Calgary Select: Blog Archive 2007

Blog Archive 2007

Reality bites Calgary :: General 
Posted: Friday, June 08, 2007 1:07 AM  Administrator Account Edit  
 Are you a big fan of Gordon Ramsay's Hells Kitchen reality show? We definitely are. So last weekend we decided to try a new restaurant that had opened up in South Trail Crossing. A Canadian franchise chain called Cora's, they specialize in breakfast and lunch only. So what is the relation to Hells Kitchen, well let me explain.

One of the really cool things about Hells Kitchen is the way the cooks are in a openly visible cooking area and then Gordon Ramsay as the head chef inspects every platter and does the final garnishes etc. When we walked into Cora's, it was exciting to see a similar setup. All the cooks busy at work preparing meals and the head chef orchestrating everything. As we waited in line for a table my anticipation of a great meal just kept rising. Here at last I was going to experience something similar to Hells Kitchen. Little did I know how true that was going to be!

It started off pretty good, the waitress was friendly and quick to get us some beverages and take our order. As we waited for our food, I managed to finish my first cup of coffee over the course of about 15 minutes. No problem I thought -good food takes time. A second cup of coffee and another fifteen minutes had gone by and now I was getting a little irritated. After all how long does it take to make a few crepes?  So what was  a glowing anticipation started to become disappointment.

Keeping an eye on our waitress, I noticed that now she would disappear into the back (out of sight) for longer stretches of time. Finally I managed to flag her down and reminiscent of a particular Hells Kitchen episode I asked if perhaps I should order in a pizza. Well that got things going and she scurried off to consult with management and the head chef guy. Still no food. From where we were sitting we could see that there was quite a bit of activity in a searching kind of way.

At last about 40 minutes into our being seated the food arrived. The waitress tried to tell me that the crepes took quite a while to cook, but we weren't buying into that.  Sampling the food soon revealed that one of our party had warm cottage cheese on her plate. How did the cottage cheese get warm. If you are thinking heat lamp I would concur.  So flagging down the waitress again, I told her of this and other issues with our food.

This now prompted the Chef to come and visit our table where he explained what I believe to be the truth. A combination of two unfortunate events. He explained that on that particular morning only half of his staff showed up and they were all the newbies. I can sympathize with that since good help in Calgary is a whole complete topic (Calgary boom). The second event was that they had actually lost our ticket and the food had been sitting under the warming lamps.

So here is where Gordon Ramsay would have done things differently. I am confident he would have tossed the food in the garbage and made the staff do it over. Cora's chef instead gave us a 50% discount on the food and hoped that we would come back again.

Will we try it again, absolutely. Since we had so much time on our hands waiting for the food we did observe other guests receiving very tasty looking food in a normal amount of time.

Cora's is located at 46th St. S.E. & 130th Ave, look for the plaza just south of the Canadian Tire store.
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Homeless people vs Soccer & Hockey etc Calgary :: General 
Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 1:15 AM  Administrator Account Edit  
 Today's Herald talks about the soccer fiasco but leaves the parting shot that City council would be better served by concentrating on the 300 homeless people being displaced.

Are you flipping kidding! To make light of this situation is incredible. I was left with the impression that the Herald thinks this is a non issue.

An active sports community be it hockey, soccer, lacrosse, baseball etc pays huge dividends to the citizens of Calgary. Participation in sports touches so many aspects of "being alive" I don't even know where to begin.

See my other comments at
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Shaking out the winter cobwebs Calgary :: General 
Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2007 3:22 AM  Administrator Account Edit  
 Well spring looks to be here or is it just a series of Chinooks, it doesn't matter. Yesterday we hauled out the bikes and hit the Fish Creek pathways. Where did we go? We started in Mckenzie Lake and went north through Douglasdale. The city has now fixed the eroded bank on the bow. We crossed through the "unofficial" pathway by Burnco and then all the way to the Calgary Zoo. Approximate round trip 5 hours. It was really great and only on the last half kilometre or so did my legs start to complain. Not quite sure how far that is but I suspect it is pretty close to 40 K round trip.

I highly recommend it.
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Working & Living in Calgary Calgary :: General 
Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2007 2:39 AM  Administrator Account Edit  
 I can't believe it has been since November that I have added anything to this blog, just like everyone else in Calgary caught up in the crazy hectic day to day rush to get things done. I received an interesting email this morning though that made me want to put aside enough time to add this entry. Below I am including some non-identifying portions of this timely email:

"So far, your blog has the most complete information about actually living in Calgary. I’ve been looking for real life testimonials about this all around the internet with no good luck until I found you. My story is very simple. I am not a resident of Calgary yet, but there’s a possibility that I will become one in the next few months. What I am searching is to know how much taxes will I have to pay there and how much money will I need every month to survive

I am from and live in <another country> but a company there is asking me to join them and probably moving there. They are asking me how much would I like to earn, but I have no idea of how much is spent every year and what expenses can be deducted. To start with, I would really appreciate if you could tell me how much will I pay for food, rent, clothing and every day stuff while living there. I am a single 30 years old man. The idea is to save as much money I can so going there becomes a good idea


Also if you know this, from the total income, how much is paid in taxes in Alberta every year, supposing I have earned CAD $ 72.000,00?"

So, there is lots of information out on the web about this and certainly the newspapers scream out about it from time to time but it can be daunting to pull it all together so I will try to put together some links to information that will be useful to anyone considering a move to Calgary. Before I do that let me pass on 1 tip on how to evaluate such a move. Make the effort to go either to an airport or if your city has one , an international news dealer and pick up the Calgary Herald newspaper or the Calgary Sun. Do this for a week solid and you will  begin to get a flavour of what things are like here.

Wikipedia has a page that ranks cities by "most expensive cities for expatriate employees". The data comes from the Mercer Human Resource Consulting 2006 survey. Calgary in that report ranks 71  which is up from 98 the previous year

 Royal Bank offers a Housing Affordability Index  but I can tell you without stats that housing in Calgary is going through the roof and I believe rentals are still difficult to come by, so naturally the price for rental accomodations are high.

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp states on their site "The centres with the highest vacancy rates in 2006 were Windsor (10.4 per cent), Saint John (NB) (6.8 per cent), and St. John’s (NFLD) (5.1 per cent). On the other hand, the major urban centres with the lowest vacancy rates were Calgary (0.5 per cent), Victoria (0.5 per cent), and Vancouver (0.7 per cent)." Read the full report

Calgary Economic Development has some data on their site ( a bit dated as it is from 2004) but it can provide a base idea to answer the question about taxes  and left over purchasing power. (personal taxes haven't varied a great deal between 2004 & 2007)  In their Calgary example they use an income of $100K  and suggest that after Federal taxes, Provincial taxes, CPP, Medicare  the leftover amount would be $72,129.00 this being an effective tax rate of 27.8%

Statistics Canada offers us the Consumer Price Index

Calgary in 2006 was 141.3  which appears to be the highest of the cities listed. Are you wondering what the Consumer Price Index  (CPI) is . From Stat Can's guide, it is  a measure of the rate of price change for goods and services bought by Canadian consumers. More precisely it is the cost of a fixed basket of commodities. See this pdf

Some real life examples of costs are:
Friday was A& W fast food for lunch, 3 burgers two fries (food for 3 people) about $17.00
My favourite brand of Rum $25 per bottle. Smokes are about $11 per pack (yeah I know Calgary is going smoke free but that is another topic). The most common price for buying a pop (Coke or Pepsi) from a vending machine is about $2.00 (handy since we can use a toonie). Gas prices  as of today were about $0.849 per litre but that is before the sneaky disount of 3.5cents at the pump. A pair of jeans will range from about $20.00 to $100.00. Marks Work Wearhouse tends to be about 35 to 50 for a reasonable pair.  42 inch flat panel TV's range from $1300 to $2500 (I mean you have to have one right?). Expect to pay between $4 to $5 for that pint down at the pub. Like the cinema? Figure on $12 per person plus snacks will be extra. Generally if we go ( 4 of us) I usually anticipate about $75.00

Here is another thing, it used to be that people were very accepting of things that were $25 or less and so that became the price point target for a lot of things, I think this has now moved to $50. Consider how close to $50 the following items tend to be:
Telephone bill residential phone line
Television cable bill (without the digital extra channels)
Internet access - high speed
Taxi fare - Airport to downtown
Other utilities ( per person)
Round of Golf (average course)
Ski Lift ticket

I surmise that $50 is the new $20
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