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Column: Parties underestimate need for flood plan

There’s an election coming. And your city council has once again surveyed all the parties and posted their full answers at

This year, we asked about broad issues like city charters and future funding, as well as specific questions on items like the closure of the Calgary Young Offenders Centre and the building of the Calgary Cancer Centre. Five out of the six parties (all but the Liberals) responded to our survey before the deadline, and the results are a must-read for those deciding on their vote.

While the parties differ on specifics, the good news is that all who responded have ideas on the major issues facing the city, and I believe all of them would work with Calgary in order to help us address many of our challenges.

None of the responses is perfect and none exactly reflects the needs of Calgary, but they give citizens a lot to think about as they determine who deserves their vote, and highlight that there is a real choice facing Calgarians.

First, all parties have committed to developing new city charters for Calgary and Edmonton, as they did in 2012. The difference is that they all commit to concluding this process by 2016, following the timeline that we have been working on with the current government. None give details on what they would like in the charter, and there is some evidence that special interest groups are gathering to oppose any legislative change, but I am confident all parties would work with your city council to get this done.

As for the individual parties, the Progressive Conservatives, unsurprisingly, don’t promise any change beyond what we have today (they are the present government, after all). This means we will continue work on charters that was put on the front-burner by Premier Jim Prentice, have another conversation on new funding models, close the Calgary Young Offenders Centre, and build the new cancer hospital in two phases, on two sites: Foothills and the South Health Campus.

The Wildrose have the most specific plan for municipal funding — the same 10-10 plan they proposed in 2012, where 10 per cent of tax revenues and 10 per cent of surpluses would flow to municipalities, with the new twist of a regional infrastructure fund. Many questions remain about how this would work, but it’s an intriguing new idea. Their answers on other questions seemed a bit vague, but they seem open to discussion.

The NDP responses are similar and do suffer from some lack of detail, particularly around future financing. However, they do seem to understand urban issues well and commit to working closely with Calgary in the future to get the answers right.

As for the smaller parties, the Greens are still working through their municipal policies, and the Alberta Party, being Calgary-based, understands Calgary issues very well and had a number of good answers.

Two areas were disappointing: no party seems willing to take the needed leadership on regional issues, helping Calgary and our neighbours craft a sustainable future.

The most surprising, though, was that no party (with the possible exception of the Alberta Party) has a comprehensive flood plan. We must protect Calgary, particularly downtown Calgary, from the devastation of future floods on both rivers.

The PCs commit to more discussion, but only confirm the Springbank dry dam. The NDP and Wildrose would potentially cancel Springbank, but it’s not clear what they would replace it with (the NDP seem to like McLean Creek). All parties have to understand how important this is, and commit to develop a real plan, quickly.

Overall, though, what the survey results show is that Calgarians have to vote. There are good choices and options there, and you should vote for whomever you think has the right answers to the questions that are important to you. Calgarians aren’t afraid of anything: vote for the party you believe in and the future you want. But vote.

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Cities Matter: The 2015 Provincial Election

Fellow Calgarians and Albertans, 

As we are just days away from the May 5 provincial election, we relaunched — a platform I hope will be useful to you in making your decision.

Strong, healthy cities require thoughtful vision and action from all orders of government. But if we don’t ask our politicians for that, we may never get it. is one way we — the citizens of cities — can raise our voices to ensure better discussions with our politicians about how we can make our cities better.

I encourage every civically minded citizen to read through the answers presented at and go visit the parties' websites to see what they have to say about the issues and their vision for our province. Ultimately, it is up to all of us to exercise our right to vote on May 5. It is my hope that will help voters across Alberta to become informed and involved in the debate. 

Thank you to all the parties who responded to the survey, and thank you to all those who take the time to visit because cities do, truly, matter. 


Mayor Nenshi welcomes Mayor for a Day contest winner

Mayor Nenshi’s job was made a little easier thanks to help from 17-year-old Nyssa Rae — this year’s winner of the Mayor for a Day contest.

Nyssa, a Grade 12 student from Bishop Carroll High School, spent the entire day with Mayor Nenshi and attended several meetings with senior members of City Administration discussing her three ideas to make Calgary a better place.

The Mayor for a Day contest is held by Youth Central in partnership with the Office of the Mayor, and it requires students to submit an essay with their three ideas to make Calgary a better place.

In her essay, Mayor (for a day) Rae, outlined her three ideas, which were based on engaging Calgarians in government issues by making information more accessible, reducing smoking near the transit system, and improving communication during road construction.

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Video: Mayor Nenshi speaks with media about the 2015 federal budget

Mayor Nenshi speaks with media on April 21, 2015 following the federal government releasing their 2015 budget.

The mayor was pleased with the federal government's commitment to funding transit, which he has long advocated for.


Video: Mayor Nenshi on improving our democracy

In March 2015, Mayor Nenshi was the keynote speaker for an event with Springtide, a Nova Scotian group interested in improving democracy. He spoke about his own experiences running for office and encouraging others to do the same--the challenges, the barriers, and the things the worked. Above is the full playlist of topics he covered during that event.

For anyone interested in politics, this is a must-see set of videos.

Mayor Nenshi scrums with media - April 2, 2015

On Thursday, April 2, 2015, Mayor Naheed Nenshi met with media following a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Affairs committee meeting.

During that scrum, he answered questions about provincial government funding for flood mitigation projects, reports about a new arena complex, and the status of the "west village" community. He also spoke about a letter he was about to send to the president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regarding dramatic cuts to CBC Calgary.

Committee News in Brief - April 1, 2015

Council News in Brief - Pilot
Meeting of the SPC on Community & Protective Services
April 1, 2015

Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee Annual Report
Administration presented the first annual progress report on the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee’s (CAUAC) 10-Year Strategic Plan. The report outlines achievements from 2014 March to 2015 February that advance the objectives in CAUAC’s Strategic Plan and seeks direction to develop a Council policy on Aboriginal issues.

The CPS committee passed Administration’s recommendations for CAUAC to develop an Aboriginal Policy Framework and to bring the framework back to the SPC on CPS no later than 2017 April.

City of Calgary Prostitution Response Framework Update
This report provides an analysis of Bill C-36 and associated municipal impacts; an overview of the current state of prostitution since the enactment of the Bill; along with an update on the implementation of The City of Calgary Prostitution Response Framework.

The CPS Committee received the report for information and approved Administration’s recommendation to dissolve the City of Calgary prostitution steering and working committees and continue the implementation of the Prostitution Response Framework through Administration and the community agencies involved.

Proposed 2015 Special Tax Bylaw
Administration presented this report which proposes a 2015 special tax bylaw to provide a self-funded mechanism for communities that desire an enhanced level of boulevard maintenance around streets and parks. Maintenance services include mowing and trimming; tree well and shrub bed maintenance; perennial and annual flowers; litter control; and snow removal. A number of communities annually participate in the levy process.

The report provides an update on 2014 activities and the 2015 process, and requests three readings of the proposed 2015 Special Tax Bylaw for 11 communities in Calgary.

The CPS Committee approved the report.

Community Services and Protective Services 2014 Year in Review
Administration presented the 2014 Year in Review which highlights achievements, programs and services provided by the Community Services & Protective Services (CS&PS) Department. The CPS committee approved the following recommendations:

  1. Receive Community Services & Protective Services 2014 Year in Review Report for information; and
  2. Reconsider Recommendations 2 and 3 of CPS2008-67, as contained in the Minutes of the 2008 September 22 Meeting of Council with respect to performance measures, benchmarks and annual reporting.
  3. File their decision with respect to Recommendations 2 and 3 contained in Report CPS2008-67.


Council News in Brief is an informal summary of highlights from Calgary City Council’s meetings. The City Clerk provides the complete and formal documentation of Council’s meetings.