Calgary nowhere near world class

Calgary has a very serious problem. You called this the "biggest small town in the world" and that is the complete truth. Calgary is not a city. Having a large population doesn’t guarantee you a seat in the league of world class cities. Calgary is lacking in culture, counterculture and tolerance towards diversity. The core of the city seems to shut down at about 8 p.m. Everywhere you look you see very young families, doing what every other very young family is doing–from my suite’s window that seems to be floating down the Bow River sideways in an inflatable Canadian Tire $15 special.

World class cities do better than this.

They create new experiences, new art, new knowledge. People flock to them because they offer more than mere commerce, which, in Calgary, is centred solely around the petroleum-junkies. People stay out late, walk on the side walks, explore the independent shops. People graffiti! People have messages to spread and art to create, yet every week those messages are white washed to keep the look of the city "pure." Life is harsh and beautiful, but it is safe.

I have personally never been more scared in a city than I am at 2 a.m. walking down 4 Ave. This is due to a lack of eyeballs. People keep a city safe, not extreme numbers of police, special constables, transit police, by-law officers and who knows what other form of law enforcement I have yet to encounter. People walking on the sidewalks, looking out their windows, driving their cars–these people keep the city safe. Without the diversity of non-nine-to-five-businesses in the core, open late, Calgary’s violence will continue to escalate.

Recent stabbings and drive-by shootings are not the beginning, they’re not even the chill you feel before a thunderstorm.

I left Toronto because I didn’t believe in it. After recently moving to Calgary (for work and school) I discovered my negative feelings for Toronto were due to a lack of understanding. Yes, I know most people west of Ontario loathe Toronto, but I have yet to figure out why. Perhaps they don’t understand it.

After moving here, I now understand why Toronto is safe (both in my mind and according to Stats Canada), why the people are truly amazing in their social interactions such that they transcend culture, and why it is considered by some to be a world class city.

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