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Elbow Park Town Hall Summary

What happened at our Town Hall?
Thank you to the full house of Ward 11 and Calgary residents who attended our October 17th 2019 Town Hall at the Elbow Park Residents Association Hall. We really appreciate the community’s support and allowing us the use of the venue.
If you were unable to attend, here is a summary of our community conversation:
 
Keep pushing for flood mitigation.
Jeromy will continue to advocate provincially and federally for action on upstream flood mitigation.
He is very supportive of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (also known as SR1) and is looking to ramp up the City’s advocacy efforts although it is ultimately a decision that is solely within Federal jurisdiction.
Flood mitigation is broadly important for every community in Calgary. This impacts the entire city and business community. Jeromy is urging Mayor Nenshi to push for this at the federal level.
“After the 2013 flood we saw the city come together for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Since then, the situation of our business community has worsened. If there was a repeat event with today’s economy, I think we would see massive fleeing of money and talent from the downtown core. It would be devastating and hard to recover from that.”
 
Crime and social disorder is on the rise.
As crime decreases in the suburbs, it is spiraling out of control in the Centre City and the surrounding communities along the LRT line – many which are in our Ward 11.
According to 2018 Calgary Police Service crime stats, public violence is up 35% and break and enters are up 55%. These numbers, combined with the increasing social disorder being experienced by those living and working near the Safe Consumption Site (SCS) in the Beltline, are what prompted Jeromy to push for an immediate review of the closure of the Victoria Park Police Station.
Working with Coun. Druh Farrell, Jeromy is hopeful that a review will be included in the fall budget discussions only weeks away.
How has the 2017 closure of the city’s only downtown police station impacted the community?
Is there value in looking to volunteer partnerships and potential land deals?
How effective has the mobile police unit been at deterring crime?
These questions and more are all on the table.
This is in NO WAY a criticism of our CPS and first responders. Let’s get them the support they need to do the best job they can.
With respect to the SCS, Jeromy was not able to get support from council for funds to be set aside to help compensate residents and businesses in the Beltline for the added safety and security burdens that have plagued them.
Jeromy is hopeful the results of the provincial panel review of the SCS will be released soon, and that no matter how the province moves forward, dollars will be more geared to wraparound services and getting people out of this tragic lifestyle and onto a better path.
 
What about Greta?
The arrival of the 16-year-old Swedish climate change advocate to Alberta this week has sparked heated debate in every corner of the city.
Jeromy is confident that on balance, Alberta’s human rights and environmental records will speak for themselves. Greta should be welcomed to Calgary with the same Western hospitality that is shown to anyone who visits our City.
We need to be proud of our oil and gas industry, and while we can always do better, Jeromy is hopeful Greta will leave this province having learned a few things about how sustainable our oil and gas industry is, especially when compared to other producers around the world, as well as the massive environmental initiatives our industry has and will continue to undertake.
“We need to tell all sides of the story. Perhaps there is appetite to invite the likes of the respected writer, research and critic of environmental charities – Vivian Krause?”
 
Will the construction ever end and are transit dollars being wasted?
As a Palliser resident, Jeromy knows all too well the war zone that the southwest streets have become with the never-ending SW BRT construction – with a price tag that has nearly tripled original estimates of $30M.
“I’m not by any means anti-transit – I take transit on average two or three times each week. But the money spent on 14th Street could have built an LRT line to the airport to improve access and boost business and international travel.”
Last Easter Jeromy pushed to see better coordination of SW construction. He has also advocated for emergency access plans to be in place when street access is restricted, as well as adequate notice to businesses to minimize impact.
Jeromy questions how the City is measuring ridership and is concerned there is a lot of guesswork involved that is being used to justify the Green Line -  which has a lot of variables and may have been better tabled at this time.
Electronic fare payment would be a helpful ridership tracking tool.
 
What do we do about the City golf courses that are losing money?
At first Jeromy was in favor of getting government out of the way and turning this over to the private sector, where there would undoubtedly be efficiencies.
Until …
He discovered that the City signed onto a “successor rights” agreement dating back decades. In short, this means that the should the City sell the golf courses or bring in private operators, that they must hire through the City union at union rates – and pay massive non-residential taxes on top of that.
This formula is a recipe for disaster, with outsized benefits and wages in comparison to the private sector.
Jeromy has heard that the communities that surround these courses are not in favor of seeing them turn into density-driven high rises.
As a result, Jeromy thinks the best course of action is to invest in these golf courses in order to help them increase revenues. This could mean retrofitting existing facilities on the golf courses, building clubhouses – doing what it takes to make these locations appealing to rent for corporate events, weddings and social gatherings.
“It’s a rare case where I will say we need to spend money to make money.”
 
What is going on with tax hikes?
One of the possible outcomes of the looming residential/non-residential tax shift is a residential increase of around 9% and an increase to strip malls of around 20%.
We need to get City Hall spending under control. While unions have been coming down hard on Jeromy for his call for voluntary wage freezes, there is a growing disparity in this economic downturn between the private and public sectors.
Defined benefits are costing the taxpayer far too much, as are Council’s golden pensions. Jeromy was the only councillor to turn down the pension package when elected two years ago.
For context, if Jeromy served three terms on municipal council, this decision has cost him $1.2M.
More cuts will need to be made in order to keep taxation reasonable. This must be done not on the backs of our frontline workers and essential services, but on the “needs before wants” principle.
 
History Lesson:
A proud born and raised Hungarian-Calgarian, Jeromy honours his ancestors this week. Exactly 63 years ago on Oct. 23, the Hungarian Revolution began. What began as a youth protest to attack the communist regime wound up paving the way for a better life for the next generation.
This revolt quickly spread across the country and the regime collapsed. Over 200,000 refugees left the country and 37,000 of them were admitted to Canada. Jeromy’s father was one of 3,000 new Hungarian-Canadians who came to call Alberta home. 
“People have come here for more than just shelter from the storm – Calgary is a promise of a fresh start.”
 
Our next town hall?
Please come join us at our next Town Hall – at the beautiful new Chinook Park, Kelvin Grove, Eagle Ridge (CKE) facility at 1015 - 73 Avenue SW on Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 7-8:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there.