Sunday, 28 December 2014

Hey everyone,

I sent this letter in to the Red Deer Advocate and I thought it was worth posting to my blog as well. See below:

Have you been downtown lately?

Take a walk along Ross Street from 47th Avenue to 51st Avenue and see the major progress that has been made in our downtown! While you’re at it walk down Little Gaetz in either direction as well. There have been some major enhancements made in the last few years! 

Recently I was playing around with Google Street View and was surprised to find that the Google-Car which photographs the streets to make a 3D map hasnt went down little Gaetz since 2009! So when I clicked on Gaetz Ave I could literally see back in time before all the major upgrades were put in. If you’re interested I made a tour video and posted it to my YouTube page “Wieler4RD”, check it out.

After making that discovery I decided to peruse the Greater Downtown Action Plan on the city’s webpage. I found the plan to be a very innovative and progressive with clear goals and action steps to improve the quality of life in our city and spur business development. 

Comforts The Sole and Hot Pot Studio, Little Gaetz Red Deer
But, progress is a direction and nothing is done overnight. The continued growth of our downtown is a game of chicken and egg. It will take continued leadership from visionary policy makers, it will take the best of our entrepreneurial virtue and it will require the continued passion of our proud citizens to advance in this direction.

I have to send out a big THANK YOU to all the business owners who are redeveloping their properties and enhancing the whole feel of our downtown. There is a very clear message communicated to the public when a business enhances its store front and upgrades its street appeal. The clear message is PROGRESS! 

The evidence of progress is all around the downtown from the Plaza W renovation, the renovation of Budget Car Rental and the facelift to Artistry In Gold to the expansions of Red Deer Hot Yoga, Sunworks, Housewarmings and Fratters Venue. An extremely popular attraction is the Cool Beans Bus Cafe which occupies a previous brownfield site! Then there is the 2014 business of the year, Collegiate Sports Medicine, also proudly downtown. This is progress!

Downtown Farmers Market On Little Gaetz
Our downtown is rebounding and we are starting to see a snowball effect. If the next 10 years are anything like the last 10 years I suspect Red Deer’s downtown will be a cultural hub and a commercial powerhouse that Red Deerians will be proud of! This is progress!

On that note, unfortunately in 2013, out of the 497 businesses downtown there were 65 businesses that chose to leave the downtown. However there were 74 new businesses that arrived. So there is net growth as evidenced by the numbers provided by the DBA. This is progress!

We are already seeing the foundations being laid for our Riverlands district, the upgraded intersection at Ross and Taylor makes pedestrian access possible and safe. The power lines that will supply electricity to the whole area are being upgraded as we speak. Private businesses are receiving these cues well and are making plans to grow and develop. This is progress!

Our downtown is safer by many measures. More street lights brighten everything up sending cues to people that our downtown is safe. Crosswalks are upgraded making them more secure for pedestrians. The Point-In-Time numbers are in and there were 50% fewer street involved people counted than before; our city’s visionary focus on homeFULLness is working! This is progress!

Families are now flocking downtown in the summertime to enjoy the landmark Bluegrass Spray Park. There are more events like Centrefest, the Downtown Farmers Market, Nuit Blanche, the Bike Race and the North Pole Stroll enhancing our culture. The Ross St Patio is a HUGE SUCCESS drawing old and young alike to enjoy our downtown. This is progress!

There is more to come! Our city is blossoming! These are exciting times!

Jonathan Wieler, Downtown Business Owner - Bullseye Safety Inc.

Happy New Years!

Also my You Tube Video I made about downtown Red Deer:

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Every Conversation Changes The Future

Think of someone who inspired you,

Did they mindfully choose to inspire you? Was it someone who reached out to make a meaningful relationship with you? Someone who cared? Was there tragedy that cultivated blessing?

Come with me on my journey. 

Make this affirmation with me:

I can make a positive contribution!

I am the youngest of 4. My 2 older sisters are 10 years older than my brother and I, and they moved out when I was a kid. My brother Isaac was severely autistic. He never spoke a word in his life. He died 7 years ago. 

I am acutely aware of the problems that families with mentally disabled children face. I am very much aware of mental health issues. As such I am passionate about things like HomeFULLness and building relationships with street involved people to raise them up and be homeFULL. I can make a positive contribution.

I went to boarding high school seminary in Mission BC. It is a seminary run by Benedictine monks. It was one of the best experiences of my life. During that very formative time of my life I grew in virtue and knowledge. I learned to be respectful and compassionate. We volunteered at soup kitchens and we sang at old folks homes. I will carry those experiences with me for the rest of my life. When I need inspiration I look back at them and am able to refocus myself. I am renewed and I know that I can make a positive contribution!

I didn't graduate from the seminary instead I finished school here in Red Deer. I went to Hunting Hills. Very early into my first school year at HHHS the principal made a speech that inspired me greatly. I look back at it and recognize it as a pivotal moment in my life. He spoke about getting involved in the community and being creative. As a result of his speech I joined the drama class and was in every play that I could be in! I know how creativity, collaboration and communication bring people together and enhance General-Well-Being and I know I can make a positive contribution.

I had my first daughter when I was 19 years old and I have 3 more kids through my blended family. I am grateful for my children and I am enriched by them every day. I know how hard it can be having children so early and I am grateful for all the help I received from the amazing people in my life. I realize that there is no such thing as a “self-made-man” but that it takes relationship and compassion to build up the person so they can realize their potential. I hope I can be the the same sort leader for my children. I can make a positive contribution.

Eventually I did what many young men in Alberta do and I went to work on the rigs. For 10 years I slept next to my wallet. I missed out on many things such as my kids growing up and maintaining relationships with family and friends. I grew apart and fell into a cycle of alcohol and depression. But that wasn’t the path for me, after 10 years in the oilfield I have now changed gears. I haven’t had a drink in nearly 3 years! I am building relationships and feel much happier! I am inspired to make a positive contribution. 

While working on the rigs I saw environmental catastrophes, spills that went unreported and damage to the environment that will take years to repair! No one knows better the environmental impact that the oil and gas industry has more than Albertans working first hand in the industry. With that said the culture is shifting and I am proud that we have high environmental stewardship standards and our province is slowly moving in a positive direction; if not from the top down then from the bottom up. I am passionate about environmental sustainability and I can make a positive contribution.

The summation of my oilfield carrier is now the beginning of my carrier as an oilfield safety instructor and the beginning of my passionate involvement in the community. I am an entrepreneur. I will build a business that gives my family a comfortable life and that enables me to give back to the community. I believe that the changes which need to happen will occur through education and passionate leadership. I can make a positive contribution.

The reason I ran for city council the last election is because I see our city opening up like a blossom with so much potential. As Red Deer grows we can really build something great! Some themes we must hold steadfast to are: evidence based public policy, environmental stewardship and enhancing the creative class of leaders in our community. I am excited to make a positive contribution.

My Dreams:

  • I want to give back to the community that built me.
  • I want to increase HomeFULLness in our community.
  • I want to enhance environmental stewardship in our community.
  • I want to raise awareness and show compassion to people with mental illness.
  • I want to have conversations that change the future for the better.
  • I want to collaborate with the great leaders in our community who are working hard to do these things and find ways to be a conduit for good.

Merry Christmas,

"When we are motivated by compassion the results of our actions benefit everyone!" - Dali Lama

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Give & You Will Receive

It really feels good to give.

This Sunday I went to church and Reverend Jeff spoke about something that really hit home for me. He said that we focus all our giving and volunteer efforts right up to christmas but then after the holiday is over people forget that there is still need, perhaps even more need since many families over extend their finances by buying too many presents for everyone.

So I'm going to make an early New Years resolution; aside from the other one I already made, namely to work out more. I resolve to stay active in the community year round. I am going to continue to volunteer and help when and where I can!

My fiancĂ©, Krystal has been a member of a local Rotary club here in Red Deer called Rotary Sunrise for about a year now and recently I was invited to join as well. So in January I will be officially inducted as a new member. The whole club is filled with positive and compassionate people who give back to the community through continued service. I am excited to work with so many amazing community leaders!

I'm also excited to be able to volunteer my services as board member for Volunteer Central, I hope to make a positive contribution! It will be a learning curve but I am grateful for the opportunity! I really believe in the vision of Volunteer Central: to improve the quality of life for Central Albertans by linking people, places and knowledge. If you're interested in volunteering check out the list of available volunteer opportunities here.

Also, I am excited to serve our community as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) for the City of Red Deer. I am primed with ideas and questions and I look forward to benefiting the public good! It really is an honour to be chosen to be part of the EAC. Learning to be an effective committee member will be a challenge and I look forward to it.

As I was reading through the Environmental Master Plan I realized that there has been a lot of hard work and a lot of great leadership in Red Deer to make our city more environmentally sustainable. That is really good news. Often the media focuses the environmental discussion on "What is Big Gov doing to protect the environment" but it is at the municipal level where "the rubber meets the road". Cities can make the biggest contribution when it comes to environmental sustainability and I am proud of the leadership in our community.

Recently I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Salvation Army to help with the Christmas Kettle Campaign I would like to close this blog with an insight I gleamed from that experience.

By giving people the opportunity to give I am giving them an opportunity to increase their personal happiness. Every time someone walked past the kettle and dropped some change in I observed that they left with a smile. The smile is evidence they are feeling better for having done something altruistic. I find it interesting that I can increase their happiness merely by giving them an opportunity to give and that they can increase my happiness too! Every time they give I see that my service is valuable and that I am helping and that is a very good feeling.

Thank you for reading. If you like my blog please comment below or share it on social media.

Merry Christmas

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Cheers to the Riggers!

Hey everyone,

While stopping to fill up with gas last week when it was -30C here in Red Deer, I was reminded of my riggin' days. I couldn't help but think that right at that moment there were thousands of oil patch workers bustin' their's in this cold miserable weather so I could heat my house and fill up my gas tank.

I did my time and now I'm out, but cheers to the riggers! It was a good living and I am grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me. I have a nice house and my kids are well taken care of. My business still serves those workers and I'm continuously grateful for everything. 

Now many of you may know that I have a strong environmental side and you may be questioning me saying "why is he praising the oilfield?"

I am reminded of a Corb Lund song, no not Roughest Neck Around; I wish...

...but another more somber song called This Is My Prairie. Give it a listen when you get a chance. There are a few lines that go like this:

I can't blame the riggers or the guys drivin' truck
For feedin' their families and makin' a buck
But take a close look at the stock that you own
Cuz' this is my prarie, this is my home

No one knows the environmental impact of the oil patch better than hard working oil patch guys! When I hear on the news that people are protesting Hydraulic Fracking and pipelines and the bitumen industry I understand why, I get it! None of that stuff is pretty by any means. 

I know! I've worked there! 

But some of these guys take it to extreme and leave no room for reason or collaboration. Some even make outlandish claims that are clearly based on fear and mis-understanding of what is actually going on.

But then when I hear the other side and guys are denying climate change and the impact that humans are having on the environment I feel like pulling out my hair! 

We will never get anywhere pitting the economy vs. environment. 

We will never get anywhere with mis-information and fear mongering.

Public policy needs to be based on sound scientific evidence. 

Last week I attended the Chamber of Commerce luncheon here in Red Deer and listened to Mark Scholz president of the CAODC speak about the state of the oil patch and the direction it is heading. The room was filled with community leaders representing oil and gas companies. I really got the vibe that everyone there was a strong supporter of the "Drill Baby Drill" philosophy. Who'd-A-Thunk? 

I couldn't help but think that somewhere else there was a room full of "environmentalists" presenting information about climate change. In both rooms the speaker was essentially preaching to the choir. It struck me that we need to bring these two groups together in order to find a solution to the challenges we are facing. 

Mark Scholz didn't talk about climate change, but he did speak about all the hard working people making our province a great place to live. He spoke about how Canada's oil patch workers are the best trained in the world and how our safety practices are superior by far. He spoke about how its more ethical to buy Canadian oil than Saudi oil or Iranian oil as we actually care about the environment and human rights. 

Im sure that in that other room I imagined, the speaker didn't once mention any of those successes but just went on about how "big oil companies" are destroying everything! 

Mark Sholz made a compelling argument that coal consumption in China is by far a larger contributor of greenhouse gasses than what we do here in Alberta and that we could "offset" their dependance on coal by selling them compressed natural gas (CNG)

While his argument was persuasive I doubt China will get off coal because we sell them CNG. China will probably just take more of both and everything else. Furthermore there is serious doubt that CNG is really any better at all than coal.

With all this said I am very optimistic for our future. 

However, Alberta is at a cross roads.

The best minds in the world are finding more and more ways to use less and less of the oil we want to sell them. The global push to become less dependant on hydrocarbons is intensifying and will grow exponentially. Alberta has a shining opportunity to use its oil wealth to become a leader in cutting edge technology that will move us towards environmental sustainability and economic sustainability*. 

Yes there is a place for wind farms and large scale solar plants but I'm not a strong proponent of those as there are large drawbacks. From what I can tell the evidence is pointing strongly towards decentralized rooftop solar, nuclear, compact fusion and bio fuels from landfill gas, sewage and organic materials as an alternative to conventional oil, gas and coal. 

My argument is that wherever the money goes there too will go jobs, wealth and prosperity. 

I fully reserve the right to be wrong but I predict that those 4 sectors will grow dramatically over the next 25 years and they will out-compete conventional oil and gas. Roof top solar is already out competing natural gas and coal. The prices of solar are dropping and the tech is becoming more advanced. There is a company here in Alberta that will install solar on your roof and get your home net zero. I'm having my house priced out soon!

Whatever actually comes to pass lets not fail for lack of imagination! There are solutions to be found. We can have prosperity and environmental sustainability. 

We need: Collaboration, Reason & Imagination!


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*We clearly don't have "economic sustainability" as 20% of Alberta's Operating Budget is dependent on oil and gas royalties and when the price of oil drops our budget is no longer sustained.