Nenshi on Calgary’s Past and Future

Volunteers from Naheed Nenshi’s mayoral campaign have arranged for him to speak on January 16, 2011, at 12:00 noon, at the Unitarian Church of Calgary (on the corner of 16 Avenue and 1 Street NW).

Mayor Nenshi will talk about Calgary’s past, about what Calgary could become, and will answer questions from the audience.  The event is open to the public.

Calgary is still a very young city and this gives us a huge opportunity to shape the city we want.  The core question facing this city is: “Can we make this a great city or will it remain essentially a commercial centre, like Fort McMurray South?  You come here to Calgary to make your buck, and when you’ve made your buck or retire, you take off somewhere where you’d really prefer to live.  Do we have to stay in that sort of mode or can we do something better?”

Mr. Nenshi’s vision for Calgary would turn the boomtown’s malleability into its greatest strength.  He sees Calgary as the first among Canada’s urban equals – a young city, in both historic and demographic terms, populated disproportionately by well-educated recent arrivals.  The lack of set ideas about the city should become a wellspring of opportunity for reinvention.

The mayor doesn’t see a boom-and-bust oil industry centre, but a fully realized city, diverse, urban and transit-based.  He has argued against sprawl and insists that he will make all Calgary’s neighbourhoods safer, greener and more engaging.  He speaks about the need to “reduce [the] number of people living in poverty and ensure opportunity for all.”

Mr. Nenshi grew up in Calgary. He  ascended through the gifted program at a downtown high school, student-union presidency at the University of Calgary, a lucrative consulting position in New York, a scholarship in public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and then returned home to be close to his family. In 2002, when he was only 30, Mr. Nenshi was named chairman of the Epcor Centre For the Performing Arts. He was a tenured professor at Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business and is an accomplished author.

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