Thursday, December 18, 2014

Calgary Transit now 100% accessible

Calgary Transit has retired the last high-floor bus in the fleet, making the system 100% accessible.

The entire fleet of 1,100 buses has been transitioned to low-floor buses that allow a ramp to be lowered to make it easier for customers with mobility issues to board the bus.

Barry Lindeman is an advocate for people with disabilities and uses a wheelchair himself. He said it’s a big step forward for Calgary Transit.

“Now you know, every route, every stop (you’re) going to be able to get on,” he said. “I think it’s great...You know you can get everywhere from the Saddledome to COP.”

This is a milestone event for Calgary Transit as they work to ensure the transit system can be used by all Calgarians, whether by bus or CTrain, or through Access Calgary — a division of Calgary Transit that provides transportation for people with disabilities who cannot use regular transit service.

“It’s very important for us,” said Russell Davies, Manager Transit Fleet. “About four years ago, we made a commitment to convert our whole fleet over by 2015 so we’ve done this a year ahead of schedule.”

Calgary Transit has been moving towards this goal since 1993 and has been careful to maximize the value of older buses, while keeping in mind the accessibility needs of Calgarians. The last 117 high-floor buses in the fleet had a combined mileage of 108 million kilometres.

Seven tips for a greener Christmas

The City of Calgary is encouraging all Calgarians to “green their Christmas” this year with some simple holiday behaviours that lighten our environmental impact.

Every holiday season, residential electricity use in Calgary peaks. Claire Beckstead, Corporate Environmental Specialist for The City of Calgary says it doesn’t have to be complicated to green your holiday plans. “There are many simple green actions Calgarians can take that reduce our impact on the environment while keeping the fun and excitement of the season.”

  • Choose efficient holiday lights: Consider cutting back on the number of holiday lights or switching to LED lights, which can use 90 per cent less energy than regular holiday lights. Get even more savings and convenience by putting your exterior lights or tree on a simple and inexpensive timer, allowing you to automatically control the length of time your lights are on.
  • Lower the thermostat: Home temperatures will warm up naturally while cooking, and while hosting family and friends. Also, consider a programmable thermostat that will automatically lower the temperatures while you are away from the house for holiday events or travel plans.
  • Consider travel choices: Much of the holiday season’s impact on the environment comes from travelling and fuel consumption. Take transit or walk to shopping destinations and avoid congested store parking lots. If you must drive, carpool and travel during off-peak times to limit idling.
  • Give green: Consume less stuff and instead give more quality time by volunteering together or giving gifts of passes to local sites or events. Or, do your shopping at a local craft fair to find unique gifts made of up-cycled, natural materials; make your own special gift; or, give gifts that give back in energy savings, like LED nightlights, programmable thermostats or solar chargers for phones and tablets.
  • Choose food that’s local and organic: Food that travels a long distance has a large carbon footprint and many of the staples of a holiday feast can be found locally. Consider shopping for your dinner at markets or stores that supply local and organic products.
  • Decorate naturally: Deck the halls with non-toxic, long-lasting decorations made from wood, ceramics and felt. Plastic and single-use decorations can contain BPA- or PVC-laden plastics. An artificial tree cannot be composted and has three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than a natural tree.
  • Wrap creatively: Forgo the wrapping paper – wrap instead with this years’ calendar, newspaper comics or part of the gift itself, like clothes or dish towels. If you do buy wrapping paper, pick a kind that isn’t metallic or foil, as these cannot be recycled.

The City of Calgary has an environmental target to reduce corporate and community greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. For more information on ways to help save energy every day, visit

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Year's Eve: Skate, swim and dance into 2015

This New Year’s Eve, ring in 2015 with a free Outdoor Celebration and countdown to midnight at Olympic Plaza, a free Family Dance Party at the Municipal Building atrium, or a Family Pool Party at Village Square Leisure Centre (regular admission rates apply).

Outdoor Celebration

Come down to Olympic Plaza and countdown to midnight with a free Outdoor Celebration where festivities run from 9 p.m. to midnight. Bundle up, bring your ice skates or borrow from us onsite, and cuddle up by the fire pit while sipping hot chocolate. Enjoy tunes spun by a DJ, ice sculptures and fantastic fire dance performances.

Family Dance Party and kid’s countdown

Put on your dancing shoes and join us for the Family Dance Party from 7 to 9 p.m. at Municipal Atrium (City Hall). Have fun at this free and warm celebration with music, games, crafts and living statues.

Share your big resolutions for 2015 on the glow-in-the-dark resolution wall. Wear neon, white, or anything that glows, and join in on the kid’s countdown at 9 p.m.

Family pool party 

Families can also choose to swim, jump, splash and slide their way into 2015 with a pool party at Village Square Leisure Centre from 5 to 8 p.m. Boogie to the sounds of a DJ in the wave pool, make special crafts, and enjoy treats, prizes, and a pool party countdown! Regular admission rates apply.

Getting to and from the events

Calgary Transit is providing late night New Year’s Eve service to connect you to and from events safely. CTrains will run every 15 minutes with the last CTrain leaving downtown at 3 a.m. A number of main bus routes will be running every 30 to 45 minutes with the last trips leaving downtown at approximately 3 a.m.

Grab your sweetie for a New Year’s kiss, and watch the spectacular countdown to officially ring in 2015.

Join the event on Facebook for regular updates, visit our website or call 311 for more information.

Submitted by Lauren Greschner, Recreation


Friday, December 12, 2014

City launches the Heritage Conservation Learning Guide for teachers and parents

The City’s Heritage Planning team has launched a learning guide that aids teachers and parents in planning heritage conservation lessons for grade 1-6 students. The guide makes it easy to teach young students about the importance of heritage conservation by providing information on The City’s practices, links to external information and ready-to-implement learning activities for each section.

In the guide, teachers will find lessons and activities intended to teach students how to look for heritage features, how to examine their own home compared to those built in other countries or time periods, how to decide whether or not to preserve a building or structure, and how Calgary’s past can be explored through heritage buildings, structures and places.

Teachers and students are often particularly interested in The City’s Historical Evaluation System: the criteria used to determine if a building, structure or place should be recognized as “heritage”. Many people consider age to be the deciding factor, when in fact there are 9 different criteria used to identify the value of Calgary's historic resources.

The 19 page learning guide includes helpful images, links and lesson plans to aid any teacher. View the learning guide online.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Helping you stay safe this holiday season

The holiday season is about giving and being able to enjoy time with family and friends. To help you have a safe holiday season, we'd like to share a few messages.

Report Impaired Drivers initiative

Public Safety Communications – Calgary’s 9-1-1 centre – has partnered with the Calgary Police Service and Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the Report Impaired Drivers initiative.

Drunk driving is an emergency. If you see someone showing signs of driving drunk, pull over where it's safe and call 9-1-1. Do not attempt to follow the driver or place yourself in danger. Once reported, we will take all impaired driving calls seriously and will send the appropriate emergency responders.

Prevent a house fire

Did you know the winter months are some of the busiest months for the Calgary Fire Department? With everyone using more heating appliances, lighting and decorations, candles and doing more cooking, the risk of a house fire increases.

To share important fire prevention and safety information, we've put together a short video with tips to help you stay safe over this holiday season.

Just a reminder, never leave cooking and candles unattended. More tips on home safety.

Prevent accidental 9-1-1 calls

Every day, Public Safety Communications responds to about 300 pocket dial calls. It takes between 30 seconds to 10 minutes to call back each pocket dial to ensure it is not an emergency and everything is okay. And if we can’t get a hold of the person by phone, we dispatch police to the location to see if there is an issue. This costs Calgarians $1 million each year.

So what can you do? Prevent accidental calls: lock and store your phone carefully. If you do accidentally call 9-1-1, please stay on the line.

Submitted by the communications team, Community Services and Protective Services