The Mask ... and much more Highlights of City initiatives from 2016

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Part 1: January to June

It's time to look back at 2016 and The City’s efforts to continue to build a great city.

City staff worked to deliver on Council’s priorities:

• A prosperous city

• A city of inspiring neighbourhoods

• A city that moves

• A healthy and green city

• A well-run city

Here are some highlights from the thousands of City initiatives:

JANUARY

The City of Calgary mailed more than half a million property and business assessment notices. Overall, 2016 assessed values for both property and business remained fairly stable:

  • The 2016 median single residential assessment was $480,000, compared to $475,000 in 2015.
  • The 2016 median residential condominium assessment is $280,000, compared to $290,000 in 2015

The 2016 assessment values reflect the market value of property on July 1, 2015, adjusted for any changes in physical condition recorded by Dec. 31, 2015; and the typical net annual rental value of business premises on July 1, 2015.

***

The City implemented some changes to the busking program for 2016, including more flexibility for busking IDs, online application process and payment options, and the introduction of amplification at designated “busk stops” and Calgary Transit stations. The pilot began with an initial eight stops in Kensington, on 17 Ave. S and on Stephen Ave. Mall.

***

The Mask made its first appearance in Calgary. The City took delivery of its first S200 CTrain car – dubbed The Mask because of its sleek design. In total 63 new Mask cars from Siemens Canada were ordered. Delivery is expected to be complete by early 2017. The new state-of-the-art cars facilitate expanding four-car service.

***

The City of Calgary announced services and program adjustments designed to improve coordination and alignment in order to respond to Council’s priorities and better serve citizens. These adjustments support a strong emphasis on capital investment and economic resilience. The changes include:

• A new corporate initiative called Infrastructure Calgary, which will significantly enhance the ability to prioritize and manage capital projects across departments.

• Creation of a new urban strategy to enhance the development of our downtown core, inner city, urban corridors and re-development along the Green Line LRT;

• A renewed focus on growth management and the development approval process, to enhance investment by the private sector;

• Strategic management of city-owned real-estate;

• Enhanced delivery of Council’s affordable housing objectives.

***

Calgary annual fare compliance study showed Calgarians generally play by the rules – more Transit riders than ever are paying their way. The two-week study showed 98.3% of passengers were purchasing tickets. Peace officers checked 45,248 customers and only 786 were unable to produce a ticket or pass.

FEBRUARY

The City of Calgary was named one of Alberta’s Top 70 Employers for 2016, based on a national review conducted by Mediacorp Canada Inc. This award recognizes Alberta employers that offer exceptional places to work. Employers were evaluated based on eight criteria: performance management, training and skills development; community involvement; physical workplace; work and social atmosphere; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; and employee communications.

MARCH

Two more permanent skate parks, located in Southwood and Huntington Hills, opened for skating. These new parks are the latest projects resulting from the Council-approved Skateboard Amenities Strategy, which addresses the lack of affordable, fun spaces for skaters and riders of all ages to stay active.

***

Calgary Transit, with Shaw Communications Inc. announced six new locations for public Wi-Fi servicing CTrain stations within the downtown corridor. The new locations complement the initial install at Chinook, Shaganappi Point, City Hall, Centre St. and 1 St.

***

CycloConnect: Ellyn DuMont, Linh Duong, and Maha Jamil

Over 150 people packed into City Hall for a weekend to celebrate International Open Data Day with a Hackathon hosted by The City of Calgary and the Calgary Regional Partnership. Over the course of the weekend, thirty five teams put their heads together to create apps and websites using open data from municipalities across the Calgary region. The winning app was CycloConnect -- a crowd sourced app for bicyclists to plan their routes and monitor the availability of bike storage around the Calgary region.

***

The City launched a new online “Engage portal.” This site gives citizens and stakeholders an opportunity to have purposeful and meaningful dialogue on City projects, which will be used to help influence decisions. This new site offers flexibility so citizens can participate at a time and location most convenient for them -- the Engage portal is available 24/7 as an engagement alternative.

APRIL

A secret mission under the cloak of darkness took place overnight in early April. This involved taking the wheels off a fire truck and carefully moving it into the Central Library. Engine 23, once an active fire truck, is accessible from both the first and second levels of the library, and incorporates book shelves, a reading space and historic fire photographs on loan from the Firefighters Museum of Calgary. This interactive exhibit gives kids a chance to put on firefighter duty gear and a fire helmet and climb aboard Engine 23 to read, imagine and play. There is even duty gear for adults if you want to let your inner child join in.

***

With spring cleaning and renovation season in the air, The City launched some significant improvements to its web site to assist homeowners. At calgary.ca/myhome, My Home brings together many planning and development aspects that homeowners often have questions about. The resources available can help guide homeowners through maintenance, home renovations, inspections, landscaping, hiring a contractor, electrical work, plumbing and more. And calgary.ca/myproperty -- with property details, including ward, community, development and building permit information -- was made mobile-friendly, easier to use and more accessible.

***

Following an extensive search, Council hired Calgary’s first Ethics Advisor and Integrity Commissioner. Professor Alice Woolley will serve as Ethics Advisor and Allen Sulatycky will serve as Integrity Commissioner. The City of Calgary is the first municipality in western Canada to create an independent Integrity Commissioner, responsible for investigating and adjudicating potential ethics matters related to City Council where he sees fit. The Ethics Advisor will provide advice and education to City Council while also being a resource to help Calgarians better-understand ethical expectations for elected municipal officials.

***

One of the original lion sculptures that adorned the Centre Street Bridge from 1917-1999 began its journey to a new location, one that will give Calgarians a chance to understand and appreciate the cultural significance of the historic artifact. The lion was moved to a City facility for repairs and conservation. In spring 2017, marking the 100th anniversary of the original lions being installed, the sculpture will be re-located to Rotary Park, overlooking the bridge.

MAY

In early May a wildfire swept through Fort McMurray, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 80,000 people and destroying more than 2,500 structures. The City of Calgary and City staff were quick to come to the aid of our northern neighbours. In total, more than 700 City employees travelled to Fort McMurray to support on-the-ground operations. Over one month, 450 firefighters from the Calgary Fire Department were deployed to help in various capacities in Fort McMurray. In Calgary, the Emergency Operations Centre staffed with as many as 30 City and partner agency staff who coordinated response efforts and provided emergency social services to more than 2,300 evacuees staying in local shelters.

***

A barbecue, an iPad and a one-armed teddy bear were just a few of the many strange items found at the 49th annual Pathway and River Cleanup. More than 2,500 volunteers spent a Sunday morning in the beautiful sunshine collecting more than 5,000 kg. of garbage from parks, pathways and river banks.

***

Normally, street sweeping runs from mid April until the first week of July. This year, crews completed significant pre-sweeping in March and officially started the program on April 3, thanks to mild spring weather. Crews also swept seven days a week, an increase from four days a week last year, which increased the pace of the program. As a result, the sweeping of 15,000 km of Calgary streets was completed three weeks early.

***

The City of Calgary released the 2015 Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) Annual Report and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FCSS program in Alberta. Mayor Naheed Nenshi was joined by Graham Sucha, MLA, Calgary-Shaw, City Council members, and representatives from agencies funded through the joint provincial-municipal initiative. The annual report noted that more than 95,000 Calgarians were served by 133 programs in 75 FCSS-funded agencies

***

Now it's easier to learn where and when paving will be taking place and it's online.

The City launched a new online tool to help Calgarians learn where and when paving is being done. The new map, at calgary.ca/paving will help citizens easily identify paving sites. In 2016, The City planned 127 paving jobs, covering 271 lane kilometres.

***

The City of Calgary was awarded membership to a group of global cities by 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). Calgary is among the final cohort of cities invited to join the worldwide 100RC Network. The achievement brings funding and resources to support and unify current projects and initiatives focused on preparing for and recovering from future environmental, social and economic disruptions.

***

The City and ConocoPhillips, along with Calgary school officials, celebrated the launch of the first-ever fire safety education program with a mobile classroom, thanks to a brand new trailer where children can practice how to prevent and respond to common home fire emergencies safely. The new Fire Safety Trailer means local children can now learn how to react to a smoke alarm and practice checking a door for heat, climbing out a window on an escape ladder and learning how to prevent a kitchen fire.

JUNE

The City of Calgary was awarded the 2016 Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) Award for Innovation for the Residential ePermit program. Residential ePermit makes it easier and faster for homebuilders and contractors to apply for permits, pay for services and manage inspections. Residential ePermit takes a fraction of the time to complete compared to applying in-person, and the website is mobile friendly, allowing industry customers to manage all inspections from a smart phone or tablet.

***

The City opened its first fenced inner-city off-leash area at Connaught Park. The area offers a one-of- kind off-leash experience for the 22,000 residents and 650 dogs in the Beltline, right in the core of the city. Connaught Park, at 11 St. and 14 Ave. S.W., offers a new fenced off-leash space about the size of a hockey rink.

***

City of Calgary Roads crews began work on rehabilitating and maintaining Calgary’s vast transportation network of roads and sidewalks. Nearly $40 million was allocated to maintaining the City’s existing roadways through paving and concrete work for the 2016 construction season.

***

Calgary City Council accepted a recommendation from the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority to form a Bid Exploration Committee to explore the feasibility of Calgary hosting the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Council authorized up to $5 million from the City’s fiscal sustainability reserve to conduct a feasibility study on hosting the games. The study will result in a Master Hosting Plan, which will focus on maximizing the use of existing facilities from the 1988 Games. The plan will also provide a detailed analysis of the capital and operating costs for hosting the Games. The committee will provide its final report to Council by July 2017.

***

Calgary got its goats – at least for a trial. A unique pilot project was launched to study the use of goats for targeted weed control. The herd of approximately 100 goats, managed by a professional shepherd and highly trained herding dogs, was dispatched to West Nose Creek/Confluence Park. The three-week trial will assess the goats’ ability to help control weeds, including Canada thistle. Data from the pilot is being assessed to determine the its effectiveness.

***

With site preparation underway, crews prepared to start construction of the $193 million Seton Recreation Facility. The 330,000 sq. ft. facility located in southeast Calgary will include two multi-purpose ice rinks, sport and leisure pools, an integrated dive tank, a FlowRider surf simulator, three gymnasiums with multi-purpose flooring, a fitness centre, an art-making studio and gallery space, daycare and child-minding, a performance theatre space, a physiotherapy/medical clinic, and a full-service library. When it opens in 2018, the City-built, City-owned facility will be operated by YMCA Calgary through a partnership model.

***

The City of Calgary celebrated the grand opening of New Brighton Athletic Park. Construction of the park began in 2014. The completed park features four rectangular natural turf fields, one natural turf baseball diamond, player change rooms and public washrooms. Playgrounds for children aged two to 12, unstructured activity spaces, and a skate park will complete the southeast recreation facility.

***

Calgary Housing Company (CHC) acquired East Village Place, a 163-unit residential building located in Calgary’s East Village community. The acquisition will secure housing for more than 150 current tenants and secure the building long term for affordable housing. East Village Place will be added to the over 7,000 subsidized and affordable housing units already operated and managed by CHC.

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