Gay bars and Big Easy junkets make headlines in Canadian cities this week

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Delegates in New Orleans
An 'official' delegation from the City of Boldorf, Sask, studies how to have fun at Mardi Gras

It was another busy week in Canadian cities. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and his council mates were at it again approving yet another junket, this time to New Orleans to get tips on how to organize a good blues festival. A report came to Council last week and it was easily rubber stamped. The delegation which includes a number of staff and councillors will be leaving on April 23rd. The average temperature in New Orleans around this time of the year is a pleasant 85F with mostly sunny skies.

There is no word on how much this trip will cost Burnaby taxpayers, however CityCaucus.com plans to file an FOI on this one and report back to our readers in the weeks to come. If you recall, Mayor Corrigan recently flew on a junket to China to help promote Burnaby.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the supposedly "gay-friendly" Vision/COPE council gave the queer community a collective kick in the teeth last week when they denied the Odyssey Night Club a permit to move to trendy Davie Street. Vision said the club would be too noisy for local residents, and think it might be more appropriate somewhere else - perhaps a dark industrial area? The only openly gay politician in attendance voted against the move. Tim Stevenson, the other gay politician on Council was a no-show.

The decision has touched off a firestorm within the gay community. Here are a few excerpts of what is floating out there in the blogosphere:

The first comes from PINQ: Essential Gay Intelligence whereby Joan-E takes a blast at Vision:

Some, just did’t get it. Councillor George Chow called the Odyssey a “cultural icon” but then went on to inform us that when his grandfather’s favourite Chinese restaurant closed he just found another. What the f*ck? His grandfather had 900 Chinese restaurants to choose from! And Councillor David Cadman suggested that the gay community should utilize halls and community centers. He went on to add that perhaps the gay community should explore social events that do not require dancing. OH YES HE DID!

Support we expected, didn’t come through. Our openly lesbian Councillor Ellen Woodsworth did not support us. This is a woman who can remember when a downstairs club with no windows was the only place she would have been safe kissing another woman. Did she articulate this? No, she hardly uttered a word until she voted against the Odyssey. Gay Councilor Tim Stevenson was not even in the room.

We did get one vote. That vote came from the traditionally right-of-centre’s NPA. Councillor Susan Anton, the ONLY councillor who bothered to come to the Odyssey to see for herself, felt that the Odyssey should move to its new home. To be fair, Stevenson and Woodsworth have been to the Odyssey before, but only when they are campaigning.

Then it was Jamie Lee Hamilton's turn to have her say:

These decisions of course are best left up to Council. Unfortunately, we know that many politicians instead of doing the right thing, get squeamish if they perceive that they may lose votes come election time if they are deemed by a vocal group of residents not to be favouring their demands. So instead of Councillors engaging in proper governance they start counting votes and in this situation the residents opposing the Odyssey easily outnumbered the gay community who were supporting the application.

I think the gay community will lobby now to defeat gay and lesbian Councillors, Ellen Woodsworth and Tim Stevenson who along with their Vision/COPE/NDP colleagues instead of demonstrating real leadership in the face of conflict, sank into their seats, barely uttering a peep as they voted against the Odyssey re-location and in the process, betrayed Vancouver's gay community.

This issue ain't over by a country mile, folks...something tells me it has just started. We'll have to see if Stevenson takes up the case when gets back into town from his latest junket.

In Calgary meanwhile, they're generating up a different kind of energy - the green kind. While some Mayor's are busy planting symbolic gardens on their front lawn, a news release came across our desk this week from Enmax Energy which claims the City of Calgary is planning to get 100% of its power supply from renewable sources.

Here is an excerpt from the release:

Under the revamped deal, instead of obtaining 90% of its power from renewable sources in 2012, Calgary will now receive all of its power from renewable resources beginning in that year, it said.

"This is a landmark agreement and demonstrates our global leadership in reducing the impact of electricity generation on the environment," Mayor Dave Bronconnier said in a statement. "We are absolutely committed to reducing Calgary's ecological footprint and this is one of the key strategies to achieve that goal."

The agreement also supports the city's Climate Change Action Plan Target Minus 50, which seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2012, it said.

By 2012, emissions from city-owned facilities and equipment are projected
to be about 170,000 metric tons/year, compared with about 460,000 mt in 1990,
a reduction of 63%, it added.

According to the release, Enmax Energy is owned by the City of Calgary. Kudos to Mayor Bronconnier for his green plan to reduce energy use.

Lastly, in Winnipeg the police are planning for a 'summer rush'. According to city officials, the number of police calls seems to increase in conjunction with soaring summer temperatures.

The City has set up a whole new police Division 50 "who are tasked with providing the difficult-to-define role of increasing visibility of the force on city streets." According to Inspector Jim Poole:

With warm weather comes more people on our streets at any given time... at 7 a.m., you still see people who have been out all night. You see people who ride bicycles around and walk. More people are out and that just seems to increase things for us.

So that folks was the week that was in Canadian cities. Check back here next Sunday for our roundup.

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