AHEAD OF THE HEARD
It must have been too quiet for Mayor Nenshi of Calgary after being declared the “Best Mayor in the World” by some obscure foreign group. Speaking offers must have been slowing and the legions of adoring media were no longer chasing him for his every word of wisdom. That must have been hard on his ego, so why not stir up some issue that will get the public and media’s attention and get himself some more self-glorification. No one will argue that he is very good at that along with raising property taxes every year.
Nenshi’s political PR flak artists had to search long and far but they think they found a free publicity machine by beating on a meat processing plant in Rocky View county just outside the Calgary City limits. He is demanding a scientific study of noise, odour and air quality that might come from the plant. His o so noble concern is the quality of life of the nearby citizens. Firstly it should be stated that the meat processing plant has been there for a number of years and received all the necessary operating permits from Rocky View county. It processed live cattle for a year and then processed just carcasses. It is now under new management and wants to resume live cattle processing. The plant was retrofitted at a cost of $20 million and would reduce nuisance impacts even more than when it was first opened. By the way it will create 100 new jobs, apparently that doesn’t matter to our Mayor.
There are a few points that the Mayor forgot to mention: The City tried to block this plant from being built in the first place – but the original builders moved it just across the city limits. Then when the city refused to connect the plant to city water they thwarted that blackmail by laying in water line from an irrigation canal in the county. Clearly the city has had it in for this plant.
There is the conflict-of-interest matter that Mayor Nenshi lives in Northeast Calgary which is sort of close to the plant.
When the plant was processing live cattle no one noticed, smelled or complained and no one knew when they stopped processing cattle. That may have to do with the fact that the meat plant is located across the road from a sulphur processing plant that spews tons of emissions into the air through smokestacks every day. I guess that’s okay and doesn’t bother citizens of Northeast Calgary.
The Mayor’s concern for noise may be due to the fact that he seems unaware that the plant is within sight of the Airport, Stoney Trail and QE 1 highway. I expect an endless stream of aircraft landing and taking off and the passing by of tens of thousands of trucks and other vehicles would drown out even a bomb going off in the area.
One almost hopes a study is done on air quality in the Northeast – local citizens would be shocked to find they are actually living in a fog of carbon monoxide, sulphur fumes and a soup of petrochemical toxins like benzenes and methanes. But that’s ok I guess being the Mayor isn’t writing letters of protest to anyone about those pollutants.
That causes one to wonder have there been scientific studies done of other noise and odour causing businesses in Calgary and is there any concern for area residents. It isn’t just people in the Northeast that live near industrial activity. Livestock including poultry are processed in other facilities right in Calgary city limits. Calgary has foundries and landfills within sight of residential areas - what about those poor long-suffering citizens, doesn’t the Mayor care about them. Obviously there is no political hay to be made with those folks.
One could cite so many other hypocrisies that implicate the Mayor in this issue, but what is truly shameful is his attack on Alberta’s cattle producers. How disgraceful for the Mayor of a city that uses its “Cowtown” heritage to drive its Stampede publicity machine to attack the very industry that established the city.
Every year Mayor Nenshi attends and speaks at the Old Time Rangemens’ Dinner – the annual gathering of Alberta’s ranching industry establishment. At that event he expounds profusely on the positive contribution of the cattle and beef industry to Calgary’s economy and history. Perhaps with his recent comments against the most critical component of the cattle industry he is showing how he really feels about the cattle industry. Shame on the Mayor!