December 28, 2016 1:52 pm
Updated: December 28, 2016 5:39 pm

2016 Year in Review: Conversations with Calgary’s top newsmakers

Gord Gillies sits down with some of Calgary's top newsmakers of 2016.

Global Calgary

From fentanyl-related deaths to an economy that has forced families to the edge of financial ruin, Calgarians have faced a difficult year.

On the bright side, design work has begun on the new cancer centre and Calgary’s professional sports teams are looking at a proposed alternative to CalgaryNEXT after council vetoed their original plan.

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These are just some of the stories that played a major role in our lives for 2016 and will continue to evolve in 2017.

We take a deeper look at the some of the stories Global News will continue to follow in the interviews below.


The economic conditions due to the oil slump in Alberta have been impacting everything from daycares, to animal sheltersluxury homes to food banks.

There have been a number of announcements from the federal and provincial governments regarding attempts to improve the situation and some economists have suggested things are finally turning around.

READ MORE: Economists meet with Alberta officials, say worst appears to be over

Despite that, some families have run out of options. Debt has been piling up and without income options, Albertans have been forced to seek help to navigate these tumultuous times.

Gord Gillies spoke with Mark Kalinowski from the Credit Counselling Society to find out how people are managing these difficult times.

Watch below: The phone is ringing off the hook at the Credit Counselling Society with calls from people seeking help managing unpaid bills and mounting debt.  Life without a pay cheque – in some cases for the past two years – has pushed many Alberta families into financial crisis.  Mark Kalinowski talks about the pressure his clients are under and offers tips on how to stay afloat when there is no money coming in.


In August 2015, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) unveiled their plans for a new multipurpose sportsplex, called CalgaryNEXT, that would be home to the Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Roughnecks.

The original proposal would build the CalgaryNEXT facility at the west end of downtown, where an old creosote plant used to be.

There have been two contentions issues regarding the project: who should pay to remediate the land and who should pay for the overall project.

READ MORE: New poll finds Calgarians are torn on CalgaryNEXT plan for multi-sport complex

In April 2016, Calgary city council suggested the Stampede grounds as an alternate site for the facility and in June agreed to further consultations with the CSEC over the project.

READ MORE: City council agrees to reconsider CalgaryNEXT proposal

Gord Gillies sat down with Ken King in an exclusive December interview to discuss where the project sits now.

Watch below: The CalgaryNEXT arena project got a big body check this year from Calgary city council.  While it may not be going ahead as first proposed, the company that owns the Calgary Flames, Stampeders and Roughnecks has said it is considering a ‘Plan B’ offered up by the City. That proposal would see an arena and event centre located on the Stampede Grounds, a separate field house in the city’s northwest near the University of Calgary and some renovations to McMahon Stadium.  Ken King, with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), talks to Gord Gillies about what’s next for CalgaryNEXT.

Fentanyl crisis

Between overdoses, drug busts and life-saving kits for front-line workers, fentanyl has featured highly in the news this year.

READ MORE: Calgary drug lab with capacity to produce 263K fentanyl pills shut down by police

This story became very personal for two Calgary mothers who both lost their sons to drug overdoses. The boys, Conner and Christian, had been good friends, and now the grieving mothers are uniting in a crusade to protect other families from suffering as they have.

Gord Gillies sat down with Yvonne Clark and Sharon Schubert to talk about the harrowing  journey that brought them together.

Watch below: Two mothers who lost their sons to drug overdoses are touring Calgary-area schools, hoping awareness will help save lives.  Yvonne Clark lost her son, Conner, at 21 years old. He died after ingesting fentanyl.  Sharon Schubert’s son, Christian, also died from an overdose.  The mothers speak with Gord Gillies about why they are driven to educate teens and their parents about the dangers of drug use, and what they hope to accomplish in 2017.

Cancer centre

Plans to build a new cancer centre in Calgary were first announced in 2005, when Ralph Klein was still the premier of Alberta.

Those hopes were dashed after an internal document from Alberta Health Services (AHS) was leaked in March 2015, announcing the provincial Conservatives were looking at a two-phase plan that would see a scaled-back centre at the South Health Campus and a second phase that might see a second facility at the Foothills hospital.

READ MORE: No more plans, fundraising for Calgary cancer hospital: document

On Oct. 25, 2016, Rachel Notley‘s government announced its intention to move forward with the original plan to build a new cancer centre at the Foothills hospital, however they didn’t expect it to open until 2024.

READ MORE: Construction on Calgary cancer centre to begin in 2017

The new facility promises to be a one-stop-shop from diagnosis to end of treatment for cancer patients. It will have 160 inpatient beds, 12 new radiation vaults, plus three shelled spaces for future development. It will also have space for outpatient cancer clinics, along with cancer trials and research.

Parking has already been affected at the Foothills facility, as work has begun to accommodate the new cancer centre. The province requested construction bids in October.

READ MORE: Alberta NDP to request Calgary cancer centre construction bids this month

Gord Gillies sat down with Dr. Sunil Verma, medical director of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, to discuss the current and future plans for cancer treatment in our city.

Watch below: Alberta Health expects to break ground late next year on a new Calgary Cancer Centre and open the nearly 1.2-billion-square-foot facility in 2024. Original plans were threatened under the Prentice government, but now the centre is a certainty after the NDP made good on its’ promise to build a new facility. Gord Gillies speaks with Dr. Sunil Verma, medical director of the Tom Baker Centre, about his vision for the hospital and to find out what progress has been made.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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