2012 was a good year for Calgary. Just one look at calgary2012.com will show you that Calgary is diversifying. While still focused on big business and cowboys, Calgary has also put more energy and money into being a city that celebrates the arts and grass root initiatives. Many of the positive strides the city has experienced are due to the leadership of Mayor Nenshi. Calgary is growing and changing – it certainly was a good year to be a Calgarian. The following list covers the top events in Calgary (and sometimes Alberta as a whole) in 2012. Of course, not all things in this list will be positive, but Calgary has experienced a tremendous year and continues to be a destination city for many.
10. Alberta gets tough on drinking and driving
The new laws that were implemented on July 1, 2012 and September 1, 2012 aim to crack down on drinking and driving throughout Alberta. The new laws lower the legal limit to .05 and introduce stronger consequences for those driving at the .05 to .08 level, and even tougher consequences for those over .08. Now, if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol level between .05 and .08, you will face an immediate three-day licence suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure. Drivers with a blood alcohol level over .08 will face, among other consequences, a criminal charge. The new laws have forced drivers to change how they drink when out for dinner or out with friends in the evening. Many bars have noticed the change, with patrons coming in larger groups, assigning designated drivers and enjoying fewer drinks over the course of an evening.
9. NHL Lockout
2012 will surely be remembered for the lockout of the NHL. In Calgary, like every other city with an NHL team, the lockout has been felt at many levels – the bars have felt a decrease in patronage, the Saddledome, obviously, has experienced a major decline in business, those in the media who cover hockey have been left with little to talk about and the fans, who are so passionate about hockey, have had nothing to cheer about so far this year. Here’s hoping that 2013 will see this issue resolved so that the players can get back to playing and the fans can get back to cheering.
8. Calgary Stampeders make it to the big dance
With the NHL being locked out, Calgary sports fans had to fuel all of their energy into the CFL and their beloved Stampeders – and they were taken on quite a run. The Stampeders made it to the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto, matched against the home team, the Argonauts. The game was well fought, but the Stampeders came up short and lost to the Argonauts 35 – 22.
7. West LRT line opens
I wrote about this in a previous article, but it really does need to be on this list because it’s a big deal – the LRT expanded to the western edge of Calgary, which opened up a whole new world for commuters. The expansion was one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Calgary, with construction spanning 3 years and costing $1.4 billion dollars.
6. Summer Storms
This was the summer of crazy weather in Calgary. It seemed like every other week we were dealing with high winds, large hail and severe rain. According to Environment Canada, one particular storm that tormented Calgary Aug. 12-13 ranks 9th on their list of Top 10 weather stories of 2012. The storm, which caused about $552 million in insured damage, is the third time in just as many years that Calgary has cracked Environment Canada’s Top 10 weather stories list. Here’s to more peaceful skies in 2013.
5. The on-going struggles at The Glenbow
The Glenbow Museum is located in downtown Calgary – just steps away from the Calgary Tower, and a block away from the beautiful Epcor Centre. Established in 1966, it is one of Western Canada’s largest museums with over 20 galleries that proudly display a selection of the Glenbow’s collection of over one million objects. That sounds like it should be a wonderful place to visit, but the Glenbow struggled to stay afloat in 2012 due to a myriad of financial issues. 2012 was the third year in a row that the museum faced budget cutbacks; that, alongside major deficits, high staff turnover rates and cutbacks to employees’ salaries indicate that the Glenbow Museum may need to rethink how they do business in 2013.
4. Mayor Nenshi will run again
Beloved Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced on November 7th that he will run for a second term in office. “I’m pleased to announce today that I will be a candidate in the next municipal election,” Nenshi announced in a video posted to his website. “I’m in! I am in with everything I’ve got. I’m in because I still love this city, if possible even more than I did two years ago and I’m in because we have the opportunity to build something even better.” The announcement was met with much support and happiness from residents in Calgary who have been very pleased with the work Mr. Nenshi has done in his first term.
3. Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo
Calgary experienced a Hulk-sized growth in attendance at this year’s Comic & Entertainment Expo. Surpassing 50,000 attendees, the 2012 comic con was the biggest one in the event’s history. The rapid growth was met with mixed emotions from the expo’s organizers – while they were very pleased with the growth, they were disappointed that many people had to be turned away from the doors due to the overwhelming attendance. One of the major draws of the expo was the reunion of the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including the surprise addition of John de Lancie, who played Q on the popular show that at its peak was a phenomenon larger than Grey’s Anatomy. The reunion coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the show and Paramount Pictures even filmed a documentary about the event to be included in future Star Trek releases. Another major draw for the expo was the presence of Stan Lee who co-created with Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko almost every superhero you’ve ever heard of. Adam West, the original Batman on television was also in attendance. The success of this year’s expo is one that the city should be very proud of, and the organizers are already planning on making the 2013 expo accessible to even more people.
2. The election of Alison Redford
On April 23, 2012, Alison Redford celebrated a decisive victory when she was elected as the Premier of Alberta. Redford had a double reason to celebrate, as her win cemented her place in history as the first female to ever be elected Premier in Alberta. After her victory, Redford spent the rest of the year dealing with many problems that surfaced within her new government. Much opposition came from the now infamous Wildrose Party, particularly its leader Danielle Smith, who Redford ran against in the 2012 campaign.
1. Calgary Stampede Centennial
The annual Calgary Stampede, which is always a big deal in this city, somehow found a way to become significantly more popular this year. The exhibition celebrated its 100th birthday this year and did so in a huge way. If the 2012 Stampede grounds felt busy to you this year, you’d be right – the Stampede broke attendance and ticket sales records, with 1, 409, 371 people reveling in the birthday celebrations. Along with this huge surge in attendance, the centennial Stampede also boasted huge firework displays that spanned the entire city. Aptly titled ‘Light Up the City,’ Calgarians were able to enjoy five international-scale fireworks displays that occurred simultaneously at locations all around the city during both weekends of the Stampede. The displays made it the largest and most sophisticated firework event ever produced in Canada. Ticket sales for the 2013 Stampede are already tracking at the same rate as the 2012 numbers. The possibility of another huge Stampede has both organizers and attendees looking ahead to July with huge anticipation.