Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann won’t be among the dignitaries in this year’s Stampede Parade, as he’s decided to boycott the event due to environmental and health concerns.
“I think it speaks for itself — I want to see change, I want to see more openness to a policy that is forward-looking and is both healthier to the environment and speaks to some of the new technologies we should be embracing,” he said.
For several years, Swann said he has asked parade officials to use an alternative mode of transportation in the event, but has been refused each time.
He said the vintage cars dignitaries ride in — while interesting — don’t send the right message.
“I don’t think it’s healthy and I don’t think it’s sending the right message about our city trying to become environmentally conscious,” he explained.
Swann would rather ride his bicycle or go horseback, but Susanne Huggard, chair of the Stampede Parade Committee said that isn’t an option.
“Bikes are not permitted in the parade by anyone and that is for pace and safety,” she explained.
“We keep things between lines, we’re trying to manage 4,000 participants, 700 horses and 300,000 people. There are a lot of logistics that go into that to make sure we’re maintaining pace and that we’re also making it safe.”
But Swann said he thinks the parade needs to rethink their prohibition on riding bikes, horses and wagons, in order to reduce emissions.
“They need to look at their policies. Do they reflect 21st century thinking?” he asked.
He wants to see more attention brought to sustainable and clean transportation and hopes that his decision will bring a change of heart to the event.
So during the parade, Swann said he’ll be attending his own eco-friendly pancake breakfast, and other events that promote things like green transportation and energy, water conservation, etc.