Monday, April 30, 2012

Canadian Right to Food Trial verdict delayed until September

Judge Skene has requested an extension on the verdict of the Canadian Right to Food Trial. The Judge is very thorough and there was a significant volume of case law presented which the Judge must review. The new verdict (written decision) date will be sometime after 14Sept12.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Impossible Sunnyside LRT Wheelchair Ramp Dilemma

Dear Druh Farrell, Calgary Transit & Calgary City Council,

Re Impossible Sunnyside Wheelchair Ramp


Search "wheelchair ramp".

2,000,000 results.

Select design.


Here's the solution to what Calgary Transit & Alderman Druh Farrell both consider to be an impossible challenge. The structure is temporary and made from wood. Signage would be posted. Done. Next.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy 30th Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms!

The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms turns 30 on Tuesday. 

Prime Minister Harper is not celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Charter. Read story here.

This is unforgivably shameful conduct on the part of our PM. Our soldiers defend it, Harper ignores it.

The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms has replaced the American Bill of Rights as the constitutional document most emulated by other nations. Read about our Gift to the World here.

There are many reasons why I support the principles of the Charter. I was raised to respect my country and its laws. I served my country as a soldier. Having just attended a 5 day trial where I was self represented and challenging the constitutionality of a law, based on a number of Charter arguments, this is a day that I will celebrate.

The decision on my Charter challenge is due on 09May12. My son's birthday...

Right Hand, meet Left Hand

The Corporation (City of Calgary) just spread topsoil and hydroseeded this field in Sunnyside, the former location of the Triangle Building.

Ignoring requests to create a community garden in the unused space, Ward 7 Ald Druh Farrell proceeded with her own plan.

After the demolition of the Triangle building, this area was mostly a mix of gravel and clay, significantly better staging ground cover than topsoil. Apparently, the Sunnyside LRT Station requires this area for a platform expansion. An option would have been to locate the Site Office & trailers on the road, thereby reducing the construction footprint & impact on the community. Instead of a coordinated effort, we get another half-assed effort and unique insight into how the Corporation is out of sync.

Further confirmation that the Corporation is focused and never misses an opportunity to waste taxpayer dollars.

Look for more hilarity when it rains.

CMLC & East Village... Please correct this error in your tax payer funded propaganda

The $25M St Patrick's Bridge does not, in fact, connect St Patrick's Island or East Village to Bridgeland.

Please correct your tax payer funded propaganda. Thank you.

from the taxpayer funded CMLC website

The Death of a Citizen Group: Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) Killed: Citizen Expert Group Dissolved by Council

ImagineCalgary: Inclusive, Responsive, Transparent... and Deadly, at least for citizen, subject matter expert groups.

The Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) was created in December 1991, to:

Provide independent advice, which will assist The City of Calgary in providing leadership to conserve and protect the environment and enhance environmental management for the benefit of Calgarians and the regional community.

On 2012 February 27, Council disbanded the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC). Existing and former members of EAC may engage with The City of Calgary in the future through the Imagine CALGARY Partnership.

The last thing the EAC did, via a unanimously adopted motion made by Paul Hughes, was their most significant. The EAC created the Land Inventory Food Assessment, to be a partnership between the EAC & Office of Sustainability & the Food Policy Working Group (another presumably citizen led group, although hand picked by admin). The Office of Sustainability was to report to the EAC. 

Of course, Owen Tobert (Tubby Dogg, the extra "g" for Governor, pronounced Guv'ner) & Druh Farrell would have none of this. How dare an admin entity like the Office of Sustainability, sheltered and protected by Owen Tobert himself, have to answer to a citizen driven group. 

I was around for the final days of the EAC. Without hyperbole, it was a thousand times worse than Vietnam. Vicious attacks from admin, membership attacked by Druh Farrell and other  spineless aldermen in in-camera meetings, public attacks during Standing Policy Committee meetings by Druh Farrell, a backstabbing spree, a veritable clinic of Machiavellian politics... all directed at a volunteer and citizen led committee.

Volunteers, passionate, committed citizens. There's no room at the City of Calgary... sorry... "The Corporation", for those kinds of people... citizens.
EAC: Environmental Advisory Committee: Guidance for Calgary City Council 2010/2011

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sync City: Placement of Bridge: Human Traffic Flow Modeling

The fictional city of Sync, Alberta, (population 1.2Million) is seeking to increase access to an inner city island, Mac Island, located on the river that runs through the city.

After years of neglect, Mac Island is being dramatically transformed. Upon completion, there will be a significant increase in traffic to Mac Island, originating from all areas of the city.

The city has a Light Rail Transit system that has a station directly across from Mac Island. Sync's Public Transit system is averaging close to 1/2 million riders/day.

Mac Island is also located close to an old area of the city, The Yeast Village (former bread & beer making district) that is going through an aggressive redevelopment. That redevelopment will, at build out, see the Yeast Village reach a community population of 11,500.

The City of Sync itself, has adopted numerous policies, including imagineSync & PlanSync (merging of Sync's Municipal Development Plan (MDP) & Sync's Transportation Plan), that create targets and policy for future development. Based on sustainability principles for long term growth including Triple Bottom Line, The Melbourne Principles, SMART Growth and a number of other factors, The City of Sync is clearly (at least on paper/policy), committed to a sustainable future and development guided by these principles.

In this simulation, based on the information provided above, locate the bridge(s) to best facilitate pedestrian & bike traffic to Mac Island.

Apply Transit Oriented Development or Transit Oriented Design (TOD) principles: Maximize access to public transport

Apply Triple Bottom Line thinking.

Apply  The Melbourne Principles.

Apply SMART Growth.

Locate the bridge(s) to maximize efficient movement of human traffic. You can add, remove or keep (ARK) all bridge(s).

Send your suggestions to the Food & Urban Development Institute (FUDI)

facebook: FUDI

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Life Bikes sets up shop in Kensington

Good Life Bikes is now a part of the Kensington* community.


The City of Calgary should adhere to its own policy and target the 100's of dead zones around Calgary for rejuvenation via engagement and access for community building groups.

*It was proposed in 2008 to have the Anthill Building occupied by community groups. Calgary Parking Authority and Ald Druh Farrell turned that down.

Here's the 2008 Kensington Centre Proposal.

Nice digs, Good Life!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grass aka Green Concrete chosen over Community Garden in Sunnyside (of all places...)

Even though "camouflaged" by Hydroseeding, this still looks like an awesome community gardening site.

This decision has been forced onto the citizen's of Sunnyside. The City of Calgary's own Engage! Policy has not been followed. Where's the bylaw ticket for not following policy?

So, regardless of what Calgary Council & Mayor Nenshi would have you believe, seemingly well crafted policy is not followed, citizens and communities continue to be ignored and marginalized as political collateral damage & engagement (see Engage!) is just a buzzword.

Engage! states:

The City of Calgary Engage! Policy assigns high priority to informing and involving citizens & stakeholders early on & throughout the process, where decision(s) impact their lives.

Sunnyside was neither informed, nor involved. Period.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

#YYCCC #ABVOTE 2012 NHL Play Off Pool for Charity

Predictions, predictions, predictions...

#YYCCC #ABVOTE 2012 NHL Play Off Pool for Charity*

Raising funds* for the Calgary Food Bank

100% to the Calgary Food Bank
Winner receives the honour of title: Champion of the Hockey Pool #yyccc #abvote Universe

Entry: $10
10 picks

Total points of all 10 player picks declares winner
Total of goals (1pt) & assists (1pt) from each of 10 player selections wins the pool
Pick your team via email registration or live at 1028 Memorial Dr NW APRIL10, 2012, 7:30pm. Email entries must be accompanied by payment* before end of 2nd game 1st round.

Send your 10 picks by email to [2012NHLPool]


Contact Pool Commissioner: Paul Hughes c403.383.3420

*This Pool is strictly by donation. It is independent and not formally affiliated with the Calgary Food Bank, but we sure are fans of the work they do!

**All monies rcvd will go directly to the Calgary Food Bank. In fact, mail your cheques as a donation directly to the Calgary Food Bank. Just tell us you've done this, we trust you!

The Group 5

Events Calendar: My, how things have changed...

Calgary Herald Coming Events, July 4, 1970

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Large Inner City Vacant Lot to become... Grass?

@DruhFarrell Site will be vacant for a couple of years so it will be grass

The Triangle Building & Lot continue to provide us with insights into how the city is failing to apply its own policies. The Municipal Government Act, section 5(b) clearly states that a municipality must follow the policies it sets for itself.
Powers, duties and functions
5 A municipality  (b) has the duties that are imposed on it by this and other
enactments and those that the municipality imposes on
itself as a matter of policy,

In the matter of the Triangle Building & Lot, we are witnessing first hand the deep hypocrisy ostensibly embedded in the City of Calgary as a matter of policy.

The management of the Triangle space has been a disaster for quite sometime. The space was occupied by the Calgary Housing Company Maintenance Department. In an ironic twist that ultimately hurts the taxpayer, the same folks that are responsible for the care of all the roofs of the city's subsidized housing inventory, allowed their own roof to fail. Or did they? 

An engineering report stated the roof had "failed". Although MSI dollars are available to  assist municipalities with building inventory "rehabilitation", The City of Calgary chose not to rehab the Triangle Building, as per this entry from the MSI statement:

2009 Calgary MSI Projects: Rehabilitate various local municipal buildings. $48,172,000

I requested a second opinion and coordinated a local roofing specialist to inspect the roof. They were denied access and I received this letter from the City of Calgary legal Department.

A group of citizens requested additional information on the Triangle's roof. One of them, Trevor Howell, a local journalist who is Editor/Manager of OpenFile & Zoey Duncan, a journalist with Openfile as well, wrote this piece on the Triangle Building.

Not long after, I gained access to the building when I discovered the door unlocked. The sprawling 30,000sq ft building had two levels. It was completely empty. The Triangle building had been empty for over a year, with no one allowed access. It was obvious the roof had not failed. I then met the individual from the city who was conducting a walk-through with the demolition contractor, hence the open door. He stated quite unequivocally that the roof was in good shape, but the building was slated for demolition.

So, in a scene eerily similar to the Anthill Building, which has gone unoccupied for 6 years, the Triangle Building was out of bounds to any and all citizen groups that could have used the building temporarily. Think ACAD students from just up the hill. Theatre groups, artists, farmer's market, production, presentation, programming, events, a community centre, all variety of ideas could have used the building as a temporary home had they been allowed access.

The Triangle building was then demolished.

The space previously occupied by the triangle Building is a vacant lot and will remain as such for a few years. Here's where the story takes another turn for the worse.

Here's a modified tweet (MT) from Ald Druh Farrell with reference to the recently demolished Triangle Building vacant lot:

@DruhFarrell Site will be vacant for a couple of years so it will be grass #yyccc #yyc

Recently, City of Calgary Parks identified concerns with their budget, which would impact the department's ability to maintain the present park & grass inventory, including an additional 106ha added to present land inventory through developer transfers.

Ald Shane Keating stated: “I really believe there’s a need for a strong debate on how we’re doing things.” 

Obviously, adding additional grass to the present inventory is not wise. The Triangle Lot is an example of locations in the city where responsibility for the care of the lot can be transferred to the community. In this, the concepts of AREA & ReSTART can be applied. 

The taxpayers of Calgary did provide $200,000 to theAld  Druh Farrell sponsored Council Innovation Fund application by Bow2Bluff & Sunnyside Corridor. This space is in the middle of the Bow2Bluff/Sunnyside Corridor Zone. How is planting grass innovative? It's not, yet again highlighting the hypocrisy of the policies of the city of Calgary. There is also a disturbing tone from Ald Farrell, as she continues to speak about the future of this space like it is out of the hands of the community and citizens. Farrell's "We've got it covered" attitude is in direct conflict with her rhetoric on community and urbanism. 

From the Office of Sustainability

-That short term decisions are linked with long term outcomes.

-The City of Calgary is committed to sustainability through its own operations and planning and through its policymaking and regulatory functions. In order for The City to continue to address both global and local challenges, sustainability must build on The City’s existing efforts and continued innovation.  

Considering the plethora of policy citing community and citizen engagement, this in fact is not happening. While private developers must engage the community, apparently the City of Calgary feels it is exempt from this important democratic process. Considering Mayor Nenshi's popularity  "has a lot to do with his citizen engagement strategy," it is additionally ironic that this space will not enjoy the benefits of a robust community use charrette to explore the ideas of a very active and well informed community and its citizens.

A number of individuals and groups, including the Calgary Food Policy Council, have asked that the vacant lot space become a community garden. Even though the very accessible Riley Park is only blocks away, the space will default to a very uninspired use... grass.

Petition:   Turn the Old Triangle Building vacant lot into a community garden.
You can sign the petition here.

Related links:
AREA Art+Rec+Education+Environment+Entertainment+Agriculture

ReSTART Real Sustainable Temporary Adaptive Reuse Tactic

Thursday, April 5, 2012


SeeClickGrow is an idea that riffs off of SeeClickFix. Let's look at the opportunity for those of us advancing local/muni food systems:

Citizens can assist with identifying potential Urban Ag locations by using SeeClickGrow. Data collected can be used by Urban Ag "animators" in your municipality to connect the space to a list of potential Urban Agriculturalists or those seeking space for enhanced local/muni food system development.

 An Urban Ag matchmaking service

Some exist, like LandShareCanada, but really need to grow to the next level of interactivity and user friendliness, ie an app. 

SeeClickFix encourages residents to become active citizens in taking care of and improving their city by reporting non-emergency issue in their neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

YYCCC, You have got to be kidding me... #431-2012

My son & I got off the CTrain @ Sunnyside Station yesterday and looked over to where the old Triangle Building used to be. The hoarding skirt has been removed and you can now see clearly through the chain link fence and view an urban agriculturalist's dream come true... a vacant lot with mounds of top soil. Imagine my exhilaration when I saw them spreading the top soil! I thought, "Wow, the city does get it. They're prepping for a community garden." 

The space, one block from Kensington, is perfect for a community garden. In fact, it has the potential to be the most successful CG in Calgary in its first year. (Location. Location. Location.) The site reminds me of a community garden project in Portland that I have always thought had a great ROI and a superior used growing space to unused space ratio.

But this is Ward 7, and with all things YYCCC, my euphoria was short lived.

Turns out they will be spraying HydroSeed. or liquid grass seed with a green dye.

Yes, more grass. Grass.  Kentucky Blue Grass, Calgary's most invasive plant species. The stuff that eats up the Parks & Rec budget. The same plant the City of Calgary exhausts 800,000+ person hours a year cutting, watering and maintaining.

~Paul Hughes