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The votes are in! What you said was Calgary’s top 2021 local news story

There was an interesting split on the top local news story in Calgary, as voted on by both the public and our LiveWire Calgary members.

According to our LWC members, the Sean Chu story was the biggest story of the year. Then, it was a three-way tie between the election of Jyoti Gondek as mayor, the overall Calgary election, and the Guidebook / Local Area Plan debate.

  1. Sean Chu story

T-2. Guidebook, Jyoti Gondek election, YYCCC election overall

5. COVID-19

LWC readers, (we call them future members…) saw things a little bit different. On nearly 150 votes, there was a clear winner. Here are the top 5 vote-getters, with an explanation of each

1. Guidebook / North Hill Local Area Plan

Planning was a hot topic in 2021, with the attempted introduction of the Guidebook for Great Communities, later called the Guide for Local Area Planning and the North Hill Communities Local Area Plan.

It exposed a division between those interested in more density and compact communities, and those wanting to preserve the character, design and feel of single-family home neighbourhoods, with the careful addition of density.

2. COVID-19

While it may have been the top story in 2020, it slides to number two in 2021 among readers.  The third, fourth and beginning of a fifth wave crashed down on Calgarians this past year, causing overwhelming medical system stress, colliding ideology, and frustration with mixed messaging.

In some cases, it pitted friends and families against each other, businesses dealing with patrons, and outright contravention (unpunished, of course) of public health rules.

3. Election of Jyoti Gondek

On Oct. 18, former Ward 3 councillor Jyoti Gondek was elected as Calgary’s 37th mayor. She won handily over former Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas and former Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison.

Gondek became Calgary’s first-ever female mayor and immediately put her stamp on the city, making a climate emergency declaration a priority for the new council.

4. Calgary Flames arena

This storyline peaked at the end of 2021, with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation walking away from the now-estimated $650 million deal for a new Event Centre.

A revised deal was approved in July 2021 after it was put on pause to arrange better terms for CSEC and to have the project manager (Calgary Municipal Land Corporation) ousted.

5. Sean Chu story

Sean Chu spoke to the media regarding allegations brought up against him during the election from his time as a Calgary Police Service officer, at City Hall in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

After excellent journalistic work by both CBC and CTV, revelations about Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu surfaced regarding his sexual contact with a minor more than two decades ago. Chu was a Calgary police officer at the time.

The story broke three days before the Oct. 18 election, but after the advanced vote had been done.  Chu ended up victorious, but only by a margin of 100 votes over challenger DJ Kelly.

Chu has since refused to resign.

The best of the rest:

  • Calgary’s election – There were 10 open seats with no incumbents, resulting in one of the biggest political turnovers in Calgary’s history.
  • YYCCC Budget – Calgarians will usher in the new year with a roughly four per cent tax hike. That’s after millions in additions were tacked on to the original City of Calgary budget. It started off with a modest bump of one per cent.
  • Other – No additional information was given, but Other takes eighth spot. It could be the ongoing opioid situation, or perhaps Calgary’s homeless situation, which was in the spotlight late in the year as temperatures dropped.
  • Intense heat and smoke – It was a warm one this summer in Calgary, with a seemingly endless string of 30+ Celsius days. There were 21 30 degrees days split between June, July and August. The yearly average is five.
  • Alberta curriculum – After being rolled out to much derision and ridicule in March 2021, the province made changes. These will be reviewed in early 2022, with an expected rollout in English Language Arts, Math and Phys-ed / Wellness. Social studies is to undergo more revision.
  • Calgary climate emergency – Despite all the social media uproar on it, news readers put Calgary’s climate declaration at the bottom of the story list this year.