Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise, City Approves Cycle Tracks

To the surprise of no one Calgary City Council has approved downtown cycle tracks, albeit in a slim 8-7 vote. So let's examine some of what happened and some of the outcomes from that debate and vote.

First and let's be fair, the Mayor and I do not see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. In this matter 'His Purpleness' acted like the school yard bully. Showing up at meetings on Committees where he usually doesn't sit, interrupting the agenda to push his position and using his messenger, the Ward 8 Councillor to run errands for him. All the while playing to his urban hipster crowd led by Chris Turner and others. Wooley fits nicely into that space having worked for Chris Turner and the Green Party in the previous Calgary Centre by-election. Where the Mayor voted was of no surprise to this scribe.

Next, let's look at the 'Inner-City Four; Farrell (Ward 7), Wooley (Ward 8), Carra (Ward 9) and Pincott (Ward 11). No surprises here, they look to 'His Purpleness' for their marching orders and away they go, representing the views of their constituents, not likely.

Then we have the fiscal conservative Councillors; Sutherland (Ward 1), Magliocca (Ward  2), Stevenson (Ward 3), Chu (Ward 4). Jones (Ward 5). Colley-Urguhart (Ward 13) and Demong (Ward 14). City Administration did not make a strong enough case for this group to vote in favour. A number of issues came into play but mostly Administration could not adequately answer questions around the cost. These folks represented the views of their voting public who did not support the expense and the plan for separated cycle tracks in the downtown core.

The foregoing was easy to explain, now let's look at the supposed anomalies.

Keating (Ward 12); Not really a surprise 'His Purpleness' brought him in line with the promised public transportation plan for the SE. This will be enough for Keating to support the Mayor on most projects for the foreseeable future. His support has no other explanation since voters in Ward 12 do not appear to support the decision to spend tax dollars on separated cycle tracks in the downtown. Their concern is getting to work, parking when they get there and having a Councillor vote prudently on any City expenditure. That did not happen with this vote. If Ward 12 voters feel differently than I expressed please let me know.

Pootmans (Ward 6); Lest we not be surprised by his support for 'His Purpleness', Pootmans tries to show himself to be a fiscal conservative, the representation people in Ward 6 expect and believed they voted for, but the reality is Pootmans could very easily become a member of the 'Inner-City Four' when it comes to his voting record. He was one of the Councilors who dabbled with a ban on shark fin soup prior to the last election. A move that wasted tax dollars, pitted Council against Chinatown and was very much outside of any municipal jurisdiction. The attempted shark fin soup ban was led by Pincott and Farrell, blindly supported by Carra and Pootmans. Wooley was not at Council at the time. Again, if Ward 6 voters feel differently than I suggest please let me know.

Chabot (Ward 10); This is the only so-called surprise and the vote needed to get the cycle track programme in place. Chabot has been the Councillor most informed and ready for Council Meetings. He has always displayed himself to be a fiscal conservative. What happened?

Chabot has aspirations for the Mayor's chair once 'His Purpleness' rides off into the sunset to Harvard or the U of T to tell us how to be better urban citizens.

In this case, I believe Chabot made a significant political misstep. He appears to have abandoned his fiscal conservative principles in favour of an attempt to garner support from the urban hipster crowd. He must have been torn since his apparent change of heart seems to have come at Transportation Committee prior to yesterday's Council vote. In fact, for several months his staff have been posting on Facebook mentions that they will enjoy the cycle tracks well in advance of Chabot's vote.

Bottom line, this flip/flop may come back to haunt Chabot in the next election, time will tell.

Last evening I was bombarded by the Bike Calgary crowd for having had the audacity to help Chinatown in their opposition to the 1st Street SE cycle track. That's partly why I'm writing this today. They suggested we were conspiracy theorists and nay-sayers. I want to go on the record to say that the folks in Chinatown passionately love their space and this battle was not taken on without serious and thoughtful consideration for the impact on all Calgarians. Do not disregard Chinatown in the future when decisions like the cycle track and its impacts are discussed. This is a particular warning to the Councillor supposedly responsible for Chinatown.

The next steps are not so clear.

We are waiting for accurate costs for the cycle track network. We also want to see the criteria for measuring success or failure during the one-year trial.

I wonder what Bike Calgary thinks that criteria should be.

1 comment:

  1. So you're against the bike network downtown due to the cost but are you in favour of the ring road? Seems to me that costs billions.

    Just curious.