Are citizens grumbling in Cal-topia? If you think it’s expensive to live here, it is.
Consider this: It cost me less to park in Manhattan, stay in Manhattan and eat at an Italian resto in Manhattan than in downtown Calgary. Plays in Central Park were free.
So I asked consultant Steven McManus his thoughts. He runs the site Xpatulator.com, a compensation consulting company.
“To live in Calgary is slightly cheaper than New York,” he notes. Sure, N.Y.C. housing is pricier, but recreation/culture, Internet/cellphone and transportation are less expensive in the Apple than in Calgary.
“The cost of living in Calgary is very high when compared to other places,” he notes in his research. On the “very high” list: cellphone and Internet, alcohol, clothing, groceries, furniture, appliances, haircuts, recreation and culture, and miscellaneous items such as dry cleaning, linens and newspapers. Housing and food are “high” cost.
What can our governments do?
They need to take pressure off citizens. Cut back. Stop spending on urban sprawl.
The 2012 Vital Signs report shows serious concerns about the cost of housing. We got a C+.
How can a city like Calgary have no rent control, and no requirement for mixed housing prices within neighbourhoods?
People are pushed out to sprawling suburbs where housing is cheaper, but transit is sparse.
Taxpayers still subsidize suburbs and the mega-road projects to keep traffic flowing toward the inner city.
My own students write of living in places “with nothing to do, nowhere to go.”
Vital Signs also notes the high cost of Calgary recreation. Just try to find public skating during evenings or weekends. Some 99 per cent of city arena ice time goes to high-cost organized sports.
There are barely any decent cultural events like public theatre or concerts.
How about the public library? Happy birthday 14-year-olds, now you can pay for a library card. Or your parents can.
The province lets school boards levy fees like no tomorrow; the feds prevent competitors from driving down communication costs.
Here in Calgary, we’ve been blessed with a strong economy, but as it cools, costs pile up. Families take on more debt. Youth struggle to get traction with housing or careers.
If the cost of living in Calgary is similar to that of New York City, then maybe our mayor should get the same mayoral powers, including the power to veto a bill and appoint key officials.
Such powers might come with the courage to discuss a citizen-satisfaction survey in public.