Lost in all the noise surrounding Vancouver's Olympic Village controversy last week were some interesting stories making the rounds in some of Canada's cities.
In the City of Kelowna, Mayor Sharon Shepard caused a stir when she questioned the appropriate use of technology during city council and public hearings. If Shepard gets her way, BlackBerries will be banned from her council chambers.
She told the Kelowna Daily Courier “From my perspective, everyone needs to pay attention during a meeting...and I‘m not sure that happens when people are busy checking their BlackBerries.” Follow the link to read the whole story.
In the City of Edmonton, it's souped-up motorcyles Council would like banned from the streets. "It's the No. 1 complaint I got from people this summer - the disturbing of the peace that happens with all the unnecessary loud mufflers, mostly on motorcycles," said Coun. Ben Henderson in an interview with the Edmonton Sun.
One Councillor wants the City to go after the businesses that install 'illegal' mufflers. However, she told the Sun she wasn't sure if that was even possible. We're not sure how the City would deal with installation shops that choose to set up business just outside Edmonton's boundaries?
Edmonton Council was also grappling this week with a 'surprise' move by the Province of Alberta to put a cap on what municipalities can charge business owners if they appeal their assessments. According to the Edmonton Journal, the cap will result in a revenue shortfall of about $850K for the City.
The 2009 City of Edmonton budget had increased the cost to file appeals from $500 to a new maximum of $5,000. Needless to say, this didn't go over well with Edmonton's business community.
Coun. Karen Leibovici told the Journal "The only way those dollars can come is looking at hiring freezes or taking it out of our financial stabilization fund or cutting costs in other parts of the city."
Finally, in a city better known for oil production rather than conservation, figures released by Calgary Transit indicate that more people are ditching their gas guzzling SUVs, and jumping on the bus.
There were about 5 million more trips taken on Calgary Transit in 2008, compared to 2007. A very impressive figure indeed.
Alderman Ray Jones told the Calgary Herald "They attribute a lot of it to gas prices and the economy...It's encouraging to know people are willing to take the bus." Calgary is planning to undertake a big expansion of their CTrain by adding a new western route.