the slightest opportunity to do so, he will talk, and talk, and talk. In 2017, the mayor’s inability to properly run a meeting had administration floating the idea of hiring someone to chair council meetings, at a cost of roughly $170,000 per year.

He bristles at criticism, often responding to it with sarcasm, before putting on a display of attitude befitting an 11 year-old, and stomping off in a huff. Now, given that he was an academic in the field of city governance before becoming mayor, I would have expected that his Pompous Purpleness would have taken “Chairing a Meeting 302”, and “Toughen Up, You’re in Politics Now: How To Grow A Thicker Skin”.

The Accidental Mayor

In a race seen as being between Alderman Ric McIver and local news personality Barb Higgins, relative unknown Naheed Nenshi would best them both. In a first for North America, Calgary had elected a Muslim mayor, and this is what he basically rode on during his first term. It would earn him the title “World Mayor” (which only fed his ever growing ego), and those who dared oppose him could be met with shouts of “Islamophobia”.

When he ran in 2010, he promised a municipal government that would be more transparent. What he has delivered has turned out to be more opaque than transparent. The amount of time council has spent “in camera”, or behind closed doors, has risen dramatically under Nenshi’s watch, reaching levels never before seen in this, or any other major Canadian city.

Prone to episodes of Foot in Mouth Syndrome, Nenshi has made statements that have come back to haunt him.

Behind closed doors, he doesn’t have to watch what he says like he does when he’s in public. Statements he made during the 2013 mayoral campaign would lead to a $6 million defamation lawsuit against Nenshi by a local homebuilder. The matter was settled out of court, with Nenshi issuing a retraction and an apology, and the city on the hook for $300,000 in legal fees. Nenshi would have to pay the tab himself, depending on donations from supporters to cover most of it.

Neheed Nenshi compares Uber CEO to male genitalia during a trip to Boston.

Then of course, there is the video of Nenshi, taken in an Uber in Boston during an April 2016 trip, where he called the CEO of Uber a “dick”, and suggested the City was testing Uber’s screening process by planting criminals as applicants. That would also warrant an apology, and an admission that he should have chosen his words a lot more carefully. Six months after the fact.

Legacy Building

Purple is the mayor’s favorite color, and is also the name city hall insiders refer to him by. When he first ran for office, he said that it was the perfect color for him, combining the blue of his fiscal conservative side with the red of his socially liberal other half. It’s hard to see him as anything other than crimson red.

Nenshi’s term in office so far can be best remembered for higher taxes and for pet projects the mayor and some on council hold near and dear. Creating rarely used bicycle only lanes on busy streets, millions spent on controversial public art projects, and millions wasted on a mishandled Olympic bid effort will be among the things he will be best known for.

Mayor Nenshi addresses the media after voters overwhelmingly reject a 2026 Olympic bid.

Despite his initial claims of being neutral about the matter, bringing the Olympics back to Calgary is exactly what he wanted all along. Ever the advocate of making Calgary a “world class” city, Naheed Nenshi would jump at the opportunity to showcase Calgary on the international stage.

The blame here is not entirely on Naheed Nenshi’s shoulders. Putting a municipal budget together is a difficult and complicated task, reliant on a number of variables to determine how much tax businesses and homeowners will pay. This process becomes more difficult in cities like Calgary, where boom and bust cycles make predictable budgeting virtually impossible. It isn’t like there are a lot of places to to cut expenses either, given that most of the budget covers emergency services.

High vacancy rates and a depressed economy have meant a decrease in value of Calgary’s downtown office towers, leading to much lower tax revenue for city hall. To make up for the shortfall, businesses and property owners will be paying more, with businesses shouldering a disproportionate amount of the load. This is hardly a selling point, especially at a time when we are trying to attract business to the city.

Downtown Calgary icon Riley & McCormick closed its doors in 2016, citing rising costs and slow sales.

The combination of increased operating costs due to the carbon tax, increasing property and business taxes, and the provincially mandated increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, has forced many business to close their doors. Restaurants and lounges are being hit the hardest, and many have had to shut down, no longer viable given the current environment. The once thriving live music scene in Calgary is growing ever quieter.

The city has just announced that a $600 million proposal for a new arena is in the works, giving some the hope that a deal can finally be worked out that will appeal to everyone. I’m not hopeful. Assuming a deal is made, and a new arena built. If the economy continues to struggle after it is built, how many people will be able to afford a night out at a hockey game? Without the energy companies around to buy up luxury suites, or blocks of bowl seats, who else will step in to fill the void?

Unfortunately, Calgarians are stuck with an egotistical crybaby in the mayor’s chair for a couple more years. However, on the bright side, a provincial election is approaching in a matter of weeks, and Justin Trudeau’s disastrous term is up in the fall.

DBC

In part 2, The NDP pulls off the unthinkable, bringing socialist ruin to the province.

A Revived Arena Deal Breathes Life Back Into Hope For Nenshi’s Legacy

During the day when I’m at home alone, I like to have a bit if background noise, so I usually have the radio on. More often than not, especially if I’m busy doing something, I don’t really pay attention to what’s being said. It’s more or less just noise.

You’re still hearing the words, you’re just focused on them, until you hear something that catches your attention. It’s usually something that surprises you enough to take your focus off of what you were doing and say “wait what?” aloud, usually as you are lifting your gaze up from where it had been.

This happened to me today when I heard the words “arena deal” during the top of the hour news break. Arena deal? What arena deal where? Ours was a dead fish. Well, that is until it wasn’t.

I made a point of consulting the vastness of the internets to see if i could find out what was going on, and sure enough, there it was. This was pretty optimistic sounding stuff that I was seeing. Could this seemingly dead fish be merely sleeping? Land ‘o Goshen! But, the great purple had declared it dead.

Had Ken King hired a faith healer to revive a deal once thought headed for the autopsy table? Did somebody come up with a plan so spectacularly amazing as to soften the mayor’s stance on it?

Disgraced charlatan Benny Hinn

Not exactly.

Time For Plan B

Although appearing to be inappropriate, this seems to belong in here somehow.

What has happened is that the mayor’s great Olympic legacy dream was cremated, burnt to ash in a spectacular dumpster fire that was fueled by ineptitude.

The impossible had happened. Nenshi had counted on the complacency of the electorate, and his ability to sway them with cheap sentimentality. He thought it was in the bag. The medal ceremonies would be held in Nenshi square, and they’d present him with the biggest gold medal ever made.

Okay, maybe not that far, but it was clear the guy wanted them. Thousands upon thousands of tax dollars were spent in a misguided effort on the part of the Yes group, only to have their dreams absolutely crushed in the plebicite vote. A great deal of thanks to Save Calgary for leading the charge on this by the way.

Angry mob boss Naheed “Dick” Nenshi addresses the media flanked by his menacing bodyguards. (Warning:Satire Alert)

Now, the city has come up with a $600 million dollar plan, an arena district type of idea on the Stampede Grounds. It is being readied to present to council. The city walked away from the table before, but now, a feasible sounding plan has been hatched to get the Flames back to the table.

But, as questions about public consultation and finance begin to pop up already, this is sounding eerily similar to the way the last cluster-fuck started. Administration will be given a ridiculous task to perform by council, in a ridiculously short period of time, leading to the production of a ten foot pile of crapola, that administration will blame on piss poor communication on the part of council, who will then lob the blame grenade back into the lap of administration. Five or six councillors will vacillate between making good points then asking irrelevant questions (or vice-versa), a few will be parked up the mayor’s ass and will do what he says no matter what, and Nenshi will hijack the meeting and attempt to browbeat the dissenters into seeing things his way.

Sean Chu and Naheed Nenshi have had some animated exchanges in council chambers.

Once again, it will be up to Sean Chu and Jeromy Farkas to step up and be the unwavering defenders of Calgary taxpayers and common sense thinkers. Along with save Calgary, these two worked tirelessly to prevent what would have been a disaster of Olympic proportion, and Calgarians can once again rely on them to look out for their best interests.

This picture of Councillor Jeromy Farkas was a) taken following an in camera exchange in the Chamber of Secrets or, b) on a 2017 campaign ad addressing the issue of bicycle safety.

The way I see it, we are in for a replay of the whole 2024 fiasco again, with the word Olympics replaced by arena, or field house, or whatever. If it winds up being even half the gong show that 2024 was, this arena should provide us with some interesting council meetings for the many months this will end up dragging on for. I have a feeling I’m going to be sitting in the gallery with a bag of popcorn at least once in that time.

DBC

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