The Calgary Herald took a look back at the year that was in Calgary and came up with a few themes that shaped the City in '08.
Of note were the fact their economy was shrinking, homelessness was skyrocketing and gang violence was on the rise. These are issues facing most major urban centres in Canada, but a sagging economy is new to most Calgarians who are more used to strong revenues from rising oil prices.
Calgary now has over 4,000 homeless people living within its boundaries [pop. 1,000,000]. Two years ago, that number was an estimated 3,400 people. This compares to slightly over 1200 homeless people living in Vancouver [pop. 600,000]. Mayor Bronconnier and his civic administration have committed to ending homelessness by 2018.
It should be noted the issue of affordable housing was also very topical over the last year in Calgary as housing prices skyrocketed out of reach for most hospitality and service workers. Prices are now on the decline, however, expect housing affordability to remain an issue for many low and middle income earners well into 2009.
The last year also saw a dramatic spike in the incidence of gang warfare with over 30 deaths being attributed to this activity. Similar to Vancouver, the Calgary police have established the Violent Crime Suppression Team.
Given the amount of gunfire on the streets, the jury is still out as to whether dedicating 10 full-time police officers to this unit is having any real effect.