News for December 2011

Swan Song: The Alcove’s Last Karaoke Night (video)

Swan Song: The Alcove’s Last Karaoke Night from RS Hardisty on Vimeo.

By Eric Fraser and RS Hardisty

Our term project for our Photo/Video class.

Eric Fraser
ericfraser.ca

RS Hardisty
rshardisty.com

Posted: December 20th, 2011
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Politician’s social media presence important to young voters (multimedia)

By Richard Hardisty

Click here to jump to a gallery of ten Canadian politicians on Twitter

Real mayors don’t tweet.

At least that’s what some mainstream Calgary news outlets have been saying.

But some young Calgarians believe that in the 21st century, being accessible is what politics is all about, and using Twitter and other social media tools is the way for a politician to stay in touch.

A recent column by Karin Klassen in The Herald suggested that Mayor Naheed Nenshi was spending too much time on the social media website Twitter, and such a distraction may be detrimental to his job.

Despite Klassen’s concerns, for many young voters a candidate or leader’s social media presence can play an integral role in determining whether this voting group will support them.

“It’s one thing to hop on the social media bandwagon to get elected, but someone who is willing and able to maintain it after the fact gets big points in my books,” said Kyle MacQuarrie.

MacQuarrie, a Mount Royal University student in his early 30s, said the maintenance is huge part for him because it means the candidate remains accessible while they’re in office.

Rob Ford, Toronto’s current mayor, and Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s current mayor, both have active Twitter profiles, as does New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Quick facts on Twitter.
Click here to expand, opens in new window

This type of social media presence isn’t just limited to mayors either.

At least half of Calgary’s 14 aldermen have Twitter profiles, with activity levels ranging from almost none (61 total tweets from Ward 14 Ald. Peter Demong) to highly active (just shy of 6,000 tweets from Ward 8 Ald. John Mar.)

The criticism hasn’t slowed Mayor Nenshi’s tweeting down.

He was especially active in the hours following the major windstorm that tore through Calgary on Nov. 27, tweeting information about the city’s efforts to restore the downtown core to a functional state.

“Nenshi usually tweets useful stuff,” Damien Prud’homme, 28, said.

“He was tweeting until after midnight about the status of the core after the storm, which I thought was cool.”

For some voters, the content of the information provided by a social media platform is just as important as having one.

“It’s good as long as they use it to disseminate actual information instead of nonsense,” Brent Reuther, 26, said.

The general consensus is clear: Accessibility is important.

With the rise of the Internet, people are becoming more and more accustomed to the idea of immediate accessibility.

As politicians (and campaign managers) who are social media savvy, including Mayor Nenshi, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and President Barack Obama, continue to become active in campaigning and in the political scene, it is likely the notion of an arms length disconnect between voter and candidate, or leader, will be a thing of the past.

When Nenshi was elected, his campaign was praised for its use of social media, though it is difficult to put into quantifiable numbers what impact it had.

But a Leger Marketing poll conducted a week before the election showed Nenshi’s support among the 18-34 age group swelling from nine per cent at the beginning of his campaign to 43 per cent.

Graham King, a 29-year-old former Calgarian, summed up his feelings about the situation succinctly via Facebook:

“Didn’t social media help Nenshi win?”

Please click here to view the article as published. (PDF format)


Check out Stephanie Buck’s great infographic on twitter titled ‘A Visual History of Twitter’ here:
http://mashable.com/2011/09/30/twitter-history-infographic/

Sysomos has published several reports on Twitter. You can find them here and here.

You can find a list of most or all the Canadian politicians on twitter here. Also on politwitter.ca is a live stream of the tweets sent by those accounts.

 

Posted: December 16th, 2011
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Portfolio Updated

I have updated my portfolio with the following:

5 articles and associated media, produced for SAIT’s Polytechnic Press
2 layout examples, 6 pages total also produced for SAIT’s Polytechnic Press

My portfolio page can be found under Pages menu (left), or by clicking here.

Posted: December 13th, 2011
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Politician’s social media presence important to young voters

Originally published Dec. 2, Polytechnic Press – Vol 12. Issue 6

By Richard Hardisty

Real mayors don’t tweet.

At least that’s what some mainstream Calgary news outlets have been saying.

But some young Calgarians believe that in the 21st century, being accessible is what politics is all about, and using Twitter and other social media tools is the way for a politician to stay in touch.

A recent column by Karin Klassen in The Herald suggested that Mayor Naheed Nenshi was spending too much time on the social media website Twitter, and such a distraction may be detrimental to his job.

Despite Klassen’s concerns, for many young voters a candidate or leader’s social media presence can play an integral role in determining whether this voting group will support them.

“It’s one thing to hop on the social media bandwagon to get elected, but someone who is willing and able to maintain it after the fact gets big points in my books,” said Kyle MacQuarrie.

MacQuarrie, a Mount Royal University student in his early 30s, said the maintenance is huge part for him because it means the candidate remains accessible while they’re in office.

Rob Ford, Toronto’s current mayor, and Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s current mayor, both have active Twitter profiles, as does New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

This type of social media presence isn’t just limited to mayors either.

At least half of Calgary’s 14 aldermen have Twitter profiles, with activity levels ranging from almost none (61 total tweets from Ward 14 Ald. Peter Demong) to highly active (just shy of 6,000 tweets from Ward 8 Ald. John Mar.)

The criticism hasn’t slowed Mayor Nenshi’s tweeting down.

He was especially active in the hours following the major windstorm that tore through Calgary on Nov. 27, tweeting information about the city’s efforts to restore the downtown core to a functional state.

“Nenshi usually tweets useful stuff,” Damien Prud’homme, 28, said.

“He was tweeting until after midnight about the status of the core after the storm, which I thought was cool.”

For some voters, the content of the information provided by a social media platform is just as important as having one.

“It’s good as long as they use it to disseminate actual information instead of nonsense,” Brent Reuther, 26, said.

The general consensus is clear: Accessibility is important.

With the rise of the Internet, people are becoming more and more accustomed to the idea of immediate accessibility.

As politicians (and campaign managers) who are social media savvy, including Mayor Nenshi, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and President Barack Obama, continue to become active in campaigning and in the political scene, it is likely the notion of an arms length disconnect between voter and candidate, or leader, will be a thing of the past.

When Nenshi was elected, his campaign was praised for its use of social media, though it is difficult to put into quantifiable numbers what impact it had.

But a Leger Marketing poll conducted a week before the election showed Nenshi’s support among the 18-34 age group swelling from nine per cent at the beginning of his campaign to 43 per cent.

Graham King, a 29-year-old former Calgarian, summed up his feelings about the situation succinctly via Facebook:

“Didn’t social media help Nenshi win?”

Please click here to view the article as published. (PDF format)

 

Posted: December 10th, 2011
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Petition aims to end occupation

Originally published Nov. 4, Polytechnic Press – Vol 12. Issue 4

By Richard Hardisty

The pressure increasing on Mayor Naheed Nenshi to call a halt to the Occupy Calgary camp in Olympic Plaza, opponents and supporters squared off Nov. 3 over which law should apply to the situation.

An online petition started Nov. 1 by failed Wildrose Party candidate, and founder of the now-defunct Alberta Independence Party, Cory Morgan, demanded the city move the protestors out of the park because they didn’t have a permit to be there.

“Can we get out of compliance with city bylaws simply by claiming that we are expressing ourselves for some vague cause? I don’t think so,” Morgan said in the blog post on his website that introduced the petition.

Confident that the City of Calgary would enforce other bylaws, such as snow removal or parking, Morgan questioned why an exception was being made for the group of demonstrators.

Under Calgary bylaw, it is illegal to set up a camp or a tent in a park without a permit.

With roughly 20 tents erected in the southwestern corner of Olympic Plaza, the protest appeared to be in violation of this bylaw.

But backers of the Plaza occupants took their stand on the constitution.

“(Morgan) should read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Jay Erickson, a long-time Calgarian, of the petition.

Under section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights, Canadians are guaranteed the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.

This freedom, which is considered closely related to the Freedom of Expression, means that as long as a protest remains peaceful, it is protected under law.

Erickson and others believe it’s these freedoms that should allow the demonstration to continue.

On his blog, Morgan cited an early ‘90s federal case in which a group attempted to set up camp on Parliament Hill to protest against the testing of cruise missiles in Canada.

The camp was shut down by the RCMP and when the case went to court, it was ruled that the removal of the camp did not infringe upon the organizer’s freedom of expression.

“I think the petition is great,” said Jane Morgan, a provincial director of the Wildrose Party, in a Twitter post.

Morgan admits that being married to Cory may mean she’s biased, but explains that she feels that the petition respects both the Charter and Calgary bylaws, allowing for a potentially fair resolution.

Specifically, the petition states:

“We support the Charter of Rights and the Constitution of Canada. ‘Occupy Calgary’ protestors may assemble and express their concerns daily. Having them abide by the laws imposed upon all Calgarians does not threaten or violate the Charter rights of this group.”

The issue may not be so cut and dried, as there is no clear legal language that differentiates words like “demonstrator” or “protestor” from “squatter.” Nor is there a timeline on how long someone can protest before they are considered to be squatting.

In a 2000-2001 Ontario provincial case, a group was charged with trespassing under the authority of the Speaker of the House.

The five individuals charged had previously been banned from Toronto’s Queen’s Park for protesting.

The group was charged when they attempted to protest in the area again.

The judge ruled in favour of the protestors, saying the freedom to protest on public land was a value cherished in a democratic society.

“I find the individual rights of the defendants on public property under the Charter outweigh the Speaker’s right to exclude,” the judge said.

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who represents Ward 13 on city council, recently conducted an online survey on whether the protestors should be allowed to stay.

The results, which she published on her website, showed an overwhelming majority of respondents, 71.4 per cent of the 871 people polled, believed the camp should be immediately removed.

But that sentiment wasn’t shared by all Calgarians.

“By telling them that they must leave now is like saying that the city has the power to determine when a protest is done being a protest, which I think would be wrong,” said Elena Cicnuk.

As long as the group continues to be peaceful and spread their message, Cicnuk, a local student, thinks they should be allowed to stay where they are.

“They are not stepping on anyone else’s rights by being there,” she said.

She also feels the question whether the protestors should remain in the park, or not, has started to overshadow Occupy Calgary’s message.

“I don’t think they’re making a big enough effort to have their message heard anymore.”

A new petition aims to put an end to the 20 or so Occupy Calgary tents currently set up in the southwestern corner of Olympic Plaza. RICHARD HARDISTY, Polytechnic Press

Please click here to view the article as published. (PDF format)

 

Posted: December 8th, 2011
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Calgary Parking Authority’s $5 Friday promotion under scrutiny

Published online – Oct. 21

By Richard Hardisty

The Calgary Parking Authority is hoping a new price promotion will help tempt Calgarians to visit the downtown core this coming holiday season.

The promotion began Oct. 14 and offers $5 parking every Friday from 11 a.m. until 6 a.m. Saturday. It will run until Dec. 30.

Ordinarily, the same amount of parking time would cost $27 at a city lot, making the promotion a substantial deal.

“I’d take advantage of it, but there would have to be enough available spots,” says Joey Bretzloff, who works downtown for Shaw Communications and has a typical Monday to Friday work schedule.

He also feels that 11 a.m. is too late of a start time.

The CPA’s official release, however, suggests Bretzloff and other citizens who work downtown aren’t necessarily the promotion’s target audience.

Troy McLeod, CPA’s acting general manager, said in the release they hope to lure more Calgarians downtown to experience its shopping, entertainment and dining during the promotion’s 12-week run.

“We’re hoping our $5 Fridays promotion will help Calgarians rediscover what a great downtown we have,” McLeod said in the release.

The promotion includes the Centennial, McDougall, City Centre, James Short, and Civic Plaza parkades, five lots that are spread throughout the core.

However, with the high demand for downtown parking during the day, the deal has lead to some scrutiny.

Justin Fredrick, another Calgarian employed in the core, feels the promotion starts too late in the day Friday for him to use it and it doesn’t affect the current early morning rates.

“I might take advantage of it if I knew I could get a spot close to work,” Justin Fredrick said.

“I think it would be so busy that I wouldn’t even try.”

It also does little to offset Calgary’s notoriously high parking rates.

According to a report published by real estate firm Colliers International in July, Calgarians pay a median rate of $472.50 a month for parking.

That rate is more than double the average of major Canadian cities, and makes Calgary as the second most expensive city for parking in North America, only behind New York City.

By comparison, the province’s capital has a significantly lower median monthly parking rate of $275.

Brad Enman would be more supportive of a deal that would allow him to pay one fee and park throughout the area, a promotion that would be more akin to a parking pass.

As a TELUS technician, his job takes him to a variety of places over an average work day.

“Right now, I have to pay every time I move my truck. If I could pay one fee, that would be awesome,” Enman said.

Earlier this year, city council ordered Calgary Transit to remove the daily rate at the park and ride lots, which may also help to encourage patronage to the core.

Centennial Parkade is one of the lots offering Calgary Parking Authority's $5 Friday promotion. RICHARD HARDISTY, Polytechnic Press

Posted: December 8th, 2011
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Mixed reactions to proposed penny tax

Originally published Oct 14, Polytechnic Press – Vol 12. Issue 2

By Richard Hardisty

Calgarians are cautious about a proposed one per cent municipal sales tax increase that is being championed by a group of Calgary business leaders.

The group, calling itself Transformation Calgary, has proposed the increase, dubbed the ‘penny tax’, as a way to generate an estimated $350 million annually to pay for building new athletic and cultural centres for the city.

According to Matt Olson, a controller at a Calgary industrial company, it will be a tough sell at a personal finance level.

“If I told you to give me one per cent of your salary so I could potentially build something with it, but it may or may not be something you would use or would even be located near you, would you take that deal?”

Olson also voiced concerns that the tax may stifle municipal business if it is only levied locally. It may lead to consumers heading out of town to buy big ticket items like cars.

Proponents of the penny tax have suggested that this issue could be circumvented by making it a regional tax so that other nearby municipalities like Airdrie and Cochrane would be included, limiting the competition.

Kyle MacQuarrie believes the proposal has merit in theory, but has reservations about its implementation.

“City council has a bad record of questionable spending,” said MacQuarrie, a U of C student and father of one.

“I can see the money ‘leaking’ over into other areas contrary to what it’s supposed to be earmarked for.”

The Transformation Calgary group, headed by West Canadian Industries chief executive officer George Brookman, has proposed that a plebiscite on the issue be held in 2013.

But even if the proposal is approved by local voters, it still faces a hard road before it can become reality.

It would need to be approved by the provincial and federal government before being put in place, and the Harper government may be hesitant to allow it to come into force.

The Conservative Party reduced the GST from its original rate of seven per cent to six per cent in 2005, and again to five per cent in 2008.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already denied an Ontario mayor’s request to keep the rate at six per cent locally in 2007, and the party stance has historically been to reduce taxes for Canadians.

A one percent sales tax increase has been proposed by Calgary business leaders to generate revenue for the City, but Calgarians are skeptical about the idea. RICHARD HARDISTY, Polytechnic Press


Please click here to view the article as published. (PDF format)

 

Posted: December 8th, 2011
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City Council rejects secondary suite plebiscite

Originally published Oct. 3, Polytechnic Press – Vol 12. Issue 1

By Richard Hardisty

The heads of Calgary’s three post-secondary students associations have criticized a city council decision Sept. 19 not to hold a plebiscite in 2013 on allowing secondary suites in the city.

Council rejected the plebiscite proposal, which would have been held during the 2013 civic election to gauge Calgarians’ support of allowing secondary suites throughout the city, by a vote of 10-5.

That decision was the wrong one, said SAITSA president Steven Hildebrandt.

“It needs to be addressed before the next election. Risking the safety of thousands of Calgarians for two more years is unacceptable,” said Hildebrandt.

“It is only a matter of time before another Calgarian dies due to an unsafe, illegal suite,” said Hildebrant, echoing the safety concerns many citizens have with the current regulations.

Dylan Jones, University of Calgary Student Union President, welcomed council’s decision to consider allowing secondary suites in areas adjacent to C-Train stations.

“We regard the proposed change as an important step in creating safer, affordable housing. But to be clear, city council will still need to do much more to address the safety of tenants living in illegal and potentially unsafe secondary suites.”

Meghan Melnyk, Students’ Association of Mount Royal University President, also said council needs to do more.

“Basement suites near transit stations are a quick-fix. There is no reason for Calgary not to be zoned for secondary suites,” Melnyk said.

“This is a step and perhaps Calgary will just have to take a thousand small steps where every other city took 100.”

The plebiscite would have cost an estimated $150,000 and Jones said previous surveys and consultation processes, including one commissioned by the U of C in the spring of 2011, show a majority of Calgarians support the legalization of secondary suites in single family neighbourhoods.

The telephone and online survey conducted by ZINC Research at the end of February, 2011, commissioned by the U of C, showed that 75 per cent of those polled supported secondary suites in their neighbourhood and 92 per cent said compliance with Building and Fire codes should be highly important in the approval of secondary suites.

The U of C has been a vocal proponent of changing the restrictions on secondary suites, and in the spring of 2010, the Student Union and an associated campus club, the Urban CSA, proposed a 400 metre zone around transit stations where secondary suites would be legalized and regulated, something Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters that he would be putting in front of the council as a step forward.

He also stated that proposed change around transit stations will benefit students, as it will include the regulation of existing suites reducing safety concerns in those areas.

Hildebrant replied that the change leaves many other tenants in unsafe conditions, with a lack of tenants’ rights and a fear of eviction for bringing up the conditions.

Adding further fuel to the controversy, Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra suggested those who were against the reform had a “fear of renters” and that there was an underlying theme of ‘Not in My Backyard.’

Melnyk thinks it’s more likely a case of people only being aware of the horror stories spread by opponents of secondary suite development. She feels the true issue in the debate is that by not legalizing secondary suites, a housing shortage is being created, which in turn drives an illegal suite black market.

The suites already exist and the “feared renters” are already contributing to their community, Hildebrant said, adding that as long as city council remains opposed to legalizing suites, they are risking the safety of Calgarians and denying rights to those who cannot afford, or choose, to buy.

According to Jones, a vocal minority against the proposed rezoning are opposed because they fear the suites will change the character of their communities.

Jones strongly disagrees with this viewpoint, and says there are already an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 illegal suites (as reported by the Calgary Herald in 2008) throughout single-family neighbourhoods.

In addition, Jones points out that there are no regulations preventing homeowners from renting their entire home to any group of people.

“So, why should we have extremely restrictive land use rules about where homeowners can legally rent out their basement, especially in areas close to post-secondary institutions and transit stations?”

Please click here to view the article as published. (PDF format)

 

Posted: December 8th, 2011
Categories: Portfolio
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