Calgary is turning into Toronto

For the record, I don’t consider this a good thing.

My first real opinion of Calgary formed a few years ago when Therese, Stuart, Gerry, and I were merging onto Crowchild Trail one day. Stuart was driving like he did in Southern Ontario: everything is a competition and you need to beat the other guy.

He sped down the on-ramp, spying a gap in traffic and gunned the engine. We were accelerating rapidly, Stuart muttering something about not letting the sucker catch up…

…only to find that the driver on Crowchild had slowed and given us a wide margin of room for entering the road. We were all dumbfounded.

But that was the way Calgary used to be. Courteous. You could bring traffic to a stop merely by looking towards a crosswalk. People said “hi” to you just because. Going out of your way to assist someone was normal, not an oddity.

The boom has come with many things good and bad. And all the bad things that tend to come out of big cities has bit Calgary hard. People ignore each other. You’re almost more likely to get spat on rather than smiled at. You’re more likely to hear “whaddya want?!” than “how may I help you today?”. And drivers have turned completely aggressive.

As a pedestrian, you have practically walk out into the middle of the road with road flares before traffic will stop for you. Driving anything smaller than a Cadillac Escalade will get you squashed by all the oversized pickup trucks, minivans, and SUVs. And expect to be repeatedly cut off by people blatantly passing you (while you’re doing 10 km/h over the limit) so they can pass in front of you 20 metres before the off-ramp, rather than (God forbid) slow down and come in behind you.

Accidents are way up in this city. Homicides are way up. Break-ins, assaults, drug abuse (and production).

I’m very curious to see if things ever revert to the way they were when the boom ends a few years from now. My guess is it won’t. The courteous Albertan has likely been completely corrupted by the assholes from the East. And it’s bringing out my Eastern asshole a lot, too. I thought it dead having lived here for so long. But it’s back.

I need to find a nicer place to live. I left Toronto for a reason.

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