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Bring Back Calgary's Economic Advantage

Calgary was once recognized internationally as the city with a "can-do attitude." However, after several years of recession, record unemployment rates, high downtown office vacancies, and skyrocketing taxes, it's become clear that Calgary has lost that economic advantage.

My focus is on working with local businesses, key stakeholders and other levels of government to create a successful strategy to jump-start Calgary's economic recovery. Bringing back a pro-business environment and creating smart community infrastructure is the only way that we can encourage growth and address the needs of job creators and take the burden off of taxpayers.

In order to build a vibrant and successful city, I am urging City Council to cut bureaucracy and genuinely listen to what everyday business owners are saying. We are lacking a long-term vision for business retention, business development and diversification for our city.

My plan is for City government to break down the barriers standing between entrepreneurs and success. We are out of time and we need to nurture a Calgary's business-friendly environment - we can start by reining in taxes and introducing efficient approval processes that guarantee quick response times.

Cost-effective and Efficient Public Transit

I am supportive of thoughtfully planned and efficient transit. It has to give the best service to users and it has to provide value for money for taxpayers. We need a comprehensive transit plan for our city that makes sense. One that takes into consideration the current transit infrastructure and one that is flexible to adapt to new technology such as driverless cars and other technology that might not even be invented yet.

Introducing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network based on outdated data from a decade ago and at a cost of almost a half billion dollars during a time when transit ridership continues to decrease, does not make sense. We need a cost-effective transit that serves the able bodied, the elderly and those that with special needs. Investing millions of dollars in capital and operating costs on routes that have little ridership does not provide value for money. We need to invest in a public transit service that serves those citizens that need it most so that they can get to school, work and other destinations across all quadrants.

Smart Development

Future generations of Calgarians will inherit the kind of city we choose to build today. I believe that Calgary's current planning process is too tilted in favour of a high-density, one-size-fits-all-solutions. I want Calgary to embrace more realistic long-term planning that allows for Calgarians to choose the type of lifestyle that serves their families best. Putting an intentional freeze on development on land surrounding the city restricts our tax base growth potential and it also jeopardizes the dreams for many young Calgarians and young families to own their own homes. This should be a viable decision so long as it is not subsidized by those who have paid the premium to live in the inner city.

Genuine Citizen Engagement

I am your servant, not your master. Affected stakeholders and citizens should be genuinely engaged on projects and developments that will impact their quality of life. As your representative, I am committed to listening to all constituents and hearing all sides of an issue, not just those that agree with me. I promise to share information with constituents, be honest and transparent, and talk and meet with citizens to discuss their concerns and ideas. When local government is informed by local knowledge and includes feedback from citizens, we deliver better, more cost-effective projects.

Community Infrastructure Investment

I am committed to kick-starting the conversation on existing and proposed community infrastructure - this includes discussions around a new arena, the field house, a new convention centre and other gathering places that contribute to our economic, environmental, and social bottom lines. This means incorporating input from all stakeholders, and having a genuine discussion on how taxpayers can get the best result through transparent partnerships between the public, charitable, and private sectors. Through this dialogue, my priority remains good value for your hard earned money.

Well-Planned & Efficient Transportation

Efficient transportation is vital for our city's economic success and your family's quality of life. We need well-planned, efficient and cost effective transportation in our city. This means a mix of ideas, big or small, such as: synchronizing our traffic lights to make traffic flow better, reviewing the cycle tracks so that they don't impede local businesses or cause safety issues, and ensuring that not every infrastructure project kicks off at the same time so that we can't get around our own communities.

Integrating the Arts

The arts play a vital role in the vibrancy and beauty of our city. Our city boasts some of the most talented performers and artists that are regarded nationally and internationally. Public art is important because it contributes to the identity of our city and makes our public realms even more beautiful. While it is difficult to argue that the arts are anything but positive, the current Public Arts Policy needs to be completely evaluated and revised. A similar review was supposed to be completed 4 years ago, however, little was done to address the failed policy and taxpayer dollars continue to be wasted, our city ridiculed and our local artists disengaged.

Holding City Administration Accountable on the Southwest Bus Rapid Transit (SWBRT)

I am in support of cost-effective and efficient public transit but the SWBRT is neither. The SWBRT project was passed by City Council in 2011 based on decade-old data and before the South West Ring Road was approved. The majority of Ward 11 voters voted for candidates who did not support this project in its current form.

City Council rejected my formal request to review the design, costs, and need associated with Phase 2 of the Southwest Bus Rapid Transit (SWBRT) project. With a newly elected council, now would have been the ideal time to take stock of the project without incurring any extra costs to taxpayers.

I am disappointed that most of the debate regarding this project was held in secret away from the eyes and ears of the local residents who will be impacted the most. I will continue to work to set the tone for accountability and respect at City Hall. City council cannot continue to rubber stamp dated projects without challenging their decades-old assumptions. I will continue to hold City Administration accountable for the construction, public safety concerns and financial implications this project will have.

City Budget

In late November 2017, City Council approved the 2018 budget adjustments on the 2015-2018 multi-year business plan and budget. I voted against the latest 3.8 per cent tax increase and put forward several proposals to reduce spending and the overall burden being faced by businesses, families, and seniors. I am in favour of a fiscally responsible and sensible budget and this council has the power to return Calgary to a positive fiscal outlook. I am passionate about being financially secure and making the necessary changes that will manage our growth so that we can succeed to meet the needs of our citizens. Until recent years, Calgary was considered the economic hub of province and western Canada but we have since lost that advantage. Calgarians and local businesses can no longer bear the burden of year after year significant tax increases. Our residential and non-residential taxes continue to increase at an alarming rate and it is simply not sustainable.

Increased Public Safety

Public safety is a major concern as we see the increase of crime in our public realms and on our public transit system. Gang violence, drug use and violent crimes are no longer things that happen in other cities. We need to act and we need to do so quickly and that's why I supported the Calgary Police Service's recent request to increase their budget to hire more front line officers and purchase the needed equipment to deter violence and criminal activity in our city. Investing in public safety is smart and provides value for money for taxpayers. I also recently voted in favour of maintaining 7-minute response times for Calgary Firefighters. All Calgarians and our firefighters deserve to be safe and I could not support increasing response times. In crisis situations, every minute counts and it is worth the investment.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.‚Äč