An update from Mayor Nenshi: A better Calgary in progress 2015

Post Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Friends:

Every year, we do a survey of Calgarians to get a snapshot of how you feel about your city, and the results have been consistent over the past few years: Calgarians are proud, optimistic, and very satisfied with the service they get from their city. Compared to other cities, that’s amazing. It means that we (your government) are on the right track, but it also means you expect us to constantly improve, become more responsive, and serve all Calgarians with the high quality of service you’ve come to expect.

Over those four years (and a handful of months), I've worked hard as your mayor to lead City Council on the issues that matter to Calgarians. Together, we’re better managing growth, improving transportation options for all, investing in our communities, and making a more citizen-focused government.

In the past year and a quarter since I was re-elected as your mayor, we've done a lot to make Calgary even better. From breaking ground on new recreation centres and the New Central Library to conducting more zero-based reviews of City departments to advancing new Calgary Transit projects, it has been a busy time. This document is a brief look at some of the progress we've made, and it is organized based on my re-election campaign platform. The list of highlights below is not everything we've done, but it’s a good collection of the work we do that I committed to doing during the last election.

It’s a great honour to serve as your mayor. I will continue to work hard to fulfill the promise of our community: a city of opportunity for everyone.

Sincerely,

Naheed K. Nenshi
Mayor

Even Better Transportation

We need to make it easier to move around the city, regardless of what mode you choose: car, transit, bike or foot. During the last election, I promised to champion projects that will improve transportation options for all Calgarians whether they want to drive, take public transit, bike, or walk.


Driving

  • City Council approved funding for four new major interchanges at Glenmore/Ogden Rd, Macleod/162nd Street South, the TransCanada Highway/Bowfort Rd and at Stoney Trail/14th Street NW totalling over $260 million.
  • Council also funded over $130 million for connections to the West and SW legs of the Ring Road, $20 million for an expanded/upgraded Crowchild/Flanders Ave interchange, $35 million for twinning Peigan Trail, $70 million for major upgrades at Macleod Trail and 194 & 210 Avenue, and several other major road infrastructure projects.

Transit

  • We are moving ahead with six major rapid transit projects including two legs of the Green Line Transitway (North Central and Southeast), Southwest Transitway, North Crosstown (16th Ave) Bus Rapid Transit, South Crosstown Bus Rapid Transit, and the 17th Avenue Southeast Transitway.
  • Council also approved the funding of an additional $200 million to replace the entire current fleet of the original “U2” Light Rail Vehicles. This will improve system reliability. The new LRT cars will also be used for 4-car trains starting in 2015.
  • Calgary received $48.4 million from Federal Government through PPP Canada on July 30, 2014 for construction of a new compressed natural gas bus storage and transit facility in NE Calgary. This is part of the City’s larger strategy to reduce greenhouse gases and save operational and fuel cost by purchasing natural gas-powered buses.

Cycling

  • Council approved four new pilot separated bike lane projects downtown, which will be built and opened in mid-2015. The routes are 12th Avenue SW, 5th Street SW, 8th Avenue SW and a short link along 9th Avenue SE in the east side of downtown. This will connect to existing river pathways, the 7th Street SW cycle track and other bike lanes. This is in addition to projects such as the Bowness Road upgrade which was installed in the fall of 2014.

Walking

  • The Transportation department is in the early stages of developing a new pedestrian strategy called Step Forward. This will set out the strategic directions, actions, and investments to make Calgary a safer and better place to walk.

Taxis

  • In September, Council authorized the release of 126 new taxi plates in 2014 (with specific conditions that those taxis must operate on Friday & Saturday nights at peak times), and Council authorized an additional 257 taxi plates to be released this year to improve taxi service in our city.
  • The City continues to collect real-time data of taxi cab movements to better understand the taxi industry. We use that data to improve taxi regulation & service in Calgary.
  • Building on the creative solutions implemented in 2011 (such as allowing taxis to wait by fire hydrants) The City continues to work creatively with industry and stakeholders to find better ways to connect the public with taxis. For example, a new taxi pull-out design was set-up at Stampede Park which greatly improved taxi service at last year’s Stampede. The City is setting-up “taxi hubs” at the end of each of the four LRT lines where late night transit users can access taxis to get home.
  • The City and Uber began discussions in the fall of 2014 about bringing their Uber Black service to Calgary.

Even Better Growth

We need great neighbourhoods—new suburbs with a choice of housing and amenities and thriving established neighbourhoods with thoughtful redevelopment and renewed infrastructure. As our city continues to experience record population growth, we must ensure every corner of this city is filled with great communities that have the amenities, infrastructure, and overall quality of life that we all expect and deserve. Evolving existing neighbourhoods and changing the way we build new neighbourhoods takes time and effort from many different parties, but we have made great strides in this area.
New suburban neighbourhoods

  • We are in the midst of the creation of six new Developer-funded Area Structure Plans (ASPs – large scale plans for new communities). By creating a New Community Guidebook and using a new format and process for creating ASPs, we have reduced the time-frame from over three years to as little as nine months. These plans are some of the first to return to a “grid” street network, enabling better walkability, more efficient transit, and allowing developers to build a greater diversity of housing.

Established neighbourhoods

  • The planning department has undertaken a major new Main Streets initiative. This initiative will see the City work collaboratively with community stakeholders across the city’s 24 main streets (such as Kensington, Inglewood, Edmonton Trail, Bowness Road, etc) to establish new visions, plans, and implementation strategies for these important streets. Main streets are the lifeblood of many Calgary communities and are a huge part of the vitality of our city.

Downtown

Even Better Communities

Our city needs to be attractive, safe, and vibrant, with opportunities for all. While Calgary is already one of the best, it’s not the best for everyone nor is it in every part of the city. We have work to do to address our poverty and affordable housing needs while also ensuring that safe communities where people can live a great life with their families.
Housing

  • In 2014, The City began accepting permit applications for six-storey wood-frame buildings (previously, wood-frame construction was limited to four-storey buildings). This is an innovative way to make housing more affordable for Calgarians by making it easier and cheaper to build six-story housing complexes.
  • My Council colleagues and I continue to advocate for Calgarians with the federal and provincial orders of government for additional funding for affordable housing.

Parks and Recreation

  • Construction is currently underway at three of the four new recreation centres: Rocky Ridge, Quarry Park and Great Plains. Work on the Seton recreation centre is currently at the detailed design level and will break ground later this year. Although the projects experienced a bit of a delay due to the flood, they are all on budget.
  • Three new outdoor artificial turf soccer fields and four new indoor soccer fields were completed this summer and are now open to the public at the newly expanded Calgary Soccer Centre.
  • Upgrades to Shouldice Park are now under way and these amenity upgrades, funded in partnership with the Calgary Amateur Football Association, will improve the facilities for all Calgarians.
  • Detailed design work is underway for development of Haskayne Legacy Park.


Arts and Culture

  • Council approved Living a Creative Life—the arts development strategy for Calgary stewarded by Calgary Arts Development Authority.
Eamons building
Heritage
  • On December 1, 2014 Council approved my proposal for a new $35 million fund to repair and maintain The City’s inventory of heritage assets including Historic City Hall.
  • I was proud to work closely with the Catholic Archdiocese to preserve the historic McHugh House to ensure it remains available for future public use within Humpy Hollow Park in the Beltline.
  • As part of the construction of the new Tuscany LRT Station, we protected the original Eamons building that was on site. The City is currently looking for an occupant for this important heritage building.

Crime and Safety

  • Crime rates in our city continue to fall to levels not seen since the mid 1960s, this is due, in part, to good policing and good policy.
  • Council continues to support community policing programming and approved a police budget that is fiscally responsible and maintains the current number of officers.
  • Council supported funding increases to our youth intervention and youth justice programs (MASST, after school programs, etc...) that are run by Calgary Police Service and Community and Neighbourhood Services. These programs will have a critical impact on the lives of youth who are at risk in our community thereby helping to build resilient kids and stopping crime before it happens.

Poverty Reduction

  • Council funded the implementation of the Enough for All strategy, the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative’s work plan to move forward with reducing poverty in our community. Vibrant Communities Calgary will take over stewardship and implementation of the strategy in 2015. I am very proud of this project and it was something I advocated for when I was first elected.

Environment

  • On May 5, 2014 Council approved construction of a large indoor/outdoor organics composting facility at the Shepard Landfill site. When the facility is completed in 2017, The City will expand the Green Cart service city wide. Sixty per cent of our household waste is food and yard waste and composting our organic waste will greatly extend the life of our landfills, minimize the environmental impact our food and yard waste has our environment, help us reach the City’s goal of sending 80 per cent less waste to our landfills by 2020 and produce valuable compost.
  • Council approved construction of the Bonnybrook Plant Cell D expansion, a $714 million waste-water treatment plant expansion to accommodate the City’s future growth.
  • Council approved $35 million to repair and restore the City’s tree canopy in response to the damage caused from the September snow event.

Economic Development

  • Council approved the updated, 10 Year Calgary Economic Development Strategy on November 3, 2014. Calgary Economic Development will work with community stakeholders to implement the strategy.
  • I continue to support Calgary Economic Development’s Be Part of the Energylabour attraction and promotion campaign. In October, I visited cities and spoke at universities across Canada to promote Calgary as a great place to work and build a life.
  • I’ve been a strong supporter of Tourism Calgary and the Calgary Hoteliers Association (PDF download) coming to a new financial and cooperative agreement last year. Tourism Calgary recently adopted a new board structure and bylaws at their recent Fall AGM reflecting the new working relationship. This new relationship is in a more financial sustainable position.
Flood Recovery & Future Flood Mitigation
  • In June 2014, The City released a consultant’s report on the viability of a flood water diversion tunnel connecting Glenmore reservoir directly to the Bow River. The report confirms that the tunnel is a viable option but will cost between $450 million and $500 million to build. I am advocating that the provincial government conduct a data-driven process to evaluate the tunnel along with the other two proposed up-stream, long-term flood mitigation projects to determine which combination of projects would offer the best, most cost-effective, long-term flood protection for Calgary.

Even Better Government

We need a municipal government that is citizen-focused and facilitates the success of citizens... but government can't do it alone. The City is constantly improving and adapting to the needs of our citizens—you—and we’re doing it in a prudent way that ensures we have some of the lowest property taxes in Canada. Your involvement in government and your community ensures that we all work together to make this city even better. Becoming a citizen-focused organization
  • Hired a new City Manager who started work in June 2014. Jeff Fielding has a strong track record leading in the cities of Kitchener, London, and Burlington. His leadership will help The City move towards becoming a more citizen-focused organization and adopt results based accountability.
  • In our latest four year budget and business plan for Calgary (Action Plan 2015-2018), The City set a variety of citizen-focused performance metrics and goals throughout its four-year business plan. With data and regular reporting, The City can better monitor service performance to reinforce a culture of continual improvement.

Responsible spending and improving services for citizens
  • Council passed The City’s new four-year strategic business plan and budget that will ensure citizens receive a high level of service and that we continue to build Calgary to accommodate growth all while keeping our property taxes the lowest of any major city in Canada.
  • The Cut Red Tape program (run out of the Mayor’s Office) has been very successful in making it easier for citizens to work with The City. Over the past few years since the program started, it has saved over $12.7 million and 119,000 hours for citizens and City employees. My colleagues throughout the organization have implemented over 40 different programs to cut red tape for business or citizens. In January, the program was recognized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for its innovation and success in cutting red tape.
  • I’m a big supporter of the “one-window” service delivery model by Animal and Bylaw Services. Work continues on cross training officers from the different lines of service so any officer can address an array of issues they encounter with the public (no matter their specialization), from animal issues, to general bylaws infractions to business licensing questions.


Transforming the planning system

  • The Planning department undertook a major reorganization in the past year. The department’s new structure will enable faster and better decision-making and more collaboration. The City has also continued to expand its “e-services”, which aim to shift more of how we do business online. E-services have been proving to save millions of dollars and thousands of hours for the City, businesses, and citizens.

Improving Ethics & Transparency 
In 2013, Council passed my proposal to create a new Ethical Conduct Policy for Members of Council and the new Gifts and Benefits Policy for Members of Council. This good work has been followed up with the new Disclosure Policy for Members of Council, a policy that is based on the work I have already been doing in my office. The new policy restores (and builds upon) the previous Council practice (from 1972 to 2000) of having Council members disclose their real estate holdings. The new policy requires that Council members and their immediate family members disclose their real estate and financial holdings along with any outsider employers. The disclosure registry will come online in early 2015 and will improve transparency and help clarify any pecuniary interests when they come up.

  • On December 15, 2014 Council approved the Code of Conduct for Citizen Members Appointed to Council Established Boards, Commissions and Committees which is a new policy to ensure accountability with appointees. Citizen members appointed to Council established Boards, Commissions and Committees will now be held to the same ethical conduct standards as Members of Council and members of City The City.

City Charter
  • In 2014, I was very happy to sign the “Framework Agreement for Charters” with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Premier Jim Prentice. This framework agreement lays out the two-year work plan to develop a new relationship between Alberta’s two large cities and the Government of Alberta. Since the signing on October 7, 2014, work on a new charter has proceeded quickly with the intent of being completed by the spring of 2016.


Citizen Engagement
  • I am very proud of the work done by the Mayor’s Committee on Citizen Engagement. Through the 3 Things for Calgarycampaign, they have encouraged thousands of Calgarians to make a habit of volunteerism and community-building. Recently, they worked with The City Clerk’s Office to produce the third We Should Know City Hall event that gave citizens a chance to learn more about their municipal government.
  • I was happy to launch Mayor Nenshi’s Walk Challenge. By encouraging more kids and parents to walk to school, we are helping to ease traffic around schools while also helping our kids protect the environment, be healthier, and do better in school.
  • In preparation for the Action Plan 2015-2018 budget deliberation, The City did an extensive engagement process that started in early 2014 and involved over 24,000 citizens. Your feedback and ideas helped Council to create its priorities for the next four years. Your input was also used by The City as they prepared draft business plans and budgets. There were numerous engagement tools employed from focus groups, to 21 in-person open houses and public events, to a detailed website with three online tools. There were over 35,000 social media interactions, 21,216 website and online tool visits, 3451 submissions online, and 3367 in-person attendees.
  • Action Plan 2015-2018 budget document used a new, more readable, and user friendly format and piloted a new online budget dashboard to make it easier for Calgarians to look at ever line in the budget.
  • Council funded the implementation of the new engage! policy—a new strategy embedding engagement best practices into The City and supporting a cross-department team that will standardize and improve all communication between The City and our citizens.