Plan It and the Calgary Herald

Okay I was wrong.

In a previous blog post I said Plan It Calgary — the city’s 60-year growth plan — would be in for a rough ride once it reached council in June. Turns out it may not even make it to council in June as some aldermen are moving to delay the vote .

Meanwhile Naheed Nenshi’s column on Plan It in this morning’s Calgary Herald is sparking some valuable discussion. Nenshi is clearly a Plan It supporter and his column reveals as much. But there was this odd note appended to the end of his column:

(Read The Editorial Board’s Differing Point Of View On Plan-it. Go To Licia Corbella’s Blog Corbella Report At calgaryherald.com)

I nearly hit the roof when I read that and it wasn’t because of the bizarre hyper-capitalization. The note reflects an intolerance for dissenting and nuanced commentary. The Herald editorial board see has nothing but contempt for Plan It. They’ve flatly dismissed the plan as a waste of taxpayer money. That’s fine. They’re entitled to that opinion (even if it is arguably ill-informed). But why can’t they keep their fingers out of freelance columnists’ work?

Here’s a sampling of the editorial board’s Plan It analysis. On March 14 the Herald called the plan “an outright scandal” because of the $6.3 million spent on the plan. No mention of course of how Plan It is intended to save the city billions of dollars in the future.

Citizens said the editorial should be furious. “Flipping through Plan It even after all controversial references rejecting Asian malls have been removed and it’s a light 300 pages full of fluff.” Never mind that this sentence is grammatically disjointed. It’s also wrong: there never were any references to Asian malls in Plan It. That reference was in a separate report commissioned as part of the Plan It process. It was never in the Plan It drafts (the municipal and transportation plans). And that’s according to the Herald’s own reporting .

So why when someone finally offers a more nuanced (and accurate) take on Plan It in the editorial pages does an editor tag it with a ridiculous disclaimer?

Over at the CivicCamp blog Calgary author Chris Turner — a guy who knows a thing or two about journalism — is ripping into the Herald for the decision. He points out that a note like that is “way outside standard operating procedure for newspapers” that it says: “Please please please Herald reader don’t think we agree with this guy.” His take is that the note “is the voice of a terrified establishment.”

Let ‘em have it Chris. This kind of discussion is long overdue. Herald readers deserve much better than this.