Posts Tagged ‘alberta’

Another Step Closer To 37th Street Ring Road

The title is a bit misleading, but we are one step closer to seeing some expansion of the roadways in the southwest portion of Calgary with Premier Ed Stelmach saying today that the province is not going to resume talks with the Tsuu T’ina Nation after the band voted against the Ring Road proposal. Instead the Municipal and Provincial Governments will work together to fund the expansion of existing roads to alleviate the traffic pressures caused by the numerous delays to the SW portion of the ring road project.

The vote was taken. The agreement was turned down. There’s no coming back,” the premier said in Calgary today.

Tsuu T’ina Chief Sandford Big Plume as recently as last week hoped talks would resume. From an outsider’s perspective it looks like Tsuu T’ina people gambled for a bigger and better deal from the Province and lost big time. Instead of a counter-offer, the Province and City have officially closed the doors to any talks and plan to build around the reserve. The band has scheduled a meeting to discuss the ring road for later this week.

However, the Tsuu T’ina First Nations are not the only group that is not ready to move on. Environment Minister Jim Prentice said today that he hopes talks will resume between the Province and the band. I think 40 years is enough talking and every year we sit around and do nothing, the traffic continues to grow. The costs to build the roadway will continue to soar.

“It’s an essential project,” Prentice said. “I hope that the province and Tsuu T’ina pick up that ball and get on with it.”

We don’t necessarily need the SW portion of the ring road. Aside from the fact there wouldn’t be a “ring” around the city, there is no harm in leaving out the portion that would have run through the Tsuu T’ina land. Instead, expanding Glenmore Trail to 6 lanes and building an interchange at 37th street and Highway 8 would keep traffic moving there for years. A 37th street tunnel (or bridge like the one over Bowness Park) would further alleviate any traffic pressures. The 37th street tunnel would be subsidized by the Tsuu T’ina First Nations because they need easy access to the Grey Eagle Casino at the corner of Glenmore and 37th street.

I wish city planning was as easy as Sim City :)

AMA: Too Many Albertans Driving While Distracted

A car is not a living room.

More and more Albertans are distracted while driving, says Kent Dixon, of the Alberta Motor Association.

“I see more and more people driving their vehicles as though they’re sitting on their couch at home,” he said.”They’re doing anything but paying attention. Driving is not about multi-tasking.”

Add impaired driving and speed to various driver distractions, like text-messaging, and the chances of a collision increase dramatically.

“It really just takes a split-second for an error in judgment or a moment of distraction to cause a collision. There is no such thing as an accident, there are only collisions which can be avoided.”

With the improved weather and road conditions, unfortunately comes increased speeds and risk-taking on Alberta roads as people deal with cabin fever, he said.

Alberta Transportation statistics show that 46 per cent of fatalities on Alberta roads happen between the May and Labour Day long weekends. Between 1998 and 2007, there were more than 10,000 injuries and 225 deaths on roads in Alberta.

Dixon is asking drivers to take reponsibility for their own actions and look out for the safety of, not just themselves, but others as well. He added there’s no excuse to drink and drive.

“We’re not telling people not to drink,” he said. “We’re telling people to drink responsibility.”

Kimberley Collins-Lauber, Edmonton Journal
[email protected]

New Alberta License Plates Delayed

The Alberta Government was set to unveil new license plates this year as we are due to run out of possible combinations using the existing plates. The new plates will incorporate a new visual theme of either mountains or wild roses and a new slogan. However, we will have to wait a little longer to see the new plates because the new plates will not be unveiled this year.

“It simply doesn’t make sense to me to commit millions of dollars to replace all plates in the province this year,” said Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk. “However, it was very clear during our consultation that Albertans are very interested in their licence plate and would like to see the design updated. We plan to meet that commitment, when the time is right.”

The Government will wait until economic conditions improve to unveil the new license plates as it simply does not make sense to spend millions of dollars at this time. Instead, when all the plate combinations runs out this summer, a fourth digit will be added creating a new 7 digit (ABC-1234) plate configuration.

So I guess we’ll have to wait for $75-80 oil before we start seeing these new plates. Damn recession, I was looking forward to seeing these new plates. ;)

Forum Weekly Review December 20

In this weekly segment, we cover the top discussions going on in the automotive forums. These threads may be the most recent hot topics, or epic threads that we just wanted to dig up and feature.

If you have a suggestion for a thread to be included on the forum weekly review, e-mail it to If you have not joined our forums, register today its free!

Best TV Shows Flying Under the Radar
There is a lot of great television on these days, in fact theres too much! I can’t even keep up with a PVR so I’ve had to stop watching certain shows that don’t make the cut as there just isn’t enough time to keep up. Many people miss out on shows simply because there are so many of them trying to get our attention and inevitably, some of them slip under the radar. What are some shows you love that are not getting the attention they deserve?

Speed On Green Cameras Approved in Alberta
Red Light Cameras in Edmonton and Calgary will soon have a new feature enabled on them that will let the Police collect revenue for those that speed through intersections. While the original rationale behind the push for “speed on green” cameras was to nab drivers that sped up when the light turned yellow, the functionality allows the cameras to take photos of drivers that speed through intersections even on fresh greens. The province has allowed cameras to begin operating with the new features effective January 1, 2009 but it will take some time to turn on the new features. Calgary Police plan on having a grace period of 90 days before actual tickets are issued.

Tom’s Bottle Recycling Center Reviews Thread
This thread just had to be a part of the weekly review! :) Tom has been gracious enough to write up a review of two bottle depots in Calgary when he recently did a quick test of them. He got 100% of the money he was supposed to at both places and gives them both a thumbs up if you plan on recycling some bottles in the near future (who isn’t with all the CHRISTMAS dinners coming up?).


RCMP No Longer Chasing Fleeing Vehicles

In what could be one of the biggest mistakes by a police force, the RCMP confirmed that they will no longer chase suspects fleeing in stolen vehicles in Alberta. The new pursuit policy has been in place for at least two months already, but it has not been made public until now. Now, I’m not saying the policy is a mistake but publically disclosing it is. Why did the RCMP reveal their hand? It would have been perfectly fine to adopt this new policy while keeping it under wraps.

With this new knowledge of the RCMP’s vehicle pursuit policy, car thieves may now feel they can take a car for a quick joyride without fear of being pursued on the rural highways or in smaller towns where the RCMP patrol.

“Our new policy now discourages pursuing a stolen vehicle, just for the sole purpose that it’s stolen,” he said, adding the new policy won’t give drivers of stolen cars a free pass.

“Obviously if somebody is in a stolen vehicle and is impaired or has been involved in other criminal activity, then there’s no strict prohibition from engaging or not engaging, there’s all kinds of factors that will come into play.

“All pursuit policies have a balance or risk assessment portion so our members can have the policies and tools in place so they can judge if something is getting way too risky, as far as public safety goes, for the benefits of criminal apprehension.”

When I first read this I did a little poking around and found that there were many cases of RCMP police chases ending badly in BC but not so many in Alberta. Perhaps it is because the RCMP patrols in the Greater Vancouver Area. I wonder why the RCMP chose Alberta as the testing grounds for this new vehicle pursuit policy?

The Calgary Police Service has a similar pursuit policy but they also have the advantage of patrolling a much smaller area. Oh, and they also have two helicopters that can be called in to assist in a pursuit if it is available. The RCMP will be evaluating the success of the new pursuit policy and if successful will be deploying it in other regions.

Playground, School Zones To Start at 7:30am

Alberta Transportation is working on changing playground and school zones so they begin one hour earlier, at 7:30am as opposed to 8:00am currently for school zones and 8:30am for playground zones. In our previous discussions on the effectiveness of playground zones, many of you expressed frustration towards motorists that went 30 km/h before the start time of the playground zones. Now with these changes working their way through the legislature, we can all slow down.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a playground zone when cars are only slowing down after the bell has rung,” says Laura Shutiak, president of the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils.

“The big issue has always been morning times, and anything that deals with that is helpful.”

Alberta Transportation Minister Luke Ouelette said his department is looking to standardize both school and playground zones so they both start at 7:30am and end at 5:00pm, leaving the option for municipalities to alter the end times through bylaws. Calgary currently has its Playground zones end 1 hour after sunset, but according to Ald. Ray Jones, chairman of the city’s transportation committee, it may look towards having both Playground and School zones end 1 hour after sunset.

Having both school and playground zones start and end at the same time is great for motorists. If a driver spends any time deciding if a school or playground is active, then they are not focusing on the road and potentially forgetting to slow down. The province will be holding public consultation and information meetings throughout the province before the changes are made.

Forum Weekly Review October 25

In this weekly segment, we cover the top discussions going on in the automotive forums. These threads may be the most recent hot topics, or epic threads that we just wanted to dig up and feature.

If you have a suggestion for a thread to be included on the forum weekly review, e-mail it to If you have not joined our forums, register today its free!

Alberta: Pay Your Outstanding Tickets Now, Or We’ll Garnish Your Wages
In a move that dead-beat fathers may be familiar with, the Alberta Justice Department will resort to seizing wages, bank accounts and even tax refunds to collect payment on unpaid tickets if they are not paid within 30 days from the time a warning letter is sent. There is currently about $126 Million in unpaid tickets and the Government hopes to have as much success as they did with a pilot project two years ago in which they collected about 50% of tickets they targetted.

The Official Badminton Thread
Do you play badminton? Join other beyond members and play to get fit, or play to kick some ass. Players of all skill levels are welcome to join in every wednesday evening at the Talisman Center. Check the thread to see whos going each week.

Calgary BMW Tech Takes Customer Car For Joyride
A Calgary BMW service tech took a customer vehicle for a quick joyride, unfortunately for the tech witnesses saw the easily recognizable HPF Stage2 Turbo M3 and notified the owner who is a local celebrity, rage2. To top it all the entire act was captured via GPS data-logging. Having your vehicle abused by lot boys and service techs is always a risk at dealerships but not at luxury brand dealership like BMW. Calgary BMW for their part is handling the incident very professionally! Kudos to them.

90+ Petro-Canada Stations Suffer From Gas Shortage

Over 90 Petro-Canada gas stations across BC and Alberta have run dry because of a gas shortage caused by a shut-down of a fuel refinery in Northern Alberta. Over 120 employees have been assigned to repair the problem, a broken catalytic cracking unit, but the repairs are likely going to take quite some time. The company expects the problem to be fixed by September resulting in almost a month of downtime for the facility.

Across Calgary, most Petro Canada stations were dry. The first Petro Canada station for drivers entering the city from the West just off the Trans Canada Highway is still selling gas but other stations in the area are completely out of all grades of gasoline.

Calgary gas bar owner John Balanazario said he and other station owners have been forced to offer higher grade fuels at lower grade prices and absorb the losses out of their own pockets.

“It’s bad for business, but good for the customers,” he said.

Retailers are feeling the pinch as the convenience stores are empty with gas customers. August is typically a high demand season with many people going on road trips on the weekends. The August long weekend will see many people heading out of town to go camping, and on day trips. Any retailers looking for compensation from Petro Canada will be out of luck as the company has already said it will not be providing any.

“Because the current situation is the result of an unplanned incident, it was actually an incident declared force majeure and compensation is unfortunately not available in a force majeure situation,” said Petro-Canada spokeswoman Kelli Stevens on Friday.

Once the refinery is back online in early September, it will likely take another week or so before fuel production and delivery starts. It will be even longer yet for retailers to determine if they have lost any customers to other gasoline retailers because of the prolonged shortage.

Car Insurance Rates In Alberta To Go Up 5%

Drivers in Alberta are going to be paying more to drive their vehicles this fall as the Auto Insurance Rate Board has approved a 5% increase for insurance premiums. The increased premiums will take effect on November 1, 2008. The insurance companies initially wanted to hike rates by 37% but the Finance Minister made it clear that she would block any attempt to raise insurance premiums by more than 10%. The 5% hike works out to an increase of $30 for the average driver.

The insurance companies argued at a two day meeting last month that they would have to increase insurance premiums after a judge ruled that the insurance payout cap of $4,000 was unconstitutional. The Canadian Bar Association who was also present at the meeting last month presented a report that showed insurance companies made more than 20% profit from 2003 to 2006. The report suggests that insurance premiums, even without the payout cap should be decreased by 3.2%. The report also stated that injury claims were never out of control.

The board concluded that the impact of removing the payout cap would be covered by a 20% increase in premiums but chose to limit the increase to 10% due to the uncertainty surrounding the appeal of the judges decision to axe the payout cap. The 10% increase was offset by a -5% experience adjustment. In 2005, insurance premiums were reduced by 4% followed by a 3% reduction in 2006. For 2007 there was no change to the basic premium level.

Calgary Herald readers had mixed reactions to the 2008 basic insurance premium hike. Some are thankful it is only 5% while others are irate that the cost of driving is going up yet again. What do you think about the insurance rate hike?

Source: Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board

Forum Weekly Review July 5

In this weekly segment, we cover the top discussions going on in the car forums. These threads may be the most recent hot topics, or epic threads that we just wanted to dig up and feature.

If you have a suggestion for a thread to be included on the forum weekly review, e-mail it to If you have not joined our forums, register today its free!

Lobster Sub @ Subway Reviews/Rants/Comments
Perfect example of how a relatively normal thread on Subway’s Lobster sandwich can take a turn for the worse in a hurry. I suppose the subtle 89coupe lunch joke started it off in the wrong direction, but still a great thread. If you are not sure what it is referring to, Subway has relaunched their Lobster Sub again for the summer. The sandwich, if ordered as a footlong with “double meat” will run you a whopping $30.98.

2008 Calgary Stampede Discussion Thread
The Calgary Stampede has arrived for 2008 and will be in town from July 4th through July 13th. Tens of thousands of tourists descend upon Calgary to partake in the events all around the city and at the Stampede grounds, but many locals cannot stand the crowds both on the road and on public transportation. Share your thoughts on the Calgary Stampede, are you going to go this year?

Premier Ed Stelmach Bans Cheap Drinks; Sets Minimum Drink Prices and Limits Happy Hour
Say goodbye to $0.25 draft nights, and other drink specials as they will no longer be allowed thanks to a ban by the Alberta Government. In an effort to curb violence at night clubs minimum drink prices have been imposed and happy hours must end at 8:00pm. The goal of the ban is to reduce the consumption of alcohol at bars and nightclubs which is often blamed for the escalating violence at the end of the night. Will the new measures work? I doubt it, but we’ll see. What do you think?

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