SUN Hockey Pool

Better Red than dead

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Ald. Madeleine King, who has never been confused for anything other than being confused, says she doesn't want to "welcome people from all over the world to come here just to get totally drunk."

In other words, she'd like to cancel Stampede.

Since that's not possible, she's getting behind the horrifically mismanaged message from deputy police chief Dale Burn Monday, instructing Flames fans to stay away from the Red Mile.

And because of their stance, the table has been set for the type of gathering that could put Calgary police officers in harm's way.

Simply put, this isn't Kandahar -- you can't tell people where they can and can't go.

To do so is not only inappropriate but shockingly arrogant, creating the type of advance tension that was absent on 17 Ave. S.W. during its magical rise to fame two years back.

Whereas it used to be a 'we're-all-in-this-together' party atmosphere, Burn has created a bit of an 'us-against-them' mentality between citizens and cops.

Just one day after Burn unveiled his poorly delivered plan to stifle civic celebrations, radio stations were flooded with hostile calls suggesting perhaps police officers should be told they can't go to Tim Horton's. Tit for tat.

In a city continually making national headlines for all the right reasons the last few years, Burn's stance is embarrassing and disrespectful to locals who prove every July they know how to party with the best of 'em.

Thankfully, Mayor Dave Bronconnier put Burn in his place by welcoming citizens to celebrate the Flames success wherever they please, while also reminding them there'd be zero tolerance for lawbreakers.

Fair enough.

Fact is, this year's edition of the Red Mile was never destined to be anything like it was in 2004.

Back then, the impromptu party was fuelled by a euphoria that stemmed entirely from the shock of the team's success and the surprising gatherings that followed. The team has since gone from an underdog happy to be in the playoffs for the first time in eight years to a division-leading favourite expected to challenge for the Cup.

With that in mind, wins won't be greeted with the sort of celebrations that saw 40,000 stream onto downtown's main party thoroughfare, which, by the way, has added a half-dozen bars since 2004.

It's already THE place to be on weekends, something that will obviously grow on game nights but not nearly to the extent Burn fears.

Make no mistake, Beltline residents and businesses have every right to be protected by Calgary's finest, which is why the police needed to make clear they'll be out in full force to keep order. However, the officers who once got a kick out of watching the revelry and often times took photos for partiers, are now being unfairly made to look like party poopers.

Remember, it's Burn who anointed himself The Grinch who stole the Red Mile, not the guys on the beat. They're the ones who will makes sure those who show up have a good time. God bless 'em.

OK, we get it -- Flamesgirls.com has disappeared and won't be coming back anytime soon.

Calgarians can live with that.

What they won't stand for, in a city as young, vibrant and progressive as ours, is being told what to do.

So go ahead, re-route traffic, slam the door on peep shows and cuff those with open alcohol.

But don't tell Calgarians the party is over. Only the Flames have the power to do that.

--

WHAT NEXT? CANCEL STAMPEDE?

Ald. King wants to save Calgary from drunken revelry, so Sun Sports asks her...

WHAT ALD. MADELEINE KING SAID ABOUT THE RED MILE MONDAY: "We could be welcoming people from all over the world who want to come here just in order to get totally drunk. I don't think that's what we want for this city."

SO WE ASKED KING: "Isn't that exactly what the Stampede is?"

KING'S REPLY: "(Laughter) ... Um, um, there's lots going on around the city during Stampede. Um ... Um ... I suppose the thing is, um. Ahh... um ... residences and business that get in touch with me ... the ones that have complaints in Stampede time, um, it's um ... very specific, um ... and limited, so if there's a specific, um, uh ... if it's a specific bar or normally tent that's a problem, then we'll work together to deal with that. Right? But um ... people don't complain to me what's going on on the streets of Calgary or how tough it is to cope with life. So that's very different than um, er... what was happening with this."

-- AS EXPLAINED TO DARREN FRIESEN


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