Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Getting you there: 21 projects we completed in 2017

With 2017 coming to a close, we’re finishing 21 transportation projects that will make getting around Calgary better today and for years to come. Work underway in all four quadrants results in city-wide improvement of traffic management, goods movement, transit reliability, and safe, comfortable travel for everyone. Here are the highlights:

Acting Director of Transportation Infrastructure, Kerensa Fromherz, goes into details, “It’s been a big year for us. The Glenmore Trail/Ogden Road and the Bowfort Trail/Trans-Canada Highway interchanges are key to improving how we move goods in and around Calgary. The new 12 Street S.E. bridge (opening celebration on Dec. 9!) means maintaining that Bow River crossing for another 100 years, plus it creates a much better pathway space. Our road upgrades on 1 Street S.W., 61 Avenue S.W., and at the 16 Avenue/Home Road N.W. intersection are in popular places, so the sidewalk and crossing upgrades mean a safer space for people walking and a more predictable space to drive.”

 Looking west at the new 61 Avenue S.W./Chinook pedestrian bridge (opening celebrations December 8!)
The 21 projects make up a $400 million investment to help manage traffic and help people move around the city. Fromherz explains, “We look at getting the best value for the investment not just for today, but how an interchange, like at Macleod Trail/162 Avenue, or an intersection upgrade, like at 16 Avenue/29 Street N.W., will work as development happens around it in the short and long term.” But it’s more than just value for the future: “We were also able to take advantage of the market to get good prices on material and put people to work,” Fromherz adds. More than 3,200 jobs were created by these projects.

Looking east at the redesigned Zoo Road, pathway and flood mitigation measures
With these transportation projects touching 30 communities, improvements are also happening at the community level. People living in the residential neighbourhoods around the Bowness Road, Northmount Drive and East Memorial road improvements now have a more comfortable place to walk and cycle in areas that can also be busy driving roads.

These projects, along with 223 km of new pavement on Calgary roads, help manage traffic better and connect people between their communities and destinations. Offering safe, affordable, and reliable options to travel around Calgary is important to developing and growing a resilient and vibrant city for decades to come.

See the full list of 2017 projects:


Friday, November 24, 2017

Let’s celebrate Calgarians who improve life for people with disabilities

Every year, the Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA) celebrates and recognizes Calgarians who are improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities through the ACA Annual Awards program.

These awards celebrate the areas of advocacy, design, and accessible transportation. The deadline to nominate an individual or business for their contributions is Friday, December 1, 2017.

Read on to learn more about the winners of the 2016 ACA Awards, and the work they’ve done to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities.

2016 ACA annual award recipients and special guests.

·                     The Access Recognition Award was awarded to Darlene Boyes of Calgary Recreation for her expertise in supporting the Recreation Accessibility Study. The study audited 45 City-operated facilities and recommended improvements to increase accessibility. Darlene’s passion, advocacy and expertise help ensure City facilities are physically accessible, welcoming and inclusive.

·                     The Advocacy Award recognized Mark Burzacott of Between Friends, an organization dedicated to creating social, recreational and self-development opportunities for people with disabilities to connect, grow and belong. Through Mark’s work, he removes barriers of isolation and participation. He recently developed a Sensory Room, a therapeutic space for members, at the Between Friends Camp Bonaventure.

·                     The Ella Anderson Accessible Transportation Award was given to Stephen Hansen for the formation of Access Calgary, now Calgary Transit Access. A visionary in accessible transportation, he was instrumental in creating Access Calgary in 2001 to ensure people with disabilities could use transit to meet their diverse needs. Today, Calgary Transit Access provides over one million trips each year to nearly 15,000 Calgarians that are unable to use Calgary Transit services due to a disability.

For more information about what The City is doing to improve accessibility, visit calgary.ca/accessibility, and don’t forget to submit your nominations by December 1, 2017.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Keep your pets safe this holiday season

The holiday season is a joyful time for many who want to include their pets in the festivities by sharing treats from the dinner table and having them be a part of the celebrations. This season also means that dog owners are often taking their pets outdoors in below zero weather conditions.

Here are some tips to keep your pet safe indoors and outdoors this winter:

Adventures outdoors: walks and trips to off-leash parks
  • Check the temperature and forecast before you leave the house to ensure that you and your pet are properly prepared for the winter weather conditions. (Paws, ears and tails are all susceptible to frost bite, similar to exposed human skin.) Consider purchasing your pet booties or paw covers.
  • Picking up after your dog is vital no matter the weather conditions. Dog waste attracts mice, coyotes and other wildlife to urban areas. While it can be more difficult to pick up dog waste from snow, it is still the law. Gloves (versus mittens) can be easier to maneuver poop bags
  • Even if there is snow on the ground, dogs are only allowed off-leash in designated off-leash areas. Your pet must be leashed in parking lots and on shared pathways. If you’re unsure due to snow or other elements, keep your dog leashed until you’re certain.
  • Dogs are often excited about fresh snow! No matter the season, owners must ensure their dog is under control at all times. This means the dog must remain at a distance where they will respond to owner voice, sound or sight commands. It means the dog must not chase, threaten or attack people or animals.
  • If travelling with your dog in a vehicle, remember that when the engine is turned off, your vehicle essentially becomes a refrigerator (temperatures drop significantly).
  • City dogs are domesticated and not necessarily climatized to extreme weather conditions. Even northern breeds aren’t necessarily used to being outside for extended periods of time in freezing temperatures. Use caution.
Indoor festivities: considerations for homes with pets


Food

  • Leftover food that is rich, spicy or fatty can be hard for pets to digest.
  • Many foods are toxic or harmful for pets, including: turkey bones, artificial sweeteners and other baking ingredients, chocolate and alcohol.
  • Secure the lid on your garbage can or put your garbage outside right after the meal.

D├ęcor

  • Poinsettias, Christmas cactus and holly are toxic to cats and dogs. 
  • Secure your Christmas tree if you have pets that like to climb.
  • Hang breakable ornaments higher on your tree.
  • With natural trees, make sure pets don’t drink the water.
  • Shiny tinsel and ribbons are appealing for cats, but if swallowed can cause serious injury or lead to surgery. 
  • Unplug holiday lights and extension cords prior to leaving your home. 
  • Don’t put candy or chocolates under the tree.  

Socializing

  • While hosting parties, give your pet a safe and quiet place to retreat.
  • Be mindful as guests come and go as it’s easy for pets to slip out unnoticed.

It is important to call your veterinarian or take your pet directly to an animal health facility if you suspect your pet has eaten any toxic foods or substances. Check out the Responsible Pet Ownership Page for additional pet safety tips and information about off-leash areas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ammonia Use and Safety in Calgary

On October 19, 2017 three people were killed following an ammonia leak at an ice arena in Fernie, British Columbia. This tragedy gave rise to some questions from the public and news stories emerged in Calgary on November 6, 2017 that sought to investigate the relative safety of Calgarians, especially those living next to large facilities that utilize ammonia as central to ice rink operations.

The City of Calgary operates facilities with refrigeration equipment with safety as the top priority. The City operates 12 arenas using ammonia. All City of Calgary arena staff are trained in best practices in working with refrigeration systems, preventative maintenance and emergency procedures. In the unlikely event of an ammonia leak, City of Calgary facilities are equipped with a multi-alarm system which is triggered when ammonia levels rise above normal.

In terms of overall safety, the Calgary Fire Department is actively involved with ammonia safety planning, prevention and has a dedicated Hazardous Materials Response Team of trained firefighters that can respond at any time to mitigate the situation.


According to Calgary Fire Department incident data, the overall incident trend on ammonia within Calgary has been a decreasing one with 12 of 20 incidents occurring 2012-2013, with two per year 2014-2016 and one incident in 2017 to date. Most were refrigeration issues at commercial or industrial facilities. There have been 3 incidents in the past 5 years in Calgary relating to ice rinks specifically, none involving casualties.



Apart from its own facilities, The City of Calgary does not manage, regulate or inventory ammonia at the sites where it is used: ammonia is not a municipal responsibility but is provincially and federally regulated. Notwithstanding, The City undertakes significant efforts on multiple fronts to ensure public safety, evidenced in part by the decreasing trend in ammonia incidents within Calgary.


The use and operation of ammonia is provincially and federally regulated and enforced. The City of Calgary operates facilities with refrigeration equipment with safety as the top priority. This includes working with all ammonia owners and operators by assisting with emergency response, prevention and planning on an ongoing basis. 

What are these safety measures?


Safety is our number one priority at all City of Calgary facilities. As part of our safety procedures, our staff monitor and conduct daily ammonia level checks as part of their duties. In addition, our staff also conduct regular safety drills. The City of Calgary also has emergency response plans in place for a variety of scenarios, including an ammonia leak.

Apart from its own facilities, The City of Calgary is not mandated to regulate or inventory ammonia at private sites. However, through working with the province and other regulatory and safety partners, the Calgary Fire Department helps ensure public safety on ammonia in three specific areas:
  • fire safety plans with building owners, including site visits and on-site training in collaboration with operators. 
  • inspections to comply with Alberta Fire Code. 
  • hazardous materials emergency response, as needed. 

What happens if there is a leak?


All City of Calgary arena staff are trained in best practices in working with refrigeration systems, preventative maintenance and emergency procedures. As part of our safety procedures, City facilities staff conduct daily ammonia level checks as part of their duties. In addition, staff also conduct regular safety drills. In the unlikely event of an ammonia leak, The City of Calgary facilities are equipped with a multi-alarm system which is triggered when ammonia levels rise above normal.


Have there been any leaks at these City-owned facilities in the past?


Yes, there have been three minor incidents in the past five years in Calgary relating to ice rinks specifically, none involved casualties. One of these three incidents occurred in July 2015 when an alarm indicated an elevated level of ammonia in the compressor room at Rose Kohn Arena. This was caused by a small release of gas. The City staff member followed safety procedures by shutting down the compressors. The emergency ventilation system was then turned on. As a safety precaution, our City staff member evacuated the few people in the arena. There were no injuries to citizens as a result of this incident.


What about ammonia at other facilities in Calgary?


It is expected that all building owners and operators follow safe handling and storage procedures, as per provincial and federal guidelines and regulations. Calgary Fire actively works with ammonia operators as part of its Fire Safety Plan program to assist with operator emergency response plans, which will often involve a site visit involving crews operating at the nearest local fire station as well as Calgary Fire’s Hazardous Materials Response Team. This promotes familiarization and helps the facility operators to understand why the information is important, and they can meet and work with their first responders. These plans also include other chemical storage or use information.


Why doesn’t The City track or enforce ammonia as a hazardous substance?


As a municipal body, The City of Calgary is not empowered to govern hazardous materials. The operation of ammonia refrigeration plants is regulated provincially by Municipal Affairs under the code “Pressure Equipment Safety Regulations” and more generally by Alberta Environment for larger installations. Design and operation of refrigeration plants is also regulated by Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard. And above a specific quantity threshold, Environment Canada E2 Regulations prescribe detailed response plans. In effect, there are several layers of provincial and federal regulations for the operation of ammonia refrigeration plants. As a municipal organization, the Calgary Fire Department is not a regulator of controlled chemicals and products, so while we have awareness of where product is, we do not keep an inventory count of ammonia at industrial and facility sites in Calgary.


Is there an ammonia safety problem in Calgary?


Although the Calgary Fire Department cannot regulate the use or track inventory of ammonia in private facilities, calls responding to ammonia leaks are tracked. The overall incident trend on ammonia within Calgary has decreased with 12 of 20 reported leaks happening in 2012 and 2013, with two per year 2014-2016 and one incident in 2017 to date. Most were refrigeration issues at commercial or industrial facilities. None of these leaks involved casualties.


If I have questions related to a privately-owned ammonia operator, where can I find more information?


Any questions about those facilities must be directed to the respective facility. However, in accordance with the Emergency Management Act, The City of Calgary does not support reporting specifics on hazardous material volume or location. The Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) supports the restricted circulation of such information pertaining to where ammonia is stored, and the volumes at that site, due to security issues.

If you have any questions about City of Calgary facilities, please call 311.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Improvements to 1 Street S.W. celebrated

Victoria Park BIA Executive Director David Low
Even though winter has now arrived in Calgary, David Low, Victoria Park Business Improvement Area’s Executive Director, is still eager to get out on his daily walking tours. These days he seems to be more energized than ever after his walks.

That’s because the project to improve the streetscape along the Beltline’s 1 Street S.W. corridor between 10 Avenue to 17 Avenue S.W. is now substantially complete.

Low says the City of Calgary has done an outstanding job of improving the streetscape and in connecting with the businesses and property owners along this corridor. “I’ve appreciated how the project team put such emphasis in working with all the stakeholders while working hard to complete these improvements over the past six months.”

The City and Victoria Park BIA will jointly celebrate this important milestone on Thursday, Nov. 9 as City and BIA representatives plan to distribute cookies at the corner of 1 Street and 13 Avenue S.W. starting at 4 p.m.

On Friday, Nov. 10 an ‘experiential’ lighting demonstration will be held on 1 Street between 12 and 13 Avenues from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. We’d like to hear your feedback about how these state-of-the-art colour changing lights add to the streetscape atmosphere.


Improvements to the corridor include:
  • wider sidewalks & prominent crosswalks
  • upgraded LED pedestrian and street lighting
  • 41 new tree plantings
  • additional bike racks & 14 new on-street parking spaces
  • centre median with a banner pageantry program.
“These improvements build on the character of the blocks located between 12 and 14 Avenues, extending that streetscape design along the full length of the corridor,” said Graham Gerylo, Urban Strategy project manager with the City. “This work has created a safer, more comfortable and inviting environment for the thousands of pedestrians and transit riders that travel along 1 Street each day.”

New banners along 1 Street SW
The City accelerated capital funding for this project as part of the City’s economic stimulus efforts. Final project costs are estimated to be around $5 million, which is more than $1 million under the original budget estimate. Both Gerylo and Low agree that the project is an investment in the street and local economy with the goal of continued community revitalization by attracting private developments, new businesses and more residents to the area.

For more details on the project, visit www.calgary.ca/1stcorridor.