Monday, February 8, 2016

Safe Transportation Options on the Way

That’s what The City is delivering because that’s what Calgarians told us they want. We are proposing new changes to our Livery Transport Bylaw that will create the opportunity for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber to legally operate in Calgary. 

The City and Uber had issued a joint agreement in December stating that we were working together to develop solutions for new transportation options that are safe and reliable for Calgarians. Today, Uber told Calgarians that our proposed bylaws are unworkable.

The City believes that the proposed bylaw changes are workable and fair for TNCs. Here’s why:

  • We believe that all TNC drivers must undergo a Calgary Police Service (CPS) criminal history check. These criminal history checks are the most thorough background checks available and include vulnerable sector checks (e.g. checks for pardons for such things as sexual offences) as well as national police information. Current taxi drivers must undergo these checks to qualify for a license.
  • We believe that all TNC vehicles should undergo a provincially-approved vehicle inspection every six months, a regulation that our taxi industry already complies with. These inspections are widely available throughout Calgary.
  • We believe that all TNCs should be required to submit trip data, driver availability, and trip volumes. This allows us to ensure that quality customer service is attained. In fact, this is something our taxi industry already provides us. This data has assisted the police in different types of criminal investigations and is another way to monitor citizen safety. The trip data also helps The City make good evidence-based policy decisions.
  • We believe that insurance is a very important part of this equation and we continue to inform drivers, passengers and the general public about risks involved in using private for-hire vehicle services. The Government of Alberta has issued an advisory notice on ride sharing services and the insurance risk they currently pose to drivers and the public, noting any third party involved in an accident in or with one of these vehicles may not have insurance.
  • We believe the proposed licensing fee of $220 per driver, per year is reasonable to help with the operational cost of enforcement. In addition, other fees include a Calgary Police Services criminal history check of $30, a vulnerable sector check of $25 (only if finger prints are required) and a vehicle safety inspection fee ranging from $140 to $179. TNCs have the opportunity to subsidize these fees or pay for them outright to support their drivers.
These proposed bylaw changes will allow TNCs to operate in a fair and competitive market. They address citizen, driver and passenger safety and support accessibility, reliability, fairness, competition and customer service.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wanted: Calgary artists to help ‘Paint the City’

We’re launching a new initiative today called "Painted City." We looking for artists to include on the 2016 Painted City artist roster and the diverse group on the list will be pre-approved, making the process of connecting artists to communities simpler, quicker and cheaper.

Painted utility box by Michelle Hoogveld
in Highland Park.
Artists on the roster will be eligible to create artworks for the Utility Box Program, The City’s new Street Art Program for Youth and any other opportunities where an artist applies 2-D artworks to banners, murals, photography and other digital artworks, mosaics, decals and more.

Calling local artists

The Call to Artists for the 2016 - 2018 Painted City artist roster is now open and submissions are due by Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 at 4 p.m. MST.

Communities or community members who would like more information on how to have a utility box or other property in their neighbourhood painted can visit the Painted City web page to learn more.

Taking on the challenge to paint the city

The initiative grew from the success of the incredibly popular Utility Box Program, which has injected colour, excitement and fun into Calgary neighbourhoods since it began in 2010. Local artists have created over 170 utility box public artworks throughout the city. To see the great work done by the artists on the 2015 Utility Box Program roster, check out the gallery on the Utility Box page.

In 2015, artists for each box were chosen from a list of artists on a pre-approved roster, which allowed communities to pre-select an artist who suited their needs, while the group of artists chosen for the roster were given select access to work across Calgary. The roster also offered extra opportunities for these local artists as some received private commissions directly from being on the list.
"SNAPSHOTS" by Derek Michael Besant at 4th St. underpass.

Public space as a place for creative expression

A goal of Painted City is to work with community associations and other grassroots organizations to consider art as an important part of neighbourhood improvement and community development, where all public spaces are seen as potential places for creative expression.

Visit our public art website for more opportunities for artists and to learn more about the work being done to help build dynamic and vibrant public spaces in Calgary through the Public Art Policy and Public Art Master Plan.

Submitted by Lauren Greschner, Recreation

Roads crews keep busy with warm winter maintenance

The City’s Roads crews pay close attention to the weather forecast all winter long. During and after a snowfall, we’re busy sanding, salting and plowing roads and sidewalks to keep everyone travelling safely. But what do our crews get up to when a warm spell hits Calgary?

Our maintenance team has plenty of work to do as temperatures rise. Here are a few of the projects we take on when the weather is warm:

  • Salting and sanding icy patches: Although we’ve been experiencing warm temperatures during the day recently, the temperature usually dips below zero overnight. This creates a freeze-thaw cycle, resulting in icy patches across the city. Crews patrol for trouble spots before rush hour every day, salting and sanding these spots.
  • Filling potholes: Did you know that every year The City of Calgary fills over 40,000 potholes? Potholes form when snow melts into cracks in the asphalt and then freezes, expanding in the cracks. In order to permanently fix potholes, crews need dry pavement and warm weather conditions, which means pothole repair can happen in winter if the temperature is high enough.
  • Snow fence repair: Throughout winter, some snow fences may be knocked down or damaged. Crews respond to calls and repair the fences so they can properly block snowdrifts for the rest of the season.
  • Roadside debris pickup: This includes general cleaning and garbage pickup on our streets and boulevards around the city.
  • Windrows: City crews do their best to keep windrows small by evenly distributing the snow on either side of the road. However, after heavy snowfalls, windrows can build up. If a windrow is impeding a resident’s ability to enter their driveway, a crew can come by and assess the windrow and break it down if necessary. Residents are advised to contact 311 if they have large windrow concerns.
  • Training: Our crews take pride in always being fully trained on the latest technologies and machinery. When there’s less snow to plow, we train our crews on new equipment or prepare them for upcoming projects, such as Spring Clean-Up.
Warm weather comes and goes throughout winter, so our crews will continue to watch for potential snowfall. For more information on the City’s snow and ice control efforts, FAQs, and details of our Seven Day Snow Plan, visit Calgary.ca/snow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The CRTC surveys Canadians about broadband Internet Services as part of ongoing study

Reliable, affordable and modern broadband Internet access is essential for accessing services online, such as health care, banking, education and government programming.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is inviting Canadians across the nation to share their views on telecommunications services, especially broadband internet by filling out a short questionnaire online.

Those who wish to complete the survey over the phone can call 1-877-249-2782, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)

“It’s important for Calgarians to share their personal experience with broadband internet services with the CRTC,” said Heather Reed-Fenske, The City of Calgary’s Chief Information Technology Officer. “The information collected will help influence how you connect to internet services in the workplace, at home and while you’re on the go, for many years to come.”

The survey is open until 8 p.m. (EST) on February 29, 2016 and will provide the CRTC with insight to better understand which telecommunications services Canadians consider necessary to participate in the digital economy.

The results will also determine the areas in Canada that don’t have adequate access to telecommunication services.


What is the CTRC?



Quick facts about the CRTC’s Internet Broadband review:
  • The CRTC initiated a review of basic telecommunications services in April 2015. Since then, more that 25,000 comments have been received.
  • The CRTC is reviewing the telecommunications services available in Canada in order to be in step with Canadians’ current and future needs.
  • Currently, basic telecommunications services include:
    • capability to connect to the Internet via low-speed data transmission at local rates;
    • individual line local touch-tone service;
    • access to the long distance network, operator/directory assistance services, enhanced calling features and privacy protection features, emergency services, voice message relay service; and
    • a printed copy of the current local telephone directory upon request.
  • The CRTC is holding a public hearing on these issues starting April 11, 2016, in Gatineau, Qu├ębec.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New car2go microstalls coming to Calgary

Starting tomorrow, Calgarians will see some innovative new parking stalls pop up in and around Calgary’s downtown core. In total, 150 car2go microstalls will be made available to the car-sharing company’s members in 2016.

The spots will be located mostly in the downtown core and the Beltline and can be found on certain street corners and other curb space where a regular sized car would not fit. Installation for these stalls begins Friday, January 22 and will be officially rolled out over the next few months.

The City’s Traffic division conducted safety reviews at each microstall location to ensure that all traffic engineering and safety standards were met before the installation of each stall. The height and width of car2go smart cars allows motorists to still see oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

“Over 2015, we explored solutions to create hundreds of additional parking spots downtown, including such measures as angled parking, off-peak parking and designated stalls for small car-share vehicles,” Traffic engineer, Yeats Wong said. “Our goal is to optimize the space we have to provide Calgarians with more on-street parking options in the core.”

Car-sharing helps reduce the strain on Calgary’s parking infrastructure. The shared vehicles are small and eco-friendly and reduce the number of individual, full-sized vehicles in the core. The goal for this pilot project is to open up more spots for regular-sized cars by providing space specifically for car2go smart cars where regular sized cars won’t fit.

After working with car2go and the Calgary Parking Authority, a parking agreement between car2go and The City was finalized late last year.  Only registered microcars with a valid permit are allowed to use the new microstalls. So far, only two-door car2go vehicles have been issued these permits. However, this doesn’t mean that car2go users can only park in these new microstalls. They are encouraged to use them if they are available but will still be allowed to park in areas where on-street parking is legal.

“At The City we’re always looking at new, innovative solutions to make it easier for Calgarians to get around,” Wong said. “Data collected from this pilot will provide us with more information for future car-share and commercial parking policies.”

Lines for these stalls were painted last year. Once signage has been installed at a microstall location, two-door car2go vehicles will be able to park on-street in these microstalls.