Monday, August 21, 2017

The importance of pet licensing

As good pet parents, we’re confident that our cat or dog will never get out of our reach because ‘we’re the boss’, but pet escapes happen to the best of us. Our furry friends slip through our legs when we open the door, make a run for it chasing after rabbits, or break out of the yard when a gate is mistakenly left open.

The transitional period from the summer to fall is when the Animal Services Centre observes an increase in lost pets and strays through the shelter. This is often because it is a time of common transition; when people are leaving and returning from vacation and house sitters are monitoring pets, and when parents are busy getting children in and out of the door for a new year of school.

The specialists at the Animal Services Centre can’t stress the importance of licensing your cat or dog enough, and offer the top reasons for doing so:

1. It is cost efficient and easy

Licensing and yearly renewal fees are inexpensive (and you can easily initiate or renew your pet licence online or by calling 311).

2. It’s in the best interest of your cat or dog
Think of licensing your pet as the ‘lost and found’ of one of your most important assets (your furry best friend!). Your animal’s identification provides vital information (which is linked through your cat or dog’s licence) that ensures a reunion (should your lost animal be housed at the shelter).

3. It’s the law
Every cat and dog in Calgary is required to be licensed under the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw 23M2006, subject to a specified penalty of $250.

4. It is for the betterment of our city and animals
The licensing fees support the care of homeless animals, returning lost pets home and veterinary services for pets in the care of Animal Services, among many other supportive services.

The loaning of humane cat traps is also offered through Animal Services, so concerned Calgarians can help in the retrieval of lost or stray cats in their neighbourhood.

5. The Pet Drive Home Program
Through Animal Services’ Pet Drive Home Program, peace officers are able to return lost pets
directly to their owners when found (through information linked to the animal’s licence or permanent identification). Over 2016 and 2017, approximately 7% of lost licensed cats and 28% of lost licensed dogs were returned to owners through the program.

Animal Services’ goal is to provide assistance to protect the health and safety of Calgary communities and the animal population, while promoting responsible pet ownership and offering services such as animal adoption, a no cost spay/neuter program, education and volunteer programs, and a full service veterinary clinic for sheltered animals.

Licence your animal in person at the Animal Services Centre, by phone (311) or online at

Friday, August 18, 2017

Exercising with a buddy can help you achieve fitness goals

It often feels that we’re bombarded with the latest health and fitness trends but did you know there is one trend that has outlasted all the rest? And has a successful track record?

There is a growing amount of evidence that supports the ‘buddy system’ as highly effective in reaching your fitness goals. In several recent studies, researchers have found that exercising with friends (or in a small group) offers many benefits beyond just the physical ones.

Patty Grant, a twenty year veteran in the fitness industry and Recreation Program Specialist with The City of Calgary says, “It’s true. People who exercise together become each other’s biggest cheerleaders. You share challenges and celebrate each other’s successes.” Additionally, adds Grant, “It can also boost our commitment levels because we don’t want to let each other down.”

While there is firm evidence on the benefits of exercising together, what about the fact that doing things together is simply more fun? This aspect is not lost on Calgary Recreation. In our latest edition of the Fall Recreation Program Guide, there’s hundreds of fun, group fitness opportunities.

Grant mentions ‘Rock Climbing for Pairs’ and “Warrior Women’ as two classes that are customized for small groups. Whereas fitness classes that accommodate larger groups such as ‘Triathlon Training’ or ‘YYC Barre’, “We encourage friends to register together.”

Bottom line she adds “When you’re having fun and working towards the same goals, you end up with both social and physical benefits.”

To search or coordinate your fall activities visit Programs begin September, so you have some time yet to round up a buddy or some teammates!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Keeping Calgary free of cigarette waste: #buttfreeYYC

Smoker or non-smoker, you’ve likely witnessed someone flicking a cigarette butt –­­ disposing of cigarette waste improperly (yes, that is a littering offense), or you have walked by butts that are the casualties of smokers in city streets.

While in recent years Calgary has been reported as one of the cleanest cities in the world, publications such as National Geographic have decreed cigarette butt waste as the world’s number one litter problem, and the proof is visible in municipalities like ours.

Not only is this an infraction of City bylaws, it’s an injustice to fellow citizens; not to mention hazardous to our environment, sidewalks, streets, pathways, wildlife and pets. In some areas, the accumulation of cigarette waste is a priority concern, and while we have many systems in place to manage waste effectively, the solution begins with citizen responsibility when it comes to littering.

We are a proud city and we want to maintain the standard of cleanliness and safety we work toward collectively, so we are looking to Calgarians to help us maintain a #buttfreeYYC.

The law & littering

Improper disposal of cigarette butts is non-compliant with littering associated bylaws, including the Street Bylaw (section 17) and the Parks and Pathways Bylaw (section 27).

From the Calgary Community Standards perspective; leaving litter, garbage or other waste material on private or public property is a violation, as these bylaws help keep communities and public areas clean and safe.

In summary, the bylaws state:
  • Waste must not be disposed of on any public property, aside from in an appropriate receptacle. 
  • The improper disposal of burning material, including lit cigarettes, will result in an increased fine. 
  • If a vehicle is involved in a littering offence, the registered owner of that vehicle may be charged. 
  • Fines for violations of these regulations range between $500 and $1000. 

Throw it away: proper disposal

Cigarette butt waste at home

The proper measures to discard of cigarette butt waste are:
  1. Cigarette butts should go in the black cart as garbage (they are not compostable). Ensure the cigarette is extinguished before throwing away.
  2. Cigarette ashes need to be double bagged, tied closed and thrown away in the black cart as garbage.
  3. Never flush cigarette butts or cigarette ashes down your toilet, sink or drain as they are harmful to the environment and may cause damage to the pipes in your home.
  4. Cardboard cigarette packaging goes in the blue bin for recycling.

Recycling cigarette butts

Yes, cigarette butts are recyclable! There are eco-friendly recycling companies that specialize in difficult-to-recycle waste streams and offer solutions to these problems. Calgary is one of six Canadian cities with businesses and communities working to recycle cigarette butt waste, including many Business Improvement Areas (BIA) lead incentives.

In 2016, the International Avenue BRZ purchased six cigarette recycling units that they installed in key areas where a need was identified. Their team removed an average of 2,700 cigarette butts from the units monthly. The Calgary Downtown Association also utilizes a recycling program and collected 53,000 units of cigarette waste to recycle last year alone.

Receptacles can be ordered through the recycling companies directly for your community or business location. For citizens looking to recycle independently; cigarette butts, ashes, and the foil and plastic found on cigarette packaging can be collected and mailed using a free shipping label through the same recycling programs.

The end products of these programs include a variety of industrial products and objects (such as park benches or plastic pellets). Remaining tobacco is also recycled as compost.

Cigarette waste receptacles

The city centre is populated with BIA managed cigarette butt receptacles for citizens to utilize in the downtown area. In addition to these receptacles, many communities and businesses self-manage receptacles for proper waste disposal or recycling purposes.


The leading cause of outdoor fires within Calgary is the improper disposal of smoking materials. As well, residential fires that start outdoors are among the most dangerous as they are often not detected by indoor home smoke alarms until the fire is well underway. As a safety protocol, the Calgary Fire Department encourages citizens to ensure that smokers in your home douse cigarette butts and ashes with water before placing them into a non-combustible container.

As an added safety precaution, it is also imperative that smokers do not ash out or dispose of cigarette butts in planters, mulch or flower beds. The components of soil include organic material and can easily smolder for hours before igniting.

It starts with you. Please think twice before you flick and dispose of your cigarette butt waste properly to help us maintain a #buttfreeYYC. Our goal is to see butts in bins and receptacles, not on streets, in tree grates or rivers.

Filing a complaint. If you witness a bylaw infraction and would like to report it, please call 311 (from within Calgary) or 403-268-CITY (2489) (from outside Calgary).

Join the conversation. We encourage citizens to suggest areas that would benefit from added cigarette waste receptacles by joining the discussion on social media with #buttfreeYYC.

Consider recycling. If you’re a local business owner or a community representative, consider initiating a cigarette waste recycling program.

Monday, July 31, 2017

City of Calgary takes cREative new approach to construction

Work on 17th Ave to replace water and sanitary lines, repair and rebuild the road and make public realm improvements including new sidewalks, benches, trees and street lights is well underway. Crews are almost halfway through the first year of construction and The City has developed with a new, unique way to help support business on 17 Avenue through this major construction.

The cREative Realm is a new program developed by Blank Page Studio in collaboration with The City of Calgary to support businesses through the creation of artwork along the Avenue that will encourage interactive, playful experiences that will draw Calgarians to the area.

"Unlock by Joanne MacDonald
“A major consideration we made before starting construction on 17th Ave is how we could support business owners and make sure construction had as little impact on their businesses as possible,” said Logan Tolsma, Senior Transportation Engineer. “We’re making sure that Calgarians can still access 17th Ave during construction and cREative Relam will let people know they can still come down and do all the things they want to do on 17th Ave and more.”

Artists will be working with The City and local stakeholders to respond to the unique situation of major construction in a vibrant, beloved area, using the characteristics of each block to inspire their art.

“The cREative Realm offers opportunities for Calgarians to question, participate, explore and enjoy 17th Ave through the duration of construction with the production and programming of site-specific creative projects,” said Daniel Kirk, lead artist of the cREative Realm. “This creative process offers support to business by encouraging community engagement and excitement along the corridor during the construction season.”

There will be at least four different projects that pop-up along the Avenue this year between Macleod Trail and 4 Street S.W. for Calgarians to enjoy and interact with.

A bronze marker for 200 Stories
200 Stories – Laura Reid, Mark Limacher and Matt Knapik
200 Stories is the first season of a project called City High Fortune. It is comprised of six audio episodes linked to locations on the 200 block of 17th Avenue SE. Guided by bronze survey markers installed in the ground, the public is invited to participate in a digital auditory tour of the space. City High Fortune collects histories, curiosities, futures, and fictions; it creates new possibilities for place through music, storytelling, and sound.

200 Stories is available now, with new episodes being released weekly. You can already find the bronze markers on the south side of 17 Avenue between Macleod Trail and 1 Street S.E.

Keys hanging from Unlock
Unlock – Joanne MacDonald
Unlock is a temporary installation that will use construction and recycled keys collected from Calgarians and local business owners to form a canopy of dangling, flowing keys over the sidewalk on 17th Avenue between 1 Street S.E. and Centre Street. Drawing on its symbolism, the humble key will bring light to the area and business community by the individual and unique meaning and representation of each key suspended within the installation.

Unlock is now on 17 Ave. Stop by and hang your own spare key!

Kaleidoscope Eyes – Rebecca Reid, Randi-Lee Ross and Ryan Bourne
Kaleidoscope Eyes will enhance the experience of 17th Ave between Centre Street and 1 Street S.W. by altering perception by using visuals, music and immersive art making with the intent of changing the way that Calgarians view a cityscape and the construction around them.

The artists will build a large scale kaleidoscope that will be accessible to the public at multiple events later this summer. The kaleidoscope will show the viewer either coloured glass etchings or collages of photos of 17th Ave. While the kaleidoscope is on display during construction the public will be invited to events where they can use the kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope events will begin in mid-August.

Connect – Michael and Laura Hosaluk
Connect is a furniture based installation that will be built live in front of Calgarians on 17th Avenue between 1 Street S.W. and 2 Street S.W. by world-renowned creative wood turner, Michael Hosaluk and his daughter Laura. Over the course of a week the artists will create hundreds of spindles using a bicycle powered laithe to create a sculpture. Calgarians and local business owners will be invited to help paint and connect all the spindles in a way that reflects their experience with the construction on 17th Ave.

Connect will be built between August 11-17.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

City’s new planning Notices aim to hit the mark with citizens

Calgarians are often interested in learning more about applications to redesignate (rezone) a land use, or develop a site in their community. To inform Calgarians about these applications, The City of Calgary places a Notice (sign) on the property.

 A new Notice is being piloted this summer, and The City wants to know what citizens think about the new design. Last year alone, The City posted Notices for 1, 377 development permits and 436 land use redesignations.

New template for Notice Posting
“We want to build Calgary together. We can do this by helping citizens learn about an application, and encouraging them to get involved,” says Brandy MacInnis, senior special projects officer with The City’s Planning & Development department.

“Thanks to the input received last year, the Notices were improved and The City is seeking citizen input to ensure it is simple, informative and directs Calgarians to resources to learn more or get involved,” notes MacInnis.

A larger version of the notice is being piloted this summer and measures four feet by eight feet. These Notices may be used for large scale redesignation or development permit applications. In addition, a number of smaller Notices, measuring two feet by three feet, will be piloted in communities in Calgary.

A few changes made to the Notices include:
  1. Plain language text that describes the proposed redesignation or development permit application.
  2. Visual map that clearly identifies the property included in the proposed application.
  3. Clear direction to resources to learn more or to get involved. 
    “We want to validate these improvements with Calgarians, so we’re hoping they’ll take a quick and easy survey before September 15, to tell us what they think,” says MacInnis.

    Calgarians are encouraged to take an online survey or provide comments at an upcoming Planning & Development event.

    Take our quick five minute survey by visiting