Bell: Yes to citywide rezoning, will city hall face Calgarians' wrath?

It works this way since Calgarians do not clean out city hall. Really clean out city hall

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You came, you saw but you didn’t conquer.

Almost all of you knew the deal was done, the fix was in, you might be the majority but it didn’t mean you would carry the day.

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This is Calgary city hall, the Cowtown Kremlin, the Big Blue Playpen, Silly Hall. Pick a nickname. Create your own.

Didn’t you know?

You are an ATM on two legs. You are not the smart people. You are the selfish people. You do not understand what city hall understands and what some city hall politicians understand.

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You’re not experts. You are not in the smart set. You’re taxpayers. So pay your taxes and kindly go about your business.

That’s how it works at city hall and it works that way since Calgarians do not clean out city hall. Really clean out city hall.

Sitting council members falling like dominoes on election day.

It doesn’t happen in Calgary.

Are people just too comfortable? Who knows?

What we do know is city politicians are rarely held accountable. They do what they please because they live in a world where there are no consequences.

People grumble. Some whine. Some yell. Some go for coffee and bellyache to their family and friends.

Many insist the next election will be different. Just give us one more chance and we’ll shake things up.

The story is getting old.

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You ask the press to print out the record on key votes.

We do.

Here it is for citywide rezoning. Put it up on your fridge.

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YES. GONDEK, CARRA, SPENCER, WALCOTT, WYNESS, POOTMANS, PENNER, MIAN, DHALIWAL.

Yes equals NINE.

NO. McLEAN, SHARP. CHABOT, WONG, DEMONG, CHU.

No equals SIX.

Yes, you ask us to bust our butts to sit through all the city hall crap so you can know what happens.

We have better city hall news coverage than many other places.

It doesn’t matter. Most Calgarians don’t vote. Calgarians talk a better game than they play.

You may not forgive but you sure as hell seem to forget.

Or some of you offer excuses.

My vote doesn’t count. You can’t fight city hall.

Still this time many showed up at city hall. The largest public hearing in Calgary history.

Though not holding out much hope those who came to say their piece still had some small faith their voices just might be heard.

That didn’t happen in a big way.

Rezoning Calgary city council
The council chamber’s gallery was near capacity during a public hearing into the City of Calgary’s blanket rezoning plan at city hall on Monday, April 22, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

Evan Spencer, a councillor from the conservative deep southeast, was seen as a possible swing vote.

Spencer turned out to be a cheerleader for Yes. All that was missing were the pom-poms.

Rezoning unlocks the creativity of Calgarians. Change is hard and it was a super-hard decision but a smart policy change.

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Spencer casts his Yes to citywide rezoning.

Gian-Carlo Carra was his usual look-down-his-nose self.

“What I did hear was a lot of fear, some of it was unhinged, some of it was banal.”

Peter Demong, a councillor from south Calgary, speaks of the overwhelming opposition.

“When I say overwhelming I mean overwhelming.”

Overwhelming as in 10 times more opposition than Demong has received to anything else in 14 years on Calgary city council.

Andre Chabot is a veteran councillor from east Calgary.

“The idea that somehow this is just going to all blow over and it’s all going to be nice and we’re all going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I disagree.

“This has created so much division in our city.”

And Dan McLean from south Calgary. You all know McLean.

Rezoning hearings
Calgary councillors listened to 12 days of presentations during a public hearing into proposed rezoning. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia Network

He pushed for Calgarians to be able to vote in a plebiscite on citywide rezoning.

City hall doesn’t like plebiscites. A direct vote of the people is hard to control.

McLean asks who council was listening to on this issue.

As usual, McLean was blunt.

McLean points out 70 per cent of speakers were opposed to citywide rezoning and 90 per cent of the submissions sent to council were against.

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The outspoken councillor says supposed experts provided “misleading information on most facts.”

Housing prices will come down because of this rezoning. Rents will be cheaper.

McLean says, “We know that’s not true.”

He points to the next election. October 2025. Once again, Calgarians will have a chance to do more than just shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic.

You have a chance to throw some council seat-warmers overboard.

“I’m going to listen to Calgarians who said loud and clear they don’t want this rezoning. This will be an election issue.”

And if Calgarians once again do not make their voices heard at the ballot box there’s always the words of a bygone Alberta premier William Aberhart.

“If you have not suffered enough it is your God-given right to suffer more.”

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