Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let’s partner to plant trees

With the 25 NeighbourWoods communities for 2015 now selected we are looking for your help! If you live in one of the communities listed below, now is the time to register online or call 311 to volunteer to plant a City-tree in your community.

Planting a tree in Highland Park.
“Because of the September snow storm, we’re tackling planting trees in a big way for 2015,” says Erin Brown, Neighbourwoods program advisor. “We typically work with ten communities to plant trees – this year it’s 25.”

To help support volunteers we provide the trees, help prepare the planting site, share tree care information and much more. Volunteers pay $30 for each tree and then choose which tree is planted and help plant and care for the tree.

If you do not live in one of the 25 communities, you can still apply to have a City-tree planted in a public area in your community with the Planting Incentive Program. If approved, we will match 50 per cent of the cost of a new City-tree, do all the planning and planting, and the community will get to choose the type of tree and where it can be planted.

Communities were selected based on factors like the health and condition of the existing neighbourhood trees, community interest and tree planting opportunities.

For more information on planting trees in your community, visit calgary.ca/trees.

The 2015 communities are:  

  • Acadia
  • Altadore
  • Banff Trail
  • Bankview
  • Bridgeland
  • Capitol Hill
  • Dover
  • Elbow Park
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Glenbrook
  • Glendale
  • Killarney
  • Lower Mount Royal
  • North Haven
  • Renfrew
  • Richmond/Knobhill
  • Roxboro
  • Scenic Acres
  • Sherwood 
  • Spruce Cliff
  • Taradale
  • Tuscany
  • Upper Mount Royal
  • Windsor Park
  • Willow Park
  • Woodbine 
  • Woodlands
Submitted by Althea Livingston, Parks

Monday, March 30, 2015

George began his career with the City in 1965. Calgary’s population was 311,116

George Dorn with his 50-year service award
George Dorn has seen a lot of firsts.

When Calgary launched the LRT system in 1981, Dorn became one of its first operators.

As the holder of Badge No. 1, Dorn is now retiring after a 50-year career. Dorn is making history as the City’s longest-serving employee ever.

“I started with rubber tire trolleys. I was on the trains before Calgary Transit brought in power steering,” said Dorn, 78.

Dorn started as a bus driver in 1965. Back then, drivers took riders on city-wide tours and would even pull up to your doorstep if you called for a ride outside the routes.

“Never had a boring day,” he said. “I never learned what the word stress is. I’ve had a good career. The City has treated me good.”

The fact that Dorn has been present for every CTrain line opening in Calgary’s history is remarkable, said Transit Manager Doug Morgan. “When I speak with George, it strikes me that he sees himself as a regular guy earning an honest living. I think he underestimates his impact on the community. He is a member of the Calgary Transit family who will be missed. He is part of our story and someone who will be remembered long past his retirement date.”

Dorn spent 16 years driving buses and 34 at the helm of CTrains.

“I enjoy the kids I work with, they’re young and full of energy. I think I stayed around so long because I didn’t want to quit. You really get to know personally your ridership. I’ve got some long time riders that are friends.”

Transit supervisor Cam Perkins says Dorn will be missed.

“I think the City was lucky to have someone like George because of the passion he had for the job, and the pride he took in transporting Calgarians to their destinations. He truly loved meeting people and talking with them,” said Perkins.

For now, Dorn says he’s going to enjoy a relaxed pace of life and enjoy time with his four children and eight grandchildren.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Venture into your yard & check the health of trees

As temperatures warm up, it’s time to venture into your backyard and check your trees for damage that may still be there from the September snow storm last fall. Right now we estimate three quarters of the tree damage is located on private property.

Here are a few things to look for when caring for your trees:
  • Comply with the Alberta elm pruning ban between March 31 and September 30. Alberta is one of the last geographic areas in North America to be free of Dutch elm disease. Elm trees are also one of the few types of shade trees that grow in Calgary so it is important to protect them.
  • Consider all options before removing your trees. Tree have many benefits such as providing shade and cooling, slowing down storm water runoff, increasing property values and helping to keep people healthy and happy.
    • Removing entire trees or large limbs can change the wind dynamics in a location or within the tree.
    • Do not take the drastic step of “topping” your tree in an effort to control its size. Topping is the drastic cutting back of major branches. Topping may destroy the natural form of the tree and encourages the tree to put our weakly attached shoots which are more prone to damage.
  • Practice safety first. Start with issues that will lead to major problems if ignored. Look for potential hazards such as major limbs that are still hanging in the canopy of the tree and/or trunks of trees that are split. These issues should be addressed as soon as possible, especially if there is a risk to injure people or damage property.
  • Know your skill level. Consult with an International Society Arborist (ISA) certified arborist or a tree care company that employs ISA certified arborists. This could apply if trees need work in their canopy, large limbs need to be removed or specialized equipment is needed.

It’s important to look out for our trees not only for safety purposes but because they contribute many environmental, social, and economical benefits. Trees are one of a few assets that appreciate in value over time.

For more information on supporting your trees and recovering from the September 2014 Snow Storm, visit calgary.ca/trees.

Unplug for Earth Hour on March 28

Participate in Earth Hour with The City of Calgary by turning off your lights and electronics and attending Calgary Unplugged, a free family event at Olympic Plaza. The event runs from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and features kid-friendly activities, free hot chocolate in compostable cups, an LED lantern parade, and music and lighting generated by pedal-power bikes.

Earth Hour is a global initiative to raise awareness about how energy use contributes to climate change and ways we can all take action to reduce our impact.

Each year The City participates by shutting off non-essential and feature lighting in various buildings and bridges. On March 28, lights will turn off at 8:30 p.m. for one hour at:

  • The Municipal Building and old City Hall
  • Calgary Public Building
  • Manchester Centre Building E
  • Ad Valorem Place
  • Whitehorn Multi-Services Centre
  • all fire stations
  • Centre Street Bridge
  • the 4th Street S.E. underpass
  • the Riverwalk area near Prince’s Island Park
  • Langevin Bridge

The City’s commitment to reducing energy use in its operations goes far beyond Earth Hour. Some of the work underway includes converting over 80,000 community streetlights to more energy efficient LED bulbs. Additionally, The City is conducting a pilot to automatically power down desktop computers during non-work hours. If the pilot proves successful, a corporate-wide program could save enough electricity to power over 340 households per year.

Join The City and go beyond the hour by taking action to reduce your energy use every day. Visit Calgary.ca for simple energy saving tips.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Green Line SE...Demystified!

The City hosted three public workshops from March 10-12 about the Green Line SE Transitway route and development around transit stations. Approximately 400 people participated in the workshops. If you missed these sessions, check out the online survey - available until April 1.

Since the workshops, we’ve been hearing a lot of great questions about the project. Read on for further information about sections of the Green Line route that are currently in discussion.

Council has already approved the Green Line route alignment, so why is The City looking at possible alternate routes?

The plans for the Green Line SE were started in the 1980’s – so when Council approved funding for the Green Line SE in 2013, they asked The City to revisit the plans to make sure they work for Calgary today and in the future.

The project team looked at opportunities for improvement along the route. We focused on identifying areas where the route could be better integrated into communities, and potentially plant the seed for development around transit stations.

What areas of the route are currently up for discussion?

Three locations are currently under review for the Green Line SE route alignment:
• 11 Street S.E. in Ramsay
• Ogden Road
• 24 Street S.E. in Quarry Park

Why do we want to hear from SE Calgary about the three routing options?

We see opportunities to build a more integrated service that accommodates all modes of transportation, serves the community, and encourages liveable neighbourhoods. The alternate routes offer better community access to stations, seamless integration with local streets and sidewalks, and potential for future development. However, we also recognize that we need to consider the trade-off’s in terms of traffic and land impacts. We want to understand how the communities along the Green Line feel about the alternate routes, and where they see issues and opportunities.

Why are we looking at alternate routes in Ramsay?

The current Council-approved Green Line Southeast alignment in Ramsay has a number of challenges, including space constraints between Canadian Pacific Rail (CP) tracks and the neighbouring historical resource buildings. We are currently looking at this option in more detail to determine how/if this route can work within this space.

What opportunities does The City see if the Green Line runs down 11 Street S.E. in Ramsay?

Ramsay is a beautiful character community, and we believe the Transitway can offer a unique chance to extend this quality to 11 Street S.E. One of the City’s tools create more liveable neighbourhoods is the Complete Streets Guide, and the project team sees opportunities to enhance the street by tying into store fronts and businesses, and creating a pleasant and safe environment with green space, upgraded sidewalks, and better connections for pedestrians and cyclists.

Why is The City looking at an alternate route in Ogden?

The current Council approved Green Line SE alignment in Ogden shows the route running parallel to CP land. The Transitway would be on the east side of Ogden Road and would transition to the backside of the community of Ogden, extending from Lynnwood (near CN bridge crossing) through to South Hill. This option works well from a transit speed point-of-view, but misses the opportunity for community building and/or integration with the station.

Similar to the reasoning for an alternate route in Inglewood/Ramsay, we believe that there might be an opportunity to run the Transitway along Odgen Road to provide a more easily accessible station in the heart of the community. We are also looking at a hybrid option which would involve keeping the Green Line next to CP Rail with a station that fronts on Ogden Road. These could also potentially trigger revitalization and further development of Ogden Road

When will the Green Line SE route be finalized?

The route recommendations will be presented to Council in October 2015. The City will report back to communities with the final recommendations in September, prior to meeting with Council. Recommendations will be made based on input from the public, the development community, and The City’s internal groups (Transit, Planning, etc).

Visit calgary.ca/greenline for more information.