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EXCLUSIVE: $3-billion project west of Calgary shelved – city hall, NDP board blamed

The backer of a massive $3-billion development to be built just west of Calgary has shelved the project, and they are blaming it partly on the formation of a board the NDP created when they were in power.

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The backer of a massive $4-billion development to be built just west of Calgary has shelved the project, and they are blaming it partly on the formation of a board the NDP created when they were in power.

“We have decided to remove ourselves as a funding group … although we will remain a presence in MD of Rocky View, economically, we have decided to shelve the Gardner project,” Ryan O’Connor, president of Western Securities (WS) wrote in an email to the Kenney government obtained by the Western Standard.

“For the last 16 years, we have tried to obtain approval for a mixed use residential / commercial development with over 2,000 homes and approximately 300,000 sq.ft. of retail / commercial development.  We have even proposed seniors housing and a sports centre. 

“The project would take approximately 15 years to complete and would employ hundreds of people.  When completed, its value would be well over $3 billion, adding significantly to the tax base of Rocky View County.

And Western is laying the blame directly at the city of Calgary and the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, which controls development in the counties around the city.

“At every turn, Calgary has blocked or bullied Rocky View County from approving the project.  This after us spending millions of dollars on planning and engineering studies.  And now, the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, with Calgary directing regional planning decisions, is the last straw for Western.,” O’Connor wrote in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

“Sadly, it isn’t just Calgary.  The urbans of the region vote together to stifle competition from the rurals (mainly due to the fact that Calgary provides water and wastewater to many of them and uses that to influence them to vote Calgary’s way).

“The CMRB was enacted by the NDP.  It is a fourth layer of bureaucracy that is driving investment away. It needs to go. Frankly, it’s not the Alberta way to hold down your neighbours so you can prosper.

“There is a need for regional planning on issues like transportation, waste management, recreation etc., but we do not need a behemoth board like the CMRB to make this happen.  This is an extra layer of red tape that makes Alberta less competitive.”

It’s not the first time a developer has gone against the CMRB. Other developments have battled with them including the Cross Irons Mill mall.

O’Connor said he had hoped for more from the Kenney UCP government.

“We would be delighted to meet with you and discuss this issue further.  I hope you’ll appreciate that we hung in this long hoping your party would win the election.  We believe in all the things Premier Kenney speaks of.  At the end of the day though we have a responsibility to run our business wisely. The time for action is now,” O’Connor ended his letter.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Southeast Alberta Liberal candidate charged with multiple assaults

Anwar Kamaran has been charged with one count of assault, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and three counts of failing to comply with an undertaking condition

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RCMP have charged a former provincial Liberal candidate with attacking three members of the same family.

In a release, Redcliff RCMP said they have charged Anwar Kamaran, of Walsh, about 50 km east of Medicine Hat, after two incidents on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9.

“On August 8, it is alleged that Mr. Kamaran assaulted a female in Walsh, and on August 9, assaulted two men.  All of the victims are from the same family,” the RCMP release said.

“Kamaran was arrested on August 9 and was held in custody until August 12 when he appeared in Medicine Hat Provincial Court. 

“He was released on several conditions including no contact with the victims and not to attend the Village of Walsh except under court ordered circumstances. 

“Mr. Kamaran has been charged with one count of assault, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and three counts of failing to comply with an undertaking condition.”

He will next appear in Medicine Hat court Sept. 16.

Kamaran was the Liberal candidate in the riding of Cypress-Medicine Hat in the 2019 provincial election.

He finished dead last with 219 votes. The UCP’s Drew Barnes won the seat.

A bio posted to the Alberta Liberal website said Kamaran “owns a Petro-Canada gas station in Walsh and also owns a trucking company. He speaks seven languages, has a fine arts diploma and is an accomplished musician. He is married with four children and in his spare time is a bodybuilder and kick boxer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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City decides to move proposed BLM mural from iconic downtown site

City council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary.

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A wave of public anger has convinced city officials not to paint over a beloved downtown mural with a new Black Lives Matter one.

The controversy erupted after it was announced the Calgary Arts Development group had hired a organization called Pink Flamingo and was going to paint over a mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995, that has graced the outside of the downtown Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) building.

“As there has been unprecedented citizen support for Giving Wings, we are working with Pink Flamingo and CADA to explore new sites for a downtown BLM mural. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in negative and hostile messages directed at Pink Flamingo as a result of the recent media attention. We are working with Pink Flamingo and CADA to monitor social media and support the ongoing communications where appropriate,” Jennifer Thompson, acting manager for Arts and Culture for the city, said in email to councillors.

City council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary.

But Coun. Dianne Colley-Urqhart, who voted against the grant, said they weren’t told on any locations.

And she blamed Coun. Evan Wooley for the controversy.

“One of the council members made an end run around current policy to get this done,” she said.

Public art projects in Calgary have been suspended for about three years after controversy erupted after things like the Giant Blue Ring and the Bowfort Towers at the western edge of the city.

“I knew there was a risk for controversy. I’d never heard of these people (Pink Flamingo),” she said.

Colley-Urqhart said her office has been flood with complaints over news the mural would be painted over. An online petition to have it stopped drew thousands of names.

“I’m thrilled Calgarians have stepped up and have been heard,” she said.

As for arguments the mural was getting old Colley-Urqhart said she would support spending money to spruce it up, if needed.

Earlier Wednesday, councillors and an MP were up in arms about potentially losing the mural.

“This is devastating. This mural has stood for care and hope for decades for Calgary’s homeless, hungry and vulnerable. There are plenty of walls in our metropolis. Particularly given our high vacancy rate. Please pick another,” tweeted Stephanie Kusie, Calgary Midnapore MP.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek took to Facebook to say she thought council wasn’t given enough information when the proposal came before them.

“When the notice of motion for 4 BLM murals came before Council in mid-June, my primary concern was that Council was not provided enough time to review the proposal we would be voting on during the meeting.

“While I agreed that this type of initiative was a good one, my concerns had to do with logistics and process. Further, Councillor Farkas pointed out that a process for smaller grants was presently underway, and this project would jump the queue. I voted against the motion because I felt more consideration was needed to ensure that a project this significant was delivered in the best manner possible to respect the BLM mandate.”

Calgary Arts Development has set aside a budget of $20,000 for the first mural.

“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger told Global News.

“Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”

The mural measuring nine metres feet in height by 41 metres in width is seen by an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Calgarians per day due to its location opposite the Centre Street LRT station.

The CDA wants the murals done by the end of October. Artists have until Aug. 17 to submit their proposals.

Their ad states: “Candidates must be representative of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. Two Spirit, Indigiqueer, and Black LGBTQQIP2SA+ artists will be given priority for the Phase I mural. No mural painting experience is necessary to apply—we will work with artists of any experience level to achieve their design.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Anger grows over decision to paint over iconic mural with BLM one

Calgary councillor and an MP voice their disgust with decision

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Outrage is growing over plans to paint over a beloved Calgary mural and replace it with a Black Lives Matter one.

A mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995, has graced the outside of the downtown Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) building.

But after city council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary, Driediger’s mural will be painted over.

That has at least one Calgary councillor and an MP up in arms.

“This is devastating. This mural has stood for care and hope for decades for Calgary’s homeless, hungry and vulnerable. There are plenty of walls in our metropolis. Particularly given our high vacancy rate. Please pick another,” tweeted Stephanie Kusie, Calgary Midnapore MP.

Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart also took to Twitter to announce her anger.

“I am deeply opposed to the approach that is being used regarding the new BLM mural downtown. I feel it bypasses the approach of the Public Art review, skipping over the public engagement process. This is not a time when we need more controversy surrounding race relations,” she tweeted.

Calgary Arts Development has set aside a budget of $20,000 for the first mural.

“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger told Global News.

“Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”

The mural measuring nine metres feet in height by 41 metres in width is seen by an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Calgarians per day due to its location opposite the Centre Street LRT station.

The CDA wants the murals done by the end of October. Artists have until Aug. 17 to submit their proposals.

Their ad states: “Candidates must be representative of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. Two Spirit, Indigiqueer, and Black LGBTQQIP2SA+ artists will be given priority for the Phase I mural. No mural painting experience is necessary to apply—we will work with artists of any experience level to achieve their design.”

A petition to have to location of the BLM mural changed has received thousands of names.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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