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Donate to the Mayor's Annual Christmas Food Drive


Today, I joined with The Calgary Food Bank, my City of Calgary colleagues, Canada Safeway, many local media personalities, and representatives from every organization in this poster to launch the 26th Annual Mayor's Christmas Food Drive.

While I'm proud that Calgarians come together (whenever the need arises!) to help their neighbours, I'm sad to say that the need has not gone away. Too many of our fellow citizens still go hungry. Over the last year, 129,948 families and individuals had to use the Calgary Food Bank, and 42 per cent of them were children.

The holidays aren't an easy time for a lot of our fellow Calgarians--especially following the heavy September snowfall and power outages in the core in October. And the Calgary Food Bank knows the need for food hampers is about to jump (as it always does in December) by 70 per cent.

Last year, Calgarians helped raise over half a million dollars worth of food and cash donations through the Mayor’s Christmas Food Drive. Please help me to beat that amount this year. Together, we can make our community hunger-free.

You can donate food at any of our partner locations (indicated in the poster) or make a cash donation online.

Thank you!

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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Survey says: We love our city!


I love good data because it leads to good decisions. The release of today's annual citizen satisfaction survey gives The City an excellent, quantifiable snapshot of what Calgarians are thinking.

The data show what most Calgarians already know: we live in a great city with a high quality of life. We are proud to live here and, for the most part, we get good value for our tax dollars. Plus, we're optimistic that, as a community, we're on the right track. I’m proud that the citizen satisfaction survey has consistently shown this since I've had this role.

You can review all the findings at www.calgary.ca/citizensatisfaction, but here are a few highlights:

  • Quality of life perceptions remain very high, and much higher than in 2010.
  • Satisfaction with city services remains high.
  • When it comes to the big issues, infrastructure, traffic, and roads remain at the top, followed by transit.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people perceive good value for their municipal tax dollar.
  • There's broad consensus asking for more investment across city services.

I encourage you to dive deep into the study, which was conducted by respected research firm Ipsos Reid.

As we get closer to budget decisions over the next two weeks (www.calgary.ca/actionplan) the opinions of you and your fellow citizens will continue to be very important.

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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Huge improvement at Calgary Transit: Real-Time bus information!



Really big news out of Calgary Transit! Starting immediately, you can get real-time bus information using www.CalgaryTransit.com, the mobile site, Teletext, and Teleride--that means no more waiting for the bus in -27 degree windchill! Instead, you can check for the next bus and find out exactly how many minutes away it is based on its GPS location.

This revolutionizes the way we use Calgary Transit, and it is a dramatic step forward in making transit much more customer-focused. The new website is also much better (and mobile-friendly!) so it can be your best source for next ride information and route planning.

As we created the RouteAhead (Calgary Transit's first long-term strategy), we often heard from customers about what we could do to improve customer service. The new website, improved trip planner, real-time data, and multi-language supports are in direct response to what we heard.

To learn more about the improvements of www.CalgaryTransit.com, check out the video above.
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Mayor Nenshi Reads: The Change Your Name Store



In this latest edition of Mayor Nenshi Reads, the Mayor Naheed Nenshi reads The Change Your Name Store by Calgary author Leanne Shirtliffe with illustrations by Tina Kugler.

This is one of a series of children's books read by Mayor Nenshi to encourage literacy and reading time with adults and kids.

Enjoy!
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Action Plan is The City's budget, and it needs your feedback


Today, The City of Calgary released its four-year business plan and budget--Action Plan. Unlike other orders of government, there are no surprises in this $22 billion plan. It was created starting with the input of citizens and public direction from City Council. Now that we have this comprehensive budget, we are looking for your feedback on it (by phone, online, or in person). And, in the coming weeks, City Council will debate, line by line, the Action Plan that will guide our municipality for the next four years. It's important stuff, so I hope you have an opportunity to check it out.

Here's my letter that appears in the beginning of Action Plan...

Fellow Calgarians:

Business plans and budgets are some of the most important documents we can create for our city. They provide a detailed roadmap for Calgary over the next four years—direction to over 15,000 City of Calgary employees and many community partners to deliver important daily services, programs, and infrastructure to 1,195,200 Calgarians. 

This is your document. Action Plan is based on a month of engagement, and discussion with thousands of Calgarians. You told us about your priorities and Council, in turn, based its priorities on what we heard from you. From there, our colleagues in The City of Calgary produced a very thorough set of business plans and budgets.

Our biggest issue is managing growth. This is certainly better than the alternative, but it means we have to make smart decisions about how we grow to ensure prosperity and opportunity. In fact, since I've been your mayor, we have experienced three of the five largest annual population increases in our history. We have added an entire City of Red Deer two times over! 

I’m proud that, together, we've produced an Action Plan that provides the services and infrastructure Calgarians need while keeping our property taxes among the lowest in Canada. Of course, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we now have a solid foundation from which to start.

Sincerely,

Naheed K. Nenshi
Mayor
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You have opinions--The City of Calgary wants to hear them


We're looking for Calgarians to join Citizens’ View – The City’s new online research panel.

Citizens’ View is a timely and cost-effective tool that will make it easier for citizens to share their views about life in Calgary. Calgarians who join the panel will have the opportunity to participate in surveys and discussions on topics that matter to them and understand how their input is used.

“The magic of public service lies in our ability to deliver what citizens require now as well as preparing for what they will need in the future,” said Jeff Fielding, City Manager. “Citizens’ View will help The City gauge opinions about our programs and services. It will also provide us with valuable information essential to meeting the community’s long-term aspirations.”

Citizens’ View is a Transforming Government initiative that will complement The City’s existing research and engagement tools, making information sharing more transparent, accessible and interactive for citizens.

“Creating an even better Calgary takes all of us—not just government,” said Mayor Nenshi. “Citizens are the key to improving our communities and creating the best programs and services for our city. Calgarians are the experts in their lives and I encourage them to share their thoughts about life in Calgary by registering at citizensview.ca.”

Members can expect to participate in surveys approximately once or twice per month; join interactive, online discussions; and receive information and updates on upcoming City events and service improvements.

Calgarians 18 years and older can register at www.citizensview.ca.

(Cross-posted from Calgary City News Blog)
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City employees taking Mayor Nenshi's Walk Challenge

Employee profile: Maria Lee and Erin Chrusch
(Cross-posted with permission from The City of Calgary's employee intranet: myCity)

It's been just over a month since our Mayor announced Mayor Nenshi's Walk Challenge. myCity decided to learn a little bit more about a couple of staff members who took the challenge on, Maria Lee and Erin Chrusch.

Positions at The City:

Maria: Communications Specialist, Fleet Services (left)
Erin: Citizen Liaison in the Office of the Mayor (right)

How long have you worked for The City?

Maria: 11 years … with a three year “break” in the middle. I've been with Fleet Services for 2 years.

Erin: Since January 2011, so three years and three quarters?

What has your career progression been like?

Maria: I started with the City of Calgary back when we launched the first iteration of Calgary.ca, and had a progression of roles with Corporate Web Services throughout that six year period, Web Editor, Content Managing Analyst, Portal Publisher. When I had my second child, I decided to quit so I could stay at home with my children. Then a few years ago, I came upon this part-time opportunity with Fleet Services, and could not pass it up. The balance between work and home life is just perfect right now.

Erin: I have been in this role my entire time at The City.

Can you tell us a bit about your current role? What are your typical daily tasks?

Maria: I am fortunate to be the communications resource at Fleet Services. My main focus is internal communications – our diverse and widespread group of Fleet employees challenges me to think outside the box when it comes to communication delivery. I also support Fleet’s communication with our internal customers. On any given day, I can be updating our website, writing newsletter articles, drafting safety messages for employees, or editing project updates for our customers. I really enjoy the variety of work, and being the sole resource enables me to really get to know all aspects of my business unit, the people in it, and all the different work that we do.

Erin: My main responsibility is overseeing and responding to all of the citizen correspondence that comes into the Mayor's office. Where appropriate I will liaise (hence the job title, lol) with the various business units to ensure that the citizen’s concerns are being addressed. I also help manage the Mayor’s Facebook page and assist with other communications duties as required.

What do you like best about working for The City?

Maria: The work life balance can’t be beat. With two young children, the flexibility in my job allows me to be with them the entire time they are not in school. The value in that arrangement is worth so much to me. Plus, it feels good to serve the community by being a civic employee. I feel lucky that I had the chance to make great connections across the organization when I worked corporately. Now, working for Fleet, I like that I can directly support the people I work with every day. These folks are some of the nicest, most sincere people I've worked with, and I still haven’t met them all yet!

Erin: I really enjoy working for an organization that has a tangible impact on people’s everyday lives. It gives what I do a sense of purpose that I don’t know you’d find anywhere else.

We hear you are taking part in Mayor Nenshi’s Walk Challenge, can you tell us what the challenge is, and why you were interested in trying it?

Maria: Calgarians are being encouraged to walk, bike or use other active forms of transportation to get to and from school. When I heard about it, I thought, that’s what we've been doing for years! I knew this would be a great way for the kids to celebrate what tthey'vealready been doing, and it allows us to talk to our children about some good reasons around why we choose to walk — namely protecting the environment and staying healthy.

Erin: If your kids take the bus, then they should walk to the bus stop. If you have to drive them to school, then maybe park a few blocks away from the school and walk from there (that also helps ease congestion and makes it safer for everyone around the schools). We are fortunate enough to have a school within our community that’s within walking distance and we walk to school as often as we can anyway. Taking part in the Challenge was a natural fit.

How has your progress been in keeping up with the challenge? Any tips for readers who might want to start with their kids?

Maria: On our block, we have a Walking School Bus (WSB) (pictured below), which has been active for four years now. Over the years, we've had nine families with 15 children involved, all under the age of 10. This year we have six families with 11 children on our Walking School Bus. We all live on the same street, if you can believe it! One parent makes up a rotation schedule of adult walkers, typically one or two adults, depending on the size of the school bus that year. We each take one day per week or two walking all the children to school.

We’re lucky that we live 6-7 blocks away from school, but with one busy street, wrangling 10+ kids can be a bit like herding cats!

The WSB has been great in so many ways. Our school has many students who are bussed in and don’t have the option to walk. So, when we walk, it alleviates the congestion of busses and cars stopped at drop off and pick up times. It is also creates a great sense of community – of neighbourhood community as well as school community. Our children range from in age from kindergarten to Grade 4. It thrills the younger ones to know some of the “older” kids at school, and gives them all an opportunity to catch up with each other, as often they are not in the same classroom. And any reason to have children outdoors is a bonus.

Walking with a group definitely makes the walking part easier, and more fun. The days us adults tend to dread - the snow, the rain – these are often the kids’ favourite walk days. It does talk longer to get to school though, with all the puddles and snow angels and whatnot. The day of Snowtember I remember the kids were so excited – there was so much fort building material out there!

We do cancel the walking school bus when it gets too cold, usually colder than -20 c. I think the most we've had to cancel was that one week stretch last winter, that was pretty cold.

Erin and her kids enjoying Calgary weather
Erin: Our progress has been good. Because of my work schedule I am only home with my kids one day/week so we don’t get to walk every day. Last week I drove to pick up my daughter from half-day kindergarten because I’d been out running errands and wouldn’t get there on time if I’d stopped at home first, but that’s been the only time I’ve driven to pick them up or drop them off. I personally find it stressful to be driving in an area where there are so many kids darting in and out that I will gladly park a few blocks away and it adds just a few minutes. If you’re worried that your kids are too young to walk very far, then start with one day/week. You could let them ride their bikes or take their scooters to make it more fun. I know that if you have a dawdler (like I do), then you have to budget for extra time and pack a lot of patience, but you will get there. Eventually. I should also add that it has been great for meeting other parents in our neighbourhood who are also out walking with their kids.

What are your other hobbies and interests outside of work?

Maria: Spending time with family, mostly. I also actively volunteer for my children’s school and our community helping with community cleanups, and in the past, our community farmer’s market. I love urban agriculture – growing veggies, harvesting fruit, canning, preserving, etc. and enjoy being in nature and going for walks in the woods.

Erin: I also like getting outdoors with my family.

It’s hockey/soccer/dance season now so that takes up most of our spare time. I also blog at http://www.workingmotherchronicles.com/ and am really excited about a new initiative I’m launching soon called MomsVote Canada that is designed to get Moms across Canada more involved in their community and in the political process.

Thanks so much to Maria and Erin for chatting with us! If you'd like to get more involved in the Mayor's Walk Challenge, you can find out more at calgary.ca/walkchallenge.