Friday, April 18, 2008

Dinner / Plans

I had the pleasure of attending last night's Calgary Premier's Dinner at the Telus Convention Centre.

Not long ago, there were many who speculated that the party's ability to fundraise in Calgary had all but dried up. Judging from the record-setting attendance of almost 1800, I'd say that speculation was pretty moot.

To his credit, Rick Bell did an excellent job in summing up the mood in the room last night. Corporate Calgary is getting used to the new group running the show in Edmonton, but they're rolling up their sleeves and are ready to play ball.

One of the items that the Premier touched on in his speech last night was the work that has been done to strengthen the western Canadian economy as a whole. There have been a number of articles recently raising alarm bells that the B.C. and Saskatchewan economies have been stealing some of our economic thunder. I think the alarm bells have more to do with the fact that we're not used to seeing this, rather than it actually being a bad thing.

Roger Gibbins has an excellent piece in today's Calgary Herald (which, sadly, I cannot find online) that outlines the positive effects of strong and vibrant economies across the west. The stronger these economies are, the more we benefit from each others successes as westerners and, more importantly, the better prepared we are to shield ourselves from economic turbulence abroad.


Shifting northward, the newly-elected Capital Region PC MLAs are already starting to earn their keep. Since session started earlier this week, a steady stream of Capital Region MLAs have been rising to seek information about the new Capital Region Integrated Growth Management Plan.

As someone who is about to become an Edmontonian (more on that on Sunday), I am a big proponent of this new plan. As much as I loathe to admit that some things in British Columbia are functional, some of the benefits of regional governance are quite easy to identify if we look at the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

One of the particular benefits is an integrated transit system. A friend of mine who lives in Burnaby joined me in Edmonton a few weeks ago and was shocked to see buses for the respective transit systems of the City of Edmonton, City of St. Albert, and Strathcona County all operating routes in and out of Edmonton. I hadn't really thought about it since I was so used to seeing all 3 transit systems in the Capital Region but, as someone who has often used Translink in the GVRD, I could certainly understand his confusion.

Questions about the possibility of the same for Alberta's Capital Region were raised by new Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski yesterday. That led me to do some digging and allowed me to find the transit-specific section of the Capital Region plan. I was encouraged to see that integrated transit is an important part of the overall vision for the Capital Region, and look forward to seeing it fleshed out as the plan moves towards implementation.

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