cochrane

Time to Vote.

Well, it’s getting to that season in Cochrane. Voting season. Time to establish a new council and mayor into the role of steering this dynamic and growing community. In an effort to help people access relevant information on all the candidates, I’ve compiled them here (with links to their websites/Facebook pages where possible). And yes, another long blog post, with lots of words.

And because I’m not a newspaper, I do get to make endorsements. Keep in mind these are my opinions and as such don’t represent anyone else.

Let’s start with the candidates for Mayor.

Keep in mind that although I’m ranking them, they ALL have a shared love for this community and would in all likelihood do well in the job.

My Pick: Joann Churchill. Solid track record on council, very engaged citizen, strong view of a sustainable Cochrane. A few miss-steps over the years on a couple of issues, but she’s learnt from them and carried on well.

Close second: David Smith. A bit of a dark horse coming into this election, he’s got a great platform, a solid support base and a view of the town and issues that seems to align well with reality. He’s talking about some issues that no one else has, and he wants to expand the Cochrane Sustainability Plan to include targets on sewer and energy reduction for transportation. Awesome stuff.

Third: Ivan Brooker. Having served two terms as a councillor, Ivan certainly has the experience on council to contend for the Mayor’s job. I’ve found myself disagreeing with numerous ways that he’s voted on some key issues, so from a policy perspective I have a difficult time supporting him.

And the Councillor’s

There are 13 PEOPLE vying to be on council this term. Crazy. Similarly to the Mayoral candidates, it seems that people have a lot of passion for the community, which is great. My picks are going to be based on a balanced council, track records in the community, and platforms. The following 6 candidates are my pick;

Ross Watson. Thoughtful, articulate, genuine and informed. A top pick for sure.

Tara McFadden. Of all the current members of council, Tara has consistently done the best job of communicating what’s happening up at the RancheHouse. She’s active on social media platforms and sends out a great e-news update on council meetings (subscribe if you haven’t already). Another top pick.

Gaynor Levisky. She’s got a good platform focused on Environment, Parks and Rec and Protection/Safety. She also seems to be well grounded in the issues facing families, a large segment of the Cochrane population.

Jeff Toews. I know what you’re thinking…haven’t you blogged a lot about disagreeing with Jeff Toews on a lot of issues? Yes. I have. And I’ll probably continue to disagree with him on a number of issues. But this election isn’t about MY view of Cochrane, it’s about OUR view of Cochrane. And Jeff brings a different perspective to the table, and I feel that he’s done a lot of learning about the complexities of the issues over the past term, and he’ll continue to learn and grow in the role.

Steve Grossick. I don’t actually know Steve, but he’s got a Code of Ethics on his website. And experience with politics, business and volunteering in the community (including being the current President of the Cochrane and Area Victim Services Society). A solid choice.

And unfortunately that only leaves one more seat in my “slate”. And there are several candidates worthy of the spot, but my vote is for Kaitee Del Pra. Born and raised in Cochrane, and only 23 years old, what she might lack in political experience is made up for by the sheer fact that she’s running for council. I think she’d bring a much needed perspective to the table.

Of course, that leaves out some worthy people, and I’ll outline them here.

Jamie Kleinstuber. Active community member, strong environmental ethic. Supports transit. It’s actually really hard to see him not on my list above. Maybe we can have 7 councillors this time around?

Shana Bruder. A long time Cochrane resident, Shana’s also been actively involved in the community (including the Cochrane Foundation, the Community Awards and Light Up committees).

Morgan Nagel. Another representative from the “youth” division, Morgan has some strong political experience and a firm focus on the “small town, family feel”.

Dan Cunin. Has a comprehensive platform that includes some great initiatives. And he came out of the gate and announced his candidacy in JANUARY. Eager and passionate.

Marty Lee. All I could find this morning was his Facebook feed, and will admit to not knowing much about his platform and how it might differ from the rest of the candidates. Has been in Cochrane for 14 years, and seems to have been reasonably well involved throughout.

Mary Lou Davis. A Google search turned up no campaign information, so I wonder if she’s doing it the old fashioned way (door-knocking and coffee drinking). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just makes it hard to pin down her stance on things when you’re writing a blog post. She did serve on council during a pretty controversial period of time (2004-07), where a lot of development decisions were being made that we’re just now feeling the repercussions of.

Jim Uffelmann. Jim has been a champion for increased public engagement on a variety of issues (namely transit and the dog park). He appears to be running on a “keep taxes low” platform. I’ve had numerous Facebook conversations with Jim where I ended up leaving the conversation due to the negative tone of it. That said, he’s running for council and is obviously passionate about a couple of community issues.

And there it is…my thoughts on the 16 people running for Town Council this go-around in Cochrane. Agree with me or not, get the heck out there and vote!

Advance polls: Cochrane RancheHouse. TODAY from 4-8pm, Friday from 4-8pm and Saturday from 10-4pm. Election day is Monday, October 21st and polls are open at various stations from 7AM to 8PM. Info here: http://www.cochrane.ca/election

Rodeo Grounds

I forgot one of the apparently most sacred of cows in Cochrane these days, and that is the Lion’s Rodeo Grounds in Glenbow (just below the current pool/Boys & Girls Club/curling rink). There’s been a lot of interesting discussion about what should happen with that piece of property when the lease is up in 2019.

So here’s my thoughts.

First, we have a purpose built agricultural complex on the NW corner of town, with tons of parking, an indoor arena, a few different outdoor arenas/tracks and numerous other amenities. Does a town of 18,000 need two rodeo grounds?

Second, what’s the usage and economic impact of the rodeo grounds for Cochrane? I live in Glenbow so have a fairly good handle on how much it’s being used. Between Summer and Winterfest, the labor day rodeo and a few other events, it’d be generous to say that it’s utilized 6 weekends out of the year (aside from slow-pitch tournaments on the 2 fields). And I do understand that the Lions contribute greatly to this community (~4 million in the last 11 years), but my sense is that a good portion of that is raised at things other than the rodeo.

Third, given that the pool and curling rink are being relocated to Spray Lakes Leisure Center in the next couple of years, it’s safe to say the upper tier is going to need redevelopment. Is a rodeo ground that gets used sparingly the best use of that prime real estate? It’s tough to say.

Proponents say that it’s a very unique feature of a small town to have the rodeo right in the heart of the community. And I’m certainly not one to disagree on the cultural aspect of that argument.

Of course, as a taxpayer and someone generally interested in the fiscal sustainability of this community, it’s a hard stretch for me to see us not getting the maximum amount we can for that property, and allocating that money to some of the other big-ticket items that this rapidly growing community needs.

All nostalgia aside, it might be time to take a step back and look at the big picture on this one.

Cochrane’s Sacred Cows

Warning: This post is longer than most and contains a lot of words.

Well, we’re heading into the homestretch of the “silly season” in municipal politics, that time when the papers and facebook feeds are full of familiar promises. More amenities! Lower taxes! Small town feel! Transit! To name just a few.

So here’s my 2 cents on some of the “sacred cows” of the current municipal election, in no particular order of importance.

Aquatic Center and Curling Rink: Possibly one of the largest municipal projects ever attempted in this town, the 54 million dollar curling rink, aquatic center and associated upgrades is dominating the discussion. There seems to be general consensus that we NEED a pool, except for a few voices suggesting we show some restraint in times of economic uncertainty. Having just gone to the current pool this afternoon with my 2-year old I’m even more uncertain of this pressing need. 2$ Friday and the pool was WELL BELOW capacity. Like, we were the only ones in the hot tub for awhile.

Taxes: What would a municipal election be without promises to keep your taxes low? And would anyone be voted in on a “I’m going to raise your taxes” platform? Even though that’s pretty much an inevitable outcome? For once it’d be nice to see some honesty in a potential politician, something along the lines of “You say you want a bunch of shiny new amenities (aka a pool), but you don’t want your taxes to go up? Well, here’s your cake…feel free to eat it.”

Density: Not quite as prevalent in the conversation as the first two topics, but density is certainly flaring up in Airdrie, along with the connection to the Calgary Regional Partnership and the Calgary Metro Plan. It’s another sacred cow that needs to be examined closely. I would be highly questioning of anyone who suggests we can continue to build a bunch of single family homes with big lots and keep our taxes low. There are so many issues tied up in density targets that it’s tough to draw all the connecting dots for folks, but here’s a few;

  1. Density is more efficient. Less road, less sidewalk, less utility, less driving for the garbage truck. Theoretically less money required to service less infrastructure.
  2. Increasing density drives up the value of single family homes with big lots. Not a bad thing if you happen to be among the lucky folks who enjoy that luxury. Why pay a premium for a house with a big lot in Glenbow, when you can pay significantly less for a big house in Sunset, Fireside, Riversong, Heritage Hills, Heartland…etc.
  3. Dense developments are more affordable for young people. You know, the kinds of people that we might want to work in this town and have a family, and the ones who can’t afford those big houses right now.  They’re also the kinds of people that are going to work in those businesses that lease the 30,000sq ft in the new aquatic center…unlike the folks living in those big houses that have to drive to their job in the city to afford their mortgage in the small town!

Traffic: Ahhh…if only there was a system for moving large amounts of people quickly and efficiently on a network of roads and railways…wait….

Traffic is certainly an issue, and no, transit won’t fix it (but it certainly won’t hurt it). I’m sure there are people much smarter than I currently scratching their heads on what the hell to do about traffic in this town. Between terrible highway intersections, a railway that cuts through town, and a bunch of in/out access to large subdivisions…we’re pretty much screwed on the traffic front for the foreseeable future. Which is why I live in Glenbow, so that I can walk places. A good start would be some traffic circles…seriously. I spent a few months in New Zealand a few years ago and there were traffic circles everywhere. Way better for traffic flow than 4 way stops and signals.

Small town feel: That elusive, yet essential, quality that attracted so many of us to move to Cochrane in the first place. This might come as shocking news, but a small town feel is just that. A feeling. Whether you’re riding a bus, living in a new subdivision, swimming at a new pool or shopping for cheap plastic at Walmart, the only way to keep that “small town feel” alive and well is to act it out. Shop locally. Get to know your neighbors. Join (or start) a community association. Come out to the farmer’s market. Volunteer with a nonprofit. No town council or mayor has the power to turn you into a small town person, or to help a community keep that feeling. Sorry, this one’s up to you. Which, given how often politicians are able to keep their promises, is probably a good thing…

Local Economy: Again, this one’s being looked at by people much smarter and more in tune with economic development than I am. Certainly an 87% residential tax base isn’t very good, and we need to diversify our revenue streams. Here’s something to chew on… a lot of business owners were in favor of transit to and from Calgary. Why? Because there’s no labor market in Cochrane (or a very small one). Why? Because people who serve coffee and stock shelves can’t afford to live in this town. Why not? Because there’s a shortage of denser, affordable housing. Funny how all this is connected. And no, I don’t have any answers, other than people taking that small town feeling to heart and putting their money where their mouth is…shop local, preferably at small shops and at places that give back to the community.

There it is, the sacred cows as I see them. I have a feeling a few of them will be slaughtered shortly…it’ll be interesting to see which ones!

And stay tuned for some more in-depth analysis of various platforms, including my top picks for mayor and council, for whatever that’s worth to you.

Masquerading as a newspaper

It looks like the political season is starting to ramp up here in Cochrane, with municipal elections looming in the fall. It was nice to see that, despite being on holidays for the past two weeks, I still managed to sneak into an editorial about outgoing mayor Truper McBride.

The editor of the Cochrane Eagle attempts to paint McBride as less than conservative, given his informed and rational opinions on such hot-topic items as transit, wetland policy and urban growth in general. Where it gets a little dicey is his attempt to use me “one of McBride’s most ardent political supporters” as further evidence of his “un”conservatism (by cherry picking the following two tweets from my twitter account…2 out of 1338).

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 2.02.01 PM

Now, what you should notice about this first tweet is that it’s what’s known as a “retweet”. Most twitter users understand that just because someone has “retweeted” something, that doesn’t make it their opinion. It might just be interesting, absurd, amusing or a host of other things. In this case, if you read the original article, it’s about how privatization has failed Americans in some pretty key areas, in pretty big ways. Interesting stuff, but full of that horrid thing known as “information”, that tends to be an annoyance when it goes against “ideology”.

The other tweet that is commented on as further evidence that I’m obviously not the kind of guy that would support a real conservative candidate is found below.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 2.07.26 PM Since when is consumerism and obesity highly charged political territory? Liberal, Green, PC or NDP…I’m hard pressed to find someone who supports us promoting much more of either of those things. And next time you’re at the mall, sit in the food court for awhile and just observe. I should have made the comparison to East Hasting’s street, given how much dopamine and oxytocin are flowing in people’s brains as they eat refined carbs and spend money.

What’s really at issue here is the following;

1. The need for municipal politicians to be labelled according to political party. This is terrible for communities. The role of a municipal politician is to weigh information and make rational decisions for the long term health and well being of an entire community, not some portion of it that shares broader ideological bents.

2. The characterization of conservatives as ill-informed, anti-environment, anti-transit, etc. (you know, the opposite of Truper McBride). IF I was a conservative (I’ve actually voted for a different party in every provincial and federal election, including a vote for the PC party on the last round), I’d be mildly pissed at the inferences that the editor is making in his attempts to discredit Truper (and by extension, Joann Churchill).  I know lots of smart, ambitious and politically motivated conservatives. And Liberals. And NDP candidates.

I will give the editor some credit in his observation that politics is changing, and that your “grandfather’s conservatives” are no longer as well represented. He points out that it’s been awhile since a premier made a rude gesture at an environmentalist, or dismissed another parties work as “crap”.  Because, apparently, those are very desirable characteristics in a conservative politician. Rude and dismissive. Nothing beats reinforcing stereotypes while simultaneously trying to create your own.

I don’t know who I’m voting for in the upcoming election, but I think I’ve figured out my system: vote for the candidate that the Cochrane Eagle tries to discredit the most.

So far it’s one point for Joann Churchill.

 

 

The status quo

Status Quo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to actually move systems in the direction that we want them to go. I’ve written previously about things like transit in Cochrane, so I’ll use that as an example.

First off, the diagram above shows my thinking around the “status quo”. Too often we think of it as a point in time, instead of the path through time that it really is. What we’ll have tomorrow is more of today, unless we do something different. Pretty straightforward.

I think what often stops those game-changing paradigm shifts in society is the sheer magnitude of the change, the large gap between the “status quo” and the “?” in the above diagram. But what if we didn’t have to make that huge leap tomorrow? What if instead we shifted in a smaller, more manageable way?

Take, for example, the proposed expansion of the Spray Lakes Family Leisure Centre here in Cochrane. Recently Town Council was presented with some initial reports that suggested a 54 million dollar price tag for a new pool and curling rink. I’ll save the obvious thoughts around “why we need more sheets of ice where people can chase rocks around and drink beer instead of just about any other project I can think of” for some other blog post.

Proposed rec center expansion

What caught my attention was the need to potentially construct up to one thousand more parking stalls to accomodate these new facilities. 1000 parking stalls.

Here’s a thought. Build a parkade on the Quarry (the old domtar site). Make it free parking. Charge a couple of bucks for parking at the leisure center. Run a free shuttle bus every 20 minutes back and forth from the Quarry to the leisure center.

What would that accomplish? First of all, we’d save some serious space down at the leisure center for things like grass (always nice to have) and further expansion of the facility. Second, all the merchants on the Quarry site would see a significant boost in traffic. Who wouldn’t grab a quart of milk and eggs at Sobey’s after running at the track? Or a coffee before they head down to watch the game? Third, it would be a great dip of the toe into the transit market. Try it for a year or two. Not working? Go ahead and build another thousand parking stalls.

Who knows, it might be the sort of small shift that leads to something altogether different than the “pave paradise, put up a parking lot” path we seem to be on.

Good to the last drop.

I had the privilege of attending a “Water Conversation” last night here in Cochrane. It brought together a range of interested folks (from normal citizens to town employees and businessman) to chat about 4 key areas related to water, and was facilitated by folks from WaterSmart. There was also representation from Alberta Energy and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB)…not surprising given that one of the areas under discussion was hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

I’m not going to be able to encapsulate the whole discussion, but a few interesting things popped out for me.

Water usage: Did you know the average Canadian uses 329 liters of water a day? (The average Albertan uses 350L). Compare this to places like France (150L/day) and Sweden (200L). Same, or better, standard of living…half the water consumption.

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 1.53.17 PM

Water cost: How much do those 350L cost you? The answer…not nearly enough.

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 1.53.29 PM

So what does this look like for Cochrane? Well, if you’ve been reading the Cochrane Sustainability Plan Progress Reports (which I know you have), you would have noticed that the 2011 average for Cochrane was 203L/person/day! This is thanks in large part to an innovative pricing scheme, where residents and businesses pay a tiered rate for water consumption, along with good educational programs.

For the first 25 cubic meters (25000L!), you pay 1.13/meter ($0.00113/L). For 26-60 cubic meters, you pay $1.51/1000L. Anything over 60,000L/month and you pay $2.25 per 1000L.  This tiered rate is in and of itself pretty innovative, but I argue that it’s still too cheap.

If the goal is to continue to reduce TOTAL water consumption (not just per/capita), then we’re going to have to take things to the next level. The flow of the Bow River doesn’t change, and Cochrane’s population is growing rapidly. This scenario will result in water scarcity issues, regardless of how efficiently we’re currently using water.

A couple of ideas:

  1. Make the first 40L/person/day FREE. Totally free. Water should be a right, just like the air we breathe. 40L should provide for drinking, cooking and basic sanitation. After 40L….charge the hell out of it. Triple or quadruple the current pricing scheme. Make me think about how much water I’m using, and give me an economic incentive to use less. At 1/10th of a cent per liter…I don’t even blink when I flush the toilet. And I drive a truck on vegetable oil.
  2. Create bylaws around grey water recycling. All the water that goes down the sink or the bathtub could be reused to flush toilets, or recycled and used for watering the garden. Using expensive, treated water for EVERYTHING is unsustainable.
  3. Develop a full-cost accounting structure for water, from intake to discharge. Include that price in the consumption of the commodity. Change the tiered structure so that the thresholds are much lower.

There were some interesting conversations around “private management” of water resources here in the province. A lot of us at the table were pretty leery of that idea, although business certainly has a track record of improving efficiency and getting products to markets in the leanest way possible. What about a social business or non profit? Someone tasked with managing the resource, but not standing to make a killing from it?

I highly recommend you get acquainted with what’s going on with water resources in this province, because it’s changing quickly. Check out the water conversation here (you have until FRIDAY APRIL 12th to contribute to the online survey).

Information? No thanks.

As Judy Stewart (a long time steward of all things environmental in Cochrane) put it recently, the silly season has begun. Unfortunately, it’s actually been around for quite some time around a few hot topics in town (namely transit).

Recently, there was a motion before Town Council here in Cochrane that read:

That Council directs administration to prepare and submit a Transit Implementation Plan to the Alberta Transportation Green TRIP incentives program to confirm capital funding approval.

Now, you would think that this sort of motion wouldn’t cause a lot of fuss, and seems like a logical step in a process that’s been running now for a couple of years. Namely because the Green TRIP funding for Cochrane has already been approved (to a total of 6.1 million dollars), and this request is merely asking for information from the province, on which future decisions could be made. (Read the recommendations here).

Of course, if you’re a counsellor who’s already made up your mind that Cochrane is too small for transit, then this information is irrelevant, maybe even inconvenient, for your unwavering opinion on the matter. It seems that Councillor’s Brooker and Toews aren’t just anti-transit, they also take issue with gathering information on the topic.

I’m not always certain of the qualities I like most in a politician, but a stubborn unwillingness to gather the appropriate information prior to making major decisions that have long term impacts on the growth of a community, certainly isn’t one of them.

Bring on the silly season.

Transit and Windmills and NIMBY’s (oh my!)

It’s been awhile since I weighed in on Cochrane’s controversial topics (currently transit and windmills). Let’s start with windmills.

Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter in the local papers about plans for a 5kW wind turbine that’s proposed for the Cochrane High School. For those that aren’t familiar with this school, they’ve been on the leading edge of sustainable development since 2000. A group of their students beat me out of an Alberta Emerald Award a few years ago (much deserved!). I’m not going to dive into the details of this ongoing drama, preferring instead to comment on a couple of things that come to mind.

First, there was a recent motion (by the mayor) at Town Council to develop an alternative energy framework for projects such as this. I think this is a splendid idea…so long as it’s sole focus isn’t on some minority groups definition of “unsightly”. There’s also talk of asking the high school to put their windmill project on hold until this framework is completed. I think that’s a terrible idea….unless we’re halting all development projects until the appropriate “framework” is in place. Trying to establish this framework at this time is going to encourage the NIMBY’s No Turbine’s in Town Coalition (NTTC) to direct their pent-up rage towards a document that is going to be around for a long time. The project should go in front of the Alberta Utilities Board for consideration, as the next step in due process for these students.

Diversifying our aging electricity grid with sustainable local energy production is critical.

Next up: Transit. Oh god. The issue that seemingly won’t go away, prompted in large part by one of the local papers. On page 2 of the Cochrane Eagle this week was a column with no fewer than 17 questions, disguised loosely as an editorial.

Is it a convenience for the few paid for by the many? Does it make sense for taxpayers to subsidize a bus service taking shoppers to another city?

I have a feeling those questions aren’t being asked out of curiosity.

Having followed the transit discussion for some time, it’s intriguing to me that the town is catching such flack over the issue (then again, I’m regularly intrigued by what get’s published sometimes…). Sure, they jumped out of the gate pretty hard off the bat, but since then they’ve taken feedback, slowed down the process, listened to people’s concerns and come back to the table with 3 very reasonable and affordable approaches to phasing in transit (an identified community need). What seems to be the issue at hand comes back to some very vocal people who disagree with the finding’s of a variety of robust Ipsos Reid polls and surveys, which concluded that there is general support of transit in the community.

Disagreeing with something doesn’t make it any less true….whether it’s a windmill or a bus.

The do’s and don’ts of debate.

It’s been an interesting couple of months of discussion here in Cochrane about the implementation (or not) of a public transportation system. Thankfully, members of Town Council have seen the light a bit and realized that a public plebiscite on the matter is not in the interests of anyone and have rescinded that plan. Public engagement is moving forward though, which should have been the approach in the first place (not just with transit).

What’s been most interesting is listening to the arguments posed by opponents and proponents of transit, and asking some questions about the kinds of arguments. Not everything that people say or write is a valid reason that ultimately supports their point.

The DON’Ts and DO’s of debate:

Don’t make it personal. It’s called an “ad hominem” (personal attack), and is a staple of elections the world over. When trying to build a community, it takes the community out of it and makes it about individuals.

Don’t try and oversimplify. It’s not simple. That’s OK. Trying to reduce complex decisions down to “it’s all about my taxes” doesn’t do the discussion, or the community, any favors.

Don’t provide misleading information. Apparently there was a time when we were going to build the bus barns on top of the Lion’s rodeo grounds in Glenbow. Because that was likely to happen.

Don’t throw the kitchen sink into the mix. Remember the logo “fiasco”? What about the Humane Society funding? Unrelated but emotional arguments are called “Red Herrings“. They may have a ring of truth, but because they’re not actually related to what’s being discussed, they help to distract people from the matter at hand

Do present your case with facts, figures, stories… evidence works in the courtroom, and should be provided to back up arguments wherever possible.

Do stay focused and find agreement on what is actually being discussed. Obviously some people in this town want to talk about tax increases. Others want to discuss mobility for youth. Still others wonder about increased economic opportunities. Finding agreement on the topic at hand helps immensely.

Do get informed. The information is out there, usually at your fingertips on the internet or an easy phone call to someone involved.

There we are, my top couple of favorite false and misleading kinds of arguments. For more on these and other types of argumentation, I highly recommend checking out Anthony Weston’s “A rulebook for arguments”.

Why not pay Calgary Transit to provide service in Cochrane?

I must admit, this question hadn’t actually crossed my mind until it was brought up in conversation recently. I don’t think it’s a feasible idea for a variety of reasons, but I do intend to follow up with some folks that would know the intricacies better than I.

Recent editorial cartoon in the Cochrane Eagle.

1. There’s no doubt that Calgary transit would charge more for the service. Why? Because they’re having a hard enough time providing service to a rapidly growing city, and to justify the additional complexity of getting equipment and drivers to Cochrane would necessitate charging us more than what it would cost to do ourselves (due to both economic and political reasons).

2. The politics. Calgary Transit is run by the City of Calgary. The City of Calgary is run by administrators who report to the elected City Council. City Council is elected by the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Calgary. Nowhere in that loop is there a mechanism for providing transit services to Cochrane (because we don’t pay city taxes or vote in city elections), unless we’re looking at being annexed by the city and paying into the city pot. We can’t even get a new logo approved in this town. Can you imagine the idea of being annexed by Calgary? So much for the “small town feel” that we all love…

3. The trend of de-centralization. There are certain services that do well with some central organization (something like education, which should usually be uniformly applied across the province). Things like municipal services need to be delivered at the local level. The people directly affected by services should try to retain as much control as possible on that service delivery, so that it best suits the needs of the community (and is flexible and adaptable to changing needs). Imagine if we needed to add a bus route, or change a route…easier to do from the RancheHouse or from City Hall in Calgary? Where do you have more influence?

I’m not suggesting that there isn’t some room for the integration of transit services. It would be great if holding a bus pass in Cochrane got you discounts in the city, or if you could purchase an integrated pass so that you can access the system in the city. Perhaps even the express shuttle from Cochrane to Calgary could be a joint project with Calgary Transit. What I am suggesting is that the notion of Calgary Transit providing local service in Cochrane has about the same likelihood of coming about as, say, the Man of Vision logo being reworked (and not causing a 6-month uproar in the media).

I’ll report back with any information I dig up from people that know significantly more about transit in the YYC area than myself. Stay tuned.