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Premier, Edmonton Mayor, and Mayor Nenshi sign Framework Agreement for Charters

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Premier Jim Prentice and Mayor Nenshi.
Photo by Lyle Aspinal, Calgary Sun (via Twitter)
This afternoon, I was pleased to join with Premier Jim Prentice and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson to sign a "Framework Agreement For Charters" between our orders of government. City charters for Alberta's big cities is something we've been working on for some time, and this framework is an important step toward achieving this important legislative change. A charter makes it easier for our cities to serve our citizens with the services they need the most and it will definitely improve the lives of Calgarians and Edmontonians. I look forward to working with the Premier and Minister Diana McQueen to redefine the relationship between the province and our two biggest cities.

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Statement from Mayor Nenshi regarding flood recovery announcement from Premier Prentice

We are pleased that the Premier has made flood recovery and mitigation a major priority, but we are surprised at the scope of the announcement, as it represents a significant departure from previous policy, and it was announced without prior discussion with the City's flood experts or policy-makers. The Premier, just yesterday, announced he would be treating municipalities as true partners. We look forward to that.
We are pleased that the Premier announced that the government is tripling the number of appeal officers for the Disaster Recovery Program. This will make a real difference for the families affected by the flood. We hope that when processing these appeals, the Provincial government will address the legitimate concerns that have been raised by flood affected families and that their claims will be re-assessed properly, fairly and quickly.
With respect to the two flood mitigation measures for Calgary that were announced by Premier Prentice today - namely the dry reservoir in Springbank and the direction to negotiate a permanent water management agreement with TransAlta - it is difficult for us to comment in detail since The City of Calgary has not yet been consulted with respect to either proposal and our experts have not yet seen any engineering studies. 
However, we do have a few initial observations:
1.    The "room for the river" concept for the Springbank reservoir, while intriguing, has never been discussed with City officials. It represents a real departure from the previous plan, where the reservoir would have played a role in both flood and drought years. This dry dam would not be used except during a flood and would not allow for comprehensive water management, which the Province had previously stated was their goal for this project. 
2.    We are very interested to hear the Premier state that management of the existing TransAlta dams will offer 1:100 year flood protection and that the Springbank dry dam will offer 1:200 year flood protection. We will be asking Provincial officials to share their engineering studies that demonstrate that. Based on our research and analysis to date, we believe that at least two and maybe all three proposed large scale flood mitigation measures will be required (namely, Springbank, McLean Creek and the Glenmore Reservoir Tunnel).  It is surprising that the Province would announce one project without having completed the analysis on the impact of the other two projects, since they all must be analyzed together. For example, using hypothetical numbers, it may be that the tunnel could be double the cost of the other projects but it may mean that either or both other projects would no longer be needed. The cost-benefit analyses cannot stand alone. 
3.    The Government of Canada in a recent study indicated that 1:100 year standard is no longer appropriate. Calgary needs protection to a much higher level. Recent discussions with Provincial officials have been focused on mitigation at a significantly higher standard.
The floods had a devastating impact on our community and it is very important that we make the right decisions with respect to flood mitigation projects. Teams from the City and the Province have been working very collaboratively under the previous two Premiers and we hope that continues under the "new management". 

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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A huge honour to receive a Blackfoot name


On Sunday, September 14, I had one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of my life. At Making Treaty 7, I was given a Blackfoot name by elder Pete Standing Alone. The name is A'-BPE'S-TO'-TSEE-PSS-TSS or Clan Leader. I am completely overwhelmed by this great honour and will cherish this name. Here is the text from Mr. Standing Alone explaining why he chose this name for me:
A’-BPE’S-TO’-TSEE-PSS-TSS, Clan Leader
Translation: the one that moves camp with followers behind him
The people of Calgary are the Clan followers, the city is the Clan. People are still coming to Calgary from all over the world, and the Mayor has far surpassed one million for clan followers. 
Clan Leaders are given the authority by their clan members to support and protect them. The Clan Leader represents the Clan when all the Clans gather. Gatherings include Aakokatssin—Circle Encampment now referred to as the Sundance.
The Clan system existence was sources by the members; like Calgary, Mayor Nenshi is selected by the clan because he is a good man, kind, wise generous and brave. As of today, the Clan system is no longer used among our people, but people continue to identify themselves with various clans, such as the Fish Eaters, Old agency (Belly Butts area), and Lone Fighters.
No one has given the name A’-BPE’S-TO’-TSEE-PSS-TSS to an individual. A group of men are called A’-BPE’S-TO’-TSEE-PSS-TSS. In 2006, over one million people had come to Calgary, and, as Mayor, he continues to be recognized for all the members who have come under his leadership seeking a better life. These are the reasons I give him the name A’-BPE’S-TO’-TSEE-PSS-TSS.
During the evening I also received a Chief Joseph Pendleton blanket (pictured here) from the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee. Both honours are deeply humbling.

Nitsiniiyi'taki

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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Take Mayor Nenshi's Walk Challenge


Today, Mayor Naheed Nenshi joined with parents and a teacher to launch Mayor Nenshi’s Walk Challenge—a campaign to encourage Calgary kids to walk (or bike or rollerblade or any form of active transportation) to school this year. By walking to school, Calgary kids can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses in our environment, get additional exercise to stay fit and healthy, and do better in school. With more kids walking to school, we can also reduce the traffic congestion on streets around our schools.

Media and the public can learn more about Mayor Nenshi’s Walk Challenge at Calgary.ca/WalkChallenge. Anyone taking up the challenge is encouraged to share their experience on Facebook (at Facebook.com/WalkChallenge) or Twitter (using #yycwalk).

“I know that a lot of families are very busy getting prepared for school and work every day,” said Mayor Nenshi. “But incorporating an additional 15 or 20 minutes into your routine can yield big benefits.”

Mayor Nenshi was joined today by:

  • Tiffany Stones – A parent in Altadore who, with the help of other parents in the area, organized a Walking School Bus.
  • Lori Beattie - A parent in Elboya who helped her child and his friends set up a “bike gang” that bikes to school year-round.
  • Debbie Rheinstein – A teacher at Captain Nichola Goddard School who supported her students as they created the Green Commuting Hubs program as part of their 2014 Mayor’s Environment Expo project.
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Column: Cities matter, but does the next Premier know?

Like many Albertans, I was excited about the Progressive Conservative leadership race. The battle to be our next premier had attracted three good candidates with very different philosophies. And it would unfold over many months, giving Albertans plenty of time to see the candidates interact, and for the candidates to share their visions for the province and the policies to make those visions real.

As we know, the experience has been quite different. There have been few debates, and the policy announcements have ranged from the irrelevant to the bizarre. I’ve heard few specifics about the issues that Albertans consistently rank as most important to them whether it be education funding, significant improvement to the health care system, or (of course) Alberta’s big cities.

Nonetheless, I have a lot of respect for all three candidates. I had the chance to sit down with all three earlier this summer and had great meetings with each. They listened and engaged intently as I highlighted the issues of concern to The City of Calgary.

All do agree that the relationship between The City and The Province was broken, and that the funding model—under which Calgary taxpayers send $4 billion more to The Province than we receive in all provincial services every year—needed to be addressed.

We have to have these conversations because they matter so much to the lives of Calgarians. For example, the creation of the Green Line (the north-central and south-east LRT) is a priority for our citizens, but if we can’t figure out how to cover the $5 billion price tag together, it will not get built. We need that and so much other infrastructure because the growth of our cities—and the needs associated with that growth—is very real. In the last three years, Calgary gained more people than the entire population of Red Deer. We need to act now to find solutions to that and other topics ranging from providing front-line services to eliminating homelessness and poverty in our cities.

With this in mind, I asked the candidates to respond to a survey called Cities Matter. We’ve done this before. In the last PC leadership race and in the last provincial election, we asked each candidate or party specific questions on how they would address city issues, and they all did so. We published their results verbatim to help voters make up their minds.

This time around, all the campaigns responded to the survey without any prodding, and we’ve once again posted the results at CitiesMatter.ca.

I will admit that I am a bit disappointed. No candidate staked out any bold positions. The answers ranged from vague (at best) to taking us backward (at worst).

We’ve been working diligently on a city charter, for example, through three premiers and four municipal affairs ministers. The PC Party in the last election highlighted the need for these charters. However, all three candidates would take us a step backward on this, something that Calgarians and Edmontonians can ill afford.

None of the candidates offered a clear way forward on the stalled Calgary Metropolitan Plan, and none talked in any detail about how they would assist cities with the cost of growth, infrastructure, downloaded social servicing or policing. None could even muster up the ability to say that abruptly cutting all funding to Calgary’s Performing Arts Centre (a tiny amount for this government but huge for the arts community) was a mistake.

What I am looking for is specific policy ideas that we could debate and discuss with citizens. Even if the policy positions were “the Mayor is wrong and here’s why”, we’d have a place to begin.

There was some good news: all three candidates will review (and hopefully reverse) Alberta Health Services’ decision to make unnecessary, costly changes to a 911 system that is working very well as it is. All of them were willing to work with the cities as partners, not as enemies. If we’re going to ensure the prosperity of this province and its citizens, we must work together to build the cities we need—cities that move, that are affordable, and where people want to live and thrive.

All five parties in the last election agreed that the current system doesn’t work and that change is needed. The Opposition parties have, in varying degrees, developed plans, policies, and commitments to fix the problems. Some are good, some are bad, but they exist.

Our new Premier will have a short period of time to catch up and prove to all Albertans that cities matter. And I sincerely look forward to working with him to help make that happen.

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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Cities Matter: The 2014 PC Leadership edition



Fellow Calgarians and Albertans,

Today, we are relaunching CitiesMatter.ca--the home for responses from Alberta's Progressive Conservative (PC) Leadership Candidates about the issues facing our cities today. Please visit it and share it with your colleagues, friends, and family.

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. There is often a sad lack of discussion (from the provincial and federal governments) about the issues that affect us every day. Supporting front-line services, eliminating homelessness and poverty, fixing the fiscal imbalance, and creating a sustainable transportation strategy with cities (just to name a few topics) all too often fall off the political radar.

CitiesMatter.ca 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. During the last provincial election (April 2012) and the last PC leadership race (October 2011) The City of Calgary surveyed provincial political parties and leadership candidates about the issues that matter most to cities.

Thank you to all the candidates for responding to the survey, and congratulations to all the candidates and volunteers who participated in this race. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and represent your fellow citizens.

And thank you all for visiting and exploring CitiesMatter.ca. Your participation in these issues makes a difference, and it shows that cities do (truly) matter.

[UPDATE: I've now posted my analysis of the responses from the three candidates.]

Sincerely,

Mayor Naheed Nenshi
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Looking for volunteers!

Fellow Calgarians, we need your help.

When my colleagues on City Council and I make decisions, we look for guidance from our Boards, Commission and Committees (BCCs). And we now have some openings that need volunteers.

The citizens who volunteer on these BCCs bring important expertise and perspective that we is invaluable for us here at City Hall.

We are currently recruiting volunteers to serve on the various BCCs. Here are just a few that need filling:
  • Audit Committee - Contribute to overseeing financial matters at The City and provide input into the decision making process at City Council.
  • eGovernment Strategy Advisory Committee - Monitor and guide the overall vision, strategy, and program plan for eGovernment at the City of Calgary.
  • Heritage Authority - Provide advice to City Council on all matters related to historic resources in the City, including the restoration, alteration, and demolition of sites in The City’s heritage inventory.
  • Saddledome Foundation - Contribute to the operation of the Scotiabank Saddledome for the benefit of amateur athletics, hockey development, and research.
  • Public Art Board - Promote awareness of art in The City and act as a resource to City Council on all public art matters.
  • Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee - Represent the concerns of Aboriginal Calgarians to City Council. Investigate areas of concern to people of Aboriginal ancestry and make recommendations on policies and resolutions that would give urban Aboriginal people a more meaningful role within the Calgary community.
Please visit calgary.ca/cityclerks to view the full listing of BCCs with current vacancies and find information on how to apply. Although some positions have specific eligibility requirements, most member positions require only your enthusiasm, interest, and commitment.

The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m., Friday, September 19, 2014. I look forward to having you help us make important decisions that affect all our fellow citizens.

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi