Druh's Endorsement Article from BikeCalgary.ca
One of the fantastic things about Calgary is that it’s a pioneer city. It was populated, and continues to be populated, by people who came here to change their lives. They didn’t want the status quo, they wanted something better. They were risk-takers and city-builders who braved the punishing weather to build a dazzling city on the prairie. They knew that the secret of change was to focus all of their energy not on fighting the old but building the new.
Big change is often generational. Contrast my parents who grew up with horse and buggy, with my generation who saw the freedoms provided by cars and the introduction of the internet, to those who are under 30 today and don’t wear wristwatches, read newspapers, or talk on landline telephones. Those twenty-somethings are driving less, and taking transit, walking and cycling more. Many own cars, but they don’t use them as often. These Calgarians are moving to the core in greater numbers and want their neighbourhood streets to be safe for walking and cycling, while also acknowledging that the streets they’re living on are also commuter routes used by all Calgarians.
And it’s not only the Gen Y’s that are driving change. Interestingly our seniors are also changing their lifestyles in surprising ways. The number of Calgarians over the age of 65 will exceed 300,000 in only ten years. Many are downsizing and moving back to the core, or to lock-it-and-leave-it housing in their own neighbourhoods, and that’s changing how we plan our city. To take a page from our Cycling Strategy, if you create a city that’s good for an 80 year old and good for an 8 year old, you will create a successful city for everyone.
For all of us who fight for change, once we get used to enjoying the fruits of our labours, it’s hard to see the next wave of evolution come along. We get comfortable with what we fought for and the next change can make us uncomfortable. Shifting gears is rarely easy, but it isn't supposed to be. So when confronted with change, many of us freak out from time to time, but there’s usually an upside. And Calgary has showed that upside time after time.
Councillor Druh Farrell
Big changes that freaked us out:
C-train: Hard to imagine now, but the community of Sunnyside protested the LRT by delivering a huge red Valentine impaled on a dagger, with the caption “cutting the heart out of Hillhurst Sunnyside”. The station is now considered a model. And all that paled to the controversy of taking vehicles off 7th Avenue.
Smoking bylaw: Restaurateurs who worried about loss of business opposed the bylaw and sued the City of Calgary. One year later, when business actually increased, those same businesses wrote a letter of apology.
River Pathways: Mayor Jack Leslie braved a skeptical public in the 1960’s when he introduced the idea of pathways along the river. Seen as too controversial to move ahead with the full plan, a small pathway west of the downtown was introduced as a pilot. Calgary now has over 500 km of celebrated pathways.