Thursday, October 8, 2015

Calgary heroes recognized by Calgary Fire Department

It’s around four in the morning in late September on a residential drive in the southeast. The quiet of the hour is disrupted when a driver, doing about double the speed limit, hits the curb. The car he’s driving flips, smashes mid-air through a tree and lands upside down, wedged under the front balcony of a four-plex. The tree is down, the front door of one home destroyed and the driver, trapped under the crushed dash, is unconscious. The engine bursts into flames.

A tragic outcome for the driver and sleeping residents inside the four connected homes was avoided, all thanks to a police officer who happened to see the whole thing – changing a potentially deadly situation into one of heroic rescues and immense appreciation for his actions.

CFD annual recognition event
Calgary Police Constable Jason Schneider (middle) is recognized for life-saving 
actions by Fire Chief Steve Dongworth (right) and Colin Senkow (left), 
member of the Calgary Fire Department Honour Guard.
Today, the Calgary Fire Department recognized Cst. Jason Schneider for his life-saving actions during those early morning hours in September, with a Medal of Bravery and Commendation. This is the Calgary Fire Department’s highest honour, bestowed to citizens and emergency services personnel who save lives or risk personal injury to ensure others’ safety.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award,” Schneider said. “It’s highly prestigious.”

Schneider is one of 11 Calgarians to receive a Commendation today at Calgary Fire Department’s annual recognition event held during Fire Prevention Week.

Another 23 people received Recognition awards for their significant efforts during a fire-attended emergency, where people or property were in danger and their actions avoided injuries or damages; and 10 more received Appreciation awards for providing basic first aid or an act of kindness to a victim.

Looking back, Schneider says he didn’t see himself in danger as much as he did the potential victims. “That’s from all the training we get as first responders, so really, anyone would have done what I did.”

Modesty aside, what he did clearly deserves a medal.

Back at the crash site
Just beyond the threshold of one home, a woman stood frozen in disbelief and shock. Schneider yelled at her to get out of the house but the damaged door blocked her exit. He managed to free the door and quickly ordered the woman and her elderly father away from further risk.

Schneider then turned to the driver, still unconscious and trapped. He crawled inside the burning car, thinking, “If the car blows at least I’ll be inside and underneath it.”

Just as he freed the driver, four other police officers arrived on scene. Two of them grabbed fire extinguishers from the cruisers and started on the fire; the others banged on neighbours’ doors. One of the residents later said he thought his house was being broken into. He was right, sort of, but in a good way.

Firefighters and EMS arrived within a few minutes to complete the fire suppression and first aid duties. Now when Schneider thinks about it, he says, “Without a doubt what stands out most for me was how the five of us (police officers) worked together before fire and EMS arrived. I couldn’t have gotten all those people out of their homes, managed the fire and saved the driver, too. Together though, it was pretty impressive.”

Schneider’s police colleagues who helped that night also received Recognition awards today: Constables Greg Burnett, Marty Woodrow, Renee Moore and Dan Rogers.

Visit The City of Calgary newsroom for the full list of award recipients and their respective heroics.

Cities Matter. Does Your Federal Candidate Agree?

The Federal Election is just around the corner with Election Day being on Monday, October 19th. This has been an exciting race to watch with the top national parties (Liberals, NDP, PC’s, Green) keeping up with each other in the polls and receiving a great deal of media coverage. But where do these parties stand on issues and concerns that matter most to our cities? is an online platform that will help us find out.

Launched in 2011 for the then Progressive Conservative leadership campaign, is now in its fifth iteration, with this being the first time the platform has been used to question parties and candidates running in a federal election. Through this method of asking political parties questions regarding their policy positions in specific areas, Calgary (and Canadian cities) get the attention of future decision makers, and a public service is provided to citizens by creating a forum to highlight and contrast policies and visions.

The nine questions published on the site are supported by links to City of Calgary initiatives and other sources to better inform the public and decision makers on the issues that affect our community and municipalities as a whole. Topics range from investing in public transit to repairing and building critical infrastructure to creating affordable housing (among other critical issues). The site is also used to spark debate within the public realm, encourage our citizens to get more engaged on issues, encourage voter turn-out, and generate media coverage of federal issues affecting Calgary.

This latest Federal Election 2015 version of officially launched Thursday, October 8th. Citizens are encouraged to take a look at it to gain a better sense on where the national parties stand. The site is accessible now right through to Election Day (and beyond in its archives).

Make sure your vote is an informed one on October 19th.

Monday, October 5, 2015

5 Avenue S.W. to be converted to two-way street

After a successful trial of the 5 Avenue lane reversal downtown, The City is moving forward with phase two of the project – converting 5 Avenue S.W. between 5 Street S.W. and the west-end into a two-way street.

Proposed extension of the 5 Avenue lane reversal is marked in blue.
On May 19, 2015 The City of Calgary implemented a trial lane reversal system on 5 Avenue S.W. between 7 Street S.W. and the west-end of downtown.  This optimized the use of existing transportation infrastructure and aided outbound traffic flow from the downtown core during the afternoon peak period.

“Since May, the Transportation Department has monitored the 5 Avenue S.W. lane reversal,” said Ravi Seera, City of Calgary Traffic Manager. “Over time the lane reversal has shown increased use, providing Calgarians with another option for travelling west out of downtown.”

Traffic counts conducted in late September show over 840 vehicles used the reversed lanes between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., including almost 470 vehicles during the 4:20 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. peak hour. This one-hour traffic volume represents over 60 per cent of the capacity of the lane reversal.

To further optimize the use of 5 Avenue S.W., the Transportation Department is implementing the following changes to the operation of 5 Avenue S
.W. on a trial basis beginning, Thursday, October 15:

  • 5 Avenue S.W. between 5 Street S.W. and the west-end of downtown will be converted to a two-way street at all times except during the morning peak period (6 to 9 a.m.) on weekdays.
  • Motorists will be required to park facing westbound, on the north side of 5 Avenue S.W. between 5 Street S.W. and 10 Street S.W. at all times.
  • Morning and afternoon peak period parking restrictions will apply. Please obey all posted parking signs.

“During the lane reversal trial we heard from citizens that a two block extension would make westbound travel on 5 Avenue more convenient,” Seera said. “Allowing two-way traffic operations for most of the day will improve congestion and provide better traffic circulation in the area using the city’s existing infrastructure.”

The two-way conversion will be in place for approximately six months as a pilot, after which time its success will be evaluated and next steps will be considered.  During the pilot, temporary traffic barricades and other control devices will be used, similarly to the operation of the current lane reversal.

For more information visit

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Working together, 9-1-1 emergency communication officer helps woman save husband’s life

It’s normal to wake up from a nightmare momentarily disoriented, short of breath and heart pounding. Unpleasant as they are, it usually only takes a few minutes to settle down and go back to sleep.

But for Ann Scrymgeour, there would be no rest to follow once awoken in the darkest hours of the night – and her life – by the very real nightmare happening beside her.

Jack, her husband of 43 years, lay unresponsive in the midst of a heart attack. Shaking off the panic that threatened to paralyze her, Ann quickly phoned 9-1-1.

“9-1-1 for what city?” answered Emergency Communication Officer (ECO) Steven Haggblad, stating the standard greeting for the service that also answers calls for the areas surrounding Calgary, such as Airdrie and Okotoks.

In less than a minute, Steven had collected the initial details and dispatched the appropriate emergency responders. Within two minutes of answering, Steven was coaching Ann through CPR chest compressions. With EMS enroute, Ann performed more than 600 chest compressions on her husband, successfully bringing him back to life not only once, but twice.

The arrival of emergency personnel was an overwhelming relief for both Ann and Steven, who were then able to turn Jack’s care over to EMS knowing they’d done everything possible in those critical early moments to save his life.

When he finally regained consciousness after several days in hospital, Ann’s nightmare slowly began to loosen its grip. It let go completely when the doctor told them the heart attack caused no brain damage or long-term memory loss.

“How does one say thank you when there just aren’t words,” Ann shared in a thank-you card she wrote to Steven shortly after Jack’s release.

“God sent me an angel named Steve who coached me on CPR and we got Jack’s breath back twice, which the emergency doctor said saved Jack’s life,” Ann wrote, adding that Jack was doing “so well.”

The letter sincerely conveyed the family’s heartfelt gratitude to Steven, but Ann and Jack still wanted to thank him in person. On September 10th, they got their wish. The hugs and tears of gratitude embraced everyone in the moment, made extra special when Ann and Jack presented Steven with a Lifesaver pin, an honour bestowed upon ECOs who help save a life.

9-1-1 is indeed a lifeline when someone’s health or safety is at risk. As the first of the first responders, 9-1-1 serves as that critical link between citizens and the emergency help they need. With over one million calls a year and an average answer time of six seconds, your 9-1-1 is one of the largest Public Safety Answer Points in Canada.

Learn more about 9-1-1 at including tips on when and how to call, and how to prevent accidental calls.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Three reasons why you should attend the nextCITY: Urban Design speaker series

How are great cities planned and built? How do they change and evolve? Urban designers and expert architects from around the world are visiting our city this fall to speak about how their experiences can be applied to a Calgary context.

The first speaker on our roster, Ken Greenberg, is the former director of urban design and architecture for The City of Toronto. He has played a pivotal role in projects for cities like Amsterdam, New York and Paris.

But if you’re not a city planning buff, why should urban design matter to you?
Greenberg weighs in.

1. Planning and development decisions made today affect future generations.
“What we decide today will affect our children, our grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Urban design affects how everybody lives their daily lives. This is something that people need to be deeply involved in and understand. Know what your neighbourhoods are, what they could be and what changes mean for you.” – Ken Greenberg

2. The way cities are planned impacts climate change.
“We are embracing the role of cities like Calgary as the places where the big problems of our time get solved. The change that is occurring is extraordinary. Some of what I’ll be talking about involves the ways in which we are making complete communities to be more sustainable, like embracing mixed use of buildings, key investments in infrastructure, dealing with climate change and the importance of a green economy.” – Ken Greenberg

And another good reason to attend...

3. There’s going to be free food.
Enough said.

nextCITY: Urban Design speaker series
Ken Greenberg
Date and time: Oct. 6, 2015, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Fort Calgary mess hall, 750 9 Ave S.E.
Free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. For over four decades he has played a pivotal role on public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe, focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighbourhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning. Cities as diverse as Toronto, Hartford, Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis, Washington DC, Paris, Detroit, Saint Paul and San Juan have benefited from his advocacy and passion for restoring the vitality, relevance and sustainability of the public realm in urban life.