Thursday, July 30, 2015

No Help for Calgary's Snowtember!

Although Beiseker was spared the big snow hit last September which damaged or killed over a million trees in the City of Calgary, I share Mayor Nenshi's frustration with the provincial decision to deny any help for the city.  This could be setting a dangerous precedent! 

Calgary applied for just over $28 million dollars to help with the costs of that terrible storm.  The trees were still in leaf and the weight of that heavy wet snow broke them down by the thousands.  There were major power outages and traffic snarls.  Homes, vehicles and a few people were hit by falling trees and branches.  Many parts of the city's infrastructure was damaged.  Snow-tember adversely affected more of the city than did the floods of 2013!  It was the biggest storm event of its type in over 130 years!

Yet the province has decided that it did not qualify for any kind of disaster relief. 

I worry about this decision.  In my mind this could mean that if an environmental disaster should hit another municipality, that municipality maybe left on its own to solve (and pay for) the problem!  Beiseker is just now starting to rebuild its modest contingency fund after the huge snows of December 2013 and January 2014.  What if another similar incident happens this winter?  Will we be left out in cold to fend for ourselves?  I worry.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Springbank and Rocky Mountain House Airshows!

Airports cost money.  The larger the airport; the more money it costs.  But airports also provide services not otherwise available in the area, and they attract businesses with money!  In fact it has been shown in studies that airports, overall, are a huge economic boost for the city or town operating them.

Unfortunately airports must remain aloof to the community they serve.  Security measures have been getting ever tighter since September 11, 2001, and keep onlookers away - so the goings on at an airport remains a mystery to most.

In comes the air show!  Airshows provide a perfect venue for folks to visit an airport and get "up close and personal" with planes, pilots, aero mechanics, airport operators and security people.  It's a friendly, exciting, but safe chance to see things not usually visible to most visitors at an airport.

This week I had the privilege of attending air shows at two airports which have realized the importance of an air show to their very existence!  Springbank's show, called Wings Over Springbank, went ahead last weekend.  It was originally the Airdrie Air Show, but relocated back in March to the Springbank Airport west of Calgary.

The second show was the Rocky Mountain House Air Show, at the Rocky Mountain House Airport, on Wednesday evening.

I enjoyed both shows immensely!  Thousands of visitors came it to marvel at the amazing flying performances of both Canadian and American aerobats.

photo courtesy
Amanda Courtman
Canada's magnificent Snowbirds flew for everyone at Springbank, but hail damaged some of their planes so their Rocky Mountain performance was cancelled.  These young pilots are significantly younger than their Canadian built planes!  They fly the nine training jets with precision, professionalism, and dedication, characteristics of RCAF pilots. 

Next time you have the opportunity to visit an air show, take it.  You won't be disappointed.

Here's a shout out to all those dedicated volunteers at both of this week's shows.  They did an awesome job!

Monday, July 20, 2015

First Avenue Railway Crossing

photo by Mathieu Tremblay, via Flickr
Many of you have expressed concern over the condition of the railway crossing on First Ave.,past the Public Works Compound.

The crossing itself was upgraded a while back but the pavement leading up to it on both sides had to be removed.  The railway has informed us that they will soon have a crew in the area to repair and repave those small sections of road at all of those crossing upgrades.  They haven't given us a timeline for that to happen, but right now it's pretty bad there!

The Village Office will contact CN Rail today and tell them of our concerns.

As for the rest of that road from the Public Works Compound to that CNR crossing, council is examining our options.  Totally rebuilding that road would be cost prohibitive.  It has been suggested that we simply close that road and rely on our other entrances and exits into town.

I think both of those options are out of the question.  There must be a way to resurface that road without it costing the village much of its street repairs budget.  The pipeline company has agreed to help out where their crossing is.

If you have an opinion or a suggestion, contact the Beiseker Village Office at 403-947-3774.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What's Killing our Trees?

Many have noticed that several of the beautiful big poplar trees between Beacon Heights and North Road are sick and/or dying. The problem started a couple of years ago at the east end  and has proceeded West at an alarming rate.

The Village of Beiseker has recently taken steps to find out why these trees are dying.  I was totally shocked when preliminary soil tests revealed a high concentration of chemicals in the ground killing the trees!  How the chemicals got there is a mystery. More testing will be done to pinpoint the concentrations and hopefully track down their source.

I'm having trouble believing that anyone would purposefully poison these poplar trees but I must consider all possibilities.  I'm hoping it was some kind of an innocent accident.  If you can shed any light on this mystery please contact the Beiseker Village Office at 403-947-3774.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Watch for Cyclists!

I applaud the City of Calgary for initiating the new bike lane pilot project in the city core.  They are obviously well used and very effective, during the summer months anyway.

I have had issues with a couple of cyclists using those lanes, however.

This past week I have been driving to Stampede Park to do a bit of volunteering there during the Calgary Stampede.  On two instances, I have been making a left turn from westbound 9th Avenue onto southbound 4th street with the green arrow turn light in my favor.  On both occasions I have had to suddenly stop mid-intersection to avoid an eastbound cyclist in the bike lane proceed through on what would be a red light for him.

Neither cyclist seemed concerned that he had proceeded through the intersection on a red and came close to being a new hood ornament on my car..  Both appeared to consider themselves invincible.

My word to drivers; watch for cyclists in these cycle lanes who have yet to learn traffic safety rules!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Animal Safety at the Calgary Stampede

Last Saturday evening at the Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Races, a horse was injured and had to be put down.

The event has brought out those folks who are demanding that the "Chucks" - and even the rodeo events themselves - be banned from the Stampede.  I totally disagree with them!

I regard all animals involved with humans as working animals who need our respect and our protection.  That includes every critter - from police dogs to race horses to beef cattle to Fluffy, my neighbor's cat.  All of them deserve our respect!

Some animal jobs are more dangerous than others.  Animal safety groups have an important role in making sure all animals are working and living in an environment as safe as possible. 

Huge steps have been made over the years to make all manner of horse racing as safe as possible for the horses involved, but accidents do happen.  I believe the Calgary Stampede is a leader in animal safety.  Rules for all animal events are constantly being revised to make sure those events are as safe as possible.  I've been watching rodeo and chuckwagon racing for more than sixty years and I've seen dozens of changes designed to make the event safe for the animals!

Accidents will happen in any animal job.  Race horses are often injured on the track, sled dogs sometimes suffer from the cold, police horses are sometimes struck by rioters!  In 2003, two Calgary Police dogs died when the AC in their police car failed, and another police dog was shot by a fleeing culprit.  Accidents do happen.  But we need to make them as infrequent as we possibly can.

Most chuckwagon horses are former racehorses, which have not performed to the liking of their owners.  In many cases, their futures are limited to the chuckwagon world or the slaughter house!  In my experience, I've seen chuckwagon horses well cared for and living as part of that chuckwagon family.  Last evening one chuckwagon driver was really emotional while explaining to the media how he'd decided to retire an 18 year old horse in his team.  The horse had pulled his wagon for 14 years and was now going to live out his life retired to the driver's farm.  Not a bad life for a critter who might have ended up on someone's dinner plate (or, in dog food) years ago!

To those animal safety groups, I say please continue your work making all our working animals as safe as possible, but be realistic at the same time.  I think rodeo and chuckwagon racing will always be a part of the Canadian West and The Calgary Stampede, but the events will constantly be changing to make them as safe as possible.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Where to Go, When You Have to Go!

If you've been following the Village of Beiseker's Facebook page, you might have seen that Beiseker is taking heat for one business refusing to allow visitors to use their washroom facilities.  One business is again being singled out repeatedly, as being rude and obnoxious to visitors wanting to use the washrooms. 

I've addressed this problem once before in this blog, but obviously it still persists.  Every summer, we get numerous complaints from folks who ultimately vow never to visit Beiseker again.  This latest complaint will probably be the first of many this year.

I don't have the answer for this problem.  Business owners have the right to dictate how their property is operated.  They have the right to limit washroom use to customers only.  But I believe that all of Beiseker suffers, as more and more comments about our "Unfriendly Village" pop up on social media and by word of mouth. 

We already have a public washroom at the Beiseker Campground.  A solution may be to build a another public washroom facility in Legacy Park, next to the Village Office.  That would be expensive and it would have to be cleaned and maintained by the Village throughout the year.  During the summer, we place a portable latrine behind the Information Booth in Legacy Park for "emergencies". 

Visitors may also use the washrooms at the Village Office during office hours.

But I wonder - is that all we can do?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

'Ya Hoo!' for the 2015 Calgary Stampede!

"Ya Hoo!" is the call (actually the paddle signs) of Harry the Horse!  Calgary is famous for its Stampede, and the 2015 edition of that event started on Friday and is now in full swing! 

I watched the Stampede Parade on TV.  I got a chuckle over the CBC narrators who were brought in from Eastern Canada to describe the parade.  I hope they get to spend more time here, to get a real feeling of who Western Canadians are.

I'm less involved with the Stampede this year.  I usually volunteer down at Stampede Park almost every day of the ten day festival.  This year, projects here at home in Beiseker are limiting my time in the city.  I plan to volunteer a couple of days this coming week but that's about it!  

This is the second year of the agricultural exhibitors using the new Agrium Western Events Centre at Stampede Park.  I hope you get a chance to check it out.  I'm anxious to see it in operation this year too because Aggie Days is moving in there for its 2016 show!  I'm excited about the move.

I enjoy the Stampede Rodeo and the "Chucks," and I hope to take in at least one running of those events. Otherwise I will be watching the excellent coverage on CBC.  Overall, it's shaping up to be a great Stampede.  I hope you get a chance to take part in the annual festival!