Great changes on tap for Calgary's future
BY DAVID PARKER, CALGARY HERALDJANUARY 1, 2010
It's that time of year when many look back over the previous 12 months -- or some the entire decade -- to see where we've been. I prefer to look ahead at what we can expect during the next 12 months to picture how this city will prosper.
One thing we can be sure of is that we will have a civic election; and we will see changes in the ranks of aldermen.
Mayor Dave Bronconnier will run again and I agree with columnist Rod Love that he will be elected. It's too bad, because fellow councillors who decide to take him on will lose their seat if that happens. I think there will only be one contender and he happens to be one of our better aldermen.
We may see a couple of aldermen retire and the tragedy of civic politics is that it is difficult to persuade qualified people to run. Who wants a 24/7 job that draws criticism from all sides? Plus, there is no training.
For those wishing to be re-elected, I present a suggestion to bite the bullet and cancel the fancy bridge to nowhere and the unnecessary new city branding.
And they should also take a good look at the health of the downtown. Any idea of increasing parking fees or charging evening rates would be disastrous for shops, restaurants and entertainment places. Isn't it great to see the number of vehicles parked along 8th Avenue after 6 p.m.?
Crowds mean safety, so the more people in the core, the better. I trust that buyers will return to downtown and Beltline condo developments, enabling more people to walk to work.
Interior designers and movers are going to have a great year as firms make moves into new quarters, and commercial realtors will have a heyday finding the best lease deals for their clients among some large vacant spaces -- many as a result of tenants moving into Jamieson Place, Centennial Towers, Palliser South and Harris-Homburg Centre.
Very early in January, we will celebrate the opening of Le Germain Calgary, the boutique hotel across from the Calgary Tower. The building will also present us with a new dining experience called Charcut Roast House, adding to a long list of great restaurants to be enjoyed in downtown.
Soon I will be able to name another, which will open in the elegant space between Jamieson Place and the Westin.
Residents will begin moving into the Waterfront, students will be able to make use of the new Bow Valley College, and buildings will begin to rise out of the old dirt we call East Village -- and hopefully a start will be made on the Mustard Seed's affordable housing tower.
You will also see lots of development happening outside the core.
Sixteenth Avenue N.W. already looks so diff erent, now that the ugly parkade at SAIT Polytechnic has been demolished, and I look forward to a start being made on the boldly designed Trades and Technology Complex that will stretch over to 14th Street and dramatically change the look of the campus.
Construction continues at the University of Calgary, but the big news will be the naming of its new president, to be announced before the end of January.
As new chair of the board of the Calgary Airport Authority, Doug Mitchell is going to be asked more questions about the effect of the new north-south runway that, although announced several years ago, still seems to have shaken businesses in that area.
Despite herculean eff orts, I cannot see the provincial and federal governments coming up with the money for a tunnel under it -- one of 2010's hot political decisions. And if there is money to spend, why not provide LRT service?
I believe we will continue to see a healthy residential market and I will be eagerly anticipating the further development of Quarry Park and a start to Currie Barracks.
A year ago, I predicted there would be no progress on a new downtown library; the Haskayne School of Business would renovate a downtown office for classrooms; and wished for a new tenant for the former Bank of Montreal building across from the Bay. That grand old structure is still embarrassingly vacant, the library is still a dream, but the university's choice at 8th and 8th S.W. is coming along nicely.
Happy New Year to all -- it's going to be a good one.
David Parker appears Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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