Friday, October 19, 2012

Calgary, Looking Back, Looking Forward

I spoke to a hotel worker today about my trek across the country last week. He couldn't believe I used to live here, or that I am from Winnipeg originally. Allow me to sum up the three cities I think I know fairly well.

Halifax: A pretty tourist city of 360,000 in the HRM, it has poor areas and very rich areas. The transit system is a joke; you need a car to get almost anywhere if you don't live downtown halifax. Crime is above average for this area, break-ins and a surprising amount of murders still happen. Drugs are a big problem in small towns like Truro and even Halifax. The job market is not great. 11 years ago there was alot of jobs to go around. Now with RIM laying off 95+ and Teletech closing doors, there isn't much very large employers anymore. If you work here you know you're really in a small market area with limited growth. The people are genuinely friendly here, especially those from Cape Breton. The summers are mild and the winters are warm, with a few Nor ' easter to remind maritimers that winter is still around. You get the rare hurricane every now and then, but it's not often.

Winnipeg: A metropolitan city of 760,000 and a city of contrasts: Extreme poverty and gangs in some areas, rich homes in others. Winnipeg has a diverse multicultural environment and a strong Indian and Filipino community. It's very hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter. This is a place of extreme climates. The job market is good, but not as great as the west. Housing costs are slightly cheaper than Calgary and Halifax. Winnipeg has a large art community and unique set of neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it suffers from urban sprawl. New areas are being built while the downtown core is rotting. Certain areas of the city should never be walked out at night when alone, or you will be robbed or shot. There is a lot of aboriginals who drink and have problems with booze - you can see it on the sidewalks and in front of seedy hotels. Sometimes you can see it in decent hotels. It's sad. The plus side: 7-11 is here and traffic isn't too bad at all.

Calgary: The oil patch business center. Rival to Edmonton and home to over 1.4 million people, this ever-growing city is sprawling out faster and faster. Jobs are abundant but the cost of an apartment is the highest in the country. Crime is at a decent level - not too high. The pace of traffic is crazy. People speed everywhere and the police catch you. You either love the big city feeling or hate it. The transportation network is good but could be better. Plans are in the works to expand the LRT by 30 billion dollars in 20 years - something needed for a long time. The downtown shuts down on the weekend - literally there is nothing open. The good news? If you lose your job or get laid off - just apply locally and you'll get hired in no time. The view of the mountains and being close to 7-11 doesn't hurt either.

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