Copyright © 2000. All Rights Reserved
by Maureen McNamee
· Downtown businesses in Calgary are thriving while retail sales in every other Canadian downtown core slowly and continually decline, according to a new study from Torontos Ryerson Polytechnic University. Businesses in Calgarys core seem to be shrugging off market changes like the proliferation of suburban big box retailers and rose 13 per cent between 1989 and 1996, according to the study. Every other major Canadian city reported a decline in downtown retail sales during that time. Calgary outpaced growth in Vancouver by 24 per cent and in Toronto by 40 per cent. The study, by Jim Simmons of the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, blames the decline in most cities on the continual expansion of retail shopping centres and the growth of big box facilities in suburban areas. It also says the death of Eatons contributed to the decline. Calgarys downtown retail market, however, has managed to weather those changes, and downtown businesses now account for 13 per cent of the citys retail sales.
· A conference beginning Thursday will give vendors of Calgary Street Talk a chance to meet and learn from representatives from similar newspapers across North America. The North American Street Newspaper Associations annual conference takes place in Edmonton, and Calgary Street Talk vendors will attend for the first time. They will join more than 100 delegates from all over North America and Europe to discuss issues like urban journalism, the rights of the poor and the Internet on the street. The four-day workshop is held in a different North American city every year, and its proximity to Calgary allows local vendors to attend this year, sponsored by the North American Street Newspaper Association and local donations. The newspaper supporting Calgarys homeless recently celebrated its third anniversary.
· A local agricultural association is offering educational tours of organic farms beginning this week and continuing later in the summer. The Sustainable Agriculture Association, a non-profit Calgary group promoting regenerative farming techniques, is staging the tours. They take place on area farms producing organic and sustainable crop without chemical fertilizers, and are open to members of the public. The first tour takes place on Saturday, July 22 beginning at the Maplewood Acres Market Garden in Armena, near Camrose, Alberta, at 1 p.m. The tour will be hosted by Doug and Margaret Lyseng, who have successfully marketed their organic vegetables, herbs and fruit on both local levels and for large-scale operations. They will discuss their agricultural strategies and their own operation. The second tour will take place on Aug. 12 at the Highwood Crossing Farm in Aldersyde, south of Calgary. This tour will explore Tony and Penny Marshalls oil processing plant that produces Highwood Farm flax oil. The tour will also feature a short hike and interpretive tour of native prairie plants. More information is available by calling the Sustainable Agriculture Association at 283-9577 or 1-888-561-2555.
· Upstart local TV station A-Channel has managed to steal the talents of former CFCN news director Robert Palmer, who will head up news and entertainment programming at A-Channel later this summer. The 20-year journalism veteran will leave his post overseeing Calgarys highest-rated local television news program and begin at A-Channel in August.
"I think its a great catch for us," said Dixie Baum, spokesperson for A-Channel.
The station has also announced the formation of a new half-hour lunchtime news program that will kick off later this year. The station already offers local news during their breakfast show, at 5 oclock, 6 oclock and a night-time news broadcast. "News@Noon will provide a unique venue for Albertans looking for breaking news coverage throughout the day in addition to entrenched local programming," the company says in a release.
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