Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi sick of Alberta treating him like ‘the farm team’

The 2013 municipal election will dominate Calgary headlines for at least part of 2013. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has …It appears a fit of name calling has broken out between leaders of Calgary and Alberta over the city’s growth strategy, with both sides saying they know what’s best for the region.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a man who chooses his words carefully, and he saved some sharp ones for the province in a Monday newspaper editorial.

Nenshi took Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths to task in a Calgary Herald column, complaining about the way the province had handled Calgary’s growth strategy.

Nenshi said the province was treating Calgary’s government “as the farm team,” failing to discuss important matters with them while unilaterally moving ahead with their own plans.

[ Related: Is a provincial sales tax in Alberta’s future? ]

Nenshi said he takes umbrage with the province’s inaction on the Calgary Metropolitan Plan, a region-wide strategy for building road, transit and water systems, and its apparent intent to undermine the strategy.

He listed a number of occasions in which it seemed Griffiths and Alberta Premier Alison Redford promoted a growth strategy that had not been discussed with Nenshi or his staff.

Nenshi also said Alberta seems set to spend millions on a water project that could be saved under the Calgary Metropolitan Plan, which remains unapproved despite the support of a vast majority of Calgary-area municipalities.

Nenshi said Redford appeared to suggest she might not legislate the plan, prompting Griffiths to clarify that her words did not represent government policy.

[ More Brew: Bad time for Alberta to spend $275M on renovations ]

Nenshi concluded his Monday editorial:

You might forgive me for being a little confused.

What I am not confused about is that the future prosperity of this city is the future prosperity of this province.

Treating the City government as the farm team in this relationship and managing important files as cavalierly as this is not good for Calgary, and it's certainly not good for Alberta.

Griffiths, meantime, told the Herald that Alberta was committed to the Calgary area’s decades-long growth plan, suggesting Nenshi was playing politics with his complaint.

“He’s got an election coming up, he’s going to puff up like a peacock and be tough. So be it; we’re just going to carry on,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths is right, of course: Nenshi is up for re-election later this year. But, as the Calgary Sun reports, his popularity remains solid and former rivals are not exactly looking forward to face him again.

On the other hand, Redford’s government has faced questions about spending, about campaign donations and could soon be forced to introduce a provincial sales tax.

So who, exactly, is playing the peacock?