TRAVELING EMPTY CITY STREETS
Updated: Jun 7
There’s always a good reason to visit the inner core of any City: to witness the hustle and bustle of traffic, to see the masses of people heading to and from work. The City centre is the pulse, the energy, the excitement of any large municipality. But today is the exception!
Today, we are facing an economic downturn rivaled only by the Great Depression. Today, Cities like Calgary are not living up to its namesake of, Feel the Energy. And frankly, for the past 2 months I have had no reason to visit the core, until today!
All I have heard is that rush-hour has virtually disappeared. That there are For-Sale and For-Lease signs everywhere. That there are more homeless people on the street than those in suits and ties! Somehow, I find that hard to believe. Optimistically, the headline of a November 2019 article in the Calgary Herald read,
“ Better economic times are coming in 2020…The Calgary economy…is expected to grow by two per cent as the energy sector stabilizes…”
But let’s be real! Since November 2019, a lot and I mean a lot has changed! Case in point, COVID-19. Restaurants have shut down! Businesses have sent their employees home to work remotely. City council has cancelled large events like the Calgary Folk Festival and yes, the ‘Come Hell or High Water’, Calgary Stampede…after 108 consecutive years has been cancelled! But I wanted to see this with my own eyes. My own reality.
On a typical workday, I remember a sea of red stop lights outlining the 4th avenue flyover into the downtown core, then to be welcomed by a symphony of green, yellow, and red lights at each corner. The sound of horns reacting to a distant jaywalker or an overzealous driver. I remember circling the block numerous times wishfully hoping that a parking spot would become available. Or the delivery trucks routinely double-parking to take care of the task at hand.
From my last accounts, we are 8 weeks into this quasi-reality with only the slightest of hope that our familiar reality will return sometime soon. I’ve heard it been said that we don’t appreciate something till its gone! Not sure how I feel about this today. On the one hand I do enjoy the freedom of the open road within the city but am torn between the reality that the stifling noise of traffic and the smell of exhaust brings with it the symbolic hope of prosperity.
Calgary is by no means in an apocalyptic state. But riding thru the core today is a sobering reminder that our current state will destroy our economy, our social well-being, and our mental health. Oh, wait, my Motorcycle will take care of the mental health part of it...the rest is up to chance and a good scientist. See you on the Open Road.
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