Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is feeling the bite of other politicians and federal groups as the recreation centre plans for Calgary he is advocating for were smashed by the federal government this week.
Rose colored glasses cannot hide the fact that our city is in debt, and that taxpayers selfishly claim that the city is wasting tax dollars on things good for some people but not neccessarily for “them.”
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After years of lobbying, funding from the federal government to help the city was denied earlier this week. The funding was to be used to help the city build four new recreation centres in four remote areas of the city. The city’s south (and north) is expanding rapidly, and city services, like rec centres, cannot keep up with the demand of our growing young population.
Sign a petition for Calgary’s recreation centres here.
Plans have been in the works for the rec centres since 2009, and just this week, after a tremendous amount of city planning and toil, even assurances from Canada’s federal government, Calgary’ people have been snubbed.
On top of the countless volunteer and city council hours put into the project, city planners were so sure they would get the help from the feds, they spent more than $3-million dollars in preparation.
P3 Canada, a Crown corporation, denied the city’s request for help funding the construction of the four new multi-use facilities, although the application for funding was “strongly encouraged” by the feds and the project itself was “unanimously approved” by the P3 board.
P3 is a public private partnership program that offers access to funding for all of the provinces. Recreation centres, however, have never been high on the feds’ priority list.
The denied funding would have covered about a quarter of the cost of the four centers. Areas in the city targeted for the new centers include Seton Hill in the deep southeast, Royal Oak in the Northwest, Quarry Park and the Great Plains Industrial area.
How will new rec centres help the citizens of Calgary?
Hundreds of youth in the affected areas have nowhere nearby to attend swimming lessons or hockey practices, or to spend the day playing in a gym or other such facility. Parents in these underserved areas must drive great distances to get their children to rec centers in neighborhoods far from their own.
New rec centres will mean things like more spots in swimming classes, easier acces to facilities where children and adults can exercise and maintain physical fitness, and even more ice time for the city’s huge hockey-playing population.
For many decades, young and old hockey players alike have been faced with fully-booked ice times leading to early morning or late night sessions. Kids shouldn’t be playing hockey at six in the morning or late at night. With more facilities, young hockey players could participate in their sport without losing sleep.
It stands to reason that more facilities for health and fitness will mean less of a burden on our health care system. Obesity and diabetes are running rampant in North America. Promoting physical fitness outside of the hour or so kids may get during some school days is essential to keeping our population healthy.
The total cost of the four centres is slated at about $430-million. The money from the feds was to cover almost 25% of that cost.
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Nenshi in tough against other council members
In other news not related to the rec centre funding fiasco, Mayor Nenshi, labelled as one of the countries most progressive city leaders, is also feeling the sting from other city council members regarding the city’s upcoming budget.
The city council members are currently involved in budget talks. Nenshi, pushing for only a 5% tax hike for the people of Calgary, is now facing the reality of at least a 5.9% hike, maybe more with further increases in years down the road.