Page 1

AirdrieLIFE spring 2010

Vol. 6 | no. 2

yoUr LiFe. yoUr Magazine

WORKING

WOMEN homebuilding, auto mechanics & emergency services ... just another day on the job

lenA spiCer licensed Mechanic

if you had to take your driver’s test again

ROB ANDERSON’S

COULD YOU PASS?

The Airdrie

political Journey

ANOMALY

Do we live & Work in a bubble?

CHANGE

is a GOOD thing

eXperTs and reADers share all! plus

WeddingLIFE 2010

speCiAl seCTion

AIRDRIELIFE.COM DIsPLAy UntIL

June 3, 2010

LIFEstyle | COMMUNITY | HOMES | CITY | WORKS


airdrielife.com

Group Publisher

EDITOR

Copy EDITOR

DESIGN MANAGER

CONTRIBUTORS

Sherry Shaw-Froggatt

Vanessa Peterelli Kim Williams Sergei Belski, Stacey Carefoot, Alex Frazer-Harrison, Kelly Gannon, Elizabeth Hak, Ellen Kelly, Kurtis Kristianson, Carl Patzel, Kristy Reimer

Well, spring is almost here and so many of us are

Patzel’s photo memories of the Olympic Torch Run

looking forward to renewal and growth … just as

as it came through our community and columnist

soon as the snow melts.

Joan Bell’s travels with yoga.

ADVERTISING SALES

With that in mind, this issue of AirdrieLIFE shines

My own life ‘makeover’ mirrors some of the ex-

the spotlight on local people who have ‘renewed’

periences of the people we meet in this issue.

Distribution Manager

their lives in a wide variety of ways – MLA Rob

Just under two years ago, I left the relative se-

Anderson (page 54), whose move across the

curity of a full-time job as a newspaper editor/

floor is not so much a change as the continued

reporter to become a freelancer, as I finished my

progression of his life in public service; Prairie

master’s degree in strategic studies.

Angela Burford

Wendy Potter-Duhaime Lindsay Krausnick

ADVERTISING PRODUCTION

Contact Us

Cody Nielsen Jeff Cummings, Kelsey Santucci

PRINTING Print West

Editorial anne@frogmediainc.ca Advertising wendy@frogmediainc.ca lindsay@frogmediainc.ca Web angela@frogmediainc.ca Accounting carla@frogmediainc.ca

Where to find us AirdrieLIFE is delivered by Canada Post to all homes in Airdrie and surrounding areas. If you do not receive an issue in your mailbox please email distribution@airdrielife.com AirdrieLIFE is also available at more than 50 locations around the city including the Airdrie Calgary Co-op. You can also find AirdrieLIFE in every showhome in the city and at more than 100 locations in Calgary. AirdrieLIFE is published quarterly by Frog Media Inc. with the co-operation of the City of Airdrie Economic Development Department.

VOLUME 6, NUMBER 2

ISSN 1916-355X

Contents copyright 2010 by Frog Media Inc. May not be reproduced without permission. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement, and all representations of warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not of the publisher. EDITORIAL POLICY AirdrieLIFE editorial is not for sale. Editorial is completely independent from advertising, and no special editorial consideration or commitment of any kind can form any part of the advertising agreement. All editorial inquiries must be directed toward the editor. A copy of Frog Media Inc. Writers’ Guidelines can be downloaded from the editorial page on our website. AirdrieLIFE does not accept unsolicited submissions. Freelance writers and photographers interested in assignments are asked to send an inquiry, with samples from at least three published magazine articles, to editorial@airdrielife.com

4 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Sun Creations owner Sue Metheun (page 88), who reinvented her business and headed off in a

Just before last Christmas, when AirdrieLIFE publisher

successful new direction; high school mechanics

Sherry asked me to take on the editor’s responsibili-

teacher Lena Spicer (page 92), whose educa-

ties, my first thought was, “Do I really want another

tion and career paths have taken many interest-

job in which I have to make decisions?” The an-

ing turns along the way; and Nicole Haake, our

swer, of course, was a resounding “Yes.”

AirdrieLIFE makeover winner (page 22), who has learned that she truly is a mom with Wow!

I am excited to be a part of the AirdrieLIFE family, taking my inspiration from the really incredible

This issue, we also celebrate the inspirational

women with whom I work, as well as our wonder-

women of Airdrie – innovators, leaders, entrepre-

ful contributors and the community at large. This is

neurs who are making a difference, pursuing their

yet another step along my ever-evolving life jour-

dreams, tackling careers in traditionally male-

ney … although I’ll be the first to admit that I still

dominated fields, carrying on family legacies.

don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

We also present our second annual WeddingLIFE

So sit back, enjoy AirdrieLIFE’s ode to spring and

section, showing you how easy it is to plan your

relish the thought that life will once again renew

whole wedding right here in Airdrie!

in just a couple of weeks … or months!

As well, check out our regular features and columns. And don’t forget to log onto airdrielife.com to peruse our great web exclusives, such as Carl

Publisher’s LIFE

Web Manager

editor’s note

Anne Beaty

Anne Beaty, EDITOR

It had to happen some day. To be better at

a change. How appropriate that I turn this

my role as publisher I had to give up my title

page over to Anne now.

as editor. It was easier than I thought, thanks to our new editor, Anne Beaty. Anne is a familiar face around Airdrie and

To Anne, I share the best words of wisdom I have heard in a long time. They resonate very close to my heart:

it was very important to me that my role be

“Work hard, be kind and

filled by someone who cares as much about

amazing things will happen.”

where she lives as I do. Anne immediately

- Conan O’Brien

shared her passion and enthusiasm for this new role in her own life, and in turn has

Thanks, everyone, for being a part of my LIFE.

made my life and this LIFE better. This issue celebrates women and making

Sherry Shaw-Froggatt, Publisher


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Contents Spring 2010

88 Regular features 13 That’sLIFE 15 Artist Profile 16 Musician Q&A 34 LIFEtimes 49 Rural Roots

44

Contributors

SPECIAL FEATURE 25

WeddingLIFE 2010

Spring 2010

Sergei Belski, photographer The biggest change in my life happened when I decided to take my career in a totally different direction. I started out working as a database administrator. One day, I stopped enjoying it. I had always loved taking photographs and had my camera with me at all times. I’m a strong believer that you should be happy going to work and love your job, so I decided to become a professional photographer. I have been doing it for years now and never been happier. It’s great to do what you love! Stacey Carefoot, writer, columnist

I have never been a big fan of change and find comfort in the constant and steady things in my life. Recently, after accepting the Co-op Whole Health Challenge, I have had to change everything from my diet to my morning routine and have realized that with some change comes opportunity and reward.

Kelly Gannon, cartoonist When I found out I was going to be a father for the first time ... suddenly, things that seemed important before were no longer relevant in my life.

Alex Frazer-Harrison, writer I have been a freelance writer and editor since 2001. The most important change of direction in my life happened when I was laid off from my full-time newspaper job and entered the world of freelancing. I haven’t looked back.

6 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Describe an important moment of change/direction in your life. Elizabeth Hak, writer, photographer It’s a cliché, but the birth of my son changed the direction of my life. Before him, I worked a 9-to-5 job, went out in the evenings and had a nice comfortable life. After him, I rediscovered the Calgary Zoo, the joy of chicken fingers, tobogganing and a silliness that only kids can appreciate. I love you, Peanut. Ellen Kelly, writer, columnist Having my first piece of short fiction published ... validated me as a writer and gave me the confidence to pursue both creative and freelance writing.

Kurtis Kristianson, photographer It’s one thing to dream about an amazing life, but when you finally take that first step toward your goals, it actually begins to happen. Courage is not what you need to take the first step. Courage is what you have once you’ve actually taken that first step. I quit my day job; now I’m living my dream!

Carl Patzel, writer, photographer My life changed the moment I took my first job in the newspaper industry. It moved me out of Calgary/Airdrie for 19 years and brought me many new experiences and friends.

Kristy Reimer, photographer I went to college having no intention of ever becoming a photographer and had never even owned an SLR before. Just before my second year of college, I totally changed my direction and applied to the photography department, and thus my career was born.


78

LIFEstyle 11 Greek for Good 18 Healthy Changes 20 Cooking with Eggs 22 Makeover Madness: from MOM to WOW! 24 What’s Happening Community 35 The Write Stuff 37 Hair-Raising Experience 41 Just for Kicks 44 Chicks and Sticks 51 Turning Points 54 Close Up: Rob Anderson

22

Homes 58 Real Estate 60 Developer Profile: Cooper’s Crossing 62 Photo Feature: Home Again 66 Builder Profile: McKee Homes City 76 Keen’s Reflections 78 Emergency Leader 80 Resources on Patrol WORKS 84 The Airdrie Anomaly 85 Survey Says 86 Strategic Expertise 88 Sunny Side Up 90 Learning Curves 92 Automatic Education

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LIFEstyle Driver’s Ed | 13

Get Cracking | 20

WeddingLIFE | 25

MORE LIFEstyle online: read our popular columns online – Anne Gets catty in PetLIFE, Brad’s got a new gadget in TechLIFE, and Joan

keeps fit on the road in FitLIFE plus contests, recipes from Paros and much more! Airdrielife.com | YOUR LIFE IS ONLINE!


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IT’S ALL GREEK TO HER

LIFEstyle | Chefs

STORY BY ANNE BEATY | PHOTOS BY kRISTY REIMER

Good food is just part of the bond between the community and effrossini Tzigalanis

effrossini whips up a bath of her “world-famous” tzatziki

E

ffrossini Tzigalanis is a modest woman. She works incredibly hard at her local restaurant, Paros on Main, to ensure her customers feel welcome, yet she expresses gratitude to those customers for her success. Tzigalanis opens her restaurant doors every Christmas to those in need in the community, yet she attributes the positive response to the

volunteers from Community Links who help her. She was honoured with Airdrie’s Ambassador Award in 2009 for her outstanding contributions to the community, yet she shrugs off the accolades and insists that she is simply doing what is right. Tzigalanis is one of those people who exemplify thoughtfulness and compassion and

demonstrate what it means to be an integral part of a caring community. Originally hailing from Kalamata, Greece, Tzigalanis moved to the Calgary area in 1986 with her husband, George, who is Canadian. Leaving behind her extended family in Greece, she took on the challenge of carving out a new life in a city many times larger than Kalamata Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 11


LIFEstyle | Chefs

and a country with a much harsher climate than Greece. It didn’t take long, though, before she knew that she and her husband had made the right choice of where to put down their roots. “I like it here,” she says, “I mean, Greece is beautiful because of the water and family and friends, but … [Canada] is the best country and it’s good for the kids. It’s a better life here.” While she enjoys going back to Greece on vacation, Tzigalanis loves to come home, although she does admit to occasionally missing the mild Peloponnese weather and the ability to simply step out into the garden and pick fresh vegetables virtually year-round. But her children – Louis, 22, and Mario, 21 – were born here and the Tzigalanises appreciate the opportunities available for them in Canada. “The kids, they can be whatever they want to be,” she says. When it comes to business, hard work is nothing new to Tzigalanis. Her family owned a restaurant in Greece, where she put in long 12 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

hours as she was growing up and learned the ins and outs of running such a business. She pursued her education to ultimately become a nurse, a profession she practiced for 15 years, while at the same time helping out in the family business. Now firmly established halfway around the globe, she spends many, many hours at her own restaurant, only taking off Easter Day and Christmas Day each year. While a health condition keeps George from being able to physically assist at the family-run restaurant, his moral support is strong, and Louis and Mario are mainstays at Paros. “They help me a lot,” their mother says. Before opening the restaurant in Airdrie, Tzigalanis ran Paros on Fourth in Calgary. She had to move her place of business when the block in which it was located was taken down to make way for new highrises. Her decision to open a restaurant in Airdrie came as a result of pleas from loyal customers to bring her special brand of culinary magic to this community. While she was a bit worried when Paros on Main first opened, she soon found herself welcomed with open arms as she began to get to know the people of her new community. “They’re friendly, helpful. That’s why I’m still here,” she says. And when, working in conjunction with Community Links, she started her Christmas dinner event three years ago for families in need in Airdrie, the response was wonderful. “I open the door for the people, I give the food, we have a Christmas tree [and] Santa Claus for the kids,” she says. “Every year we have more families … and that makes me happy, because I can do something. It’s a beautiful day, I think. That’s the most beautiful day of the whole year.” The event is a good example of how well business and social services can work together in Airdrie. While Tzigalanis provides the venue, food and cooking expertise, Community Links volunteers organize, serve the food, clean the tables and help in the kitchen. “They’re very nice ladies,” Tzigalanis says. “The Community [Links] ladies … work hard for that day, it’s not just me.”

Tzigalanis’s generosity and concern for the welfare of her community stem from longheld family values: giving not because one has something extra, but because “whatever I have, I can give half from my plate,” she says. “You have to give. The families, they need it.” Even with that outlook on life, she still points to the community as inspiration. “I feel like the community, they support us. I think it’s good to start giving something for thanks,” she says.“They’re nice people, so I want to thank them. I’m happy because they care.” Paros on Main may be doing well, with its fine reputation spreading far and wide, but for Tzigalanis, success isn’t measured in dollars. Rather, it’s the positive response from her community – for her business, as well as her philanthropic pursuits – that gives her the most gratification. “The community is very supporting,” she says.“I love it here.” For now, the Tzigalanis family still lives in Calgary – the place where Louis and Mario were born and raised and think of as home. However, Tzigalanis says, she did grow up in a smaller town and she and George would love down the road to move to Airdrie and establish their roots in this community even more firmly. They will be more than welcome – a sign of just how much Tzigalanis means to this community is that her customers now call her “Mama.” “They come here, they bring flowers, they hug me, they come in the kitchen and say,‘Hi.’ They, I think, keep me going,” she says with a smile that lights up her face. “I love what I’m doing,” she adds. “People, they love the food and that makes me LIFE happy.”

MORE LIFE ONLINE

This Easter, why not try two traditional Greek recipes from the kitchen of Effrossini Tzigalanis? Arnaki Exohiko (Lamb Country-Style) and Tsoureki (Sweet Easter Bread): Find the recipes at airdrielife.com


LIFEstyle | Column

That’sLIFE By Stacey Carefoot

A Crash Course in the Rules of the Road When writer Stacey Carefoot agreed to get behind the wheel in the company of a driving examiner it began as a challenge, transpired into an awakening and quickly spiralled out of control – ending in complete failure.

I don’t recall being nervous 20 years ago when I set out to take my first and only driver’s exam. Perhaps it was the ignorance of youth or maybe because I was living in a haze of hairspray and Cindy Lauper music; nonetheless, at 16 I thought I knew it all when it came to driving. Now, after 20 years, with age have come wisdom

and a tremendous number of miles behind the wheel and under my belt. When given the challenge of revisiting the experience of taking my driver’s exam I happily, almost arrogantly, accepted the assignment. Our driving skills could only get better and more polished with age, right? Wrong. My driving examiner (let’s call him The Big Guy to protect his identity) emphasizes the importance of keeping up on the rules of the road and practising safe driving techniques.“Over time,” he says,“drivers acquire habits that are unsafe.” To brush up on my technical knowledge and perhaps aid in my practical skills, I decided to try my hand at the online practice exam provided by the Alberta Motor Association. This exam is intended to mirror the one taken by drivers acquiring a Class 7 or learner’s licence. I set aside half an hour and took the test. Three hours and five exams later, I finally passed. Frazzled and scared, I wondered if accepting this challenge was really such a good idea. With the road test quickly approaching, I found myself paying more attention to things I hadn’t considered in years. Hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 … or is it 9 and 3? Parking on an uphill slope: wheels in or wheels out? What time are school zones in effect? Yikes, I was actually beginning to lose sleep. Finally the time came. At the registry office The Big Guy squeezed himself into my husband’s tiny commuter car. I chose the car over my SUV partly because I was trying to impress The Big Guy with the car’s opulence and mostly because my SUV was filled with hockey equipment, dance shoes and all the other clutter that comes with being a mom on the run. I quickly learned that the only thing that would impress The Big Guy was Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 13


LIFEstyle | Column

CARSTAIRS GOLF CLUB good driving. As we departed on my quasi exam, the butterflies in my stomach took control and I rolled through a stop sign to face the first of many deduction points. The next challenge was the parallel park, one of the many tasks I pride myself in doing with perfection. This time, though, because of the icy streets and my out-of-control nerves I got the car stuck on approach and my parallel park got a failing grade. On to the uphill parking challenge. I was determined not to let The Big Guy win. With confidence I drove the car into position, turned the wheels out from the curb, put it in park and grinned; I had tackled this one with a vengeance. “Close,” he said,“but not good enough.” Who knew that when parking on an uphill grade we turn our wheels out, put the vehicle in neutral and allow the car to roll back to hit the curb before engaging the emergency brake? Hitting the curb with my husband’s high-performance tires could have led directly to divorce, but The Big Guy didn’t seem to care about stupidly expensive tires. He cared about really good driving. Somewhere between the incident at the railway crossing and the mishap at the crosswalk, I realized that had this been an actual exam I would have failed when the registry office was still visible through my rearview mirror. It was a good reminder that although we may have been driving for a long time, with age does not come wisdom behind the wheel and experience has not made me a better driver. How about you? Take the Alberta Class 7 Learner’s Licence Practice Test at www.ama.ab.ca LIFE and find out. 14 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

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LIFEstyle | Artist Profile

W

She knew just what to do Hoodoo Designs creator Christine Taylor Story by Ellen Kelly | Photos by Kristy Reimer

hen Christine Taylor and her family moved from Calgary to Airdrie in 2008, she wondered if her fledgling business, Hoodoo Designs, would be adversely affected by relocating to a smaller community. She needn’t have worried. “I’m amazed at the support for small businesses in Airdrie, especially women in business. Airdrie has turned out to be the best possible launching point,” Taylor says. With an interesting and high-quality product to offer, a firm marketing plan and the energy and courage to follow through, Hoodoo Designs has made a mark on the community and was chosen by the City of Airdrie as the Small Business of the Month for November 2009. Taylor says she’s always been creative. “When I was in college, I didn’t have a lot of money, so I’d go to garage sales and buy wooden shelves, make them look all shabby chic and then paint flowers on them – that’s how I started,” she says. Then, after working in IT in the oil and gas industry for 10 years and designing handmade wedding invitations, using her artistic talent and graphic design skills to create beautiful wedding stationery for brides-to-be on the side, she decided the IT job took too much time away from her family and was too technical to satisfy her creative nature. After months of careful planning, Hoodoo Designs was born. Inspiration came from the need to stay home with her son and in finding something she was so passionate about doing that it didn’t seem like work. “It was great to know I could stay home and be creative and actually make money,” she says. “It’s become a full-time business and it’s crazy how fast that has happened.” Creating unique jewelry started as a small idea, but it has grown to be a main focus of the business.“I attended some bridal fairs with the idea of creating wedding stationery and wanted something that would stand out,” Taylor says. “I made glass pendants to attach to my business cards, but sold them all before I got to the wedding fair. I would wear them and people would ask to buy them.” Always interested in Internet promotion, Taylor began to follow similar businesses (wedding invitations, jewelry and child-specific sites) on Twitter. Her big break came when she connected with Jann Arden, a long-time personal idol. “I contacted her, never thinking she’d reply. We started chatting and in June 2009 she said she’d been to my website and loved my photo pendants.” Arden was looking for something unique for her tour beginning in November 2009 and commissioned Taylor to make glass pendants, featuring Arden’s own “angel” artwork, to sell while on tour.“It was a real thrill to do this,” says Taylor. Taylor’s jewelry has attracted other celebrities. Singer Dawn Langstroth has worn the Wisteria (antique-inspired) jewelry and while performing at the Canadian Country Music Awards, Donny Anderson wore a pendant Taylor designed for him. In November, through contacts with a gift box company in Vancouver, the Airdrie entrepreneur was invited to present her jewelry in the celebrity gift room at the Whistler Film Festival.“Once you get that first big break, like Jann Arden or the Whistler Film Festival, it’s a lot easier to market yourself,” she says. Hoodoo Designs produces Wisteria necklaces (rings, earrings, necklaces, bobby pins), glass pendants (using photos or designed by Taylor), Little Expectations (pregnancy pendants), wedding stationery and birth announcements, as well as digital Christmas cards, party invitations and other announcements. Taylor also does graphic LIFE design for several Airdrie businesses, and designs logos and business cards. MORE LIFE ONLINE

CHECK OUT MORE OF TAYLOR’S TALENT ONLINE AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM EXCLUSIVE AIRDRIELIFE CONTEST! WIN A HOODOO DESIGNS PENDANT AND CHAIN ENTER ONLINE AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM

Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 15


Lifestyle | Musicians

Q&A

with

Conductor

Patrick king

Photo courtesy of Roy White

Story by Elizabeth Hak

In 2006, Airdrie’s Patrick King, 26, completed his bachelor of music degree from the University of Calgary and promptly took on the world to conduct in Germany, Ukraine, Bulgaria and North America. But Airdrie is still home. Even with the city’s growth in the past few years, King likes how it still has that ‘smalltown atmosphere’ about it. As a talented clarinettist, King still likes to take his place among fellow musicians to transform notes on a page into harmonious music. However, his passion is directing musicians to be their best and to bring music to life for audiences to appreciate.

16 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

How do you train to be a conductor? The most important thing for conductors is to gain experience. Knowing the music really well is important, but you also have to know how to get that sound out of the musician. Has it been difficult so far? There have been a number of times when I’ve doubted myself. It’s not an overnight event where, all of a sudden, you’re a conductor. You keep gaining experience and studying. There have been tough times, but it’s how you get through them that’s important. Is it easier to be a conductor or a musician? You know, you think something might be easy when you’re observing someone, but then you get the actual experience of doing it and you go, wow, this is a lot more difficult than I was expecting. Will you stop playing the clarinet as your conducting career takes off? I hope to continue to perform. I think it’s necessary in order to stay sharp as a conductor, as well. What has been your favourite conducting moment so far? It would have to be a New Year’s Eve concert I did in Leipzig, Germany, in 2008. It was a tremendous concert. It was in a church packed full of people and world-class musicians. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever experienced. How did you get that gig? By taking the initiative. I sent some demo DVDs to various concert management companies. When this offer popped up, I took it. If you could conduct anyplace in the world, where would it be? In Vienna, Austria, at the Musikverein, where the

Vienna Philharmonic plays. That would be a great place to be. Do you prefer to conduct large orchestras or smaller ensembles? I find the smaller orchestras to be more challenging. There’s no one to hide behind. You’re most exposed, so if something does go wrong, people might notice it more. What is your favourite piece to conduct? Last year, I conducted Beethoven’s First Symphony and it was one of the neatest experiences I’ve had. These pieces have lasted for 200 years and they still seem very fresh. What do you have planned for 2010? I’m planning an event for Aug. 21 at the EPCOR Centre’s Jack Singer Concert Hall called A Journey Begins. The concert will be with a full professional symphony orchestra. A DVD of the event will be used for my master’s degree application for conducting schools in the U.S. and Canada. Where would you like to study? I’ve been to New York and Boston and I think the music schools there would be a tremendous addition to my educational experiences. But the city life is as important as the campus life. I went to a concert with the New York Philharmonic once and to see those world-class orchestras and to see that standard of playing would be a real bonus. What will the program be for A Journey Begins? The pieces will challenge all aspects of being a conductor. Some standard stuff, some technically demanding stuff, some very lyrical and expressive works. Music that challenges and shows what I LIFE can do.


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hing this

LiFestyle | Wellness

spoil yourself with oil

e

The

O live oil

contains monounsaturated fat, a healthier type of fat that can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels in your blood. Extra-virgin or virgin olive oils are the least processed forms, so they’re the most heart healthy. A Calgary Weight Management Centre approved food.

Challenge SOMETIMES YOU NEED A PLAN BY STACEY CAREFOOT

I

have been blessed with great genes; the women in my family tend to live a very long time. Recently I decided that since the odds are I’m going to be around for a lot longer I should really start taking better care of my body. Not that it’s abused – don’t get me wrong. I don’t drink copious amounts or smoke, I get plenty of rest and until recently I thought I ate a well-balanced diet. Like most women, I believed I could stand to lose some of the junk in my trunk and since my baby is now 11, it’s due time I stopped blaming those extra pounds on child-bearing. My beliefs were confirmed not only by the scale, but also by a visit to a fitness expert who knows how to use his callipers. Mr. Calliper claimed that in order for me to drop the excess pounds I must drop the useless carbohydrates and empty calories from my diet and get moving. After seeing my results and pulling myself together, I needed a plan. Enter the Co-op Whole Health Challenge. tHE CHALLEnGE

p lenge y Co-o Calgar Health Chal ntre ent Ce Whole anagem ght M y Wei ar lg with Ca

Look for the Calgary Co-op Whole Health Challenge sticker at Calgary Co-op to find dietitian approved foods.

www.calgarycoop.com 18 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

With Co-op membership card in hand, I entered the challenge. Held in partnership between Calgary Co-op and Calgary Weight Management Centre, with prizes and events sponsored by a host of other groups in and around the area, the Co-op Whole Health Challenge embraces a balanced approach to health and fitness. Armed with a desire for a healthier lifestyle, I threw caution to the wind and am now well into my third week of the 12-week challenge. sEttInG GOALs

One of the first things asked of challenge participants is to set an attainable goal. This is easier said than done. As a busy mom, I set a goal every morning: to get through


the day without having a nervous breakdown. Co-op was looking for something a little more specific, so I settled on a few simple goals to begin with. I resolved to eat a healthy breakfast every day, include more fruits and vegetables in my diet and, finally, make all my lattes skinny, regardless of what kind of a day I am having. PLAnnInG AHEAD

In the short amount of time that I have been involved in the challenge, I have learned that eating well means planning ahead. Eating what you’ve planned and not how you feel is extremely important. The days of consuming half a bag of nachos while making dinner have been replaced with snacking on a handful of almonds. Planning ahead also ensures you are meeting your daily nutrition requirements as set out by Canada’s Food Guide. FALLInG OFF tHE WAGOn

They don’t call this a challenge because it’s easy. Although I have been involved for a relatively short period of time, I have fallen off the wagon and deviated from The Plan on more than one occasion. For instance, there was the incident at the Chinese buffet and then there was the Super Bowl party. Regardless of little setbacks, though, I have learned not to let them dictate my success. stAyInG On tRACK

The weekly visits to check in with the Co-op pharmacist ensure that participants stay on track. I am getting to know Michelle at the Airdrie location and actually look forward to her signing off on my weekly progress card. As I continue with the Co-op Whole Health Challenge I am also looking forward to seeing my dedication pay off. Perhaps one day my lattes won’t be the only thing skinny about me. LIFE

MORE LIFE OnLInE

VISIT AIRDRIELIFE.COM AND FOLLOW STACEY – WHO LOST 10 POuNDS DuRINg JuST HER FIRST THREE WEEkS – ON HER JOuRNEY THROugH THE CO-OP WHOLE HEALTH CHALLENgE

Tasty Turkey Tortilla Wraps

beans, beans are good for your heart ...

1 multigrain soft tortilla cooked ground turkey 1 tbsp onion 1/2 yellow pepper, brushed with olive oil and roasted 3 tbsp salsa Place all ingredients into middle of tortilla, wrap and enjoy. Makes one wrap.

Super-Smart Smoothie 1 cup exotic-flavoured fat-free/ sugar-free yogurt 1/2 cup frozen mango pieces 1 cup skim milk 1 portion serving of your favourite protein powder Makes a serving for breakfast and there’s enough left over for a snack.

B

eans

such as Kidney beans are

low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Copper and Manganese. A Calgary Weight Management Centre approved food.

p lenge y Co-o Calgar Health Chal ntre ent Ce Whole agem t Man

Weigh lgary

with Ca

Look for the Calgary Co-op Whole Health Challenge sticker at Calgary Co-op to find dietitian approved foods.

www.calgarycoop.com


LIFEstyle | recipes

delicious

nutritious

egg-cited By STaCey CareFooT

ABout the NutritioNAL VALue of eGGs

Did you know?

go

with a healthy choice

A

pples

have around 80 calories and lots of vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals that will keep you healthy. The fiber and water in the apple will fill your stomach and keep you satisfied until dinner. A Calgary Weight Management Centre approved food.

• There are 156 egg farms in Alberta. All family owned, they produce most of the eggs purchased in Alberta grocery stores. • Eggs are one of nature’s most nutritious foods. One egg contains six grams of protein, five grams of fat, 14 essential nutrients and just 70 calories. Two eggs make up one serving of protein in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. • You can tell what a chicken eats by the colour of the egg’s yolk. A dark, yellow-orange yolk means the chicken has been fed corn; a pale-coloured yolk means it has been fed wheat. • Egg yolks are generally lighter in Alberta because most of our hens are fed a wheatbased diet. • One eggshell has about 10,000 tiny pores. That explains why it is a good idea to store eggs in their original carton to prevent them from absorbing the odours of strong-smelling foods in your fridge.

Expect great things... from a global kitchen

p lenge y Co-o Calgar Health Chal ntre ent Ce Whole agem t Man

Weigh lgary

with Ca

Look for the Calgary Co-op Whole Health Challenge sticker at Calgary Co-op to find dietitian approved foods.

www.calgarycoop.com

20 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Hardboiled, scrambled, sunny side up, over easy – the list goes on. However we choose to cook our eggs, one thing is for certain: eggs are one of nature’s most nutritious foods. “For many years, cholesterol was a bad word in relation to eggs,” says Lisa Skierka, marketing and communications co-ordinator for Alberta Egg Producers. “Scientists [now] have a better understanding of cholesterol and people are learning that eggs have good cholesterol.” Increasing in popularity, Omega-3 eggs were in invented in Alberta. Produced by hens fed a diet high in flaxseed, these eggs contain Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important for lowering blood triglyceride levels and have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. “Omega-3enhanced eggs contain 0.4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids compared to 0.04 grams found in classic eggs,” says Skierka. Have a ton of eggs left over from the Easter Bunny? Looking to add variety to your diet? Give eggs a crack – their nutritional LIFE value is no yolk!

with fresh ingredients featuring local cuisine

Reservations Recommended

403-948-0039

91 East Lake Cr. NE Airdrie


inserted into centre comes out clean. Broil for about two minutes or until top is golden brown. * To soften sun-dried tomatoes, pour boiling water over top. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain. Makes: 6 servings Preparation: 10 minutes Cooking: 12 minutes Baking: 15 minutes Broiling: 2 minutes

italian Sausage and egg Casserole

where there’s a wheat, there’s a way

egg Salad Tortilla Spirals

cooking spray 2 (250 g or 1/2 lb.) mild Italian sausages, casings removed 125 ml (1/2 cup) shallots or onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 125 ml (1/2 cup) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, softened* 60 ml (4 tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped and divided 8 eggs 1 (385 ml) can evaporated skim milk 500 ml (2 cups) light mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

25 ml (2 tbsp) light cream cheese, softened 25 ml (2 tbsp) plain yogurt 5 ml (1 tsp) Dijon mustard 1 ml (1/4 tsp) each salt and pepper 3 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped 1 small green onion, finely chopped 2 large (25-cm or 10-inch) flour tortillas leaf or romaine lettuce 6 thin tomato slices

Spray six 375-ml (1 1/2-cup) ramekins with cooking spray, set aside. Sauté sausage meat in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until brown, about eight minutes. Drain. Wipe skillet clean and replace meat in skillet. Add shallots and garlic, sauté for three minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and 30 ml (2 tbsp) parsley. Cook for one minute. Spread sausage mixture in prepared ramekins. (Can be made a day ahead up to this point. Cover and refrigerate.) Whisk eggs and evaporated milk in a large bowl. Stir in 375-ml (1 1/2-cups) mozzarella cheese. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture in ramekins. Sprinkle remaining parsley and cheese over egg mixture. Bake in a 190 C (375 F) oven for 15-18 minutes or until a knife

In bowl, stir together cream cheese, yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in eggs and onion. (Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.) Spread egg salad over tortillas, leaving 2.5-cm (1-inch) border. Layer with lettuce and tomato. Fold bottom border over filling, then sides; roll up tightly. (Make ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day.) Makes: 2 servings Preparation: 10 minutes RECIPEs COURtEsy OF ALBERtA EGG PRODUCERs CAn WE EGG yOU On? SEND uS YOuR FAVOuRITE

Egg RECIPE AND YOu COuLD WIN A VERY Egg-CITINg PRIzE! DETAILS ONLINE AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM

W

hole grains, fruit and vegetables contain soluble fibre. Keeping your heart healthy requires a healthy blood cholesterol level. Research has shown that a lower fat diet containing soluble fibre can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. A Calgary Weight Management Centre approved food.

p lenge y Co-o Calgar Health Chal ntre ent Ce Whole agem t Man

Weigh lgary

with Ca

Grill to Your Heart’s Content! Natural and Free Range meats available! Ph/Fax. 403-948-9572 www.thebutchershoppe.ca Towerlane II - 705 Main Street Airdrie, AB

Look for the Calgary Co-op Whole Health Challenge sticker at Calgary Co-op to find dietitian approved foods.

www.calgarycoop.com


LIFEstyle | Winning Looks

From Mom to WOW! Photos by Kristy Reimer

Day 16: Hair consultation with Nadine at Mezzanine Hair Salon. It’s like a scene from a horror film. Hair magazines are flying, ideas are running wild and more stylists are touching my hair than I thought possible but in the end, they have a plan. What have I gotten myself into?

OMG day ... you wanna wax what? Today is the day Kendall from Mezzanine Spa has asked me to come in to have my eyebrows waxed. I have never waxed anything or plucked for that matter so the thought of ripping hair off with something hot and sticky doesn’t appeal to me very much. Ten minutes later, three patches of wax ripped off and nine hairs plucked ... I have survived! I’m not going to lie – it hurt – but it was quick and wow, it looks good. Thanks to Kendall for putting up with my yelling, begging and crying. She was awesome even though I’m a hair-waxing baby.

Day 20:

Makeover day! The morning starts with picking out clothes at Sin-Style. What an amazing place. I have driven by it millions of times on my Big Mac runs but had always thought it was a hair salon ... guess it was a blond moment!! Lisa at SinStyle is a lifesaver. She picks out so many beautiful outfits and the purses ... gorgeous. It is also a learning experience as I find out that your jeans should fit snug. And here I thought breathing was important (just kidding). Apparently all new jeans contain Lycra which makes them stretch over time. I didn’t know this as I grew up in the cotton-jean generation where they shrank one size to the point where you had to lie on the bed and do them up with a coat hanger. Next Sherry (publisher of AirdrieLIFE) drops a bomb ... we are going bra shopping. Oh no, that’s it, I quit! For those of you who don’t know what bra shopping is like, let me explain. You’re topless with a strange woman poking, prodding, pulling and pushing the “ladies” into place. Or at least this is what I was expecting. Robyn at Sheer Fusion is a godsend. First, she lets me know there is no way I’m a double D. She guesses a double F (yes, they carry sizes that big) and after a few measurements confirms this guess. She picks out some beautiful bras and boy, what a difference a bra that fits makes. It feels like a glove. Very nice! Day 21:

Our first makeover winner Nicole Haacke dishes on her incredible transformation with the help of Airdrie’s finest beauty and fashion experts Day 1: Contact Danielle with Simply For Life for a health consultation. Guess that means no more Snickers for breakfast. Maybe I should store up on chocolate like a bear stores up on food before winter. Just a thought!

Met with Zach for my weekly weigh-in. I am feeling very smart as I wore all my heaviest clothes for this week’s weigh-in so next week when I wear all my light clothes it will look like I’ve lost tons of weight.

Day 2:

Day 9: Busted! Zach lets me know that I have to wear the same type of clothes each week for the weigh-ins. Boy they are smart at SFL. No getting anything past them. Healthy eating is going pretty well. I love the recipes, especially the pasta and vegetable salad. I’ve also learned that cake for breakfast is a no-no. Apparently what I thought were mood swings are just sugar spikes.

22 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010


after before Next we head to Mezzanine Spa for my makeup session. I’m a little hesitant after the waxing but I’ll try anything once. Kendall is great and explains everything as she puts it on. Did you know you shade in your eyebrows? Me neither … but then again I thought for the last 15 years that the bushy-eyebrow look was in. The rest of the session is fantastic. I love the foundation that goes on white and then blends to your skin colour. It’s like magic … I’m gonna be so popular with the kids tonight. Kendall also tells me that the brushes and mirrors are hidden on the bottom of the makeup. Good thing she told me; I would have never found them. Now it’s time for the hair. Let me explain: I’m a mother of three daughters and I have about three seconds in the morning to wash, brush and style my hair. Getting my hair done is foreign to me. Nadine does an unbelievable job of the colour. I was a little scared when I saw the copper swatch, and visions of Ronald McDonald’s hair were running through my head, but everything turns out great. The colour is a little shocking but in a good way. The cut is probably the coolest part of the day. It’s called a reverse bob and it’s AMAZING! You just get up in the morning and comb and you’re done. It’s so easy and it looks great. Then it’s off to the photo shoot. I’m contemplating escape routes all the way there but my friend Heather knows me too well and blocks all exits. Thanks, Heather, there goes your Christmas present. The shoot is actually pretty fun. Sherry thinks I’m too reserved so she starts showing me poses. See-

ing her dance to Baby’s Got Back and her imitation of the “bend and snap” still crack me up. Luckily the photographer, Kristy, gets the shots pretty quickly and lets me go with some of my dignity still intact. Overall it was an amazing day. I may have shed some tears but it was all in the pursuit of getting beautified. The information that I received from Simply For Life has helped me learn to live a healthier lifestyle and the fashion tips have helped me learn that jammies, no matter how comfy, are not an appropriate clothing choice. The makeup and clothes I received helped with my confidence and made me want to be the hottie mom I knew was hidden somewhere. My daughter was also appreciative to learn that even though bushy eyebrows are genetic there is hope. I never envisioned all the special treatment when I entered the contest but AirdrieLIFE went over and above to make this not just a makeover but a transformation. Health consultation update: Sorry, Zach, but the cheesecake was calling my name. It literally said, “Nicole, eat me ... “ It was a Valentine’s miracle. Good thing I have the SFL team to keep me on track. LIFE Talking cheesecake is hard to resist!!! Day 23:

MORE LIFE ONLINE

SEE MORE OF NICOLE’S AMAZING MAKEOVER! WANT TO BE OUR NEXT MAKEOVER? SEND US AN EMAIL (MAX. 100 WORDS) AS TO WHY YOU SHOULD BE FEATURED IN THE FALL ISSUE OF AIRDRIELIFE ALL ONLINE NOW AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM


LIFEstyle | events

What’s going On?

Your Library has more than just books...

Plenty. here are just a few of the highlights for the spring months. for a complete list and more information or to list your event go to airdrielife.com

We have lots of those. 3 million, in fact.

MArCh march 27 prairie mountain Fiddlers (Fiddle music) This will be a foot-stomping, toe-tapping evening full of good oldtime fiddle music. This group plays for the people and for their love of the music. It is just good old-fashioned fun! At the Bert Church Live Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Adult: $18; Student/Senior: $15

We also have programs and resources for everyone— from Pre-School Literacy programs to Video Conferencing Seminars. Pop into your Library to find out more, or visit www.airdriepubliclibrary.ca.

April April 16 The lorne elliott Comedy show 2010 (Comedy & music) This one-man performance of humour, storytelling and music focuses on thought-provoking contemporary satire. Elliott’s concerts are witty, clever and fast-paced. “A genuine and talented nut-case, ” according to the Halifax Daily Journal. At the Bert Church Live Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Adult: $29; Student/Senior: $24

April 18 2010 Tour de Airdrie race

Let’s end the violent cycle. It’s time to lend your support to our fight against domestic violence and to help offer a safe haven to those who are affected in and around the Airdrie area. 5 km, 10 km, 21 km race. Register now at RaceHeadquarters@tourdeairdrie.com

April 21 Volunteers of the Year Award Celebration

Nominations will be reviewed by the Volunteer Review Committee, comprising of members of the Community Services Advisory Board. The Committee will evaluate each nomination based on length of volunteer service, impact on community and originality. Award recipients will be announced during the April 21 ceremony and will receive an inscribed art piece. For details go to airdrie.ca 24 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

April 22 The Arrogant Worms (musical Comedy)

Relevant. Respo The shows are fast, furious and family friendly. The wit is quick, the satire is biting and the musicianship is second to none. The Arrogant Worms have sold more than 150,000 copies of their 12 albums and played on three continents for crowds as large as 100,000. At the Bert Church Live Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Advance: $25; Door: $28

nsive. R

enewed.

111, 304 Main Street 403.948.0600 airdriepubliclibrary.ca

April 24 – 25 The Airdrie home & Garden Fair More than 150 booths featuring Airdrie’s best businesses, clubs and organizations. plus live entertainment and fun for the whole family. AirDrieliFe will be there! Go to airdrielife.com for more details you won’t want to miss! April 25 earth Day Can you believe it’s the 40th anniversary? Celebrate with a new yak pak – made from recycled billboards! perfect for sports! Enter online before April 20 to win at airdrielife.com

MAy may 28-29 Airdrie relay for life Canadian Cancer Society’s largest volunteer-driven fundraiser in communities across Canada. Twelve-hour overnight relay where teams can walk, run or stroll around a path lit by luminaries (candles in fireproof bags with written messages to loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer, are currently fighting cancer or those who have survived cancer). At the NW corner of East Lake park, 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. Contact pat Elliott at pelliott1@ gmail.com for details. Also check out ‘Airdrie Relay For Life’ on Facebook.

When the path isn’t clear... We can help.

403.945.3900 • nrvcl.ab.ca Counselling • Family Resources Outreach • Community Development • Compassionate support for all of life’s challenges • Helping you raise happy, healthy, children and youth • Reaching out to make a difference • Building a stronger community through caring connections


a d v e rT i S i n g F e aT U r e

weddingLIFE

S spring 2010

Airdrie couple Alanna and Wesley Berger PHOTO BY SERgEI BELSkI


a d v e rT i S i n g F e aT U r e

The

Couture Contemporary to traditional, we have a cake for every wedding!

diFFerenCe

Come in to our bakery and browse through our wedding books, or schedule an appointment with one of our talented cake decorators to custom design your own cake. Relax, at Calgary Co-op you’ll find all the ingredients to make your special day a success!

Forget ready-made and aisles of dresses stuffed into garment bags. For your wedding, think couture. “Your wedding gown should be the most

intricately detailed, painstakingly made and per-

beautiful garment you will ever wear,” says

fectly finished. They can take anywhere from 40

Tracey Ward-kerr, a couture wedding gown

to 50 hours to produce. The seams and hems of

designer and dressmaker.

couture gowns are hand-finished, smooth, invis-

Ward-kerr has lots of advice on designing that one-of-a-kind gown and offers this explanation of what makes a gown ‘couture.’ “A couture wedding gown is made to mea-

extremely heavy. Some ready-to-wear manufacturers glue beads onto their dresses, instead of

bride. It is made specifically for the bride after

sewing them in, and machine-sew the hems.

extensive personal consultation and a series of

The sky is the limit with a couture wedding

fittings. It’s during the fittings that the bride sees

gown. Each one is a piece of art, sculpted ex-

her gown come to life before her eyes,” says

clusively to fit the bride’s curves like a glove.

Ward-kerr, adding this process generally takes

The design process opens up a world of fabrics,

six to eight weeks.

colours and embellishments from which to select.

Couture gowns are made from quality natu-

26 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Most ready-to-wear gowns are made of synthetic fabrics that do not breathe and are

sure – its one-of-a-kind design is as unique as the

ral silk fabrics, making them incredibly light and

www.calgarycoop.com

ible and comfortable against the skin.

All aspects of fit and finish are decided by both client and designer; no need for alterations!

comfortable. The distinctive characteristic of a

Ready-to-wear selections are limited to the de-

couture gown is the finish. Couture gowns are

signs available for sale in retail stores, and are


Sandals Emerald Bay Great Exuma, Bahamas

All Butler. All Oceanfront. All you could ever imagine!

Contact Shauna, Jeanine or Julie at Calgary Co-op Travel, Hamptons Centre for the most up to date specials! made to standard sizes. While they may fit those brides-to-be who fall into the ‘standard’ size range, more often, alterations are still required to take in, let out, shorten or lengthen. Alterations to ready-to-wear wedding dresses add to their overall cost. Changing and altering a ready-to-wear gown can be expensive, and major changes can really add up. Alterations usually take place within the last few weeks before the wedding, says Wardkerr, adding this becomes very stressful for most brides.

Sandals Emerald Bay is set along a one mile stretch of white sand beach on Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas and has a Greg Norman designed golf course, world-class marina and professionally trained butlers in all 183 beachfront rooms and suites. Additionally, Sandals Emerald Bay offers gourmet dining in a choice of five à la carte restaurants, premium brand wine and spirits, land sports including six Har-tru tennis courts lit for night play, water sports including snorkeling and scuba diving, gratuities, airport transfers and more! An exclusive 17,000 sq. ft. Red Lane® Spa featuring premier services that embrace the best of the Caribbean region enhance this 500 acre resort.

Instead, Ward-kerr’s brides have a chance to become relaxed in their gowns and familiar with aspects of movement and restriction, as well as special functions such as a sweeping train or flowing skirt. They have had the chance to consider all options needed for the day. All this, and their dresses are delivered to perfection two months before the wedding. “The privacy of my studio provides clients the opportunity to relax and enjoy the experience of having the most important garment they will ever wear, created exclusively for them,” adds Ward-kerr. It is this attention to detail, and the time spent wearing the gown, that gives clients re-

For more information, or to book a Luxury Included® vacation at the new Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas, please contact :

Calgary Co-op Travel Call 403.299.5414 to book by phone, visit us in person or book online at hamptonstravel@calgarycoop.com

markable confidence as they effortlessly make their way down their own personal red carpet on their big day.

www.calgarycoop.com


a d v e rT i S i n g F e aT U r e

Only the dress should be white.

Serving Airdrie for over 15 years.

Voted #1 Tanning Salon in Airdrie! Spray Tan • Lotions • Standup West Side: 205 - 304 Main Street

403-948-7252

Use your minutes at Both locations

Tanning… Look Good, Feel Great!

East Side: 805 East Lake Blvd.

sneaking in a kiss during photos at Big hill springs park. The park is a popular choice for wedding photos with its variety of backdrops and settings

403-948-7213 www.tanlinez.net

Look and feel great on your big day... and every day after with nutrition consulting and meal planning from Simply For Life. Nutrition. Education. Lifestyle. Airdrie Calgary North Calgary North Calgary South For more information, visit www.simplyforlife.com 28 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

403-948-4424 403-220-9306 403-286-7311 403-201-1975

Alanna counts on the girls at Mezzanine hair and spa to prepare her for the day


Lingerie for your special occasion ...

The newly married couple, all smiles following the ceremony

Saying

Wedding ~ Anniversary ~ Birthday

I do

107, 960 Yankee valley Blvd SE. Airdrie

403 948 3568 • sheerfusion.com

in Airdrie

The . . . . .Bergers ..................................

A

true Airdrie couple, Alanna and Wesley Berger are “born and raised” Airdrionians. They knew each other all through school and Wesley was best friends with Alanna’s brothers. It had to lead somewhere! And it did, to St Paul’s Catholic Church, in Airdrie, on July 12, 2008. Now living in the Airdrie community of Stonegate, Wesley is an electrician and Alanna is a teacher at École Edwards. Airdrie photographer Sergei Belski captured the memories of their big day and we share a few moments with you.

Your Dreams. Your Lives. Your Smiles.

Cosmetic Smile Rejuvenation. www.blunstondentalgroup.com

Want to share your Airdrie wedding with

Dr. Thayne Blunston

our readers? Send us your 2010 wedding

story and you could be featured in the 2011 WeddingLIFE! Go online to airdrielife.com

New patients welcome #1-620 1st Ave NW, Airdrie 403-912-9378 BLUNSTONweddingADvFINAL.indd 1

10-02-03 9:49 AM


A d v e r t i s i n g F e a tu r e

Getting married? If you live in Airdrie you are in luck. From a haute couture designer to gourmet wedding cakes we have almost everything you need – even a great place to get your smile as white as your gown! (OK, someone open a great menswear store and rent tuxes ... please?) Here is some great advice and info from our favourite Airdrie businesses who are ready to help before, during and after the reception. And remember – you can’t choose your in-laws but you can choose everything else! Avenue . . . . . . . . Bakeshop . . . . . . . . . .& . . Cakery ............................ Your wedding cake is the centrepiece of your reception. You should use the same care in choosing your cake as you would any other food for this important event. Taste is crucial. The taste, flavour and texture of the cake itself is the most important decision you will make when you place your order. The outside beauty of your wedding cake will be important for your pictures and is a reflection of your personal statement. Be prepared to pay for the cake decorator’s time. Simple cake designs are the least expensive. The more complicated the cake design, the more you should be prepared to pay the decorator. Know ahead of time what amount of money you can budget toward your cake and that will allow the decorator to help you choose wisely from the designs. Traditional wedding cakes seem to be a thing of the past. Many brides are opting for cakes with colour to match their flowers or bridesmaids. Cakes that are whimsical, topsy-turvy, square or custom-designed to reflect the interests of the bride and groom are becoming more popular. Brides are seeking out decorators who will listen to their requests and incorporate them into a one-of-a-kind, unique cake ... not a picture from a catalogue of cakes. 30 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Blunston . . . . . . . . . . .Dental . . . . . . .Group .............................. Blunston Dental Group provides you with a truly unique dental experience, immersing clients in a relaxing and comfortable environment where individual client care takes precedence. In his pursuit of knowledge and continuing education in advanced neuromuscular dentistry, Dr. Thayne Blunston strives to help his clients attain their best oral health and, subsequently, long-term overall health. With a professional and caring staff that is highly trained in the latest dental technology, Blunston Dental offers comprehensive services ranging from Zoom® teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and same-day crowns to full-mouth cosmetic smile rejuvenation, TMJ/headache treatment, dental implants, orthodontics and sleep apnea/snoring appliances. Live your best smile today and make your health a priority! Sergei . . . . . . . Belski . . . . . . .Photography .................................. There are a number of important things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer. Photographic style: Photographers use many words to describe their style of work: photojournalistic, edgy, classic, etc. When choosing a pho-


tographer for your wedding you need to find someone who will have the style you personally like. Remember that wedding photographs will last for the rest of your life, so don’t just choose what is trendy at the moment. Experience level: Weddings can be challenging to photograph so when choosing someone make sure they have photographed weddings before, are professionals, and have enough experience to capture your wedding day with all your special moments. Price range: Make sure that the photographer is within your budget but remember that after awhile you won’t remember the food or invitations and all you will have are the memories, so don’t choose soley based on cost. Make sure to find out about the total cost, be careful about any hidden charges such as travel fees, GST, extra for digital images and extra hourly costs. It adds up. Personality: Make sure that you like the photographer personally. He or she is pretty much the only vendor who will stay with you for the whole day, from the morning when you start getting ready until the end of the night. Weddings are very personal, with many intimate moments, so you want to be comfortable with your photographer. An engagement photo shoot is a fantastic way for you to get comfortable being in front of the camera, to get to know your photographer and to gain confidence in your photographer before your wedding day. Many photographers will include an engagement photo shoot in their packages. There are many other things to consider such as delivery time, personal references, photo albums, etc. Shop around, but start early, so the photographer you want will still be available on your special day.

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community

Hair-Raising Lessons | 37

Chicks With Sticks | 44

Man on the Move | 54

MORE COMMUNITY ONLINE: Discover Genesis Place, take a spin with a roller derby mom and find your next sport or hobby club AIRDRIELIFE.COM | YOUR LIFE IS ONLINE!


Community | Column

The Mother-Daughter Dance Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee Calls back the lovely April of her prime.

LIFEtimes by Ellen Kelly

- William Shakespeare

I

n some cultures there is a reincarnation belief – elderly family members who have passed away come back as children in the same family and the cycle continues. In theory, a mother with a daughter may be parenting the reincarnated essence of her mother – the child and the grandmother have the same spirit. This is simplistic, of course. There is a complicated belief system involved, but what I wonder is, can the child be born while the grandmother is still alive and still be inhabited by the spirit of the grandmother? And the bigger question – how does the mother, caught between two such powerful female forces, fit in? Talk about being caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. The solution, I suppose, is to be still, listen and learn. One of my daughters resembles her father’s mother and the other, alas, is my mother reborn. Strange that I should say“alas” when all my friends thought my mom was THE BEST. They enjoyed her acceptance and hospitality, but Mom and I circled each other and locked horns over almost everything until I moved away from home. It took time and distance to transform us into good friends. When daughter No. 2, the one just like my mother, was growing up, my spider senses told me to watch out. She had inherited what we called the “Grandma gene.” This child of mine was someone to be reckoned with. Her fierce determination and persistence, her stubborn pride, her ability to meet challenges head on and her open honesty were, at first, points of contention, especially with her

34 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

grandmother. “Dear, you can have a cookie if you help me in the kitchen.”“It’s OK, Grandma, I don’t want a cookie.” I watched in wonder as the child and the grandmother took turns, shooting and scoring. One or the other was always saying the wrong thing; they would look at each other sideways, pushing away rather than drawing together. They circled each other like the opposite poles of a magnet, not knowing that if they each just turned a little bit, they would be drawn together by a mighty force. I wasn’t the referee in this action, but a fence-walker, often losing my balance and falling soundly into one camp or the other. These women, my mother and my daughter, never knew each other as adults, but as my daughter grew older, I noticed something else. I learned that these powerful characteristics – the ones that made me crazy – were good and honourable and incredibly handy when it came to dealing with the curve balls life throws at us. Through my daughter, I learned to understand my mother better. Sometimes I hear a voice coming out of my mouth that isn’t mine, but I surely do recognize it. And sometimes, when my daughter speaks to her children – my Lord, it sounds like me. Have I been an active participant in this dance all along? If you were to ask my husband, he’d tell you the “Grandma gene” didn’t skip a generation at all – that I am my mother LIFE and my daughter is me.


Community | Student Arts

The

Write

Stuff Tara Upshaw takes on mythology in her first novel Story by Ellen Kelly | Photo by Kristy Reimer

T

ara Upshaw wears many hats. She is an author, honour student, musician, artist, aspiring barrel racer and athlete. This young lady, with lofty goals and feet planted firmly on the ground, talks about the novel she has been working on for the past year-and-a-half: When did you first take an interest in writing? The summer after Grade 5, I got a public library card and brought home about 10 novels. In a week I’d read them, so I’d get more. Then I started thinking of my own stories and writing them down. What are you writing right now? My first major project is a novel of 120,000 to 130,000 words, based on mythology and biblical stories. I want to develop it as a spiritual metaphor. It’s a modern story, with a historical component. The historical part takes place in 1661 in Forfar, Scotland. The present-day part takes place in Salem, New Hampshire. How do you keep inspired? I love doing research. I was researching biblical mythology and I found a myth about a demoness, Lilith, which became the basis for a large part of the back story. The research builds my story as I go. Is there a lesson in the novel? Yes. I started writing it after I read the Twilight series. I wasn’t impressed with the message it sends – the heroine gets everything she wants and she gets to live as an immortal. I don’t believe life works like that and I want to put something more realistic into a good story. How do you deal with writer’s block? I take a break or try writing another part of the story. I imagine how my characters feel in a situation. It helps to interview them, especially my main female character, because she’s the hardest for me. I write better when I’m stressed. When I’m finished studying for a big test, I feel better if I write a bit. What are your goals for your writing? Publication, absolutely. I want to get it published before I graduate. I used to want to

buy a Camaro, but now I just want to get my book out there. Will you keep writing when this book is done? This book is the first in a series. I have a vague idea of how I want the series to end. I had a cool dream about the best idea for a science fiction novel ever. I might write that before I do the sequel to the one I’m writing now. What are your favourite books, authors? Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Elissa Elliott (Eve), Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire), Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights) Do you have any mentors? My Grade 9 English teacher – she let me write and she loved to read it, too. My Grade 10 English teacher talks about literature with meaning and I’ve decided I want this novel to mean something, not be just fun fiction. A good friend gives me great insight on what she wants to read. It’s really big motivation when someone your own age responds so positively toward your work. What are your career goals? I want to be a medical doctor. I want to continue writing, but I want to be either a pediatric oncologist or a pediatric cardiologist. I love kids and want to work with them. I like chemistry, too. Definitely a science career. And if writing and maintaining a 91 per cent average doesn’t keep her busy enough, Upshaw is a member of a peer support program, takes part in a leadership class and spends about 16 hours a week at her parttime job. She loves riding and is training her horse for barrel racing competition. “It’s not really a goal, but I’d like to be in the CFR [Canadian Finals Rodeo] one day,” she says. She also plays rugby in a spring/ summer league in Calgary. “I like to get out and meet new people. I am good at setting priorities, but I have a hard time sacrificing one thing for another, so I try and fit in as much as I can before I crash completely,” LIFE she says with a smile. Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 35


Community | Learning

Jenna Tansowny focuses on her assignment

Students are turning heads in a whole different way Story and photos by Carl Patzel

I

Cutting Classes

t’s a skill put on display for the whole world to see – and the final product is on your head. The search for a great hair stylist is not unlike the one for a good friend, conversationalist and even therapist; it can last a lifetime, as can the relationship once it’s in place. Whether the client is looking for a brilliant bouffant, a tease, a perm, a bit of colour or just some pleasant banter on the day’s events or latest news, the hair stylist has to wear many hats. “One of my clients got me a plaque that read, ‘I’m glad you’re my hairdresser, I can’t afford a therapist,’” says Inez Bishop, journeyman hair stylist and cosmetology instructor at Bert Church High School. Like an elevated prom-dance updo, Bishop has watched the hair-cutting course grow in popularity over the past couple of years to the point where it’s become a first-come, first served option. “It has grown immensely and at this time we’ve had to turn students away. We have it capped at 20 ... and it was overflowing. It has really, really taken off.” And it’s not just the girls trying to make the cut in the cosmetology class. This year Bishop has two boys currently enrolled, and excelling, in the option. “Last year we had one boy [who] wanted to be in the class because he thought it might be a good place to meet girls, and he actually went on to become very good at colouring hair.” Advancing far past the bowl-on-the-head scissors clip, hairdressing has become an inspirational art and recognized worldwide skill. Both men’s and women’s hairdressing were presented at the recent WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, where competitors needed to demonstrate proficiency in several technical areas as well as an understanding of fashion trends and new developments in their trade. Participants were also judged on their profesSpring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 37


COMMuNITY | Learning

sional conduct, an aspect not lost on Bishop and more than 60 Bert Church students who attended the WorldSkills event. “That’s talked about quite heavily and also the fact that there are really not a lot of other careers or professions where you are actually touching somebody, and how important that touch is,” Bishop says. “The first thing they do is wash your hair and right then you [either] have a feeling of confidence or you’re nervous.” By the time students have taken all four cosmetology courses they have touched on everything from pin curls, roller sets and finger

waves to hair cutting, hair colouring, highlighting and even some perm wraps Students also learn how to apply makeup and do facials, manicures, pedicures and hair removal. “It’s a broad spectrum, but it gives them a taste of everything,” Bishop says. That little taste, like most option classes, sets more seriously on some students than others. Bishop says some prospective beauty stylists change their minds after finding the course has a few more twists and curls than expected, while others discover a permanent liking for the subject.

“Some kids take it because they are looking for a class that is something different and a bit of a de-stresser from some of their other core subjects. They end up deciding that this is in fact something they really want to look at more closely and seriously.” For the more motivated there are several after-high school options, including the wellrespected Marvel Beauty College with training facilities in Calgary and across Western Canada. Last year two Bert Church cosmetology students received $1,000 scholarships to Marvel. Bishop says students are very fortunate to have a scholarship program and a local course to help them decide if they are cut out for the many layers needed for a career in beauty culture. “Either you will weed yourself out, deciding that you don’t want to do this before you spend $10,000 at Marvel, or you decide, yes in fact I am serious about this and you do decide to LIFE make the commitment.”

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COMMuNITY | sport

MARTIAL ARTS gAIN A FOOTHOLD IN AIRDRIE

T

he first thing you notice are the strange, foreign-looking uniforms held together by coloured belts. Next come the animal-like growls, yells and screams, and scenes of people throwing punches and kicks at the air, striking bags or even aiming at each other. Walking into a martial arts training hall can be intimidating, for all ages. But underneath the surface of this seemingly aggressive art is a self-defence belief system that stems from all facets of life, physical to philosophical. Many of the arts offered in Airdrie haven’t changed much since the first selfdefence form was practised centuries ago. Others have adapted to the modern climate, with grand masters making minute changes and calling the art their own.

tAEKWOnDO

natasha Wright, a third-degree black belt and pan Am Games competitor who trains at Airdrie Taekwondo and kickboxing Academy, demonstrates a fast, powerful, high kick that is a trademark of the korean art of taekwondo STORY AND PHOTOS BY CARL PATzEL

BLOCk, kICk, PuNCH, ENJOY

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art incorporating blocks, punches and trademark whiplike, powerful roundhouse and spinning-heel kicks. But sixth-degree black belt Everald Wright, head instructor of the Airdrie Taekwondo and Kickboxing Academy, says there is much more to the fluid art than just the physical. “It’s a martial art of the mind, body and spirit,” says Wright.“Taekwondo is not only a competitive sport, but it’s a sport that bridges a gap between race, colour, generation and culture.” An official Olympic sport since 2000, taekwondo attracts students and competitors from around the world. Although competitors may appear to be fierce rivals, Wright says the mutual respect taekwondo promotes usually attracts more friends than enemies. The academy, operating in Airdrie since 1999 and currently teaching out of Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 41


COMMUNITY | Sport

“Apart from the art of hand and foot fighting, [taekwondo is] a philosophy, it’s a way of life”

JKA Karate black belt Jacob Lambert and brown belt Maurice Shaffer spar in the Shotokan style

Genesis Place, accepts students beginning at the age of four. Youngsters also learn a code of respect and loyalty toward parents, friends, country and school while cultivating an indomitable spirit. Although more emphasis may be placed on competition than other arts, taekwondo still offers a way to mental toughness, physical fitness, flexibility and stamina. “Apart from the art of hand and foot fighting, it’s a philosophy, it’s a way of life,” Wright says. Karate

Airdrie JKA ( Japan Karate Association) Karate offers practitioners an art that hasn’t changed since it was created in 1936. Karate is characterized by long, deep stances that enable powerful movements. Beginners learn basic techniques and stances in Shotokan training. “We learn basic blocks in the beginning. Punches, kicks ... and we do some kata [forms]. As we become more advanced we do more advanced techniques and introduce free sparring,” says head instructor Daniel Verzotti, a fifth-degree black belt. “We don’t introduce free sparring to children, and other members, too early.” Shotokan exhibits hard movements, with block and counter techniques employed to disable an opponent with a limited number of strikes. “We train to make each technique like the last technique you are going to do. You want 42 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

good speed and good power at the end of your technique,” Verzotti says. Currently, the club, which trains out of the Plainsmen Arena, has more than 45 students. The children’s program begins at age five. At nine, students move into the adult open classes. Verzotti says there are more games in the beginner classes to keep the youngsters interested.“We give them some techniques, but we make it fun for them as well.” While there is an opportunity for competition, Verzotti says he tries to find a balance between competing and training. Jiu-Jitsu

Verzotti also instructs the Airdrie Can-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu club. A derivative of judo, jiu-jitsu concentrates more on self-defence through grappling, joint-locks, pressure points and chokeholds and is only taught to students 12 and older. He says this differs from the Brazilian jiujitsu, made popular through mixed martial arts competition, which focuses on ground fighting. Both karate and jiu-jitsu teach humility, respect and confidence through prolonged physical and mental training. “When we teach self-defence, we talk about confidence, but we talk about not being overconfident,” Verzotti says. Judo

Although also deep in the martial art tradi-

tion, with origins in the late 1800s, judo is another form that has gravitated more toward the competition arena since its introduction to the Olympics in 1964. Translated as the “gentle way,” this combat sport uses grappling manoeuvres with hand, foot and leg techniques to throw an opponent to the ground. “It’s a great self-defence, but it’s also more of a martial sport,” says fourth-degree black belt Paul Hachey, who runs the Airdrie Judo Club. Hachey, a past member of the Canadian national team and currently a coach with the Alberta Judo provincial team as well as president of Judo Alberta, says: “Ultimately our goal is to produce Olympians throughout Canada. There are a lot of different aspects to judo. There’s the competitive side, [there’s] the fitness side [and] the self-discipline side.” Four Airdrie Judo Club students competed at the recent national championships and eight will be belting at the Alberta Winter Games. The judo club, with 50-60 members, also trains out of the Plainsmen Arena and offers a beginners class for all ages and a shortened pre-judo class for five-year-olds. Throws and break-fall training begin with students at age LIFE seven. MORE LIFE ONLINE

READ CARL’S THOUGHTS ON HIS OWN EXPERIENCES WITH MARTIAL ARTS AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM


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COMMuNITY | team sports

She SHOOTS, she SCORES! rinGeTTe brinGs Girls To The GAme STORY BY ELLEN kELLY | PHOTOS BY kuRTIS kRISTIANSON

Holy moley, what a goalie, Holy moley what a team, One two three, let’s scream! 44 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

T

he arena explodes as up to 18 girls pitch their gloves into the stands during halftime antics. But soon the gloves are returned and it’s back to business – five players and a goalie take their places to begin the second half of one of hundreds of ringette games being played across the country on any given winter weekend.

Ringette has been played in Canada since 1963 and continuously in Airdrie since 1988. Originally a girls’ alternative to hockey, it has grown into a unique, fast-paced game enjoyed by thousands of participants. Played on standard ice, the object is to score goals by winging an eight-inch hollow rubber ring into the opposing team’s net by


using a straight stick with no blade. It’s a passing game – rules restrict a player from carrying the ring the full length of the ice, so it must be passed between players over each blue line. Co-operation and agility are essential. Players are not allowed in the goalie crease and only three players are allowed in the end zone at one time. Any stoppage in play results in a free pass to restart the game. Players are on the ice for three-minute shifts and games consist of two periods of play ranging from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the age of the players. If illegal actions – such as body contact, tripping or interference – occur, penalties are assessed. The season runs from the end of September to the end of March. In Airdrie, each team has ice time once a week, giving everyone a regular ice time. In 2009-10, there were about 120 players in Airdrie, playing in age categories from under six (pre-bunnies) to over 19 (open). Boys are welcome and often play at a young age to improve their skating skills. “And adult ringette is very popular in this area,” says Tara Craig, president of the Airdrie Ringette Association. “About 20 masters

teams (aged 30+) play in the Calgary area.” Craig has been involved with Airdrie Ringette since day one and has been a registered player, coach, official and board member.

Fans fans in the stands – if you’re with us clap your hands! Fans fans in the stands – if you’re with us stomp your feet! Fans fans in the stands – if you’re with us shout hurray! Parent involvement is crucial. Head coaches and assistant coaches are dedicated parents. Each game needs scorekeepers, timekeepers and shot-clock timers, as well as team and equipment managers and committee members. Each family is required to help at the Airdrie tournament and fulfil one other volunteer commitment, such as the Home and Garden Fair, Santa Claus parade or association windup. “Older players also help coach younger teams,” says Craig. “This is the second season

for our coach mentoring program. Girls can earn credit toward their fee for the following ringette season by helping out. We’d also love to have moms who have played ringette come back with their kids and coach.” Officiating is often done by older players, although “we need some adult male officials who are less easily intimidated,” says Craig. “But I encourage the 14- to 16-year-olds to become qualified referees – it’s a great parttime job for them.”

Tara Craig, president of the Airdrie ringette Association Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 45


yoUr

COMMuNITY | team sports

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pages 44, 45 and above: Bunnies aged five to eight show their enthusiasm

Jennie Audette, who has been playing since she was eight and holds her Level 3 referee certification, was thrilled to be invited to referee at the Alberta Winter Games in February 2010, even though post-secondary commitments required her to forgo the opportunity. About the sport, Audette says, “The friendships stand out – you spend a lot of time with girls who have the same passion and love for the game as you do.” Airdrie Ringette hosts an invitational tournament each November. “Because it’s held early in the season, it attracts applications from about three times more teams than it can accommodate,” says Craig. “We’re in a good place in Alberta, too, central to both Red Deer and Calgary, so travel is easy.” And Airdrie teams have the opportunity to travel. The younger teams go to one or two tournaments per season and the older teams travel to three to five tournaments, as well as provincials. There are some opportunities to play in other provinces and an under-16 team in Airdrie is currently fundraising for its trip to Finland next year. “The girls stick together for a long time. My under-16 team has been together since they were seven. They’re really good friends with strong bonds,” Craig says. “It’s good for conditioning and exercise, keeps girls together with their peers

and provides a full season of activity. And it’s a great way to build self-esteem.”

We don’t wear no miniskirts, We wear skates and ringette shirts, We don’t whine and we don’t cry ‘Cause we skate better than the hockey guys. Junior player and referee Jessica Murray, 15, agrees. “It’s a good sport to get your mind off things and have fun and it’s a great way to meet friends,” Murray says. “The whole team cares about you – it’s like a second family.” Mom Kris Murray, director of officials, says, “It’s nice to see my daughter love something and put so much into it. The kids learn dedication through a great, fun sport.” Registration starts at the end of the playing season – around the end of March. Everyone who comes to the AGM in March can register early and receive a discount on registration fees for the following season. The deadline will be sometime in the summer, because the association needs time to place teams and arrange ice. Airdrie Ringette LIFE is always looking for more players. MORE LIFE OnLInE

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Prairie Moon Community | Rural Roots

Brenda Moon cherishes her rural lifestyle Story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | Photo by Sergei Belski

W

hen Brenda Moon was a kid, one of her favourite things was visiting her uncle’s farm in Peace Country. Today, while she calls herself “one generation off the farm,” the open range is never far from Moon’s heart, and as president of the Airdrie and District Agricultural Society (ADAS), she’s working to make sure farming and ranching aren’t far from other people’s hearts, either. “My dad was born in the Peace Country and Grandma and Grandpa homesteaded up there in the early 1920s,” Moon recalls. “And that was tough – they lived in a tent for the first two years they were up there. When Dad

was born, he was the eldest in the family and he lived in that tent for the first year.” Moon’s grandmother was a teacher and gave classes in a one-room schoolhouse.“They were really part of the group that helped open up the West,” she says. Her mom, meanwhile, came from a family that farmed in the Conquest area around 1910. “Both families moved to Edmonton in the late ’40s. When we were kids and didn’t have a lot of money, our holidays would be going to the farm and seeing our aunts and uncles in the Peace Country,” Moon says, adding that hers was a big family with seven kids. “Once you went out to the farm, there were

so many things to do. I remember the feral cats. I remember sleeping in Uncle Carmen’s bunkhouse, where the hired hands would normally sleep, and [listening] to those cats yowl!” Moon moved to Calgary in the early 1980s and met her husband, Graham – who himself came from a dairy farming background in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. In 1997, the couple moved to the Airdrie area and today live on a 40-acre property just east of town. “We both had a craving for the peace and quiet that it would bring and the different sense of belonging and community,” Moon says.“We’d both had the dream of returning to Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 49


COMMuNITY | rural roots

the rural lifestyle.” Moon spent her first nine years in Airdrie as manager for the Royal Bank of Canada branch. “From my corner office at the bank, I could watch the city crews put up the first traffic lights in Airdrie at the corner of Centre and Main,” she chuckles.“I phoned my boss and said, ‘We’ve hit the big time – we got lights!’” She soon found herself drawn toward promoting the rural lifestyle in the fast-urbanizing city. Before long, she joined the Airdrie Pro Rodeo Association, serving five years as its president. “We did a pretty good job of profiling the rodeo – it’s the fifth-largest pro rodeo in Canada now,” Moon says. “In the rodeo association I got to meet such cool people, the likes of Ron Hanson. Ron and his family farm and ranch near Airdrie and he’d been with the rodeo association forever. And he had this idea back in 1998-99 and we started getting going with it in 2002.”

That idea, Moon says, was for an agriculture facility that would provide space for trade shows, show rings, exhibitions and competitions. “What was driving it from the rodeo association’s perspective is the piece of land they’re on is owned by the City of Airdrie and the lease runs out in 2012,” she says.“We spent three years looking for a piece of land that would work.” The rodeo association approached ADAS to pick up the project. “They were looking for a new project,” Moon recalls. “They had built the twin arenas and the Plainsmen Arena and needed a new project.” Moon joined ADAS herself in 2003. In 2009, she was elected president on the heels of the society buying a 150-acre site west of Airdrie for what is hoped to be a $35 million, 10-year development. As someone “one generation removed” from the farm, Moon says becoming president of ADAS gives her a chance to close

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the gap between rural and urban lifestyles, and the proposed facility is one of the ways of doing that. Moon is bursting with energy, a testament to the fact she’s a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2001. She was the survivor spokesperson for the first Airdrie Relay for Life in 2009, as well as the CIBC Run for the Cure, and was instrumental in getting the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign brought to Canada through the 2005 Airdrie Pro Rodeo. She’s involved with Farm Women Decision with Vision, a one-day conference for farm-based women who gather in Crossfield in February to network and share knowledge. Moon was also named the City of Airdrie’s Volunteer of the Year in 2006. For Moon, the people she meets and the lessons she learns along the way are what keep her engaged. “I’m just meeting the coolest people,” LIFE she says.

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COMMUNITY | Women’s Safety

Point By Ellen Kelly

Women’s and family services in Airdrie are here to help

A

irdrie’s population is growing by leaps and bounds. New residents come from all walks of life with dreams, goals, hopes and aspirations. Unfortunately, along with an increasing population come some nightmares – women and families in situations that require intervention, understanding, information and support. Several organizations in the community are ready to help. The RCMP, working with Airdrie and District Victim Assistance Society (ADVAS), assists victims of family violence by providing support and information on safety planning, victim impact statements and restitution. Victims are mentored throughout the court experience and a volunteer will attend court for the victim, if necessary. The victim is always aware of what is happening, giving her input throughout the process. “A lot of times it’s overwhelming when people haven’t had involvement in the court process before – it’s re-victimizing. People in these situations are already feeling vulnerable,” says RCMP Const. Francine Hennelly, domestic violence co-ordinator for Airdrie and district, including the Beiseker detachment. The Airdrie Family Violence Court Project operates with the help of partners (RCMP, ADVAS, Airdrie Probation) and focuses on rehabilitation for the person charged in a domestic situation, with a goal to promote safer, healthier families. When a family violence situation is recognized, the option to attend treatment and counselling as directed by a probation officer is offered. “It is a proactive approach at treatment and counselling as opposed to a punitive or Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 51


COMMUNITY | Women’s Safety

punishment approach,” says Hennelly. Hennelly works with the PEACE committee (formerly the anti-bullying committee and the family violence committee), whose mandate is to end bullying and family violence. The committee falls under the Community Links umbrella, with participation from the RCMP, ADVAS, AADAC and principals from local schools. The City of Airdrie supports the need for domestic violence services, as well as community safety programs, and funds two RCMP community resource officers. “CROs present programs on wide-ranging topics, including women’s safety in general, personal safety, elder abuse, identity theft, fraud – anything that is a community issue,” Hennelly says. The CROs also build positive relationships with students. Const. Rob Frizzell is assigned to elementary and middle schools and uses the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, geared toward Grades 5-6. Frizzell is bringing the War Amps Safety Program to Airdrie schools and can present specific programs to meet the needs of the school and age group. Const. Patti Reid deals with high school issues and does presentations on such subjects as dating safety, drug and alcohol abuse, healthy relationships, cyberbullying and Internet safety. With its aim of fostering “Strong Individuals, Strong Families, Strong Communities,” Community Links provides a wide range of services, including programs for all individuals who have been affected by family violence. Caren Anderson, family violence prevention counsellor at Community Links, says, “My role is to provide families with support, whether in crisis, ongoing after a separation or while still in the relationship.” Anderson provides services to not only women, but all those who are affected by family violence, including children and men. The individuals for whom Anderson provides services either need to leave a situation or are still in the situation, but are considering leaving and need support organizing safety planning. Others may need assistance dealing with the struggles that come after a separation. Although referrals come from the RCMP or ADVAS, many individuals access Com52 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

munity Links through the regular intake process, at which time a need for supports in other areas is also determined. If a person is in crisis, Anderson determines what is happening in the home, if there are children in the home, whether or not the person is planning to leave and if not, what type of abuse is taking place. She assesses whether assistance from Child and Family Services or the RCMP is necessary and determines if the individual has quick access to a safe place. She provides assistance to individuals needing to go to a shelter by working closely with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, which employs a counsellor to work specifically with individuals from Airdrie and other outlying areas. Anderson also provides support for individuals who do not want to leave the relationship. “I’m not here to tell someone to leave if they’re not ready to leave,” she says. During counselling, she raises awareness of emotional abuse, power control, cycle of violence, types of abuse and other such topics.“People will say, “I’m safe, but …” so I ask, ‘Are you emotionally safe?’ We discuss what that looks like.” Once someone has left a relationship, there are struggles with finances, parenting issues, grief over the loss of the relationship and the emotional aftermath with which to deal. Anderson’s services as a family violence counsellor are free and easily accessible. “We’d like people to know that there are resources available. People can come to Community Links on a walk-in basis and can see an intake worker at any given time. If I’m available I can meet with them briefly right away and start setting up counselling. People can call and be seen quickly,” she says. An ongoing support and information group has been established to discuss the effects of abuse on families, with topics focusing on kinds of abuse, power control and self-esteem. The group is enhanced by presentations from community partners such as Alberta Health Services. Men’s treatment services are available in Airdrie and involve mostly mandated clients but are also accessible through Community Links. A women’s program mirrors the topics dealt with in the men’s program and is designed to accommodate spouses and partners, but also accepts unrelated individuals who wish to use this resource.

A program is currently in the development and planning stages to provide individuals with third-stage housing support meant to assist women who have been away from an abusive situation for six to nine months. Programs will be geared to help individuals get set up financially and find housing, child care and employment. Counselling through the family violence prevention counsellor will help women identify “red flags” in relationships and examine emotional triggers and personal safety Also in Airdrie, Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority is delegated by Alberta Children and Youth Services to provide a wide range of services to strengthen families and keep children and youths safe and protected. Services include early intervention, child intervention services, child care licensing and monitoring, family support for children with disabilities, foster care, adoption and permanency planning, protection of sexually exploited children and prevention of family LIFE violence and bullying. Contact Information In Airdrie Airdrie RCMP Detachment Domestic Violence Unit Const. Hennelly 905 Edmonton Trail 403-945-7200 Airdrie & District Victim Assistance Society Lori Rehill 403-945-7290 www.airdrievictimassistance.com Community Links Family Violence Prevention Counsellor Caren Anderson 211, 125 Main Street NW 403-945-3900 www.communitylinks.com Calgary & Area Child and Family Services 100, 209 Centre Ave. SW 403-912-4758 If you are in an emergency situation and need immediate assistance, call 911.


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COMMUNITY | Up Close

Story By Anne Beaty photos by Kristy Reimer

P

making a

Difference Rob Anderson’s steps across the floor are only a small part of his political journey 54 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

ublic service is the lifeblood of MLA Rob Anderson’s family. From a young age, Anderson was encouraged to be in involved in his community, be it his immediate neighbourhood or on a global scale. That involvement has grown over the years and now he is quite enthusiastic about tackling the political side of the public service equation. “I’d always had an interest in politics,” he says. Anderson’s wife, Anita, whom he met at Brigham Young University (BYU) where she was taking a degree in fitness and nutrition, is of much the same mindset. Originating from Missouri, Anita grew up in a family that was always involved in politics, offering them a voice in their community and their country.“It’s good to know how the system works,” she says. And while the Anderson children – Josh, nine months; Spencer, who turned three in February; Bryce, who will turn four in April; and Derek, five – aren’t quite of an age to vote, their parents hope to engender in them a desire to be involved and make a difference. “I think every parent should teach their child to be politically aware of what’s going on around them and to be involved in their community,” says Rob.“Apathy is the No. 1 enemy of democracy.” Born in Edmonton and raised in Sherwood Park until his family moved to Airdrie in 1990, Rob’s political and public service education has come in many forms. As a young man, he was involved in team sports and earned the Chief Scout Award in Boy Scouts. He spent two years on a mission in Taiwan, where he was immersed in a very different culture as he taught English and worked as a caregiver for high-needs persons, as well as learning how to communicate in Mandarin Chinese. His travels, he says, have helped instil in him an appreciation of the similarities, rather than the differences, between people from all cultures, religions and geographical regions. Once back in North America, Rob attended BYU, from which he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications, before returning to Alberta to earn a law degree from the University of Alberta. For Rob, one turning point in his life came on Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks of that


day had a profound effect on him, highlighting “the need for people to get involved in the political process and get involved in their community. I think you just feel the call of duty to serve in any way,” he says. His interest in the political process was only strengthened at U of A, where he found a whole new generation looking to be involved. He helped establish Students for a Stronger Alberta, which later became Democracy Now, as well as publishing an independent newspaper with his fellow students. “We were very political-minded at law school,” he says. What he also discovered was that his generation was not as much interested in the classic political parties as in simply working for good governance and less partisanship. “Today’s generation is much less ideological than past generations,” he says. Upon graduation, Rob practised corporate litigation law in Calgary until he decided to enter Alberta’s political sphere, being elected as member of the legislative assembly for Airdrie-Chestermere in March 2008. Through his experiences over the years, Rob has come to understand more about the differences between politics in the U.S. and Canada. Americans, he says, are much more ‘wear it on your sleeve,’ whereas Canadians are more reserved. Anita agrees. “I think [with] American politics some people feel much more empowered,” she says. That feeling of self-empowerment is something Rob would like to see more of in Alberta and across Canada. During his campaign in 2008, he heard from people who wanted assurance that he would represent them to the government in Edmonton. Yet, he

says, voting patterns demonstrate that people really don’t think local representation matters. “And there’s truth to that,” he says. “It’s got to change.” In the wake of his election in 2008, Rob met other new MLAs equally idealistic and hopeful as he. Upon arrival in Edmonton, he says, he knew there weren’t very many free votes in legislature but thought there were free votes in caucus and that greater room for debate existed within the political system. His “eye-opening” experience of the past two years, however, has proved otherwise. “It was very disappointing,” he says. Working in what he feels is the least representative democracy in the Western world, in which the premier and prime minister have virtually absolute power in their jurisdictions, Rob sees the ability of an MLA to cross the floor as literally the only check-and-balance on power. As such, his recent decision to move from the Progressive Conservative Party to the Wildrose Alliance wasn’t so much a sudden change as the continuing evolution of his life journey. The MLA’s disillusionment has been more with the system than the people within it, though. “There are lots of good people in every party,” he says, “and that includes the one I just left.” That said, he plans to continue fighting the good fight.“I will stay in politics as long as I can make a difference,” he says. Hands-on involvement in the political system does require certain sacrifices on the home front. Rob is away from Airdrie for about 100 days a year, so Anita and the children have learned to adjust. “There are two lives: in session and out of session,” she says. “We find things to busy ourselves during the

week … so the time does fly when he’s gone.” Adds Rob: “It’s been tough … the one drawback of the job is being away from the kids.” But for the Andersons, for whom public service is a way of life, the sacrifices are worth it and their aim, despite frustrations on the political front, is to help make Alberta the best it can be.“I think Albertans … want to give, they want to grow their community,” Rob says.“It’s an exciting place to live. I hope we never lose [that excitement].” With their busy and fulfilling lives, the Andersons are happy to continue serving their community on many levels. Along with working for the people of Airdrie-Chestermere and Alberta, their sphere of knowledge continues to expand as they enjoy discovering more about the world at large. Rob and Anita recently returned from a trip to Israel, where they and Rob’s parents spent two-and-a-half weeks visiting the Palestinian Territories, as well as various historical and biblical sites. “It was phenomenal,” he says. “That’s got to be the centre of the world right there.” During the trip, they enjoyed the services of a Palestinian bus driver, a Jewish tour guide and a Christian guide. “It was such a well-balanced approach,” Anita says. Now, the Andersons want to visit Egypt and Jordan, as well as extending their travels to Europe and beyond. “We have the travel bug,” Rob says. But whether in Airdrie, Edmonton or on the road somewhere around the globe, the Andersons know one thing for sure: Alberta is home and they intend to be part of their community in whatever way they can.“It’s the LIFE best place on earth,” Rob says. Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 55

Photo Courtesy of roB ANDersoN

Clockwise from front left: Josh, Anita, Bryce, Derek, rob and spencer


Cooper’s Crossing | 60

HOMES Home Again | 62

Girl Power | 66

MORE HOMES ONLINE Moving? Read our new updated community profiles and take a photo tour of the new Reunion showhome parade AIRDRIELIFE.COM | YOUR LIFE IS ONLINE!


HOMES | Real Estate

A Market with

Momentum Airdrie real estate defies market doom-and-gloom predictions by Alex Frazer-Harrison

A

irdrie’s real estate market, despite the economic downturn, retained its momentum to end 2009 on a strong note, with 2010 expected to be another busy year for local realtors. After a particularly tough 2008, in 2009 “the market maintained a strong finish,” says Alan Tennant of Re/Max Rocky View. “So often the comparison was made to 2008, which was a tough market, but by and large we had a normal close to the last part of 2009.” Part of this was due to consumers realizing the much-ballyhooed recession wasn’t hitting the Airdrie market as badly as first expected, adds Bonnie Wegerich of Airdrie-based Century 21 Castlewood Agencies, who recently completed her one-year term as president of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB). “Interest rates dropped and affordability became much better,” Wegerich says.“I would say by April [2009], people were thinking, ‘We’re going to survive this, so back to business.’ “People came out here for the quality of life – there are great recreation facilities and Airdrie is a young community,” she adds. Tennant says Airdrie’s location close to Calgary and its airport, combined with new developments both in this city and nearby, along with the anticipated completion of the north leg of Calgary’s Stoney Trail bypass, contributed to Airdrie weathering the storm.

58 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

“And Airdrie continues to be a good community for families – when they compare Calgary to Airdrie, Airdrie comes out on top,” he says. “And it seems like there continues to be positive news in terms of new companies relocating to Airdrie. It’s a case of Airdrie being attractive for all the right reasons, whether residential or commercial.” As for 2010, Tennant and Wegerich predict they’ll have a busy year. In January, CREB predicted a 17.7 per cent increase in the sales of single-family homes in Calgary. Although these numbers don’t apply directly to Airdrie, Wegerich says this city is expected to see an increase as well. “We’re seeing it picking up already,” she says. Adds Tennant: “That 17.7 per cent is a pretty healthy increase in activity, because 2009 was a good year. And the average price is going up 6.3 per cent. “A key thing is they’re predicting net migration will increase by 15,000 to Calgary in 2010, and that’s up 16 per cent,” he continues, adding that the Airdrie market will likely reap some of these benefits. Looking ahead, Tennant expects to see new-home construction continue to build momentum in Airdrie. “It’s a great indicator of the in-migration traffic to Airdrie, and our inventory on the MLS side – which does include new homes

– is down at a nice level,” he says. “The great thing about all the new-home builders in Airdrie is they provide a great cross-section of [housing] options for people. For the market to stay healthy, we need housing starts to stay at healthy levels. “The expectation is we’ll see a fairly steady year, and volumes will be quite similar to last year.” Although interest rates aren’t expected to remain rock-bottom for long,“a little bit of an increase isn’t going to be a problem,” says Tennant. Wegerich says that while it’s doubtful rates will skyrocket to double digits, as they did in the 1980s, buyers need “to be realistic in what they buy and not overextend themselves.” A window of opportunity still remains for consumers to lock mortgages in at the lower rates for a few years, before they go up, she adds. Looking back at her year as CREB head, Wegerich says she was happy to provide extra exposure to the Airdrie market. “You learn a lot from other jurisdictions and other boards,” she says. “It was nice to be able to share information [on Airdrie] with LIFE everyone there.” MORE LIFE ONLINE

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Home Prices at a Glance

Rockyview Insurance Services Mike Acheson, C.I.P., C.L.U. 15-620 1st Ave NW Airdrie, AB

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Airdrie Meadows Average condo price $170,000........Average house price $287,086 Amberwoods Average home prices are calculated in the Luxstone figures Bayside Average condo price $275,250........Average house price $416,557 Big Springs Average condo price $223,011........Average house price $232,450 The Canals Average condo price $251,300........Average house price $410,950 Cooper’s Crossing Average condo price $333,071........Average house price $477,344 Edgewater ...................................................Average house price $288,216 Fairways Average condo price $262,683........Average house price $392,431 Jensen Heights Average condo price $219,425........Average house price $304,155 King’s Heights Average condo price $252,877........Average house price $399,565 Luxstone Average condo price $202,641........Average house price $350,820 Meadowbrook ...................................................Average house price $337,348 Morningside ...................................................Average house price $385,498 Prairie Springs ...................................................Average house price $370,489 Ravenswood ...................................................Average house price $295,343 Reunion ...................................................Average house price $345,939 Ridgegate ...................................................Average house price $289,833 Sagewood Average condo price $223,85..........Average house price $345,356 Silver Creek Average condo price $263,375....... Average house price $320,142 Stonegate Average condo price $245,342........Average house price $319,734 Summerhill ...................................................Average house price $277,600 Sunridge ...................................................Average house price $335,380 Thorburn ...................................................Average house price $368,747 Waterstone ...................................................Average house price $402,900 Williamstown New home sales only. See builder for details Willowbrook Average condo price $221,023........Average house price $318,102 Woodside Average condo price $236,436........Average house price $361,593 The Village Average condo price $257,149........Average house price $309,390 Windsong New home sales only. See builder for details

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 59


hoMeS | Developer Profile

Cooper’s F Crossing

WestMark Holdings makes a mark on Airdrie

story By ALeX frAZer-hArrisoN | Photo By serGei BeLsKi

WestMark’s development manager paul Gerla 60 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

rom high-end estate homes to multifamily communities, the Gerla family has put its mark on the local housing scene. Founded by Rod Gerla in the late 1980s, WestMark Holdings Ltd. started out by developing Waterstone Park, a community bordering Nose Creek, which, at the time, set new standards for upscale development in Airdrie. An equally popular area, The Springs, followed. Today, WestMark’s pride and joy is Cooper’s Crossing on Airdrie’s south side. “I was still in school at that time Dad started, so I was cutting lawns, not developing neighbourhoods,” says Paul Gerla, now WestMark’s development manager. “Dad started when Airdrie was young and my brother and I started out at the basic level, painting fences, cutting lawns, and we got to know the business.” One big change Gerla has seen since his father opened shop is the increased competition in Airdrie’s housing and development industry. Big-name builders are paying attention to this city now, and that has allowed developments such as WestMark’s Cooper’s Crossing to raise the bar. Besides attracting local builder McKee Homes, for example, Gerla has also recruited such companies as Homes by Avi, Beattie Homes, Copper Rock Homes and Trillium Developments and asked them to sharpen their design pencils. “We’re approximately halfway done,” Gerla says of the 320-acre community, which is primarily single-family homes, with multi-family homes also in place or planned. He’s had the perfect vantage point from which to watch Cooper’s Crossing grow – he lives there. “It’s very rewarding, because you can see tangible results from all your efforts,” Gerla says.“You see the moms and dads and baby carriages and kids and bikes, all using


the park system the way we hoped they would. It’s very rewarding to see kids playing hockey on the pond we designed. The community’s come together better than we’d hoped for.” The community’s linear park system organically links the neighbourhood together, literally and figuratively. Gerla says it is promoting a great sense of community, where kids can meet up and residents can get to know each other in ways not always possible in big-city “little boxes” communities. “What we’re finding is a lot of people are getting to know one another, and once they establish those relationships, they want to stay, so there are fewer resales, and those that do sell get a higher price than other homes in Airdrie,” he says. “In 2010, we’ll be launching phases 17 and 18,” Gerla continues. “Phase 17 is the next area in the Estates of Cooper’s Crossing, with larger lots and traditional estate-style homes, and we’re introducing larger rear-garage homes.” Also this year, WestMark will be developing the area’s central pond, which is expected to be a major drawing card for the community. And while school construction may be still on the horizon, that doesn’t mean the sites have to be left barren, so the developer is planning to landscape the area and add walking paths and trees. Cooper’s Crossing was named for a family that farmed the area for 100 years, and Gerla says he’d like to imagine that 100 years from now the community will continue to be seen as a neighbourhood with character. “We’re influenced by historic neighbourhoods and more traditional neighbourhoods – think of places like [Calgary’s] Elbow Park or parts of Mount Royal,” he says, adding that this has attracted first-time buyers, as well as those looking to build a custom estate home in the area. “It’s risky to build a multimillion dollar home – they have to have a lot of trust in us that we’ll continue on with our LIFE vision for this community.”

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HOMES | Design

1

Home

Again Story By Stacey Carefoot | Photos by Sergei Belski

When the exterior transformation of a residence in The Village caught our eye, we couldn’t help but wonder if this Airdrie home was as amazing on the inside as it was inspiring on the outside. The answer? A resounding yes. Homeowners Lee and Debbie Whittaker, with the help of local contractor Dan Pothier and designer Hollis Lockert, transformed this Airdrie residence from drab to dashing in five months. A project far too complex to be called a renovation, this home redo resulted in a level of comfort and style that can only be described in pictures.


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the basement bathroom. 4. The enormous chandelier greets visitors at the front entrance and provides a wonderful focal point in the home.

1. An abundance of natural light streams into the dining area. 2. High ceilings and plenty of recessed lighting make the basement office area feel open and airy. 3. An infrared sauna room with a back-lit wall panel brings a spa feel into

5

6 5. The kitchen offers a modern feel with the comfort of traditional fixtures such as a copper hood fan, gas stove and double wall ovens. 6. The living room is welcoming. 7. The sunroom offers the perfect spot for a morning coffee. 8. The master bedroom features a custom walk-in closet and alabaster built-in feature on the wall above the bed.

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 63


HOMES | Design

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1. The guest bedroom looks so

2

comfortable guests might never want to leave. 2. The horizontal gas fireplace in the basement is a departure from the traditional and fits perfectly at the base of the home’s curved staircase. 3. The home gym, situated adjacent to the home theatre, is the ideal place to wind down after a long day. 4. The home’s four bathrooms are individually decorated with a variety of fixtures and finishings, each with their own character and feel. MORE LIFE ONLINE

ARE YOU PROUD OF YOUR HOME, DECORATING STYLE OR RECENT RENOVATION? SEND AN EMAIL AND A FEW PHOTOS TO AIRDRIELIFE.COM AND YOU COULD BE FEATURED IN A FUTURE ISSUE OF AIRDRIELIFE

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HOMES | Builder Profile

Girl Power Two sisters continue a tradition of building excellence story By Alex Frazer-Harrison | photo by Kristy Reimer

(L to R) Elaine McKee-Doel and Grace McKee-Howell of McKee Homes Ltd.

I

f Grace McKee-Howell had followed a different path 17 years ago, she’d be designing aircraft today instead of homes. Now, the vice-president and senior home planner with McKee Homes Ltd. says she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. She and her sister, company president Elaine McKee-Doel, currently run the business that was established by their father, Martin McKee, in 1987. In an industry that is still dominated by men, the sisters continue to strive for and deliver excellence. “Before I started to work for my dad, I was in aeronautical engineering,” says Grace. “But I decided I would much rather work for the family business. When I started, I worked my way from answering the phone to learning about construction to after-sales service to home planning. “I was working three jobs to save up for university. The company had been going for a couple of years, and when I started it wasn’t very busy, but it naturally progressed.” 66 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Whether it’s analyzing airflow and doing structural analysis on an aircraft or coming up with new and efficient home layouts, Grace says the thrill is in designing something practical. “[Home planning] was a natural fit for me, because designing is what I wanted to do,” she says.“I’m definitely not an architect – I’m not one to make elaborate exteriors. I like designing a home that a family can live in and [where] the spaces are good for families, whether it’s a working couple or someone with their pets. “I love designing and my husband says I’m a numbers girl – I really like that and I don’t know what I’d ever do that I would like that much,” Grace adds. Elaine, who describes herself as “sadly, the older sister,” joined the company while Grace was still at university and besides being president is also a certified master builder. “I thought I’d go into a career in journalism,” she recalls.“I was given a job at the Airdrie Echo and the same day Dad said,‘Would you like to come and work for me?’ I just thought to myself, I could do that.” While Grace followed the path of designing homes, Elaine went in the direction of actually constructing them. “Certainly, Grace knows what works and the practicalities, and we do bounce ideas off each other,” Elaine says. “These days, my role has changed a little with the business. I’m more in the macromanagement or financial side of things to a certain degree and still overseeing construction, but from a distance.” With a staff of about 30 (not counting contractors), McKee Homes can be found in many new and established communities, such as Cooper’s Crossing, Ravenswood, Reunion and Prairie Springs. McKee also has a division that constructs such projects as strip malls, warehouses and office buildings in Airdrie. Grace and Elaine entered the business at a time when relatively few women were involved, at least in terms of hands-on designing and construction. “Since that time period, there are certainly more women in the industry,” says Elaine. “It’s still a minority, but there’s a lot more. Even when we go to some of the seminars and home builders meetings we’re seeing a lot more women in the room. “A large part of that is people don’t always realize how many op-


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portunities there are within the construction industry for both men and women. How many different jobs – stereotypical male jobs, like plumbers and carpenters, and you’re now seeing women in those fields.” Elaine says there is still great potential for growth in this area, particularly in Airdrie. Meanwhile, McKee Homes continues to excel in designing and building quality custom homes. “I’m always coming up with new designs – it’s something I work on on an ongoing basis,” says Grace. Adds Elaine: “We like to offer people the opportunity to make a home that is uniquely theirs, so they can move walls or add or take away a closet … we comfortably take their ideas, and we guide them, too.” McKee Homes is primarily an Airdrie builder, although the company’s work is also found in Crossfield and Red Deer, along with the occasional special-request custom home in Calgary. Being so tied in with the community, a major part of the company’s mandate is giving back, such as supporting Airdrie Regional Recreation Enhancement Society (ARRES) and its efforts to expand Genesis Place, as well as being the title sponsor for the Rotary Club’s Tour de Airdrie. “That’s their five-, 10- and 21-kilometre race, which is held at the beginning of April, and all the proceeds go to help victims of domestic violence,” says Elaine. The company also established the Martin McKee Memorial Golf Tournament, which supports Airdrie Community Links and Agape Hospice. Airdrie Food Bank and local sports teams are also beneficiaries of the company’s support. “We believe in our community and we support our community,” says Grace. “The community allows us to build homes for people and we want to give something back.” Elaine agrees. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without Airdrie supporting us and the great people we work with,” she says.“I believe we have a fantastic group of people within our company. “I come to work with a smile on my face, because I know we make a difference in people’s lives. We build homes for people who will experience life in these homes. And that’s a reLIFE ally cool thing.”

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www.luxstonemanor.ca Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 67


Airdrie Showhome Map and Guide Check out more than 30 showhomes in Airdrie. Use this handy reference map to help you find the showhome parades featured in this issue. For a complete list of all developments and builders in Airdrie go to www.airdrielife.com/homes. WILLIAMSTOWN

REUNION

9 12

8

THE TRAILS AT WILLIAMSTOWN

2

CANALS NORTH

RAILWAY AVE SW

11

Single-Family Homes: 1

Bayside – Reliant Homes, Evolution Homes, Majestic Homes

2

Canals North – Reliant Homes, Evolution Homes, Majestic Homes

3

Cooper’s Crossing – Copper Rock, Homes By Avi, McKee Homes, Trillium Developments

4

King’s Heights – Loreck Homes McKee Homes, Reid Built Homes, Shane Homes

5

Luxstone On the Park – Talisman Homes, Vesta Homes, Douglas Homes

6

Prairie Springs – McKee, Gallery Homes, Jager, Prominent Homes

7

Ravenswood – Broadview, NuVista, McKee, Pacesetter

8

Reunion – Excel, McKee Homes, Sabal

9

Williamstown – Vesta, Douglas Homes, Talisman Homes

Multi-Family Projects: 10

Generations Breezes

11

The Edge

12

The Trails at Williamstown

13

Synergy

GENESIS PLACE

5

GENERATIONS BREEZES 10

LUXSTONE ON THE PARK

BAYSIDE 1

14

LUXSTONE MANOR RAVENSWOOD

Luxstone Manor

7

SYNERGY 3

PRAIRIE SPRINGS

6

KING’S HEIGHTS

COOPERS CROSSING

Senior Projects: 14

THE EDGE

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George Keen | 76

CiTy Linda Masson | 78

Resourceful Officers | 80

MORE CIty OnLInE SEE OuR PHOTO gALLERY FROM THE OLYMPIC TORCH RuN AND gET CITY NEWS AND uP-TO-THE-MINuTE SCHEDuLES FOR FACILITIES AIRDRIELIFE.COM | yOUR LIFE Is OnLInE!


Keen Photo courtesy the City of Airdrie

CITY | Profile

W

hen George Keen was a young man, he never imagined that he would find a fulfilling, diverse and exciting career in municipal government. “When I went to school, I never thought of working for a municipality,” Keen says. “I discovered it by accident.” But looking back on all his years of public service, the recently retired Airdrie city manager is happy with the way his professional life has ultimately played out, complete with a foray into private business along the way. Keen and his family – wife Connie and children Matthew and Julie – first came to Airdrie 14 years ago, after having lived in Grande Prairie for 10 years. In that municipality, Keen served as community services director before moving to the planning and protective services department. Then, at age 40, he found himself getting a little restless. He considered going back to school to earn an MBA, but an opportunity to go into business arose and he jumped at the chance. “I had an opportunity to do the MBA or actually live the MBA,” he says of his decision to run his own menswear shop for three years. That venture gave him a firsthand view of what customer service is all about, he says, adding that serving the public and being accountable should also typify municipal government. “You have to treat every dollar like it’s your own. It’s lazy to say it’s harder to do,” he says. Then came the chance to get back into 76 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

on the

City

George Keen reflects on a long municipal career story by Anne Beaty

the municipal government side of things as city manager in Airdrie. Keen and his family decided it was time for a change. “I always had ambitions of being a city manager,” Keen says. At that point, Airdrie’s population was less than half what it is now and the city was on the cusp of major growth and development. Despite the challenges that come with running an ever-evolving community, Keen and his family soon found themselves right at home.“It’s not a cliquey kind of community. It’s very easy to be involved and a part of. Airdrie has been most welcoming.” And while Airdrie may not be particularly blessed “topographically or climatewise,” Keen laughs, “it’s young and vibrant … and very family-oriented. We have location, location, location, too.” For Connie, a teacher, the move to Airdrie has allowed her to continue what she loves best. “She’s very passionate about what she does,” Keen says. And as the children have grown up and moved on to their own lives as adults – Matthew was only here for his senior year at George McDougall High School – the city has held a special place in their hearts, too. “My kids still want to come back and live here,” their father says. “[Matthew] has lifetime friends from that one year. He treasures this community … and the same with my daughter.” For Keen himself, it has been highly rewarding to be part of and take ownership in his community as both resident and city man-

ager. Professionally, at the senior level, he has continued to work with people, mentoring, coaching, guiding – not so very much different from running his menswear store, he says. “Really it boils down to I’m dealing with people.” The city manager’s position brings with it challenges, especially in such a rapidly developing area as Airdrie, yet Keen has always looked on challenges as opportunities. And there have been many ‘opportunities’ over his years at the helm of the City of Airdrie. “We’ve had tremendous growth and things can get chaotic when you’re having the kind of growth we are,” he says. However, he believes the City has been able to keep its focus and produce results. “I think we’ve put together a team of employees [who] are on the same page, have the same values, [are] eager to serve the customers [and] have the best interests of the customers at heart,” he says. While bureaucracy is a necessary part of any organization, Keen says, “I don’t think any of our employees see themselves as bureaucrats, civil servants. Our job is to help … accomplish what the goals of the community are.” One of the biggest surprises for Keen is that there has been little turnover since he first walked through the doors of City Hall. “I have [had] the same set of directors from the start. Our leadership group has stayed together,” he says, adding that although some members of that group have been recruited by other organizations, they have opt-


CITY | Introducing

ed to stay with the City of Airdrie.“I think that speaks to the community.” Having the same set of people at the top doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no new, fresh ideas, Keen is quick to add. “Because of growth, we’re always bringing in new people,” he says. “The talent I’m working with I believe to be the top of their field.” Something must be working. According to the province’s municipal scorecard, Airdrie is on top. “We’re No. 1 and have been and I think that speaks volumes,” Keen says, adding that city council’s sustainable attitude has been essential to the success of the community, located as it is in the shadow of the behemoth to the south. “I’m proud of being a part of such a … well-performing corporation. That corporation couldn’t be that way without council.” Now, the Keens are facing challenges of a different sort – how to fill the time once occupied by full-time work. They love to travel and explore and both are eagerly awaiting the opportunities ahead. “We really want to explore North America and Europe and Australia and New Zealand,” he says. For Keen, who has never had more than three weeks off at a time during his working career, retirement may come as somewhat of a shock. But he is looking forward to finding out what a month and more off feels like. “You don’t know what retirement is until you retire,” he says. The couple also plans to thoroughly enjoy the ‘snowbird’ lifestyle. They have a home in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, as well as a townhouse in Radium, B.C., and they have already headed south for the rest of the winter. “Depending on the season, we’ll be in one of those locations if we aren’t traveling,” he says. He has already used his extensive experience and organizational skills by researching his options for retirement. “Utah has the most golf courses in

North America per capita,” he says. “Of course, I love my golf.” The Keens have recently downsized to fit their new lifestyle. Having moved from a single-family home into a townhouse condo a few years ago, they have now decided on an even smaller abode – a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment condo in downtown Airdrie. The move also allowed them to do yet another major clean and get rid of as much of the superfluous stuff as they could. “We’re enjoying it,” he says of their new home. While Keen has no immediate plans to step into another job, Connie only took a three-month leave-of-absence from her classroom duties.“She’s not convinced that I’m retiring,” he says with a laugh.“Her fear is that I don’t retire and she retires.” He does have a few plans up his sleeve, but he is waiting to see what happens. “I might end up back in a store – who knows?” he says. In the meantime, he and Connie are enjoying the new life, with their children living relatively close. Matthew, who went to school for chemical engineering before attending law school, is a lawyer practising in Calgary, and Julie, who lives in High River, is following in her father’s civil service footsteps: she is an assessor with the M.D. of Foothills. For the elder Keens, when not on the golf course in Phoenix or Radium or somewhere else around the globe, they will be home in Airdrie, watching the city’s development with interest. Keen will probably stop by City Hall and may even attend the odd city council meeting or two. “I don’t know. I’ll drop into the office and say hi,” he says. “But there’s not much to complain about.” Even though he will no longer be intimately involved in the running of the City of Airdrie, the community is and will remain dear to his heart. “I really would like to thank Airdrie for giving me and my family the opportunity to experience … living in a community of this nature,” Keen says. LIFE

Paul’s Profile

Paul Schulz takes over as City GM By Anne Beaty

N

ew Airdrie city manager Paul Schulz may have big shoes to fill with the retirement of George Keen, but he has lots of experience on which to draw. Having been with the City of Airdrie since 1986 – he began as a municipal intern – Schulz has had ample opportunity to familiarize himself with the inner workings of the municipality. He recently spent several months visiting the various city departments and getting to know their mandates and the people who fulfil them.“Our snow crew – I got a real eye-opener riding with them,” he says with a smile. Schulz says that his career path over the past 24 years has been one of growth, from his first enthusiasm about city planning and development to his position as director of planning, protective services and economic development, which he held until taking on the city manager’s role. Earning an MBA in the mid-90s was another step along the way and he looks forward to continuing to put all his hard-earned education, both at university and on the job, to work alongside others equally enthusiastic. Like his predecessor, Schulz prefers to view problems and issues as “opportunities” and he believes that his colleagues have the same passion to help their community as he does.“I think we’ve got a great group of people who love to serve the city,” he says. A relationship between city administration and city council built on trust is another strength. “It’s a huge thing. I value trust in my relationships,” he says, adding that he does not take that trust for granted. Schulz was born and raised in Calgary but Airdrie has long been home for him and his family and he is excited to be able to pursue his professional career in such a caring community. “It’s fun – there are challenges, there’s variety and I love working and living in the same community,” he says.“The community is your life.” LIFE Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 77


City | Services

Hitting her Stride You can count on Linda Masson in an emergency Story by Anne Beaty | Photo by Kristy Reimer

S

he may be in a traditionally male-dominated field, but Airdrie Emergency Services (AES) assistant chief Linda Masson has hit her stride when it comes to her career. Masson, who originally started with AES in February 2001 as an administrative assistant, is now in charge of running AES’s business services department. She deals with budgets and delivery of business services, both internally and externally; manages contracts,

78 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

data, staffing levels and business planning; and co-ordinates recruitment and selection. Her unique perspective on the emergency services organization has allowed her to track what AES has been doing through numbers and statistics, so she can determine where the needs lie and how best to support those needs in the budget. From where she started to today, her journey has been an exciting one. “It’s been an interesting ride,” she says, adding that the

first fire chiefs conference she ever attended boasted 270-plus delegates – only two of them were women. Masson’s new career came about somewhat unexpectedly. She and her husband were not too keen on her commuting into Calgary for a job, so when she heard about an opening at AES on the administrative side, she looked into it. The job was originally a temporary one for six months, but when she declined the offer, she was OK’d for a permanent position.


She hasn’t looked back since. “It’s turned into the career I’ve always wanted,” she says. Masson came into the job equipped with special skills, having worked for 20 years in administration, finance and leadership. “I worked for the federal government, employment and immigration, in human resources in both labour relations and recruitment and in finance administration and office management for small and midsize companies,” she says. Her background more than qualified her to take on new responsibilities at AES, which was undergoing major structural changes. “When I came here, there were two chiefs [for emergency medical and fire services] and an admin assistant and it was still a volunteer organization,” she says, adding that at the time, there were only 16 full-time AES members as opposed to 56 today. But the organization was evolving and Masson’s experience and expertise fit right in with the direction AES was moving. As the city was growing and demands for services changing, the traditional understanding of emergency services – “We stop buildings from burning and save babies” – was being expanded, so AES could better function as a business organization. “Departments were tasked to be more conscious of business practices and stronger business cases were required to support budget requests,” she says. “This was an opportunity for me to utilize my skills and knowledge in assisting with a new focus on the ‘business’ side of emergency response.” The new direction of AES as a business organization included the establishment of four departments: training, community safety, business services and operations. In 2003, Masson was promoted to business services co-ordinator and in 2005, when Chief Sheldon Leavitt realigned the leadership of AES, creating assistant chief positions to head each of the four departments, she was tasked with heading up the business services division.

“And the rest is history,” she says. The shift to a more business-focused way of running the emergency services organization was at first a bit challenging. “[AES] had never been a business before,” Masson says. However, she adds, the jobs of chief and assistant chief are administrative ones, requiring business and administrative astuteness, and “business is business is business.” Although she didn’t “come up from the floor,” Masson has learned on the job, as well as extending her knowledge through education. She took elementary fire courses and participated in Monday night fire training, she became a registered EMR (emergency medical responder), and she holds a certificate in management from the University of Calgary and a certificate in fire service leadership from Dalhousie University. That experience and education has certainly been put to the test, as AES has been “charting new territory” ever since she began, Masson says. And as the organization continues to evolve, no doubt other challenges will arise. These include continued growth and development of the city and surrounding areas resulting in increased demands for service, and the increasing complexity of providing fire and rescue response. “We feel like Bambi on ice,” Masson says. “There’s always something challenging here.” If she thought too much about leading the department into the future, it could get a bit overwhelming, but Masson is too busy to worry. What she calls the “dynamic and ever-changing environment of emergency services” piqued her interest from the beginning and in an environment where she is respected and encouraged to maximize her skills, the career couldn’t be more fulfilling. “It is important for me to be a positive contributor to my community and society,” Masson says. “This position gives me that sense of value and I am grateful to my colleagues and to the organization for supLIFE porting my evolution to this role.”

Donna Aaskow Licensed Realtor

Area Manager

office: 948-6595 • cell: 816-4176 Donna.a@shaw.ca

Building in five communities in Airdrie!

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 79


CITY | RCMP

Officers for Change Story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | Photo by Sergei Belski

RCMP members connect with Airdrie’s youth

T

here’s more to police work than stopping bad guys and pulling over speeders. Airdrie’s RCMP detachment recently launched the city’s first community resource officer (CRO) program to forge better links between residents – especially youths – and the people charged with protecting them. “We’re working to build bridges between police and youth, and to develop and maintain relationships between the community and youth, and between youth and businesses,” says Const. Patti Reid, one of two CROs assigned to Airdrie last fall. “We’re hoping to develop those relationships early enough so [youths] are comfortable with the police and know we’re there to assist them and help them make healthy choices in life.” 80 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Reid and fellow CRO Const. Rob Frizzell have become regular fixtures at Airdrie schools and have also become involved with such groups as the city’s anti-vandalism committee, which recently rebranded itself the Safe Airdrie Partnership. “I focus on the kindergarten to junior high level, and Patti is more the high schools,” says Frizzell, known as “Const. Frizz” to many of the youngsters with whom he works. Frizzell says one of his biggest jobs is delivering such programs as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), Internet safety and cyberbullying awareness. “With DARE, we’re trying to get the kids before they experience peer pressure,” he says. “We try to get them to apply a decision-making model on day-to-day choices, and see the consequences of their actions.”

Programs similar to CRO have been used to great effect in such places as Calgary, and Reid says the time was right for fast-growing Airdrie to have its own version of the program. Reid says her job includes training teachers and other school personnel in dispute resolution and alternative measures. “As police officers, we have the discretion to resolve the situation to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, perhaps by referring to agencies that can provide assistance,” she says. “What we need as a community is to empower people to take ownership and [demonstate] pride in their community, and accountability.” Reid is an 11-year member of the RCMP, while Frizzell is in his fourth year. “I met my first police officer when I was in Grade 3,” recalls Frizzell, who is originally


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from Prince Edward Island.“It was a tossup between garbage man and police officer when I made up my mind in Grades 4-5.” Reid, who grew up in Springbank near Calgary, raised two children and served as school resource officer in Cold Lake, where she also sat on the school advisory committee and was involved in minor sports. She says the CRO program allows a proactive, “more-casual interaction with the kids” than one might normally see with police. “We take part in Toonie Teen Night at Genesis Place [and] you might see us playing basketball with the kids.” Besides being available for youth, Reid says the CRO program, which is supported by the City of Airdrie, can also be accessed by businesses needing, for example, training on fraud or loss prevention. There are many opportunities for the CROs to also co-ordinate with other local safety initiatives, such as Citizens on Patrol, says Frizzell. Reid says she and Frizzell celebrate the small successes “one at a time. We’re getting out there and the kids know what we’re doing. Some of the kids [who] may have been at risk know where we’re coming from when we’re intervening. “We both went into the program with blind enthusiasm – we enjoy a challenge. And we both enjoy the opportunity to be out there and make a difference with young people,” she adds. Sgt. Dennis Esayenko, acting NCO (non-commissioned officer) with the Airdrie RCMP detachment, credits the “vision of Mayor Linda Bruce and City officials” with sparking the idea of a CRO program in the city. “Thanks to their vision … it has really impacted the community in a positive LIFE way,” Esayenko says. FOR MORE INFORMATION about the Airdrie RCMP

CRO program, call constables Patti Reid and

Direct: 403.801.9510 Pager: 403.247.7770 Fax: 403.592.6760

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 81


fuzion

harmony

element

unity

N

sy ergy IN KINGS HEIGHTS

by

N W

E S


the Airdrie Anomaly | 84

WorkS strategic Directions | 86

Engines and Education | 92

MORE WORKs OnLInE THE CHANgES AT TOWERLANE MALL, COMPLETE RESuLTS OF THE CHAMBER SuRVEY AND MuCH MORE ALL AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM | yOUR LIFE Is OnLInE!


WORKS | Economic Development

Airdrie

Anomaly The

If there was a recession going on, why did 583 new businesses open their doors in 2009? by Alex Frazer-Harrison

B

y any standard, 2009 was a weird year. There was doom and gloom as world economies shuddered through what was dubbed the worst recession in decades. But then there were reports of people and places thriving during the tough times. Airdrie was one community that seemed to weather the economic storm quite well. “We were in a bit of a bubble, and I won’t say everyone in Airdrie wasn’t affected, but talking to businesses and looking at our numbers, we had a pretty good year,” says Kent Rupert, economic development team leader for the City of Airdrie. For example, while some areas saw many businesses close their doors, Airdrie actually welcomed 583 new operations in 2009, Rupert says.“These were everything from homebased businesses, to out-of-town companies coming in, to storefront businesses,” he says. Rupert says the recession of 2008-09 offered Airdrie a chance to“catch its breath” after the boom that hit in 2006-07. “If you only compare [Airdrie’s economic activity] to 2006-07, the numbers look dismal, but compare to 2004-05 and we’re on an upward track,” says Rupert. “Everyone knew the boom wasn’t going to last. Did it crash in Airdrie? I would argue no – it did drop down, but it dropped down to normal.” A strong aspect of Airdrie’s economy go-

84 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

ing into 2010 continues to be home-based businesses, which account for more than half the business licences in the city. “We did see a larger increase in homebased businesses this year, and that’s fairly typical when you enter a recession,” says Rupert. “I think people look at ways of finding more money, so they start a home-based business to bring in extra income.” Meanwhile, the scope of shopping opportunities in the Airdrie area changed forever last summer with the opening of the CrossIron Mills megamall at Balzac. Rupert says it’s still too early to gauge the long-term impact the mall might have on local business, although there have been some promising signs. “We’ve heard both sides of the issue, and we’d be naive to say it hasn’t drawn some commercial out of Airdrie,” he says. “But we need to go a full year before we can say whether it had a real impact. “I do know we’ve seen more Calgary residents than we’ve ever seen in Airdrie, because [the mall] is drawing people north. We’re seeing people come to the mall and go, ‘I wonder what’s in Airdrie?’” Rupert says he’s also heard from businesses that wanted to locate in the mall, were unable to do so because of rent or other factors, and are now talking to developers of Airdrie commercial sites such as Sierra Springs, Tow-

erlane Mall and Kingsview Market. Rupert says 2010 promises to be another busy year for economic development in Airdrie, as the City continues to encourage businesses in four target sectors – transportation and logistics, advanced manufacturing, scientific and technical services and environmental industries – to consider locating here. “We’re working with a couple of really big clients who will certainly put Airdrie on the national or international map,” says Rupert. “I expect by this time next year we’ll be having some pretty exciting projects getting built.” The City is partnering with the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce on Think Airdrie, a new campaign to encourage consumers to consider patronizing local businesses first. “We want people to think about Airdrie businesses first and give our businesses a chance,” says Rupert. Airdrie Economic Development also plans to continue enhancing and expanding its AirdrieNOW website (airdrienow.ca), which features AirdrieNOW TV, a series of online videos and testimonials from local business people. “We’re also exploring more ways to use communications, like video conference training and Twitter,” says Rupert. “We’ll continue to work on ways to get information to our LIFE business community.”


Optimistic BY ALEx FRAzER-HARRISON

Survey shows Airdrie business community looking for growth in 2010

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early three-quarters of Airdrie business leaders expect to do better financially in 2010 than in 2009, while more than a third expect to add more staff in 2010. These are some of the results of Airdrie’s first Business Leader Survey, conducted by Meyers Norris Penny LLP and the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce. Last September, survey-takers quizzed more than 200 local business owners on topics ranging from interest in Chamber membership to what they feel should be the City of Airdrie’s priorities. “One of the key findings was that Airdrie businesses are very optimistic, with 71 per cent of businesses feeling they would be performing better over the next 12 months,” says Chamber president Mike Brandrick. “Another major finding is 35 per cent expect to have an increase in staffing needs, and creating more employment is always good.” Brandrick says 62 per cent plan to keep their staffing levels the same over the next 12 months; only two per cent expect to reduce staff. And while 71 per cent say they expect to perform better financially this year, only four per cent expect to do worse, with 23 per cent expecting the status quo. “Given the year we had, and the media and everything else, Airdrie businesses on the whole are very positive,” notes Brandy Horn, partner with Meyers Norris Penny, which initiated the survey. “Airdrie businesses seem to be resilient. It’s almost as if they decided, ‘We’re not participating in the recession.’” Horn says the survey wasn’t just about everyone saying,“We’re fine.” Business leaders were also asked what they felt the priorities of government and the Chamber of Commerce should be. Brandrick says the top three challenges as identified by businesses are access to markets and customers, economic uncertainty and future labour needs. Of those surveyed, 71 per cent identified promoting Airdrie business as the top Chamber priority. And these statistics are helpful for the City de-

partment charged with doing just that. “There is a sense of optimism out there,” says Leona Esau, economic development officer for the City of Airdrie and the City’s representative at the Chamber. Esau says the optimism comes despite cautious consumer spending last year due to concerns over the economy. With the survey results now available, Esau says, “We’re able to go out armed with some stats and a recent survey of community-wide businesses and tell people we’re still open for business here – and businesses are looking for a positive climate to invest in.” Airdrie Economic Development also received a report card from the survey, with 15 per cent rating the department as excellent and 55 per cent as good. The City’s other departments also received messages from the survey, with 37 per cent of business leaders saying infrastructure (roads, sewer, water) should be the City’s top priority, with emergency services and affordable housing being the next two priorities. Brandrick says that from the Chamber’s perspective, the fact the overwhelming majority of surveyed businesses feel the organization should give priority to promoting Airdrie business will have an impact on strategic planning. “We will be looking at different opportunities to improve upon what we have,” he says. “We’re going to be specifically involved in [City of Airdrie] programs, and I can see them becoming more involved in our programs.” One of these initiatives is the new Think Airdrie campaign, which will aim to encourage local consumers to consider Airdrie businesses first for their needs. “It’s not just about ‘shopping local,’ but it’s getting the message out there about ‘thinking local,’” says Brandrick. “Look at your options here. Know what’s available in your community. That’s going to LIFE be our focus.” MORE LIFE OnLInE

SEE THE FuLL RESuLTS AT AIRDRIELIFE.COM AND SEND YOuR OWN COMMENTS ON BuSINESS IN 2010

WORkS | Chamber

sAMple resulTs FroM The Business leADers survey immediate business challenges within the next 12 months (top five results): Access to markets/customers (17%) Economic uncertainty (14%) Labour shortages (13%) Don’t know (10%) Survival in the marketplace (8%) expected financial performance over the next 12 months: Better than last year (71%) Same (23%) Worse (4%) Don’t know (1%) expected employment levels over the next 12 months: Same as last year (62%) Increase (35%) Decrease (2%) Don’t know (1%) Difficulty finding skilled employees: Yes (67%) No (32%) Don’t know (1%) Positions employers have had difficulty filling (top five results): Retail/sales (17%) general labour (13%) Service/customer service (11%) Technicians/technical trades (11%) Other (9%) City of Airdrie’s top priorities (top five results): Infrastructure (37%) Emergency services (23%) Affordable housing (20%) Education (10%) Daycare/early childhood services (4%) Airdrie Chamber of Commerce priorities: Promote Airdrie business (71%) Networking opportunities (13%) Training and professional development opportunities (10%) Policy and advocacy (5%) Don’t know (4%) Other (1%) Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 85


WORKS | Experts

Strategic Directions

Story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | Photo by Kristy Reimer

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hen it comes to being successful, it’s not always a matter of knowing the answers, but knowing the questions to ask in the first place. Natalie Gibson, president of InnoVisions and Associates, an Airdrie-based specialist in business and market development, knows just what the right questions are, whether it’s for a company seeking to broaden its marketing or a community looking to attract business opportunities. “I love what I do, because it’s about connecting people to their dreams,” says Gibson. “Usually, the people I work with are passionate about starting or expanding a business. Or

86 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

Coaching business and municipalities

they’re passionate about their community being successful.” Gibson entered the field of business and communications by way of public service, being elected as a town councillor in Drayton Valley about 20 years ago and serving as president of that area’s chamber of commerce. “I discovered gaps in how communities could reach coaching or counselling on how to start a business, run a business, identify a target market and be more profitable,” she says. “Over time, I had some incredible mentors. I worked with Community Futures in Yellowhead … it was a huge region and we hosted one of the first resource-sharing conferences in all of Canada – when to co-operate and collaborate versus when to compete.” Gibson even has a word for this – “coopitition.” One lesson she learned from her experience in Drayton Valley/Yellowhead was the value of communities pooling their resources. “Our competition isn’t each community or each province, it’s other countries,” Gibson says. She has also seen attitudes changing toward smaller centres such as Airdrie. Two decades ago, such terms as “community economic development” were buzzwords connected to large places such as Calgary. “Now, the north-south trade corridor from Edmonton to the States and down into Mexico ... our segment from Edmonton to the border is the strongest and fastest-growing economic corridor in the world,” Gibson says. Airdrie is smack in the middle, which has made it a great place for her home base as she works with businesses, business groups and municipal governments not only in this city, but across the province and

internationally. “I was working on a project for a private company on what was called the Canadian Industry Development Agency,” Gibson recalls when asked what made her locate here 14 years ago. “I was working on the international arm and they requested I transfer to Calgary. I had two young boys, age two and five, and I wanted a smaller community. “I love the sense and feel of Airdrie being a smaller community, with all the amenities, close to metropolitan, and some smoking wonderful assets in terms of business partners.” In fact, as part of a network of independent consultants that stretches around the world, Gibson was pleasantly surprised to find several of her colleagues based right here in Airdrie. Her work has included helping the City of Lethbridge develop a Wind Energy Cluster Action Plan, a “visitor needs assessment” for the Village of Consort and the revision of training modules for the Economic Developers Association of Alberta. She has worked with the City of Airdrie on several initiatives, including a business visitation program. “These are one-to-one meetings, a business ambassadorship program,” Gibson says. “What’s exciting is the way [the City has] included home-based entrepreneurs – 52 per cent of businesses in Airdrie are home-based, including myself.” In fact, she notes, it was while doing business research for the City that this statistic was realized. “The thing that lights my fire is when businesses or communities can take some details we’ve found and uncovered and start a process to help more than one business become profitable,” Gibson says. She’s also been in on the ground floor as communities begin heading in new strategic directions. For example, she says, “With the Town of Canmore I did the preliminary stage


Get into the Best Health of Your Life! one and stage two of their research into shifting their economy into health and wellness.” Previously, much of Canmore’s economy had focused on tourism and second homes, and the town wanted to complement this with another business focus. For McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Gibson researched market potential for over-the-counter natural health products. And she’s currently doing preliminary market research for “a new food-processing technology that doesn’t exist in Canada. We’ve identified the need in the market and now have a joint alliance with a company in the Netherlands that will market this product.” Gibson says one of the most valuable things she can offer a client is a fresh perspective. “A company can say, ‘Here’s what we make and we’ll put it on the market, because we’ve always made it that way’ – so McCormick’s Buggy Whips forgets that once Ford invents the car they’ve been pushed out of the market,” Gibson says. “I focus on market opportunities – where are there gaps, an identified need? “I also learned as an elected official that you have to look at the other sides, the risk. [For example, building a bridge], how many people would use it, what business is it stopping? Or is there a safety risk because of people running across the road?” Outside work, Gibson contributes to the community as a member of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce and has been involved in such projects as the Alberta 55 Plus Games. In 1992, she received the Governor-General’s Canada 125 Commemorative Award for her community service. Gibson also recently visited Peru, where she has fostered eight-year-old Sergio through Compassion Canada for the last five years. “My job is dealing with dreams in a future sense and connecting the resources and people to realize that dream,” she says. “That’s why it’s so fun, because you get to see the results five to 10 years later.” LIFE

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The Sun Shines WORKS | Makeover

Brighter

With a little help from a business coach, Prairie Sun Creations basks in growth story by Alex Frazer-Harrison photo by Kristy Reimer

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ometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to give you a new perspective on your business. Such was the case with Sue Methuen of Prairie Sun Creations Inc. In 1998, Methuen launched her career as a web designer, taking advantage of the exploding demand for websites. “That’s all I wanted to do – you came to me if you wanted a website,” she says. “Over the years, I

88 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

landed larger and larger projects.” One project in particular ended up dominating her attention for more than a year. The project was originally expected to be a multi-year deal, but when it was suddenly cancelled, Methuen found herself in a fix. “I was left with nothing, because I hadn’t been marketing myself,” she says. “My business did a nosedive and I realized I needed to reinvent myself


and maybe instead of going by the seat of my pants, I should have a solid direction.” She sought out the advice of business coaches and began formulating a game plan for this reinvention. “I decided then I did not want to be just another web designer,” Methuen says. “I wanted to help other businesses compete. I would challenge businesses – what’s your goal and what do you want to do?” Prairie Sun Creations has grown from a one-person operation in 2000 to become a team with 30 contractors, which has helped develop marketing and communication strategies for organizations ranging from Alberta Lamb Producers to the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce. Methuen’s team created the logo and website for the 2009 Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games. Other clients include Bailey Saddlery and Airdrie Public Library. “Last year was our biggest year ever,” she says, adding that if she were to compare her business now with the way it was back in 2004, it’s grown something like 700 per

cent. “It’s been phenomenal. “The year I hired a business coach, it went up 245 per cent,” Methuen adds. “After that, it was more gradual – you don’t want to grow too fast.” So what changed? “That first year, I’d ask clients, ‘What would you like?’ and they’d tell me and I’d do it,” says Methuen. “Now we’re more the marketing specialist – let us help you do the best thing. If someone calls me asking about a website, I might ask them, ‘Are you sure you need one?’” Methuen’s strategy is to get clients more involved in helping her figure out their needs. “Every new client has to do homework,” she says. “I send them a questionnaire [asking] what they’re trying to achieve: Are they trying to increase sales? What are their challenges? That helps us come up with the best solution, and sometimes the best solution isn’t what they thought originally. “Our goal is to be the marketing department for our clients.”

Methuen doesn’t have a pile of initials after her name and has proven you don’t always need them.“I’m from the school of hard knocks and I’m always learning as I go,” she says.“I absorb, I read, I study, I research – I spend a lot of time asking questions.” She says it was intimidating to push herself and her business in a new direction, but notes, “It was scary when all of a sudden I’d lost my income. But once I hired a business coach, it became easier. She’d often ask me difficult questions that made me think of things I’d never thought about before.” Hiring a business coach is the best option for people looking to reinvent their businesses, says Methuen. “Think of athletes – when they want to excel, they get a coach,” she says.“Don’t try and do it by yourself. At least you can have someone saying, ‘Look at this; did you think about LIFE this?’ That, to me, is huge.” MORE LIFE ONLINE

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 89


WORKS | New Directions

Learning Curves Story by Anne Beaty Photo by Kristy Reimer

F René Smid advocates for an industry and her own personal growth

90 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

or Airdrie’s René Smid, 36, life is one big learning curve and as executive director of Digital Alberta, she has been able to put to good use her education and experience in the world of public relations and communications. “I’m basically an advocate for the industry,” Smid says. As the only paid employee with Digital Alberta, she works closely with the organization’s board members. Lobbying government; identifying other associations and groups similar to Digital Alberta, with which the organization can work; and planning and running various programs – all are part of her day-to-day life. Working in such a vibrant and forward-thinking atmosphere has bolstered her enthusiasm. “It’s so diverse, I don’t get bored,” she says.“I get to work with great people. We all really recognize what we each bring to the table.” A native of Saskatchewan, Smid married in 1996 and, as 20-somethings, she and her husband decided to take a chance and move to Calgary. The change in environment proved to be challenging. “Four years later, I had only one friend,” she says. “The city was too big for me.” Facing a choice of looking for somewhere smaller or moving back to Saskatchewan, she and her husband decided to move to Airdrie in 2001. Making themselves at home in their new, smaller community came naturally – six weeks after their home was built, they invited everyone on their block to a Christmas party. “That was just so me,” says Smid, admitting that one of her all-time favourite activities is entertaining, bringing people together and feeding them. At the time of the move to Airdrie, Smid was relatively new with Digital Alberta, which, according to its website, is “an industry-led organization devoted to promoting and connecting [the] thriving digi-


tal media community across Alberta [and] Canada.” She was a real neophyte when it came to the world of technology. “I didn’t know anything about digital media … advanced technology.” Yet “unbelievable mentors” have helped her along the way and even as Smid has learned from her mistakes, she has also discovered the power of recognizing one’s own strengths and shortcomings. “Saying ‘No’ is not failing,” she says. “I have no problem saying I don’t understand something.” Smid also expanded her professional repertoire by working with Calgary Council for Advanced Technologies (CCAT) until last year, which has allowed her yet another perspective on the digital industry. Coming into the Digital Alberta job interview in 2000, new mother Smid, who had never worked with a volunteer board before, was simply looking for something that would generate enough money to contribute to paying the family’s expenses. “I hadn’t spoken to an adult for six months,” she laughs. Even more importantly, though, she wanted to be able to stay home with her new baby, daughter Piper, who is now nine. When she was first working with Digital Alberta and CCAT, Smid spent three days in the office. However, when she pitched the idea of a virtual office, it was accepted and she was able to work from home.“Through all of it, my absolute priority was to be home with my child,” she says. In 2006, Smid’s life changed again when she and her husband separated. Because he works up north for two weeks at a time and then is off for two weeks, Piper now spends half her time with her mom and half with her dad. This schedule was a major adjustment for the newly single mom. “It was really hard. There were a lot of tears the first year,” she says. Now, however, she is taking advantage of the time she is on her own. “[For two weeks] I’m René now. I get to meet my own needs,” she says. Smid’s work with Digital Alberta continues to be highly fulfilling. Building relationships – growing them and drawing on resources “like a jigsaw puzzle” – is what she

says she does best. Her focus now is to help the organization become self-sustaining. “Right now we rely on funding,” she says. “I need industry to support Digital Alberta.” On the personal side, Smid’s life incorporates a wide variety of pursuits, from rock and ice climbing to travelling to playing fastball with the Airdrie ladies league. She and her new partner are planning on a trip to Peru to climb and, eventually, she would like to live in Squamish, B.C., where they can climb, ski and kite-surf. “I feel very peaceful in that area,” she says. As for work in the years to come, Smid, a self-entitled “sports freak,” would like to be able to take all her skills and experience and turn them toward the sports and entertainment industry, with its high-octane atmosphere and energy. And where does she see herself in 10 years?“My ultimate goal would be to just work Tuesdays,” she smiles.“I don’t work hard, I work smart.” While there have been challenges along the way, Smid looks back with no regrets. She continues to live with “passion, purpose and power,” squeezing every last drop of joy out of each day. “There’s so much life to live out there,” she says. Surrounded by wonderful friends and positive people, both in her personal life and her professional associations, Smid continues to develop as a person. “I can really see how I am growing and evolving and maturing,” she says.“I feel overall success in my life personally. Everything is coming together.” Her goal, she says, is to be the best person she can be – pushing to accomplish, yet still kind, loving, empathetic and a good example for her daughter. “A sense of fair play is really important to me,” she says. Smid’s ongoing learning curve has given her a recognition of what is within her control and what is not. When it comes to how she lives and loves, the power is in her hands. “What you put out to the universe is what comes back to you,” she says.“You create what you want. “I’m really enjoying this time in my life … I’m really, really coming into my own,” she LIFE adds.“The journey is amazing.”

The benefits of joining today • Discount registrations to Chamber events • Airdrie Home & Garden Fair Booth discount of 20% • VISA and MasterCard Merchant Discount Rates • Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance • Purolator, Husky, Esso and Petro-Canada discounts • Business Listing on the Chamber web site • Free Export Document Certification • Exhibit at Chamber Business and Consumer shows • Participate in seminars and workshops • Receive business referrals from the Chamber office • Sponsor one of many Chamber functions or activities • Network at monthly business and social events • Advertise in the monthly Chamber News newsletter and monthly Chamber Chat • Exclusive copy of Chamber Roster and Chamber News monthly newsletter

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Spring 2010 | AirdrieLIFE 91


WORKS | Careers

Automatic Transitions Lena Spicer puts her career into overdrive Story by Ellen Kelly | Photo by Sergei Belski

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sually, when you take your vehicle in for servicing, the person wearing the coveralls is a burly and somewhat gruff guy. Not so when entering the automotive shop at Rocky View School Division (RVSD) Learning Connection, situated on the east side of the Cam Clark Ford dealership. The smiling face that greets you is that of Mechanics 10, 20 and 30 teacher Lena Spicer, who is also a licensed mechanic. Spicer says that while she wasn’t one of those kids fascinated with cars, she was curious and liked to discover how things worked. In high school, she shone at the sciences and after graduating enrolled in university to study chemistry. However, after completing two years of the degree and having no idea what career path to pursue, she pulled out. “I wanted a trade,” she says, “something I could do that would be recognized and I could get work.” So she flipped through the SAIT calendar and settled on mechanics, intrigued by the skills and options available within the trade.“I’d changed a tire a couple of times and I remembered, as a kid, reading the Charlie Brown encyclopedia and thinking that how an internal combustion engine works was the coolest thing ever, and I thought, I can do that,” Spicer says. She graduated from the two-year diploma course at SAIT Polytechnic, became a 92 AirdrieLIFE | Spring 2010

licensed journeyman mechanic with interprovincial certification and worked in the field for six years. Spicer enjoyed fixing cars, but reached a point where she wasn’t happy with where she was personally. “I felt like I wasn’t doing anything new and I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything to society,” she says. So she went back to the University of Calgary, finished her science degree, then enrolled in education. An Airdrie resident for the past seven years, Spicer wanted to work in the community. When she applied to RVSD, her licence was included on her resumé and, fortuitously, the position as mechanics teacher at Airdrie Learning Connection was about to come open. “RVSD has been very supportive,” she says. After completing a successful first semester, she says she’s discovered that teaching in a hands-on program has some distinct advantages over regular teaching. Often, science concepts apply to automotive theory. The mechanics program is based on modules, 10 per grade level, each worth one credit. To complete the required work, students attend for two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours a day. Spicer says she enjoys the double block of time to get to know her students. Spicer is striving to improve the program by encouraging community involvement.

The class has toured the aviation program at SAIT and has listened to presentations by guest speakers from the community. In keeping with 21st-century learning and RVSD’s five-year plan, Spicer’s teaching style helps students function in the information age. Students research information, then apply and present it in different formats. Dirk Meyer, IT teacher at RVSD, is helping Spicer move the program into the computer age. The success of the program hinges on a unique partnership between Rocky View School Division and Cam Clark Ford. Through a leasing agreement, the dealership supplies and maintains the major equipment in the shop, donates parts and provides the services of two technicians, Tom Van Wieringen and Greg Togado. “Eighteen kids working on cars are a lot. I couldn’t do it without [Wieringen and Togado],” says Spicer. “We have a good working relationship and the kids appreciate them, so it’s good on all levels. I get great support from the dealership.” Cam Clark, owner of Cam Clark Ford, supports the program and 10-year partnership with RVSD wholeheartedly. He hopes to continue the partnership with RVSD and, in addition, support an apprenticeship program in the future. “There needs to be a seamless transition from high school into the trades,” Clark says.


When asked about the challenges she’s faced as a woman taking over a program that attracts mainly male students, Spicer says, “The students were very accepting. I haven’t felt any more negativity than I would have expected from any other classroom.” She emphasizes the importance of being confident and well prepared. Last semester, Spicer’s class included three female students; this semester, there is one. “The girls do really well,” says Spicer. “They bring special strengths to the trade – fine motor skills are very good and they have smaller hands.” Spicer admits she’s not a front-end technician and that knocking things apart with a 10-pound hammer isn’t her strength, but “to take apart the inside of a car, to reach around a small import engine or to work on the wiring, I’m pretty good at that.” Does she have any advice for young women thinking of entering the trade? “Have confidence in yourself and take what people say with a grain of salt. Strive to do your best. If you know what you’re doing, the guys will come around,” she says. “And don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Spicer enjoys seeing the difference in students as they progress through the program. She feels that in a forward-thinking society, people often forget to reflect on what they’ve accomplished and appreciate the growth that has taken place. She remembers several mentors in the pursuit of her goals – her high school science teacher, a couple of technicians at Honda who took her under their wings and answered all her questions, and her husband, Jason, who is also a mechanic. “I’d like people to know the program exists. Rocky View and Cam Clark have put together a premier automotives program. I’m lucky that I get to teach it and the community is lucky to have it,” says Spicer. The shop is open for business, mainly for maintenance, suspension, brakes and so forth. “When it comes to engines and transmissions, I decide,” she says. “It depends on if there’s anyone able to do the LIFE work. It doesn’t hurt to call.”

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