What happened in Calgary over the summer?
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
For both Calgary residents and out-of-towners starting or returning to Mount Royal University this fall, there’s a few things that happened in the city that you may not be aware of.
Here’s some of the summer’s top news stories, including city council budget cuts, a new NHL arena and the addition of permanent pride crosswalks.
Calgary Cuts: $60M in budget cuts
On July 23, Calgary city council approved $60 million in budget cuts, which include cuts to transit service, fire services and affordable housing in Calgary.
Council first elected to cut budgets in light of complaints from small business owners over streep tax hikes on commercial properties.
City administration released a broad plan to cut municipal budgets in 2019 by $60 million over the summer and council spent hours debating the proposal behind closed doors.
The plan was approved with a 13-1 vote. Coun. Druh Farrell was the only council member opposed.
The cuts were reported to impact 48 different services. The cuts resulted in 115 municipal employees losing their jobs.
NHL arena approved
The Calgary Sport and Entertainment Company (CSEC) and the City of Calgary have decided on a proposed agreement July 22. The City is to pay around half of the arena costs, which is predicted to be around $550 million. Meaning that both sides will be pitching in around $275 million for the new arena
According to the terms of the new deal, the city will retain ownership of the new building in Victoria Park and the Flames will cover operating and maintenance costs, reports say. Part of the agreement states the Flames would upkeep the facility for at least 35 years.
City council voted yes to the deal on July 30. The council held a meeting a week after the announcement, allowing both council members and Calgarians to think about the deal and provide feedback.
Calgary Municipal Land Corporationwill follow through with the construction and consultations on the building’s design.
The CSEC, as part of the deal, is also supposed to provide around $75 million towards local amateur sports and organizations within the 35 proposed years of the agreement.
The Scotiabank Saddledome will be demolished and the city will pay for the cost. The Flames will help pay 10 per cent of the demolition costs.
The July 22 conversation behind closed doors involved members from the CSEC, the City of Calgary and the Calgary Stampede.
The plan involves restaurants and retail spaces on the surrounding streets and there is not a finalized design as of now.
Walking with Pride in Calgary
This summer, Calgary became home to permanent Pride and Trans-Pride crosswalks in the downtown core. The Pride crosswalk at MRU, near the Riddell Library and Learning Centre, was the city’s only sole Pride crosswalk until the new additions over the summer.
The new downtown crosswalks are located between Stephen Avenue and east and west of Centre Street.
Calgary Pride said Zoom Painting installed the crosswalks and will maintain the crosswalks for up to 10 years. Zoom painting is the same company that painted MRU’s Pride crosswalk last year and will be maintaining that one for five years.
The new Pride crosswalks have garnered a lot of attention within the city, but recently had some negative actions taken towards them. The crosswalks have seen repeated vandalism, including spray-painted words like “Lost” and “Lust.”
Each instance of vandalism since being installed, Calgary Police Service (CPs) said, are believed to be committed by different individuals.
CPS was able to charge one man in the case of one of the vandalisms. Kevin James Gavel, 54, is charged with one count of mischief. According to CPS, the crosswalk was vandalized early morning on Sunday, Aug. 18 with the message “Shoot A F*****.” Gavel is due to appear in court on Oct. 1.
Zoom Painting has since painted over the hateful messages.