Letters to the Editor, Feb. 18

Calgary Sun - 8 hours 18 min ago

How can Calgary think of hosting the Olympics when they can’t even clear the snow off the streets properly? One would think any Grade 3 class could do a better job of organizing the snow removal program. And they could do it without raising the budget. Why run three graders in succession down one side of one street, when you can have three graders moving the snow on three streets? Plans using Priority 1, etc., means it takes a whole week to clean the streets and that doesn’t include any residential streets. Perhaps Mayor (Naheed) Nenshi could make better use of his time and travelling budget by visiting cities like Winnipeg and Montreal to learn about their snow-clearing techniques, rather than being lavishly entertained at the Olympics. Calgary does not need the Olympics! Our city council has demonstrated their organization skills in their handling of the relocation of the past and present residents of Midfield Park.
(A luge track for every Calgarian! But snow clearing is so boring.)

In a sane and reasonable world, the entire Trudeau cabinet would fail a competency assessment. Foreign Affairs minion Chrystia Freeland announces an ‘additional’ $12 million to rebuild infrastructure in Iraq … on top of how much initially? (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau and various ministers meet with the family of Colten Boushie, after proclaiming that our judicial system “needs to do better”. And who can forget the cozy get-together J.T. had with Joshua Boyle (charged with multiple serious offences) and family before Christmas. The PM is overhauling our national anthem, and the English language: it’s now PEOPLEKIND! No indications from luxury-loving J.T. that he intends to do the right thing and reimburse Canadian taxpayers for his illicit Caribbean vacation with “good friend” the Aga Khan. Still waiting on that $215,000. Taxpayer dollars pour out around the world, in line with the Liberal-Islamic, progressive agenda. ISIS terrorists welcomed back home for rehabilitation and reintegration. But still fighting our Canadian veterans, for whom there is “no more money”. Oh, for a sane and reasonable world.
(Strange days indeed.)

The Alberta-BC pipeline feud isn’t about oil, it’s about destroying your rights. Oh, and getting votes. Remember the Exxon Valdez, because with increased tanker traffic in constricted waterways, it’s when, not if. Millions of people rely on the waterways for drinking water, the beaches, ecosystems, and infrastructure, and there’ll be devastation for years to come when it happens. (Premier Rachel) Notley and (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau are willing to destroy a province because of pandering and votes. But when it happens, will they be held criminally responsible because of their psychotic actions? Not a hope. What truly needs to be understood is that people concerned about the destruction are being told to shut up and do as they’re told. So even though we elect these politicians, our employees, to run a country for us apparently we have no rights after that. So who’s next? Welcome to democracy.
(We see you passed Fearmongering 101. No one is out to destroy anything.)

Your editorial cartoon on Sunday was an insult to every firefighter/first responder. Depicting (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) twiddling his thumbs while the fire burns behind him is insulting to us all. If a firefighter/first responder was in charge, something would be happening. If this dilettante is the best the Liberals have, we are in trouble. Perhaps a hog with his head in the trough while the barn burns would be more appropriate.
(Hold the outrage, the cartoon wasn’t about first responders in the slightest. It was about the PM.)

I hope the federal government helps Calgary out in terms of funding for this Winter Olympics 2026. But, at what cost? Apparently $4.6 billion. Here is why I think it would be great to host the Olympics again. To boost tourism, people having the same memories again from the 1988 Olympics. Calgary already has the right facilities i.e. the oval, ski jumping, COP. Personally, I think there should be half-and-half venues between Calgary and Whistler, instead of hosting at Lake Louise. Citizens of Calgary could be a part of the action as volunteers. The Green Line would cost the same amount as hosting the Olympics. In addition, I do believe that people are cheap. In other words, people say, “we don’t need a new hockey rink, because it costs too much money and that there is nothing wrong with the Saddledome.” But in reality, we need a new hockey rink. The concourse is small, especially at intermissions, people bumping and cutting off each other. The acoustics re terrible compared to the new Edmonton Oilers arena, etc. Now back to the Olympics, I was a 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics torchbearer. I would like to repeat that again but in Calgary. If the Olympics don’t come back to Calgary, then I would have to look elsewhere to become an Olympic torchbearer.
(That’s a lot of taxpayer money.)

Re: Rick Bell column, Feb. 9: “Kenney asks Notley for emergency debate on pipeline crisis.” I hope there is an emergency debate, so Albertans can all see what a hypocrite Jason Kenney truly is! The first question Notley should ask Kenney is, “Why Jason, in your 10 long years governing in Ottawa, did you, Stephen Harper, and all other Alberta Conservative MPs like Brian Jean, never get even one inch of pipeline built to tidewater? Do you not realize, Jason, how important this was, and that you, Harper, and your governing Conservative Party failed Alberta miserably? Please explain why you accomplished nothing and hurt Albertans by having no pipelines built to tidewater in your 10 years as Canada’s government”.
(Clearly they lacked social licence. And, of course, Harper had to be stopped, because …)

Another mass school shooting. Another Facebook post asking me to pray for the victims of the Parkland school shooting. I am sick of praying for victims of senseless gun violence, primarily in the U.S. I am sick of the trite phrase, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Oh please, are you serious? Wake up America, and smell the gun powder! When your forefathers enshrined the right to bear arms in your constitution, they did not envision the world and the weapons we have today. An automatic assault rifle has one purpose and one purpose only — to kill a lot of people very quickly! There is no purpose in a civilized society for private citizens to own one. Rifles for hunting, handguns for target shooting or home protection I might buy, but the gun you keep in your house for protection, in order to be of use if an intruder breaks in, must be loaded and on your person. This loaded and at the ready weapon, could be used against you or accidentally discharged because you have it in your bathrobe pocket. This same weapon, if you forget to put it in the gun safe when you leave the house, can be stolen, or taken by your teenager and used to kill other innocent people. This insanity needs to stop! There will never be enough guns to make you feel safe, and the proliferation of more and more dangerous weapons simply increases the odds of innocent people being killed by a stolen or misused weapon. It is time to do the right thing America, strengthen your gun laws!!!
(When they failed to act after Sandy Hook, you knew the U.S. would never be serious about gun control. If they refuse to tackle guns, maybe they could do a better job of helping people with mental health issues.)

Regarding the Colten Boushie affair, I just have one question: if there was a gross miscarriage of justice, why has no appeal been filed? There are ways within the Canadian legal system to deal with situations of injustice but the federal government appears to have decided to take their usual course of action and apologize and accuse Canadian society of being racist and intolerant. Before the government proceeds to overhaul the legal system, should they not at least release the transcripts of the trial so that they can justify their actions to Canadians. The government and some of the media have vilified the jury. Without the facts, the public cannot decide if this vilification is justified. One would think the government would have learned their lesson from the niqab scissor event that didn’t happen, and get all the facts out before they proceed. Under Trudeau, the government policy appears to apologize, react on emotion and then throw everyone else under the bus if the facts prove you wrong. Regarding Trudeau’s condemnation of the Canadian justice system, if he read his history books he would find his dear sweet dad was the architect of the overhauling the Canadian justice system and then proudly proclaimed that Canada does not have a justice system, we have a legal system. Just another fact the prime minister will likely choose to ignore. (President Donald) Trump may be accused of alternate facts but Trudeau appears to rely on selective or no facts.
(The government’s rush to judgment was an embarrassment, and perhaps even aids in an appeal.)

Categories: Calgary

Mike Drew: Blizzard of ahhs

Calgary Sun - 8 hours 18 min ago

The buffalo were ignoring the wind.

It was roaring out of the west, gathering speed as it raced down the ridges and charged across the Oldman Reservoir, pushing a wall of loose snow. The little group of buffalo feeding on hay in a pasture in front of me didn’t react at all as wave after wave of blowing snow rolled over them. Gusts were pushing 90 km/h and shaking the truck but the buffalo simply went on with their business. Just another southern Alberta day.

The wind had started the day before with the forecasted chinook blowing in a bit before schedule. Poking around in the country east of Aldersyde, I found snow drifting across the fields and the first hints of an arch forming in the western sky. 

Next morning, the wind was still there and the temperature had risen overnight so I waited until the morning rush was done and headed out of the city. At Nanton, I turned off the highway and hit the gravel.

Beyond the fact that I wanted to enjoy what was guessed to be a very short chinook, the eastern slopes of the Porcupine Hills that run from Nanton down to Head-Smashed-In are really interesting at this time of year.

It’s calving time on the ranches down this way and I love watching the babies bouncing around the pastures and listening to their mommas bellowing as they run around. Cattle are just plain funny at this time of year.

It’s eagle time down that way, too. Starting about now and continuing for the next month or so, bald eagles — and a few goldens — making their way north as winter starts to wane, linger here to take advantage of all the easy to get food left laying around cattle pastures. Birth byproducts don’t last long with these guys around.

A bald eagle hovers in the updraft of a coulee slope south of Nanton on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Neither do the gophers. Male Richardson’s ground squirrels are wide awake and looking for mates, despite the cold and snow. I’ve seen them up and about as early as late January and last year I photographed my first gopher on Feb. 14.

But there was considerably less snow last year. Any gopher that pops up to pitch a little woo will get noticed quite easily against the whiteness. They’ll be just another item on the eagles’ buffet.

So, as I rolled south, I hoped to see all those things and after pausing to photograph horses in a pasture just south of Nanton, I started to see what I was looking for.

Chinook arch and horses south of Nanton on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Three bald eagles were soaring in the wind at Pine Coulee. Two were dark youngsters but one was a mature bird, white head and tail, and it was riding the wind that was blowing across the coulee and up the slope beneath its wings. Hovering long enough for me to take pictures, it suddenly tilted its wings and flew away on a gust of wind.

Gusts of wind that grew stronger as I headed south.

At Willow Creek Park west of Stavely, the wind was roaring through the gap in the Porcupine Hills and scouring snow from the roads to expose the ice underneath. Every curve had turned slick and had the straight sections been painted with red white and blue concentric circles, they could have hosted a bonspiel. I tried to stop to get a picture of a sharptail grouse and slid right through the house.

West of Granum, the wind really started to pick up. Passing my favourite eagle and calf pastures by the Granum Hutterite Colony I was disappointed — but not surprised — to see that the new calves were hunkered down in the straw behind wind shelters and that the cottonwoods that stud the pastures were eagle-free. There were eagles there but they were sheltered as well. Needless to say, the gophers were keeping their heads down.

Straw blows around newborn claves and their mommas at Granum Colony on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Snow was blowing everywhere and roads were starting to drift over. Lenticular clouds were scattered across the southern sky, their shapes created by strong, high-altitude winds. The air was absolutely clear and I could see the mountains of Montana receding into the distance. It all looked pretty magnificent. So I decided to keep heading south.

The wind was screaming by Head-Smashed-In — as it almost always does — and stepping from my truck to take a shot down the road, my sleeves and the inside of my hood were almost immediately penetrated by blowing snow. But just around the corner, the wind was relatively calm. A ridge to the west of the horses I was photographing on the Piikani Nation was partially blocking the wind.

Down the road, though, a different story. I drove into a blizzard. Not one of falling snow, though. It was created entirely by the wind.

Heading to town through blowing and drifting snow on the south end of the Porcupine Hills near Summerview on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Ground blizzards are a bit scary. You can be driving down a road and suddenly it disappears into a wall of white. You hope there’s not a turn directly in front of you, or an oncoming car. On rural roads like the one I was on, those hazards are a bit less likely.

But snow drifts are. The first one wasn’t so bad. It was just a couple of car-lengths long and although its suddenness startled me, I blasted through. But it made me slow down enough that when I hit the next much bigger and deeper one, things went sideways.

Literally. The truck turned into a startled cat, the back end twisting sideways as the snow, both the blowing snow and the snow kicked up by the truck, obscured the windshield. I let off the gas and hit the wipers while correcting the steering only to discover that my lack of momentum was about to leave me stranded in the drift. So I punched it.

And made it through. I pulled over into the first clear spot down the road to catch my breath. There were vehicles in front of me heading south and drifts building up on the roadway. The hills around me were frosted with blown snow, the big wind turbines were churning. I put the truck in drive and headed toward them. I certainly wasn’t going back the way I’d just come.

I was in and out of blasting snow all the way to the Oldman Dam, the wind blowing so hard that my arms were getting tired just trying to keep the truck between the ditches. Finally, just north of the dam, I stopped to photograph the buffalo.

Buffalo ignore the wind on a ranch near Pincher Creek on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The mountains behind them were churning with clouds and snow, the ridges around them awash in waves of white. The sky above was clear and blue but a mass of roiling clouds piled up and tumbled above the ridges to the west. No eagles or gophers to be seen.

The buffalo, though, acted as if it were just another day. Some lay down, some munched on hay. Others stood and let the waves of wind and snow wash over them. Not a surprise, I guess. Their ancestors evolved here and they’ve had a thousand generations to get used to days like this. 

Me, I guess I should be used to days like this, too. This wasn’t my first ground blizzard and — I hope — it won’t be my last. But as I turned toward Pincher Creek to get some gas, the police were shutting down Hwy. 3 and there was already a line of vehicles starting to form.

Facing into the wind, the trucks and cars sat there as the wind and snow washed over them. Just like the buffalo. But, I’m sure, with very little of the buffalo’s calm.

Tank filled and the wind and snow at my back, I went the opposite way. Much as I admire them, I ain’t no buffalo. I let the ground blizzard push me on home.

The wind send clouds and snow flying near Pincher Creek on Tuesday February 13, 2018. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Categories: Calgary

One person dead after serious crash southwest of Calgary

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 23:27

Police are investigating after a deadly crash southwest of the city on Saturday.

Just after 6:30 p.m., emergency crews received calls about a crash on 112 St. W., about 1 km. north of Hwy. 549 between Okotoks and Millarville. 

One person died as a result of the crash, and four others were transported to hospital with serious injuries.

The RCMP collision reconstruction team are at the scene to determine the cause of the crash, and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Saturday night’s snowfall wreaked havoc on roads in and around the city, with icy roads causing a number of crashes.
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

Categories: Calgary

Panthers rough up Flames in Dome affair

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 23:14

Calgary Flames rookie netminder David Rittich has now started and finished games at the Saddledome.

Just not on the same night.

Finally tabbed for his first starting assignment on home ice, Rittich was shelled for four goals on only 15 shots before being hooked early in Saturday’s 6-3 drubbing from the Florida Panthers.

Dougie Hamilton was the bright spot for the hosts, becoming the first Flames defenceman in a quarter-century to notch a hat-trick. The 24-year-old provided a pair of power-play tallies and then scored on a bank-shot from the corner.

The only other good news for the locals? Fans were nibbling on their nails after superstar left-winger Johnny Gaudreau was struck by a shot and then retreated to the locker-room late in the second, but he returned after the intermission and seemed no worse for wear.

The 25-year-old Rittich had made a couple of relief appearances in front of the C of Red, but his first nine starts at the NHL level had all come in enemy territory.

Like the rest of this squad, perhaps he likes the road better.

With Saturday’s setback, the Flames fell to 13-14-3 at the Saddledome.

This night was ugly, both inside and out.

If you were slipping and sliding on your commute, you probably missed the Panthers’ opening strike.

Just 1:09 after the national anthems, defenceman Mike Matheson waltzed into the high slot and sizzled a shot over Rittich’s shoulder.

Believe it or not, the second stanza started off worse.

The Flames equalized on a first-period power play — with Matthew Tkachuk parked at the door-step, Hamilton found daylight on Roberto Luongo’s blocker-side — but the Panthers turned a tie game into a could-be blowout with three goals in a span of 5:05 early in the middle frame.

Just 58 ticks in, Vincent Trocheck breezed between the Flames defence tandem of TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic and chipped a shot past Rittich for a man-advantage marker.

With the Panthers back on the power-play, he was fooled by Evgenii Dadonov’s deflection.

When a shot glanced off Aleksander Barkov and found the back of the net, the Flames’ masked man was hooked after only 26 minutes of work.

Jon Gillies allowed two in relief — a glove-side slapper by Matheson and a deflection off Jared McCann’s shin-pads.

Hamilton marked a milestone — his 400th regular-season appearance at hockey’s highest level — in style. He scored his third of the night with about eight minutes remaining, firing from an awkward angle and watching the hats fly from the rafters after the puck caromed off Panthers blue-liner Aaron Ekblad.

The last Flames defenceman to net a hat-trick was Al MacInnis in March 1992.

Next up for the crew from Calgary is a rare matinee — a Family Day matchup against the Boston Bruins.

Usual starter Mike Smith was spotted on the ice early Saturday morning but remains sidelined by a lower-body injury.

So it’s likely Rittich gets a shot at redemption against the Bruins.

Categories: Calgary

Campus roundup: Defence powers Dinos to Canada West semifinal

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 23:10

The University of Calgary Dinos are headed to the Canada West women’s basketball semifinal for the first time since 2013 after a two-game sweep of the University of Victoria Vikes, thanks to an 80-61 win Saturday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.

Calgary (17-5) heads to play the first-place Regina Cougars for a best-of-three conference semifinal beginning Thursday night in the Queen City.

After a 105-49 whitewash in Game 1 Friday night, the Dinos expected and got a more assertive effort from the Vikes with their season on the line Saturday. However, on the strength of 45 points off the bench, Calgary was able to hold Victoria off to book its ticket to the conference’s round of four — from which two teams plus national host Regina will qualify for the U Sports championship.

“(Friday) night was a completely different story — we had five people in double figures, and then (Saturday) you’re getting it from the bench instead,” said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings. “That’s who we are — each game presents a different scenario, no game is ever the same — so for us to be able to know that if we have a night where it’s not coming from the starting group, the rotations are wonderful options.”

Bobbi Jo Colburn led the way for the Dinos with 22 points in 25 minutes off the bench, with Katie Upham pouring in 11 in just 19 minutes. The Vikes were able to hold the Calgary starters to just 35 total points, led by a dozen from Shannon Hatch.

In a series that was billed as a battle between the high-flying Victoria offence and the stingy Calgary defence, it was the home side’s prowess without the basketball that proved the difference in the two contests. Calgary held Victoria to its two lowest offensive outputs of the season, allowing just 110 points in the two games. Saturday, the Dinos forced the Vikes into 32 turnovers and just 14 per cent shooting from beyond the arc while picking up 16 steals, despite losing the battle on the glass 43-36.

“I think we did win that battle, yeah,” said Jennings. “Not to take away from the efforts of Victoria — they certainly came at us more aggressively, and their defence stifled us a little bit. But I think our defence won the double battle this weekend.”

Aleah Ashlee led the way for Victoria with 16 points, with Amira Giannattasio adding nine and Amy Sprangers contributing eight. Haily Weaver and Ashlee pulled in nine and eight rebounds, respectively, to lead all players in that category.

With the first obstacle cleared, the Dinos turn their attention to the Cougars, who posted a league-best 18-2 record in the regular season. And with the change in playoff format this season away from the Final Four to a best-of-three, the dynamic will be unfamiliar to both teams.

“The way things are, with the three-game semifinal, it’s different than the Final Four was,” said Jennings. “We have two very similar styles — we have two teams that can shoot the ball on any given night and enjoy playing defence as well. This will be a possession game — who looks after it and who makes the fewest errors will probably be successful.

“It should be fun.” will have exclusive live coverage of the semifinal.


The University of Calgary Dinos are two home wins away from a return trip to the national championship tournament after sweeping the University of Saskatchewan Huskies with a 100-76 win Saturday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.

With the win, Calgary sets up the highly-anticipated matchup with the UBC Thunderbirds next week, with the winner clinching a berth in the U Sports Final 8 to be held next month in Halifax. The best-of-three Canada West semifinal will get underway Thursday with an 8 p.m. tip-off, with Game 2 set to follow Friday at 8 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 is set for Saturday at 7. All games will be in the Jack Simpson Gym, and will have exclusive live coverage.

Saturday night, the Dinos were led by fourth-year forward Lars Schlueter, who finished with a season-high 27 points including several dunks in another blowout win following Friday’s 98-73 weekend opener.

“It was new,” said Schlueter, who usually does his damage from beyond the arc, of his inside dominance. “My teammates were letting me hear it, but I had to show them what was up.”

Calgary got off to another strong start on Saturday, going up 27-12 after the first quarter. But after scoring just eight in the second quarter Friday night, Saskatchewan put up 26 in the second quarter and trailed by just eight at halftime, 46-38.

In the third, Schlueter went to work, throwing down a dunk to make it 59-45 and another later in the quarter for a 61-54 score. But despite being up by as much as 19 in the quarter, Saskatchewan kept chipping away and early in the fourth, it was just 70-61. However, point-guard David Kapinga took over, sparking a 9-0 run, scoring six of them as the Dinos pulled away for the 24-point victory.

Calgary outscored the Huskies 30-17 in the final quarter, hitting the 100-point mark for the sixth time this season.

Along with Schlueter’s 27, Kapinga finished with 20 points, while Connor Foreman had 14 and Lucas Mannes had 15 off the bench, as Calgary shot 53 per cent from the field.

Saskatchewan was led by the second-leading scorer in the conference this season, Lawrence Moore, who had a game-high 32 points, playing all 40 minutes.

With the first round behind them, the Dinos will turn their attention to the Thunderbirds in what should be a dandy between the No. 4 and No. 5-ranked teams in the nation. Calgary swept UBC in their season series in November, but the Thunderbirds lost just one game the rest of the year.

“It’s going to be tough,” Schlueter said. “They’re a very good team.”

The winner of that series will play the winner of the Lethbridge Pronghorns vs. Alberta Golden Bears semifinal for the Canada West title, with both finalists qualifying for the national tournament in Halifax.


Double-overtime is starting to become Kevin Massy’s bread and butter.

The double-OT winner to beat the NAIT Ooks on Saturday night was Massy’s third of the year, also achieving the feat on Oct. 27 against the Briercrest College Clippers and on Oct. 7 against the MacEwan Griffins.

“When there’s lots of ice out there, I seem to be able to find a way,” smiled Massy, a Business Administration student. “It’s nice to make things happen like that, but maybe it’s just the luck of the draw.”

His head coach, Dan Olsen, agreed.

“For a big man, he moves really well,” Olsen said. “He’s patient and has good hands, so when there’s room to move around, it’s ideal to have him out there.”

The win gives SAIT a 16-6-3-1 record, while front-running NAIT falls to 21-2-2-1.

Despite Friday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Ooks in Edmonton, Olsen’s team was able to grab three out of a possible four points from the weekend. Mired in a battle for second place in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference standings with the Red Deer College Kings and the MacEwan Griffins, every point gained from here on out is crucial.

“We had to have this win — that was big,” Olsen said. “Next weekend, we’ll need to get four points and see how things shake out.”

In the game, it was all Trojans for the first 30 minutes. Goals by Joel Hamilton (4th year, Cochrane, Alta., Business Administration), Eric Krienke (1st year, Calgary, Business Administration) and Geoff Crisfield (4th year, Calgary, Bachelor of Business Administration) put the home side up 3-0 over the Ooks.

From then, however, it was NAIT’s turn to get going.

Colton Waltz scored on the power play at the end of the second to break the goose-egg on their side of the scoreboard, while Jake Mykitiuk and Thomas Foster scored in the third to tie the contest.

In Friday’s loss, the Trojans blew a 3-1 lead in the third period before losing in overtime. They were determined not to let history repeat itself.

“Friday night, mistakes structurally led to them tying it up,” Olsen explained. “(Saturday), they took advantage of some calls that went their way, but it was good to see the boys stick to it and get the job done in the end.”

In the first overtime period, the teams went to four-on-four play. Chances were had by both teams, but nothing could be solved in the five minutes allotted.

The second overtime period saw the teams shrink down to three-on-three play, with SAIT getting a great chance early when Patrick Martens was sent in all alone, but he couldn’t beat NAIT goalie Patrick Gora.

Massy’s marker came halfway through the five-minute period after coming onto the ice to replace Crisfield after a lengthy shift. He crossed the blueline and was immediately fed the puck from Hamilton.

He made a move around a NAIT defender and closed in on Gora, going blocker side to end the contest.

“Hammy made a good play, and I managed a to sneak by a guy and find a hole,” Massy said with a grin.

The Trojans will return to the ice next weekend in their final series of the regular season. They will host the Portage College Voyageurs for a pair of home games — Friday night at 7 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that we can beat anyone in this league,” said Massy. “It’s just a matter of taking that mindset and using it next weekend.”


A short-handed SAIT Trojans women’s basketball team fought hard but ultimately fell in defeat Saturday night.

Playing without starting guard Alicia and Alexa Tan, the Trojans fell 65-54 to the host Medicine Hat College Rattlers in their ACAC contest played in The Hat.

On Friday night, the Trojans overcame a slow start to win 59-48. Saturday night was not the same, as they found themselves in a 19-7 hole after the first quarter.

“Without the Tan sisters and another slow start, (those are) two things that were pretty tough to overcome,” said Trojans head coach Bir Parmar. “We won the last three quarters, though, so that was nice to see our girls fight hard until the end.”

SAIT falls to 16-3 on the year, still good enough for first place in the ACAC’s South Division. The Rattlers improve to 13-7.

“There were some kids that played some big minutes that weren’t used to that role,” Parmar added.

One of those players that stepped up was second-year post, Macyn Morning Bull. The 5-foot-10 post from Piikani, Alta., recorded seven points while grabbing five rebounds.

“She embodied a mantra that we’ve been following the last little while – doing the next thing right,” Parmar explained. “She made a mistake, hustled down the floor and got the ball back for us, and that really set the tone for everybody else to understand how important it is for us to play in the moment.”

Martina Allen (4th year, Calgary, Bachelor of Business Administration) led the Trojans with 12 points, while Mel Thera (4th year, Winnipeg, Man., Emergency Medical Technician) almost posted a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

The Trojans will finish their regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against the second-place Olds College Broncos — Friday in Olds and Saturday night at SAIT.


A long and tough season has come to an end for the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team.

At 4-19-1, the Trojans finished last in the standings and will miss the ACAC post-season.

“It was a challenge. I think I have learned more in the last seven months than I did in the last seven years,” joked Trojans head coach Kelsey Leifson about her first year behind the bench. “That’s a good thing, though. I now have a new level of expectation of how things should be next year and know what needs to be done both in and out of the room for us to succeed.”

On Saturday, SAIT found itself down 2-0 after the first period when Karlie Bell and Tessa Mitchell scored on Trojans netminder Elisha Oswald (2nd year, Waldersee, Man., Health Information Management).

In the second, Amanda Murray scored to put the Griffins up 3-0 before SAIT responded with a pair of goals 1:45 apart from captain Shea Dolan (2nd year, Rimbey, Alta., Administrative Information Management) and Karmen Mooney (3rd year, Squamish, BC, Bachelor of Science – Construction Project Management).

MacEwan regained a two-goal lead late in the second when Mitchell buried her second of the game.

Nikki Reimer scored for MacEwan in the final period to cement the win for the home team.

“It was tough for our girls to come in knowing that this was their last game and that nothing was at stake,” Leifson said. “We came out a little bit flat, and they got a pair of odd goals and controlled the first. We did an OK job of battling back in the second and brought it to within one, and then another timely bounce for them had us down two again.

“We just couldn’t put the puck in the net, and that was the story all year for us.”


Forward Kathleen Cahoon scored at 15:55 of the third overtime period to give the third-seeded UBC Thunderbirds a dramatic 2-1 victory over the visiting Mount Royal Cougars in Game 1 of their Canada West quarter-final series Friday at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Center.

Tiffany Chiu took possession of a loose puck behind the MRU net and then backhanded a pass into the slot, where Cahoon one-timed a shot off the goalpost to the right of Cougar goaltender Zoe De Beauville. The puck bounced right back to Cahoon, who was able to tap it into the open net to give her team the triumph in the third-longest game in Canada West women’s hockey history.

The only contests to go longer were the five-overtime matchup – with 79:02 of extra time – between Manitoba and Saskatchewan on Feb. 21, 2016, and the Mar. 1, 2014 contest between Regina and Saskatchewan that only ended after 62:30 of overtime.


What better way to end the women’s volleyball season then two Calgary teams facing off?

The host Cougars took on the Dinos on Kenyon Court for the last game of the 2017-18 Canada West season.

Although they lacked home-court advantage, it was the Dinos who came out on top in four sets after a close fight. The final scores were 25-18, 25-22, 21-25 and 25-22.

The Cougars want to recognize senior player Alex Donaghy, who was always a force to be reckoned with on the court, was the lead attacker and Booster Juice player of the game.


Categories: Calgary

Flames teammates thrilled about Backlund’s contract extension

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 17:30

Almost immediately after the announcement, Matthew Tkachuk summed up his reaction with one tap on his iPhone touch-screen — a smiley face emoticon posted to his Twitter account.

As word spread that centre Mikael Backlund had just signed a six-year, US$32.1-million contract extension with the Calgary Flames, other teammates scanned for greener graphics.

“We all texted him pictures of dollar bills and signs that like that,” revealed Flames captain Mark Giordano.

In the world of social-media and group messaging, news travels fast.

Friday’s big news from the Saddledome was certainly no exception.

It was an official off-day for the Flames, but not many of the skating stars waited to share their congratulations with their pal, a focal point and face-off man for the 3M Line.

While the 28-year-old Backlund and his soon-to-be bride, Frida, split a snack-sized champagne — a bigger bottle was on ice for after Saturday’s clash with the Florida Panthers — and some Swedish candies, his phone was buzzing non-stop.

Backlund’s extension carries an annual salary-cap hit of US$5.35 million. When the deal kicks in next season, only four Flames will be collecting larger paycheques —Giordano ($6.75M per), the first-line forward duo of Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75M) and Sean Monahan ($6.375M) and defenceman Dougie Hamilton ($5.75M).

“Obviously, it’s a big day for our organization to get a guy who is going to help us win games for a long time locked up,” Giordano said prior to Saturday’s showdown against the Panthers. “As players, it’s a clear message — that we’re a team that is obviously looking to get to the playoffs and win now. A guy like Backs, he does it all. He is really one of the elite 200-foot centremen in the league, so it’s nice to have him around for another six years.”

Echoed right-winger Michael Frolik, the sidekick to Backlund and Tkachuk on the 3M Line: “He can play any role. If you need shutdown, if you need offence … He can do both. He does it all, and I think there are not many centremen like that. So I think we are happy now that we have him locked up like that.”

With the ink barely dried on this important piece of paperwork, there were a few obvious follow-up questions at Saturday’s morning skate.

* Such as, how will the contract extension impact Backlund’s on-ice performance?

Prior to Saturday’s faceoff, the second-line centre had managed 10 goals and 34 points in 58 outings so far this winter. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially since he’s also a go-to in any key defensive situation, but Backlund admitted shortly after Friday’s announcement that his contract situation had been weighing on his mind and he believes he has “more in myself” than he’s shown so far this season.

“I think that he can even be better,” agreed Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. “You know, Backs is a bit of Ferrari. He’s fine-tuned, right? The way he lives his life, everything has to be in-tune. And I think when you’re negotiating during a year, some of that gets off rhythm. I think this next 20-some-odd games is going to be even better from him.”

* Such as, how will the transaction impact the Flames approach to the Feb. 26 trade deadline?

General manager Brad Treliving isn’t keen on the rental market, but there has been speculation he might be willing to dip into his stash of prospects to add a scoring winger with some term left on his contract.

With the Flames in the thick of the playoff race, it’s hard to imagine Treliving would have fielded offers on an unsigned Backlund, but certainly some of his cohorts around the league would have called to ask if the coulda-been unrestricted free agent was available. With the lucrative long-term deal now finalized, there’s also no need for guesswork about how much loot the Flames would need to set aside to re-up this core piece.

“I know everybody gets juiced up going into the deadline, but our biggest question was Mikael. That was our biggest piece of business,” Treliving said. “You never want to get into a situation where players leave and you get nothing in return. So getting that done was important. And now you say, ‘Ok, we’ve got some pieces where they fit … Can we add to it? Can we add to the group at a price that makes sense?’ ”

* Such as, when is Backlund going to treat the boys to a celebratory dinner?

“I’m pumped for him,” Tkachuk said after Saturday’s morning skate. “To get that over with and make some pretty good money and be a Flame for a long time, we’re all happy.”

Categories: Calgary

Call-up to Calgary a ‘dream come true’ for Flames prospect Klimchuk

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 13:23

The Calgary Flames are back home after a marathon six-game road-trip.

Morgan Klimchuk is back home, and he’s hoping to stay awhile.

Klimchuk was summoned Saturday from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, although the Calgary-raised winger won’t be in the lineup for a Hockey Night in Canada clash against the Florida Panthers at the Saddledome.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said the 22-year-old Klimchuk after Saturday’s morning skate. “It’s an opportunity I’ve been working towards for a long time — the chance to show what I can do at this level.

“So I’m very excited to be here. It’s a dream come.”

It’s no surprise the Flames will stick with the same lineup after they capped their six-game sojourn with Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Predators in Nashville.

With alternate captain Troy Brouwer still sidelined by three broken bones in his face and seldom-used Marek Hrivik suffering an undisclosed injury during practice, Klimchuk was recalled as an extra forward body.

A graduate of the Calgary Buffaloes AAA program,, Klimchuk has 13 goals and 14 assists in 44 outings so far this season in Stockton.

To date, he is the only first-round selection from the 2013 NHL Draft who has yet to log his debut at the big-league level. That won’t change Saturday, but the No. 28 pick from that summer is now closer than he’s ever been.

“If you’re not in the lineup, obviously the way you prepare, the way you practise, the way you handle yourself around the rink … That’s all very important,” Klimchuk said. “But at the end of the day, you want to earn an opportunity to play. That’s giving it everything you have every day, being a good pro, being a good teammate, staying positive and being ready when that chance comes.

“You have to be ready at any moment, and that’s the most I can do right now.”

The Panthers have been rolling as they try to claw back into the playoff picture in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. They have won six of their past seven, including back-to-back road triumphs in Edmonton and Vancouver, and will welcome back goalie Roberto Luongo after a 27-game absence due to a groin issue.

The Flames, meanwhile, are still without the services of their starting netminder Mike Smith, who will miss a third straight contest with a lower-body injury. David Rittich will be between the pipes for the home side.

Smith was spotted doing some on-ice work prior to Saturday’s morning skate.

Categories: Calgary

Highest starts since 2015

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Calgary and area new home builders started the year with the highest number of January new home starts in three years.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) reports there were 651 new home starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area in January, up from 426 starts in January 2017 and the best start to a new year since 2015.

Based on the SAAR, a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of starts, builders are on track to start 10,975 units in 2018.

Here’s a deeper dive into January’s statistics.

Categories: Calgary

Maximize space in your tiny home renovation

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Many homeowners want to freshen up their homes with a series of renovations, but must get creative with their use of small spaces.

It’s a common dilemma, especially with the uptick in condo living in recent years.

Here are some tips for your tiny home reno:

Maximize your organization: When planning a small home renovation, using your space efficiently should be top of mind.
Whether you are making space to store shoes in a non-existent foyer or reorganizing the kitchen to create a better flow, the best fixes are often multipurpose.

For example, use a shelf to store your shoes to save floor space, and consider attaching hooks to hang coats, purses and other accessories.

In the kitchen, try hanging a grid from the ceiling to hang pots and pans, to save on drawer and cabinet storage.

Invest in appropriate appliances: If you are trying to revamp a 600-sq.-ft. studio apartment, you may want to stay away from that six-top, extra-wide gas stove.

Most major appliance makers have developed lines that are just the right size for compact living spaces.

Cut down on new infrastructure: One of the most frustrating challenges for those renovating small spaces is installing new plumbing.

Even if you’re just converting a closet into a powder room, roughing in new piping can be expensive and take up valuable space.

When planning out your new bathroom, consider using a Sanicompact, which is a self-contained, above-floor plumbing system that pumps waste up and away to an existing soil stack, eliminating the need for a rough-in or expensive construction to break the floor.

With a little bit of forethought, your small home renovation can be a fun creative challenge.

— News Canada

Categories: Calgary

Be creative when saving to buy a home

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Homeownership is a goal for most of us and millennials appear to be the most optimistic group. According to an RBC poll, two in five millennials said they intend to buy a home in the next two years. But the cost of homeownership and things such as regulatory changes can make saving for a downpayment more difficult and for many put the dream of homeownership out of reach.

However, first-time buyers may not be looking at all their options. A little flexibility and compromise can help make ownership more accessible when considering the following:

Begin with a starter home: Think about your lifestyle for the next five to 10 years and make a decision based on that. Your dream home in your dream neighbourhood may still be yours, just a bit later in your life.

Get a renter: Could you afford the home you want if you rented out part of it? Many people create a basement suite or rent out a second bedroom as a way to offset their mortgage payments.

Consider co-ownership: Buying a property with family or friends is a great way to get your foot in the door. Discuss options with your mortgage specialist and be sure to establish a solid contractual agreement that will help avoid or mediate any future disagreements when selling the property, renegotiating terms or buying each other out.

Be patient: Style your home slowly. Get creative with chic but less expensive, gently used furniture or pieces that may not last a lifetime but will save you money today.

Go to for more information.

— News Canada

Categories: Calgary

Discover a hidden gem at The Rise

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Calgary’s west end is one of the most popular areas in which to raise a family, and a growing community from Bri-mor Developments has everything families want or need, says Aleem Dhanani, managing director at Bri-mor.

“The Rise at West Grove Estates is a hidden gem that provides homeowners not only with an inner-city lifestyle just 15 minutes to downtown but also the tranquility that comes with living outside of the downtown core and only 60 minutes to the mountains,” says Dhanani. “Being minutes away from the vibrant West Springs and Aspen community shopping nodes, the Rise has all the lifestyle amenities homeowners would desire.

“With grocery stores, great restaurants, health and recreation service options, day-cares and great schools all in the area, families never have to leave Calgary’s West End oasis.”

The exclusive builders in The Rise are Albi Luxury by Brookfield Residential and Cedarglen Homes, with homes ranging from 2,000 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft., starting in the mid-$700,000s.

The location and amenities near and inside The Rise have proven popular, says Dhanani.

“The activity has been excellent with over 90 percent of Phase 4 lots sold and, since being released in fall 2017, 25 percent of Phase 5 lots are already in design or construction stages,” he says. “Residents currently have access to several existing green space amenity areas including natural park space and environmental reserve, a large tot lot and open space area for children, and a reflective park serving as an extension to the natural reserve that flows into a park design promoting peaceful contemplation with natural play structures.”

Soon to be launched is the Activated Park, featuring a community stage, junior soccer field and fitness equipment, providing healthy activities, says Dhanani.

“In all, residents will have access to nearly seven acres of green space all within minutes of their doorstep,” he says. “The parks will bring the community together in fitness, fun and relaxation, and will create an enhanced sense of community spirit.”

Well-defined architectural standards will maintain the value of homes for years to come.

“While we have created an affordable price point offering with The Rise, we did not want to compromise the estate community feel,” says Dhanani. “Together with our premier builders, homeowners can express their own taste and personality while designing their home in the exterior themes of Craftsman, French Country, Arts and Crafts, Tudor and Prairie. Residents can take comfort knowing that each home will be individually approved to meet the strict architectural controls to ensure that the theme of elegance with a modern edge resonates in the community.

“We planned The Rise with families in mind, an overall focus on quality of life and, in the face of such a challenging economic market, the need to deliver true value to our customers.”

Community/Location: The Rise at West Grove Estates/106 West Grove Rise S.W.
Builders: Albi Luxury by Brookfield Residential, Cedarglen Homes
Developer: Bri-mor Developments
Price: From the mid-$700,000s
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 2 p.m.- 8 p.m., weekends/holidays noon-5 p.m.
More Info: Website:

Categories: Calgary

Secondary suite reform opinions wanted

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

The City of Calgary is proposing to change the way secondary suite building permits are issued and is looking for input from Calgarians.

The current system is archaic and has proven to be a test of nerves and emotions.

“Under the existing bylaw, if you wanted to develop a suite in your basement, in your backyard or above your garage, you would have to ask City Council for permission through a land use redesignation,” says Lisa Kahn, growth strategies coordinator at The City of Calgary. “The proposed changes would mean property owners would have the ability to develop a suite without City Council approval, but would still work with Planning and Development staff at The City of Calgary to obtain development and building permits.”

The proposed changes are expected to affect 170,000 landowners in the city. Letters notifying landowners of the changes and an upcoming hearing in council have been mailed out, inviting them to provide written submissions before March 5 or attend the public meeting and present to Council on March 12.

Council will also discuss proposed changes requiring all existing and new suites be part of The City’s Suites Registry Program, which would allow renters to confirm whether a suite they are looking to rent meets safety standards.

“The registry empowers Calgarians to ensure they are residing in a legal and safe secondary suite,” says Marco Civitarese, chief building officer at The City of Calgary. “The online map shows all registered suites that have obtained the necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safety Code requirements.”

To see which properties are affected by the proposed changes, the public hearing details and how to submit opinions to Council, visit

Categories: Calgary

What can $500,000 buy across Canada?

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Included in the Altus Group’s summary of condo markets across Canada in 2017 was a deep look at the figures to compare what buyers with a budget of $500,000 could afford in the downtown areas of various markets.

Not surprisingly, buyers were able to buy larger homes in smaller downtown markets such as Calgary*, Edmonton and Kitchener, when compared to the two largest markets, Vancouver and Toronto.

Here are the findings:

In Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe area, a buyer could find two-bedroom units of more than 1,000 sq. ft. near the downtown of Kitchener that could be appealing to those willing to go outside of the Greater Toronto Area in search of affordability.

Calgary and Edmonton buyers could also find two-bedroom units between 850 sq. ft. and 1,000 sq. ft. in high-rise buildings in desirable areas near the core.

In the Toronto market, buyers would have to settle for a one-bedroom unit with only 430 sq. ft., or approximately half the space of the other markets.

In downtown Vancouver, Altus was unable to find any new condominium apartment units offered for $500,000 or less. In fact, buyers would need to go into nearby markets such as Burnaby to find projects offering one-bedroom units at this price point.

* Downtown Calgary is defined as the area bordered on the north by the Bow River, on the south by 17 Avenue S.W., on the west by 14 Street S.W. and on the east by the Elbow River.

Categories: Calgary

Cooking up fantastic kitchen designs

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

From bold patterns to stand-out pieces, the kitchen is getting a lot of attention from designers this year.

Whether you are planning a reno or new build, these tips may inspire you to create the perfect trendy kitchen island you’ve always wanted.

Make it the focal point: A kitchen island is a natural place for family and guests to congregate, so make it the centrepiece it deserves to be. Not only do marble and granite countertops look luxurious and add significant value to your home, but the natural stone accents also provide a durable workspace that is easy to maintain.

Consider completing the esthetic with a stand-out light fixture to really make a statement.

Make it double-duty: Adding an island to your kitchen is an excellent solution for creating extra storage and counter space for cooking and food preparation. With a few chairs, it often doubles as a breakfast bar, but why stop there? Add an integrated beverage fridge and shelving to store your cocktail glasses for a built-in bar — convenient for frequent entertainers.

Make it functional: Add more function to your basic kitchen island with the addition of a cooktop, sink or dishwasher. Don’t let complicated or expensive plumbing work stand in your way.

The Sanivite drain water pump from Saniflo is ideally suited for use anywhere in the home where additional plumbing fixtures are needed. This above-floor pump is small enough to fit conveniently within a cabinet without taking up too much space, making it the perfect plumbing solution for your kitchen island.

— News Canada

Categories: Calgary

Calgary and Edmonton see strong condo sales

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

The Year of the Condo in Canada — that’s what pundits are calling 2017 due to large sale increases.

“The sales activity across the country indicates that demand for new condominium apartment product was very strong in 2017, but particularly in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),” says Matthew Boukall, senior director at Altus Group. “While we expect to see some moderation in the GTA sales volumes in 2018 given price escalation in recent years, rising interest rates, tighter lending criteria and additional mortgage stress testing, strong demand in Vancouver and Calgary is expected to push new condominium apartment sales higher provided a broader range of affordable product can be brought to market.”

Alberta’s two largest cities had strong sales in 2017, says Boukall.

“New condominium apartment sales in Edmonton grew over 60 percent in 2017, the largest percentage growth of the markets tracked, with 1,289 units sold,” he says. “This significant increase was connected to the downtown condo market where the new Rogers centre attracted buyers to the city’s core, with sales increasing by 160 percent year over year.

“Calgary saw 2,083 new condo units sold last year, increasing 42 percent from 2016. After a two-year downturn, buyers are returning to the market but, unlike in Edmonton, it was the suburban areas, rather than the downtown core, that saw the stronger increases.”

Boukall mentions Cedarglen’s Seton Place and Rohit’s Style projects in Seton, as well as Cardel Lifestyles’ Auburn Walk and the West Campus district as areas of strong sales.

“One of the biggest changes we saw over 2016 is that launch events actually meant something (in 2017) in terms of people showing up and strong sales causing a little bit of excitement from consumers,” says Boukall, attributing three key factors. “Number one, we saw a number of new projects come to market at the end of the year and that certainly pushed up sales. Two is we’ve kind of run down the old supply, so if you’re a consumer looking for something new, 2017 in the back half had a lot of that. Three, what we’re seeing is a return of consumer confidence. People were willing to make quick decisions.”

It’s unlikely the new mortgage regulations will have much effect on these types of buyers.

“A lot of Calgary buyers and Edmonton buyers are five percent downpayment buyers, so they were already being stress tested back with the April decision,” says Boukall. “It probably pushed some buyers into the market (at the end of the year) where they were thinking about staying on the fence and decided to get in but we don’t know at this point if it was a material change.”

Going forward, the condo sales story could be different in each city.

“From an Alberta perspective, (Calgary and Edmonton) were up and we’re not out of the woods in terms of the negative pressures from the oil sector but (2017) was a strong year for apartment sales,” says Boukall. “And that’s a good sign for what 2018 has in store.

“In Calgary, we expect to see a slight increase in overall apartment sales. In Edmonton, it is kind of flat to positives and the only reason we’re saying that is because last year was such a strong year downtown.”

Categories: Calgary

Don’t post travel plans on social media

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Spring break can mean trips to warmer places and, these days, the urge to tell everyone your home is empty.

“Social media has almost completely erased any notion of privacy,” says Steve Kolobaric of Weiser. “This March break, when folks go on vacation, it will not only be the five people in their office who know about it — it’s their entire Twitter following.

“People often forget that a simple status update about their trip can act as a feeding frenzy for thieves, and can actually create a vulnerable and dangerous situation for their home, belongings, and also any family that they may leave behind.”

Kolobaric offers these simple tips for protecting your home while on spring break.

Don’t update any statuses or tweet the dates that you are going to be away. Utilize the privacy settings on social media sites to ensure strangers don’t see anything you don’t intend for them to see.

Be careful when using the check-in feature on Facebook or tweeting about where you are, and be wary of apps that share your location to others.

Don’t Snap or Instagram photos of the new 4K TV in your living room or the vintage Harley-Davidson in your garage. Make sure your front and back doors are locked when you leave your house. It’s important that both front and back doors have a lockset that has a working deadbolt lock as most burglaries happen through an unlocked door.

Be careful to monitor what your children are posting i.e.: “Parents gone all week! House to myself for all of March Break!”

For more information on home security, visit

Categories: Calgary

Supply shortages must be addressed

Calgary Sun - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:00

Over the last couple of years, governments have introduced a series of regulations designed to curb rising household debt levels in Canada, all focused on reducing the demand for housing.

It’s akin to using bubble gum to fix a hole in a tire — it’s not going to work.

For years, the development industry has said the problem is not demand, the problem is supply, particularly in the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver Areas (GTA and GVA respectively).

Obviously, when demand outstrips supply, prices go up. Proof of this is in the GTA and GVA.

Finally comes a report from government agency Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that acknowledges supply is the issue.
The Examining Escalating House Prices in Large Canadian Metropolitan Centres report points to the need to better understand the supply-side issues affecting prices.

The report has been well-received by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA).

“House prices are of course a function of both supply and demand,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of CHBA. “But the national discussion about housing markets so far has focused most on demand factors: Population trends; low interest rates; economic growth; and even foreign buyers. This report asks important questions and starts to give some answers about the key role of supply, meaning lack of appropriate supply, in price escalation.”

Restrictive land policies contribute to price increases, says the report.

“There are a number of reasons that could account for the slower pace of growth in the supply response for single-detached homes,” says CMHC. “First, in areas where the supply of land is constrained for geographic or policy reasons, favourable economic conditions and population growth will lead to higher land prices.”

CMHC makes a number of observations about the availability of land and housing supply:

  • Although the availability and price of land and its regulation are critical to understanding housing dynamics in Canada, there is currently a lack of comprehensive data on either.
  • Limits on land supply lead to greater house-price volatility and macroeconomic risk.
  • The cities with the largest price escalations also are often the ones where housing is most regulated — including long approval times and higher compliance costs and fees.
  • Price booms tend to be concentrated in regions with inelastic housing supply — the inability of supply to increase in response to price increases.
  • There is a need to better understand the underlying factors that limit housing supply in high-priced markets and support more timely and flexible ways to respond to those challenges.
  • The affordability of market-provided homes will be achieved ultimately by across-the-board increases in housing supply.

The report encourages increasing the supply of high-density housing in established and brownfield areas (previously purposed, now vacant inner-city land) of municipalities, rather than greenfield areas.

Yet it acknowledges land restrictions (it calls them urban growth boundaries) for greenfield development increase the cost of housing.
“While urban growth boundaries may have contributed to higher land prices, the desirable outcome from such price increases is greater housing density. Critical to ensuring such density is facilitating redevelopment of under-utilized land,” says CMHC.

All nice and good to make good use of under-utilized land, except for one thing: If supply is increased only in established communities or brownfield areas, the cost of that land will skyrocket, because that land supply is limited when compared to greenfield property.

And high-density housing is not always family friendly.

“In order to address rising house prices and declining affordability, we have to look at housing supply — not just how much, but where and what kind,” says Lee. “There is a significant gap between the type of housing Canadians want to live in and what’s being allowed to be built. We are seeing a major shortage of family-oriented housing.”

CHBA supports a three-level government action plan, in co-operation with private industry, to address housing supply issues and boost the supply of entry-level and ‘missing middle’ housing — medium-density, low-rise in walkable communities with ready access to public transit.

“Getting supply right is critical to meeting the housing aspirations of the next generation,” says Lee.

A report from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) shows sales dropped sharply in January from the highest monthly level on record in December.

But, January sales were still on par with the 10-year average and the national price increased 2.3 percent.

“The decline in January sales provides clear evidence that the strength in activity late last year reflected a pull forward of transactions, as rational home buyers hurried to purchase before mortgage rules changed in 2018,” says Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

So, after record sales in December and a normal January, new mortgage regulations did not lower sales numbers over the two months, but had another effect.

“The piling on of yet more mortgage rule changes that took effect starting New Year’s Day has created home buyer uncertainty and confusion,” says CREA president Andrew Peck. “At the same time, the changes do nothing to address government concerns about home prices that stem from an ongoing supply shortage in major markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Unless these supply shortages are addressed, concerns will persist.”

Homeownership brings a sense of pride and accomplishment and a desire to do better and it should be encouraged.

An increase in the supply of housing, where Canadians want it, must be facilitated.

Categories: Calgary

Roughnecks feast on Stealth for third win in a row

Calgary Sun - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 22:43

In terms of keeping the momentum churning, this was a game the Calgary Roughnecks just had to have.

With an offence and transition game that literally flew out of the gate, Calgary continued on its run, winning its third in a row Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, a 20-12 triumph over the hapless Stealth, now 1-9. The Roughnecks upped their National Lacrosse League record to 4-5.

“We talked about momentum and staying on a steady keel,” said Calgary assistant coach Rob Williams. “I think it started a little slow, but we kept going in the same direction and it took off for us.

“We have a lot of young guys and we have great leaders and it’s coming together with the help of the leadership group. These guys are buying into it and we have to keep doing it. We have a big game against Saskatchewan next weekend and we’ll build from that.”

Indeed, the real test for the confident Roughnecks will be on the road next Saturday against the Rush.

It was one of those nights for the offence, as the Roughnecks fired 66 shots at both Vancouver starter Eric Penney and Brodie MacDonald, who came into the game after the eighth Calgary goal.

Sophomore Holden Cattoni had a career game, 11 points, including five goals. Curtis Dickson had four goals and three assists, while Wesley Berg had three goals and four assists. Even the rookies got into the act — Tyler Pace had a hat trick, Zach Currier and Ryan Martel each had a goal, while second-year defender Chad Cummings had his first NLL tally.

Calgary led 5-3 after the first 15 minutes, but they really poured it on in the second quarter. Dickson, the one they call ‘Superman’, collected the hat trick at 2:57 of the frame, as the Calgary offence continued to feast on Penney. After that, it was Cattoni’s turn to shine.

Cattoni made it 7-3, then performed a perfect give-and-go with Mitch Wilde as the latter collected his fourth goal of the season. Twenty-six seconds later, Cattoni netted another one. The 23-year-old from deWinton made it the second hat trick of the night when he cashed in on a two-on-one with Garrett McIntosh.

Cattoni kept up his inspired play in the second half, collecting his fourth of the game 1:27 into the third quarter. He would add a fifth and six assists.

“I’ve had a couple (good games), but nothing anywhere close to that in the NLL, so it’s kind of nice to break out and have a good game like that,” said Cattoni. “When the team went on an eight-goal run, I had four or five points and it just kind of rolled.

“It’s a big part of our team that everyone chips in and contributes. It’s huge getting goals from the back end and big when we have transition goals; it takes a lot of pressure off the offence.”

The first half ended 13-4 in Calgary’s favour, as the ‘Necks scored 13 times on 35 shots.

The Roughnecks took their foot off the pedal in the third quarter, an unwise move in the NLL, notching just one. The Stealth, whose record belies the talent they possess, were not about to quit. They netted four straight goals to trim the deficit to six goals, still a K2-like mountain to climb.

With six goals in the final 15, including Pace’s third of the game, the Roughnecks bettered their season high of 16.

“It’s pretty cool,” smiled Pace. ” The past few games have been an unreal experience so we’re just hoping to keep it going. Whatever I can do, whether it’s put one in, three in, not put any in at all. As long as we keep winning, I’m happy. Everybody’s supporting each other and we’re just on a good roll right now. We’re coming together more and more as a team each week and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Christian Del Bianco, in his third straight start in goal, had to make some big saves as the Stealth attempted to make a dent in the score. Vancouver pumped 60 shots his way.

The ‘Necks were without offensive stalwart Dane Dobbie, serving a one-game suspension for an illegal crosscheck in the game on Jan. 27 against Saskatchewan. Calgary had put in an appeal, but lost it.



Categories: Calgary

Flames sign centre Mikael Backlund to six-year contract extension

Calgary Sun - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 20:46

When Mikael Backlund arrived Friday at the Saddledome to put his signature on a six-year contract extension with the Calgary Flames, it had just started to snow.


When he and fiancée Frida exited the rink a short time later, heading home to celebrate the US$32.1-million pact with a mini-bottle of champagne, it was blizzarding.

Yeah, again.

“We just started laughing,” Backlund said. “I mean, I think we have enough snow — it can just lay on the ground now and be sunny. That’s what I’d like.”

Despite another wintery wallop, every hockey fan from Bowness to Britannia, from Aspen Hills to Auburn Bay, must have been beaming with Friday’s early-evening announcement that the Flames have locked up their shutdown centre to a long-term pact. The extension, which carries an average salary-cap hit of US$5.35-million, kicks in next season.

The 28-year-old Backlund was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Instead, he is signed at the Saddledome through the end of the 2023-24 campaign.

“I’m very happy it’s done,” Backlund said. “When you think about it, it’s a little nerve-wracking, maybe going to UFA. Of course it crossed my mind but from the beginning, we’ve always said we wanted to stay in Calgary and I’m just so excited and relieved to have it done.

“I’m not going to lie — it’s been on my mind for the whole year. I think I have more in myself than I’ve showed this year, so I’m excited it’s over and hopefully I can help this team even more now and make the playoffs.”

A first-round selection of the Flames in the 2007 NHL Draft, Backlund has grown into a key role in Calgary. The smooth-skating Swede is now entrenched as the middle-man on the 3M Line, skating between wingers Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk on a trio that is always matched up against the opposing stars.

Backlund has tallied 104 goals and 158 assists — before you open the calculator app on your phone, that’s 262 points — in 519 career appearances for the Flames.

He posted a career-high 53 points last season and finished fourth in voting for the Selke Trophy, an annual nod to the NHL’s best defensive forward.

Backlund has 10 goals and two dozen assists in 58 outings so far this winter.

“In a lot of ways, I think he’s just now — if you look at the last year or so — entering the prime of his career,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving. “To me, he’s one of the top two-way centres in the league. You just have to look around at teams that win, and I’ve said it many times how I think you build a team, and that’s right through the middle of the ice — centre-ice, defence and goaltender.

“To get one of those guys that can play in every situation against anybody … You get those guys signed, it’s a good day. We’re happy to get that business taken care of.”

A young hockey fan shows her love for Mikael Backlund during the Superskills event at the Saddledome on Jan. 7, 2018.

The feeling is mutual.

Because Mikael and Frida don’t mind the occasional blast of wintery weather, and the just-extended centre figures he’ll be spending a lot of time in Calgary in the spring and even summer months.

After all, the Flames have superstar left-winger Johnny Gaudreau signed through 2021-22 at an annual pricetag — US$6.75 million per — that already seems like a bargain.

His first-line sidekick, centre Sean Monahan, is under contract through 2022-23.

Top-pairing defencemen Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So the future looks friendly at the Saddledome, even if the outside forecast doesn’t always.

“Me and Frida, we’ve put our roots down here, and it’s our home. We’re just so excited to stay here,” Backlund said. “I’ve been through some tough times here and some good times, and now I’m very excited because the team is only going to get better. The mission here is just to win. That’s what I like about the organization. All they want to do is just win that Cup, and that’s what I’m very excited about it.

“Going forward, I think we have a really good group and a really good team. I don’t think there’s any team out there that we cannot beat. So I’m very excited about our future here.”

Categories: Calgary

Flames defenceman Dougie Hamilton joining the 400 club

Calgary Sun - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 20:41

The milestones are notable, worth acknowledging and appreciating.

But for Dougie Hamilton, Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers — No. 400 in his six-season National Hockey League career — has barely registered as a blip on his radar.

“No, I don’t really care,” the six-foot-six, 210-pound defender dismissed, after being asked if the accomplishment was meaningful. “It’s just another game for me.” 

He explains.

The 24-year-old is grateful for every step of the way; three seasons and 178 games with the Boston Bruins and, after being traded to the Calgary Flames at the 2015 NHL draft, another 221 games in this city.

Drafted 9th overall in the 2011 NHL draft by Boston, Hamilton has been playing in the NHL full-time since he was 19, so forgive him if the time has flown by.

But he’s reached the point where he is an integral part of Calgary’s defence corps now and has found some consistency in his game. The adjustment period is far behind him and he indicates he’s more focused on the day-in and day-out consistency required to play top minutes.

No. 400 is simply a bonus.

“I think I’m lucky to be here and play,” said Hamilton, who has 57 goals and 150 assists in 399 NHL games. “I don’t really think of how much you’re going to play. I never dreamt of playing 1,000 games. You just try to do your best and become your best. That’s the biggest thing I want to do is be the best I can be and never really set goals for myself of how many games I wanted to play. I just wanted to play my best.”

The slick, offensive-defenceman has added an element to the Flames scoring punch but also to their powerplay, playing on the first unit in a formation that has him playing more like a forward than a blueliner. Hamilton is able to get shots on net easily, but also is comfortable joining the rush and jumping into the play.

With a powerplay goal and an assist in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, Hamilton had six shots on net against the Boston Bruins, five against the New York Islanders and six against the New York Rangers.

“It’s a little different for me being in that spot and just trying to work with Dave (Cameron) and do a lot of video and see what’s there and trying to figure it out,” he said. “You need bounces … we just have to keep doing the same things and believing in it and this one was where the results came.”

Playing with the steady captain Mark Giordano on the team’s top pairing has, of course, made a difference.

“We have good chemistry now, obviously,” he said. “We keep it simple and have similar mindsets. Usually I know what he’s thinking and I hope he knows what I’m doing. He’s so good at everything so that helps.”


Categories: Calgary