July 22nd, 2024

City Notebook: Calgarians teetering on water conservation as need to do so extends

By Collin Gallant on June 15, 2024.

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Calgary will stay at its highest alert level for water use for sometime, the bad news came late Friday.

Now a state of emergency may be used to limit commercial water use, and create no end of complaints, it’s almost assured.

And not just about a broken pipe but also broken communication – as judged by the general public – about avoiding laundry or watering grass.

Calls of ‘What’s allowed?’, ‘what’s not?’, ‘what’s the real problem here?’, and ‘I’ve got a good idea!’ will ring out like a slow motion accident.

That may or may not be preventable, but should have been addressed by now.

Consider that right now, Alberta is in”Stage 4″ of water alerts since last year due to drought fears. (A stage 5 was added last year, though few people knew about it).

Calgary is at Stage 4 (highest) of local water restrictions, though that doesn’t extend to businesses.

Medicine Hat’s level is presently Stage 1 – voluntary lawn sprinkler reductions – but find any mention of it since April and win a cigar… or any promotion of the city’s own parks plan, for that matter.

It’s sure to be a point of consternation should more stringent water measures arrive in the Hat, especially when Hatters feel put upon, then drive by a green park and assume nothing’s being done behind the scenes.

Similarly, Calgary city hall got called out on queue on day five of the current news cycle for poor communication, though, “A pipe is broken; limit your water use,” seems fairly straight forward.

And some people tense up when presented with disruption, shortages or largely innocuous requests to pitch in.

Another communications disaster – the pandemic – should have provided enough proof of need for standard set of terms and to make a base case for collective action.

Similarly, reaction to last winter’s Alberta power emergencies ran along the same sort of vein. Lots of Hatters acted to help out, some didn’t, but everybody is left asking, if city hall is all lit up, what difference does my back porch make?

Perhaps, when it all boils down there’s just no pleasing people when presenting bad or difficult news.

Perhaps governments should have figured that out by now and have started with presenting the unvarnished, unmanaged truth.

That seems both easier and maybe more effective.

Catching up

– Derek Van Diest and Jeremy St. Louis were roommates and competitors when the pair worked for the Medicine Hat News and CHAT Television, respectively, here in the early 2000s.

Van Diest is now an Edmonton-based reporter for NHL.com, and St. Louis for NBC Sports based in Ft. Lauderdale. The pair recently had an on-air reunion in the Sunshine State to preview the Stanley Cup series.

– Dave Leflar, who spent a stint city clerk in Medicine Hat in 2010-2012 – sandwiched between long-haulers Larry Godin and Angela Cruickshank – has recently retired as the city solicitor in the City of St. Albert.

A look ahead

City council meets Monday and closed-door discussions could prioritize the to-do list in the city solicitor’s office. That could speed up the implementation of a city integrity commissioner. The legal department is engaged in several major projects, including a review of the local Escort Bylaw after an unsuccessful court challenge this winter.

The city’s initial financial report of 2024 is also due this week.

100 years ago

Rotarians marked out two walking trails in the city with painted markers, the News noted this week in 1924. The “Red,” or Crowsnest Trail, extended as far as the Swan Farm, near the Ajax coal mine, while “Green” headed east from N. Railway Street.

The success of the annual Winnifred picnic could be owed to rain the previous day that imbued an optimism into the proceedings. Victorious in the boys and girls sack races were V. Wickram, Dotty Adams, Robert Parker and Rosie Dewald.

A man who lubricated a drunken brawl at Walsh with homemade moonshine was given a one-month jail term and fined $200. Gottlief Pahl was arrested by the Alberta Provincial Police, which later discovered several crocks of mash at his Irvine-area farm.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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