Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Centre City banners celebrate Calgary’s connections

Next time you’re entering Calgary’s Centre City, be sure to take a look at the new banners up on the bridges leading into the core and the Olympic Plaza pergola. Created by artists Mary Haasdyk and My-An Nguyen, the series of six banners build on the concept of bridges being connectors to people and places all over The City. 

Haasdyk and Nguyen worked together to create the series over the course of 2015 and 2016, with Nguyen developing the environments and Haasdyk creating the characters within them. Each banner acts as a bridge between the different worlds and the viewer.

“As an illustrator, storytelling is something I’m always thinking of in my work,” says Haasdyk.  “These banners have a playful side, but they merge that with the idea of showing the viewer the value of connecting with other people and our community.”

Haasdyk and Nguyen, both local artists who attended ACAD, saw The City’s request for banner proposals and decided to submit a joint proposal for the project in 2015 when they saw the request. 

“We really just applied on a whim,” says Nguyen. “We were surprised when we heard that we got it – we had looked at the previous artists who had won contracts and they were already well-established, whereas we had just graduated and trying to get some experience by working together.”

Both artists say that working as a team was not without its challenges – they were able to overcome
this by breaking up the work to capitalize on their strengths in order to create banners that would capture the public’s attention in a fresh and interesting way. Both say that it was a good learning experience, and hope that those who see the banners will use their imagination as they engage with them.

“We didn’t want to just represent traditional environments,” says Nguyen. “We both agreed that we wanted each image to take on a fantastical element and sense of surrealism. We want to catch the viewer’s attention, and give them things to explore.”  “We also wanted a sense of celebrating our City and aspects of our history,” adds Haasdyk. “We hope that the public will see the beauty and the value of our city and our community in these pieces.”

The banners will remain in place for one year. Visit calgary.ca/centrecity for more information on the Centre City banner project and to view past and present artwork.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Warm weather bringing pothole relief for Calgary drivers

With the weather warming up, City Road crews are now out in full-force repairing all those pesky potholes. And we’re asking residents to let us know if you see potholes popping up in your neighbourhood.

“About a month ago, we started to see many potholes forming on the all roads in Calgary,” says Road Maintenance Manager Bill Biensch. “Now, with the snow melting in the communities, we expect to see many more in those areas.”

Potholes form when snow melts into cracks in the asphalt and then freezes, expanding in the cracks. As vehicles drive over these areas, the asphalt breaks away, creating a hole in the road.

So far this year, The City has received about 2,000 service requests for potholes. Biensch says these numbers are similar to most years, but we are seeing the potholes form in a compressed time frame.

“It may seem like more this year because crews were not able to fix any potholes this winter,” he adds. “Typically, we fix potholes throughout the winter, every time we get a chinook. But this year, we had very few warm days, so we were not able to get that work done.”

Now that the weather has improved, extra crews have been assigned to potholes. Biensch says the extra crews will be filling about 300 potholes a week, so Calgarians should see a big improvement quickly.

To identify pavement in need of repair, The City inspects major roads twice a month and collector roads once a month. In residential areas, however, we rely on citizens and City crews to report concerns.

“We are asking for the public’s help in locating potholes on less-travelled streets and in laneways,” says Biensch. “Once we know about them, we can add them to our list and send crews out to fix them.”

If residents spot a pothole, they are asked to report them by submitting a Service Request form on Calgary.ca’s Pothole Repair page or through the City 311 app, with a photo if possible.

Monday, April 9, 2018

How snowpack affects river flood risk

Bow river snow pack, Centre Street Bridge
While skiers and snowboarders celebrated the season’s higher-than-average snowfall, some Calgarians have been less enthusiastic, concerned that all this snowfall – once it melts – may increase our risk of river flooding. That risk is what The City of Calgary’s River Engineering Team monitors.

“We track weather and river conditions year-round,” says Sandy Davis, planning engineer. “We work with Alberta Environment’s River Forecast group, who also monitors conditions and river flow forecasts on an ongoing basis.”

And while the snowpack within the watershed that feeds the Elbow and Bow Rivers is higher than average for this time of year (approximately 120% of our average snowpack), Davis explains it is not too unusual, nor does it significantly increase our risk of river flooding.

“The important thing to remember is that, in Calgary, a high snowpack alone does not cause our rivers to flood,” says Davis. “There are many factors that influence our flood risk, the most important one being heavy rainfall upstream of Calgary.”

The data Davis’s group collects shows many other years in which similar high snowpacks did not result in river flooding. For example, in 2017, a high snowpack and a warm spring led to a quick melt and high river flows. While that prompted a temporary boating advisory on the Bow River, there was no flooding.

“The main driver of river flooding is heavy rainfall events, which are challenging to forecast because we are so close to the mountains,” explains Davis. “We can usually see large rain events about five to seven days out, but they may change course and may not hit our area. At the same time, once a large rainfall event is on its way, we may only have 24 hours or less to fully understand its scale.”

These kinds of rainfall events are most likely to occur mid-May through mid-July, so it is important for citizens to be aware of their risks and, if they live, work or commute in flood-prone areas, to be prepared to respond on short notice, if required.

For more information on how to understand, prepare and stay informed about flood risk, visit calgary.ca/floodinfo and sign up to receive our e-newsletter, which will be distributed biweekly throughout flood season.

Friday, April 6, 2018

First phase of City Charters complete

The first phase of City Charters for Alberta’s two largest municipalities has been completed, providing the cities with the ability to adapt municipal laws to better fit their needs.

This phase of City Charters gives more flexibility and autonomy to Calgary and Edmonton, to improve administrative efficiency, support community well-being, empower environmental stewardship and enable smarter community planning. It also aims to strengthen the relationship between our large cities and the province, while providing better service to citizens.

Examples of what the first round of city charters could mean for The City and residents include:
  • Sending electronic assessment and tax notices to citizens who ask, instead of paper copies; 
  • Establishing a municipal administrative tribunal system to streamline and improve customer service for transit and parking bylaw infractions; 
  • Varying parts of the Traffic Safety Act to allow for the use of variable speed limit signage; 
  • Developing mandatory municipal climate change adaptation and mitigation plans; 
  • Working with Edmonton and the province at collaboration tables to find solutions to common issues, such as planning. 

What’s next for City Charters?

The second phase of City Charters will focus on a new fiscal framework to ensure each city’s economic future is secured for decades to come. Over the coming months, Calgary, Edmonton and the province plan to develop a long-term revenue sharing agreement and make legislative changes this year.

To learn more, visit the City Charters page on Alberta.ca.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Public Service Announcement: #YYCSnowMelt - Get ready for it

The weather forecast indicates that warm weather can be expected for Calgary this weekend. The warm weather combined with the large amount of snow received in recent weeks will likely result in significant snow melt and this could create challenges for all of us.

Here are some tips to protect your home and your family this weekend:

  1. Shovel snow away from the foundation of your home and window wells to prevent seepage into your basement. 
  2. If you are moving or piling snow, check furnace and exhaust vents to make sure snow and ice are not blocking them. Carbon monoxide can build up within your home as a result. 
  3. Ensure your downspouts (eavestroughs) are clear and pointed away from your home/foundation. 
  4. Once the snow begins to melt and the storm drain is visible, clear snow away from the storm drain. 
  5. Once the melt begins, you can clear away snow from the storm drain. If you find that the storm drain is iced over, do not try to remove the ice yourself. Call 311 and a crew will clear the ice for you. Don’t chip away at ice on storm drains as you may damage it or injure yourself. 
  6. If water pools by the storm drain, give it 90 minutes to drain. The City of Calgary has special devices in the storm drains that allow the water to drain slowly and not overload the stormwater system. 
  7. If you see pooled water on a roadway, be careful – don’t drive through deep water as you can’t see potentials risks or conditions that might be unsafe. 
  8. Check the function of your sump pump. 
If you can't find your storm drain, use our interactive map to locate it.