March 2012 Newsletter
Now that March is here, it's only a matter of weeks before the glorious poplar tree canopy busts into leaf throughout much of Ward 14 and other parts of the city providing untold beauty and shade. Calgary currently has around one million poplar trees as part of the urban forest of which over 10,000 are nearing the end of their lifecycle. Along with poplar tree plusses, there are some minuses that we need to contend with. Lifting sidewalks, foundations, roads and driveways; poplar fluff floating through the air and drifting like snow against walls and fences; clogged sewer lines, etc.
People have a love/hate relationship with poplars. But regardless of how you personally feel about these titanic trees - happy or saddened - many are coming to the end of their lifecycle. A poplar tree has a lifecycle of approximately 50 years. The poplars in Ward 14 were planted in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, so it's not hard to do the math.
The loss of this entire poplar canopy will create an intense void for some beautiful sections of Calgary, not to mention the devastating environmental impacts, diminished quality of life for residents and massive financial burden should the trees need to be removed and replanted all at the same time. For these reasons I brought a notice of motion to Council, which was passed on January 23, asking for a status report on the current poplar tree situation and recommendations on a poplar tree strategy for Council's consideration. I'm anxious about this report, which is to come back in May and eager to develop a move forward plan.
Another piece of business I think is important to talk about is the matter of setting Council wages. I believe we all agree that Council should not be setting their own wages. That said, previous Council got it right when they chose to have an outside Council Compensation Review Committee. What I don't think is correct is the strategy to set Council pay according to the Average Weekly Earnings for Alberta (which includes all of Alberta including the oil sands region and has resulted in a 5.3 % pay increase). I believe it should be set according to the Consumer Price Index (rate of inflation) which everyone understands and most peoples' wages are tied to. I seconded the motion to change this process, unfortunately it was defeated.
On a high note, the first monthly Aldertalk was held on January 14 at the Parkland Community Hall with dozens of people turning out, followed by the second session on February 18 at the Lake Bonavista Community. Thank you to all of the Community Associations for providing a space for residents to come out and talk to me, bringing concerns, issues and questions, not to mention terrific ideas and problem solving strategies to the table! So please come out and join the discussions.
I am totally enjoying these well attended sessions and this month Aldertalk will be held March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) at the Mid-Sun Community Association, 50 Midpark Rise S.E. If you have a few minutes and want to discuss something, stop in around noon for a coffee and hopefully we can round up a few donuts - how about green donuts!
That's it for now. If you have any questions or concerns please call me at 403-268-1653 or contact my office.