Friday, November 21, 2014

A difference that can be felt: Braille plaques help residents with vision loss with their garbage and recycling

Kelly Nadeau is one of the first Calgarians to receive plaques on his carts
Taking out the garbage and recycling every week is a routine task for most Calgarians. But for residents with vision loss, it’s not quite so straightforward. Telling the difference between a blue cart for recycling and a black cart for garbage can be difficult. That’s why The City of Calgary’s Waste & Recycling Services is now offering Braille plaques to help Calgarians differentiate between their carts.

“We first learned about the issue from the citizens who were affected by this,” says Waste & Recycling Services program coordinator Philippa Wagner. “We worked in partnership with Community & Neighbourhood Services to figure out the best solution. A City accessibility committee was also involved in providing feedback for the design and placement and that’s how we came up with the idea for Braille plaques.”

With many vision problems to accommodate for, the new plaques are designed to meet all those needs. They contain a large raised letter – a G for garbage and R for recycling – in high contrast to help those with limited vision. There are also raised dots included for those who read Braille. The plaques are installed on the lids of carts to help users know which cart is which.

Kelly Nadeau is the chair of the accessibility committee and one of the first residents to receive the plaques. Nadeau has a medical condition known as cone rod dystrophy that causes separation in the cones, rods, and retinas of his eyes. He is legally blind and has been living with vision loss for most of his life.

Using touch, citizens can use the lettering to tell their carts apart

“People don’t think about the small details that affect their lives. For me and my vision loss, I have to adapt,” says Nadeau. He uses his sharp memory to his advantage – before receiving the plaques he relied on keeping his carts in the exact same order and remembering the shapes of the lids and carts. With the addition of the plaques it makes it that much easier for him to tell his carts apart.

“It may seem like a small change, but it’s all about giving people options to maintain their independence. It’s great that The City of Calgary is working towards accessibility.”

Resident Kelly Nadeau speaks with City employee Philippa Wagner
Accommodation and accessibility play a big role in breaking down barriers to help people gain independence and lead the lives they want. Nadeau is a strong advocate for independent living and universal design. “We live in a society that is continually aging and will need to be accommodated for. It’s not about special needs, it’s about equal access. It’s about making it easier for everybody,” he says. Through his work on the accessibility committee, Nadeau is also helping on projects like the extension of four-car C-Train platforms and the planning for The City’s new recreation centres.

“If we can offer another tool to help people do their tasks, then it’s important for us to do,” says Wagner. “The Braille plaques are just one way The City is working to provide equal access to our programs and services.”

The plaques will be installed at no charge for anyone who needs them – contact 311 to make a request.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Citizen Satisfaction Survey Results

The 2014 Citizen Satisfaction Survey results are in and perceptions about quality of life in Calgary remain strong.

Ninety one per cent of citizens are proud to be Calgarian. Satisfaction with City services remains high, with six City services seeing increases in satisfaction: land use planning; city operated roads and infrastructure; pathway systems; bylaw services; animal control; and community services (including community associations and not for profit groups).

“The data shows what most Calgarians already know: we live in a great city with a high quality of life. We are proud to live here and, for the most part, we get good value for our tax dollars. I’m proud that the Citizen Satisfaction survey has consistently shown this since I’ve had this role,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Notable highlights include:

• 87 per cent of Calgarians indicate their quality of life in Calgary is good;
• 86 per cent of Calgarians rated The City’s quality of service as consistently high;
• Close to two-thirds of citizens said The City provides good value for their property tax dollars; and
• Infrastructure, traffic and roads remain at the top of the issue agenda, while Transit continues to hold second place.

“Good data makes for good decisions,” said Mayor Nenshi. “The results we get from the Citizen Satisfaction Survey help City Council as we make decisions about the new four-year budget and business plan so that we can continue to serve Calgarians well.”

The Citizen Satisfaction Survey is one way The City of Calgary can understand Calgarians’ needs and perceptions. The City is continually exploring new ways for citizens to engage with The City and provide feedback. Citizens’ View, The City’s new online panel, is another way for citizens to provide input into City programs and services on an ongoing basis. You have opinions. We want to hear them. Participate in online surveys and discussions by registering at

View the full Citizen Satisfaction Survey on

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Help us celebrate National Child Day

Please join us in celebrating National Child Day and this year’s theme of: it’s our right to play. Every year Canada and nations around the world take time to acknowledge and support children and their right to be active participants in their own lives.

On Nov. 20 we are hosting the following activities for children and families:
  • Free play areas at local leisure and recreation centres
  • An art’s exhibition at Wildflower Arts Centre
  • Fun and games at Devonian Gardens
On Nov. 22  we are hosting Calgary Play Day with the following activities for children and families:
  • Free swimming and skating for children 12 and under during designated public hours at city-operated recreation facilities
  • More fun and games at Devonian Gardens
  • A carnival at Connaught School (1121 12th Ave. S.W.)
Play is an important of a child’s day. It helps kids develop attributes such as creativity, imagination, self confidence, physical, social, cognitive and emotional skills.

To learn more about National Child Day visit And don't forget to share your activities with us on Twitter: @NatlChildDay and use the hashtag: #NCDAlberta.

Submitted by Tracy Luther, Recreation

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Video series continues: How to prepare your trees for winter

In the first two videos of this series we discussed how to recognize tree health risks in light of the September snowstorm. Today’s video gives tips on how to prepare your trees for winter and give them some extra protection to ensure they fare well.

Advice from Anita Schill, registered consulting arborist, includes:
  • Use mulch or leaf litter around the base of your trees. Both are great sources of mycorrhizal fungi that allow trees to draw more nutrients and water from the soil, making the root system stronger, healthier and more tolerant to adverse weather conditions.  
  • Know when to prune your particular tree species. Pruning at the wrong time can lead to fungi spores and damage your tree’s health. If you are unsure, consult a local arborist. 
  • Give your trees a deep watering in the fall to ensure they do not dry out. Doing so will also prevent root injury and disease, and will protect the tree from dehydration during chinooks.

Watch the first two videos in this series:
Video series helps homeowners recognize tree health risks
Video series continues: Helping homeowners preserve and protect their trees

Submitted by Kaila Cooper, Community Services and Protective Services

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sandy Beach Bridge ready to open

Eighteen months after the June 2013 flood destroyed three pedestrian bridges located in Calgary’s southwest along the Elbow River, the first of the three bridges will re-open. On Sun., Nov. 23, at 12 noon, Mayor Nenshi will cut a ribbon officially opening the bridge. Calgarians are invited to be part of this opening celebration and be one of the first to cross the new bridge.

“Because they were such an important transportation link in the community, and for all Calgarians, The City of Calgary made it a priority to replace these bridges ,” says His Worship, Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “The re-opening of these bridges represents a very tangible example of how The City, and the communities most affected by the flooding, continues to recover from the 2013 flood.”

In addition to being replaced in record time, the bridges have been built to today’s engineering standards, which are much more stringent than when the original bridges were built (Rideau Park Bridge was the oldest being built in 1934). “Higher engineering standards, combined with flood resistant design features, will help with the bridges’ ability to not only withstand any future floods but, in general, last a long time,“ says project manager Charmaine Buhler. The new bridges have been built to have a 100-year life span.

“For example, the new bridges are higher than the old bridges, which will allow more water to flow through, plus the new bridge decks are above the level of the 2013 flood. The bridge supports can withstand high river flow, and the concrete decks are able to withstand debris impacts,” adds Buhler.

Anyone attending the event is asked to use the west side entrance to Sandy Beach Park. The road leading into the park is at 50 Ave and 14A St. S.W. There is limited parking in the park. People are encouraged to ride bikes and walk to the event. All dogs must be on lea

The Rideau Roxboro Bridge will open Nov. 28 and The Riverdale Avenue Bridge is expected to open soon after. The landscaping for all three bridges will be finished in the spring/summer of 2015. To view time lapse sequences of the major components of the re-building process, such as the installation of the towers, suspension cables, and bridge decks, and for other project information, please visit