Friday, June 29, 2012

Legion Track Renewal

I just received the note below from our facilities maintenance department:

The Legion Track resurfacing project is well underway!  

The Facility Maintenance Department is landscaping the interior perimeter of the track to address drainage issues, repairing irrigation lines as needed, removing the old rubber crumb track surface and installing the new track surface.  We may have the opportunity to install the new long jump pits as well, but this depends heavily on our strict time frame.

Work will continue for approximately 5 – 6 weeks.  During this time, access to the track is limited to construction workers and City employees wearing safety vests.  There will be one Drillers football game as scheduled on July 7th .

Once the project is complete, vehicles will no longer be allowed on the track for any reason.  When crossing the track with mowers, light trucks, tractors etc.. rubber mats will be available to place across the track surface.  Any and all vehicles including City vehicles will need to stay on the gravel path on the south side of the track or travel in the grass areas on the exterior perimeter of the track. Please ensure that summer staff without email access are aware of these changes.

Feel free to forward this email to affected user groups throughout the City of Grande Prairie.  Thank you for your patience over the next few weeks. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grande Prairie is the Youngest City in Canada

The demographic breakdown of our area from the 2011 census was released recently by StatsCan. The attached charts show how the city and county populations break down by age.

Both graphs are on the same scale to make comparison easier.

 Some interesting ways I found to look at the data….

• The City has more people under the age of 20 (15340) than the County has over the age of 20 (14230). That is to say that our population of school aged residents is larger than the whole adult population of the County. 

• The City's median age has risen slightly to 30.3. (the County's median age is 36.8), which is still MUCH younger than Canada as a whole (40.6).

• Grande Prairie can legitimately lay claim to being the YOUNGEST city in the province. 

Our median age of 30.3 is lower than ALL other Alberta cities: 
Camrose & Wetaskiwin both 41.2, St. Albert 40.2, Medicine Hat 39.8, Sherwood Park 39.1, Lethbridge 37.4, Lacombe 37.1, Calgary 36.4, Edmonton 36.0, Fort Sask 35.4, Red Deer 34.7, Leduc 34.0, Brooks 33.8, Spruce Grove 33.7, Airdrie 32.4, Wood Buffalo 31.8, Cold Lake 30.5

• Grande Prairie is also  the YOUNGEST city in Canada over 10,000 in population. 

If you include cities under 10,000, we are the fourth youngest behind only Lloydminster (the Saskatchewan side only), Martensville, SK and Iqaluit, NU.
If you broaden the list to include all communities (which includes counties and MDs) over 10,000, we are the third youngest community in Canada behind Mackenzie County, Alberta and Hanover, Manitoba

• The old data a point of "More people under the age of 4 than over the age of 65" still holds true for the City of GP. (0-4 = 4840, 65+ = 3420)

The skewing of our city's population obviously leads to some unique challenges (we're going to need more schools for sure - especially a the elementary level) but I believe it also is one of the reasons our city is so dynamic and active. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sir Elton John - In Grande Prairie

Now how's THIS for entertainment at the Crystal Centre?

Thursday, April 26th

GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB – Elton John will perform solo at Crystal Centre on Thursday, April 26th at 8PM performing his “Greatest Hits Live” concert, featuring number one chart hits and classic album tracks from throughout his incredible five-decade career. This will be Elton’s first ever appearance in Grande Prairie.

The public on-sale will begin Friday, February 10th at 10 AM.

One of the most successful live acts on the road today, Elton puts on the kind of concert you will never forget: the entire audience standing, dancing and singing along with much-loved classic songs such as “Your Song”, “Rocket Man”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Philadelphia Freedom”, “Crocodile Rock”, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, and many more.

"It's a thrill to be able to welcome a star of Sir Elton John's stature to Grande Prairie. His legendary performances have entertained millions worldwide and seeing him live at the Crystal Centre is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Grande Prairie Mayor, Bill Given.

The monumental career of international singer/songwriter and performer Elton John spans five decades. He is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, 29 consecutive Top 40 hits, and he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. John holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time, “Candle in the Wind ’97,” which sold over 33 million copies. Since his career began in 1969 he has played over 3,000 concerts worldwide.

Tickets are $91.50, $151.50 and will be available online at, at the Crystal Centre box office or charge-by-phone at (780) 538-0387.

A service charge is added to each ticket. There is an 8 ticket limit per customer. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Taxi Bylaw - Missing the Point

At tonight's council meeting one of the agenda items will be the third and final reading of the proposed changes to the sections of the city's business licence bylaw that deal with regulations around taxis. The discussion about the changes has been covered in the media many times - and most of the time the media focus in on the proposed "cap" on the number of taxis that the city would licence to operate.

As of right now the "cap" has been stripped out of the bylaw. That happened at our last council meeting when a number of council members objected to it and a motion was made to pass the bylaw with out that section. If the bylaw passes "as is" tonight then we will have no cap on the number of taxi licences that the city will issue.

Much of the attention during the debate has been on how this is "government interfering with the free market". Unfortunately I think that point of view fails to take into account why the cap was proposed in the first place - it provides us a lever which we can use to encourage the taxi industry to provide better service ... specifically to people with mobility issues.

The bylaw stated that we would limit the number of taxi licenses to 173 and review that number every two years to see if it needed to be adjusted. The bylaw also made allowances for drivers who operated in 2010 but missed the registration deadline due to personal circumstances - they were allowed to reregister and that brought the number of registered taxis to about 206... already well above the "cap".

(Of note is that Red Deer also has a limit on the number of taxis: 1 per 750 people ... or about 110 total based on the most current population of 82,772. If our cap worked on the same ratio of 1/750 our cap would have been 67 units. The Red Deer Taxi Bylaw)

The thing about "The Cap" is that it does not prevent new taxis from coming on the the road. Anyone could licence a new taxis - IF it was either wheelchair accessible OR a hybrid.

I will be the first to admit that there is no question that this would be an example of government regulating of private enterprise. But the truth is that we already regulate the taxi industry in many ways and I feel this is a reasonable way for us to encourage the industry to begin providing service to a good portion of our population who have very few options for transportation. I also think it's kind of like saying we welcome new businesses BUT you have to provide a handicap stall in your parking lot - not an unreasonable request.

The funny thing is that much of the taxi industry is in SUPPORT of the cap.

The cap would provide a financial incentive for private business to invest in bringing wheelchair accessible taxis to the city. Basically we are saying that we have enough old police cars out on the streets and that if you want to bring a new unit to the city to do business it should be wheelchair accessible (or a hybrid).

So tonight council will debate the third and final reading of the taxi bylaw... without the cap. If no changes are made and the bylaw is passed as is we will loose that lever, that incentive, that the cap provided to encourage taxi operators to bring wheelchair accessible taxis to the city.

It makes me think of how we managed to get the last accessible taxi on the street (pics)- by giving a $20,000 grant to do it. If we had had a cap in place at the time maybe the city wouldn't have had to do that. I think it's telling that there have been no new accessible taxis since the city last contributed money to make it happen ... unless there's some kind of financial incentive then industry won't do it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome to 2012

We are now a week in to 2012 and so far it doesn't seem like the end of the world. Unseasonably warm, yes. But end-of-the-world hot ... I don't think so.

2011 was a busy year; for me personally, in the region and here at city hall. In fact I was so busy that my last post was back in October which is pretty sad. So like everyone else I guess I'd better have a New Year's Resolution - I'm going to set a goal of one post every week. Let's see how it goes.

Looking back at 2011 there were a number of projects started, completed and celebrated. I believe the most significant  was the development of Council's new Strategic Plan. The plan sets out Council's values, priorities and goals for the balance of the term.

Some of the most important goals are aimed directly at reducing the need for future property tax increases by addressing the financial foundation and framework the city operates within. These goals are:

  • Develop a fiscal sustainability model
  • Prepare a post-annexation plan
  • Prepare a strategy to encourage industrial land development

The exercise of working through the Strategic Plan ensured that each council member and administration had a chance to develop a shared understanding of what our collective priorities were. This collective focus  is what enabled us to pass a 3 year budget that provides the lowest tax increases in a decade while still reinvesting in the infrastructure and services that our community needs.

In 2011 we did the big stuff. We set out our long term strategic goals and developed the budget that will provide the financial resources to work towards them over the next 3 years.

So what does that leave for 2012? That'll have to be next week's post...


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