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The Calgary Eye Opener

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Monday, May 31, 2004
Noblesse Abuse - Some Calgarians are more equal than others.

Calgary prides itself on being democratic but here are two instances and, as time goes on we will describe others where rich, powerful Calgarians have thrown their weight around and not carried their weight

Noblesse Abuse - Throwing Your Weight Around in Calgary

Not carrying their weight - the preferential taxation of the Calgary Golf and Country Club

The Calgary Golf and Country Club charges $50,000 for memberships. Members blackball (refuse membership) to citizens they don't like - until about 20 years ago, they excluded Jews. The Eye Opener has learned that these would-be aristocrats are avoiding their fair share of taxes - that the City of Calgary is fobbing off the Country Club's taxes on ordinary taxpayers.

Nearly every summer evening he was mayor, Calgary's former wimp mayor, Al Duerr, and his wife, Kit Chan, drove, shot, pitched and putted their way over 133 exclusive acres of green, gated, manicured fairways and greens owned by the elite members of the Country Club.

The Eye Opener has learned that the former mayor's golfing buddies exclude the great unwashed (a.k.a. Joe Calgary Taxpayer) from the golf course property but refuse to pay a fair share of Calgary's property and education taxes.

For every dollar the City of Calgary tax the Country Club elite in property and education taxes, the City plucks nine to twenty dollars from Joe Taxpayer. In July, 2003, the City paid $287,000 per acre for part of the Canyon Meadows Golf Course located much farther south on less valuable land than the land owned by the Calgary Golf and Country Club. But the City still taxes Duerr's Country Club buddies on a value of only $14,000 per acre. The City is, therefore, assessing the Country Club members at least $273,000 or 20 times less than it should. The Eye Opener applied the City's Non-Residential Tax Rate (2.05%) to the $287,000 difference and discovered that in 2002 this elite band of Freddy the Freeloaders paid $745,000 less than they should have. At the Residential Rate (.89%) the elite avoided $323,000 each year.

Mayor Duerr often lobbied the Federal and Provincial Governments for a portion of Federal gasoline taxes and the right to impose income taxes as is, quite properly, Mayor Bronconnier. But Mayor Bronconnier, how about collecting a fair share of taxes from Calgary's Big Shot golfers?

Elbow Drive and Forest Lawn

The Rich Folks of Elbow Park live far from Forest Lawn. The Rich Folks' families earn an average $135,000 a year (Forest Lawn families earn $35,000). Many Rich Folks don't work outside their homes at all and as we know, the Devil makes work for idle hands. Over the last 75 years the Rich Folks have relieved their boredom by lobbying and bullying city politicians and bureaucrats. Heaven help the challenged-childrens' home or women's shelter that tries to set up shop in the hallowed boundaries of Elbow Park - Not In My Backyard.

The Rich Folks operate through the Elbow Park Community Association lobby group. They've gotten themselves designated a charity: they hold casinos and so compete against legitimate charities. They've got $50,000 in their bank account. Alderman Barry Erskine faithfully attends their annual meetings like a stray dog hanging around a campfire.

The Rich Folks have progressed to controlling and congesting traffic along Elbow Drive, even though Elbow Drive is a major artery into the City. Some years ago the Rich Folks lobbied city bureaucrats into creating Calgary's longest playground zone along Elbow Drive - south of the Elbow River, Elbow Drive has not one school or bona fide playground. Big Brother at City Hall has permanently stationed a radar equipped cop in Garden Crescent near Elbow Drive and 4th Street SW.

Drive along Forest Lawn's main thoroughfare, 17th Avenue SE. 17th Avenue abuts three schools. The Big Brothers at City Hall allow a 50 kilometre per hour maximum all along 17th Avenue SE and, in a drive through, the Eye Opener did not spot one cop.

Please provide us with other instances of abuse of power in Calgary.

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