Vandalism or talker? Mystery changes to Calgary slogan signs spur transition talk

Word “transition” suddenly appearing on Calgary city limit signs changes meaning

Though photographs from around the city have been posted to social media, only one was located when we went on the hunt. CASSIE JAMIESON / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

While it’s certainly not official, anonymous additions to Calgary’s roadside welcome signs have spurred local economic conversations.

In mid- June, Twitter users started posting photos of Calgary city limit signs, making note of the faded word added to the end.

Multiple Twitter users have taken photos of the Calgary slogan signs with the word “transition” added to the end.

Critics have long argued that the city – and province – should be forcing a swifter transition to a diversified economy. Oil has been in a half-decade swoon and recently Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has talked about broadening the province’s economy.

Around the city there are 10 slogan signs in total. We checked several, at least one still says “be part of the energy transition.”

Be part of the energy ‘transition’

Some users love it. While some commented saying it’s a hoax or vandalism.

Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon was in the passenger seat when she saw the same thing and thought it was a clever way to get people thinking.

“It was a clever extension about what economic development is in Calgary. Adding in the word transition, I think is pushing the city to acknowledge that we are in the midst of a transition,” said Simon.

She quickly took a photo as they were passing the sign and went to reply to the original Twitter post.

SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER

Simon knows the original meaning of the slogan is not necessarily about Calgary’s longstanding oil and gas industry or even clean energy.

However, in these challenging and changing times, she knows that we need to move forward.

“Just because we’re saying, we want to continue to evolve our energy systems or continue to evolve the economy in Calgary, it doesn’t mean that what came before was the wrong thing to do. Ideally, a slogan would have all those ideas,” said Simon.

Calgary’s old(?) slogan

The City of Calgary has had the slogan “Be Part of the Energy” since 2015.

In a 2015 CTV Calgary article, Mount Royal University marketing professor Patti Derbyshire said it didn’t identify a specific fossil fuel connection.

“The new slogan is so promising because it actually invites people to identify the kinds of energy they want to bring to our city,” she said at the time.

A spokesperson for Calgary Economic Development (CED), who commissioned the search for a new slogan, told CTV News in 2015 that the campaign “was designed to attract businesses and people from outside the city.”

A statement to LiveWire Calgary from CED President and CEO, Mary Moran, read that they’re sticking with the current slogan.

“We are 100 per cent committed to the ‘Be Part of the Energy’ tag line as part of our city branding,” Moran said.

“Now, more than ever, it embodies the energy of Calgarians and their resiliency in challenging times, and that represents the real spirit of our community.”

Adding the word ‘transition’ to the signs wasn’t done by the City of Calgary or the CED, both said.

Simon said, while well-intentioned, the rogue addition might not suit the Calgary.

“I worry that as a slogan [‘be a part of the energy transition’] for what the city means, it might be too narrow,” said Simon.

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