Mayor Nenshi, Mayor-elect Iveson, I have Mayor Robertson on the line …
Gregor Robertson: Naheed! Don! Guys, way to go! I can’t believe this! This is so totally cool! We’re like a Western triangle of goodness now, like.
Both: Thanks, Gregor.
Naheed Nenshi: The reason we’re calling is to just sort of pick your brain, dude …
Don Iveson: Exactly. I know we’re all on the same page here. And I know Naheed has already got Calgary well on its way, but we want to take it to the next level. You know, densification, bike lanes, shunning the suburbs, shaming car drivers – like, really going for it. Like your Greenest City thing.
GR: Heh, easy now there, Don! The Olympic Village wasn’t built and paid for in a day, you know.
NN: Ours was.
GR: You know what I mean, Nensh. So you’ve already done the “promising to end street homelessness” thing, right?
NN: Sure, we said we’ll end homelessness in 10 years. What’s up with the qualifier?
GR: Trust me, it’ll become important. What about you, Don?
DI: Two words, pal: “task force.” I promised one on poverty if I got elected.
GR: Awesome. Throw the word “Mayor’s” in front of it. Make it yours. Own it.
DI: Great idea, man.
NN: So, I spent a lot time in the campaign talking about how sprawl is a bad deal for everybody, you know, how we’re actually subsidizing people and creating an incentive for them to live in the burbs. It’s a tough sell, though.
GR: I get it. We’re the same, but because we’re split up into, like, 22 municipalities or something, it’s not really my problem. But here’s what you do: When people start pushing back, tell them you’re going to set up a citizens’ assembly.
NN: Dude, what is that?
GR: I haven’t got a clue. Sounds good though, right?
DI: Sure. But seriously Gregor, how did you persuade so many people to live downtown?
NN: Yeah, we’re trying that right now, but the idea isn’t exactly catching fire.
GR: First up, tell them they’re saving the planet. Hit them with that small footprint stuff. Like, they’ll be able to give up their cars and walk everywhere. Not original, I know. But convince them that living in a 450-square-foot condo above a Starbucks is cool.
DI: People think that’s cool?
GR: You just need the right marketer. I got a guy. I’m texting you his number right now.
NN: But what about parks and playgrounds and schools? That’s the part we’re having trouble with. I mean, if all of these people buy into this, and move downtown, and then, like, have a kid or something, we’re looking at new schools and daycares and stuff.
GR: That’s the beauty here. You don’t actually need to build the schools. You just need to set the land aside. After that it’s up to the province and when people complain that they’re busing their kids across town you can say, “We gave them the land, yo. Talk to your MLA.” Hey, Don, have you guys had an Olympics yet?
DI: No, it’s not really the sort of thing I see Edmontonians ...
GR: Dude! They are awesome!
NN: I have to say, it was pretty cool. I mean, I was, like, 16.
GR: Do it. And both of you need to get on the bike-lane thing.
DI: We’re on it. We’re painting them in everywhere …
NN: And we’ve got some sweet paths down by the Bow ...
GR: That’s cool, but you have to take it to the next level and start taking away car space on the roads and giving it to bikes. You need to actually impede car traffic in a serious way if you want people to take you seriously.
DI: You know, I love my bike, man, but that sounds risky. Don’t people who have to drive cars get kind of mad about that?
GR: I don’t know. I never really thought about that.
NN: You know it snows here, right? So biking year-round isn’t an option.
GR: Whatever. And food trucks! Get some food trucks ASAP. They don’t generate a lot of revenue, but the media will never stop talking about them.
DI: Okay. Let me think about that.
GR: Don’t take too long, man. Just do it now. They elected you to do it, so just do it! Gotta go. Got China on the phone here. You know how they get. Namaste, brahs!
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