Ask Jeromy: September 2019 Questions
What Jeromy likes the most about serving on council is hearing from citizens. Below are the top five questions/themes/topics we heard from you during the month of September.
While Jeromy does his best to answer each constituent question individually, below are what we thought you wanted answers on the most.
What is a Blue Book and what are you proposing?
Earlier in the month I proposed the City adopt a Blue Book – a public tracking record of all expenses incurred by the City in excess of $10,000. This is already in place at the provincial level and I think it would be demonstrative of a council that is respectful of the taxpayers’ rights and wishes to know where their dollars are being spent.
I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel and the cost to implement such a measure of transparency would be nominal. While the public reached out with vigorous support for the motion, which was brought forward with my fellow Couns. Sean Chu and Joe Magliocca, it lost in a tie vote at the Sept. 30 council session.
For the record, the councillors who voted against the motion: Nenshi, Gondek, Keating, Farrell, Jones and Colley-Urquhart. Those who voted in favour: Farkas, Chu, Magliocca, Demong, Chahal and Davison.
I will update in the near future what we can do with this one.
Why do you want to reopen the Victoria Park Police Station and can it be done?
We are the only major city in Canada that does not have a downtown police station.
In the face of rising crime throughout the downtown and trickling into the suburbs, I feel strongly that we need to boost supports for our Calgary Police Services and one of the ways to do that is to increase presence and help them with efficiencies by reopening a downtown location.
Crime in the Centre City is disproportionately rising, as is social disorder and the impacts of this on those living and working near the Safe Consumption Site – which opened in 2017, when the Victoria Park Police Station was closed.
This is why myself and Coun. Druh Farrell are looking for an immediate review of the closure of the police station. “Immediate” because we want this to be included in the fall budget talks that are only weeks away.
We are hopeful that a review would produce creative options to reopen this police station, including potential land opportunities and possibly partnerships with non-profits/volunteer groups and the private sector. Stay tuned.
Why is the City regulating Airbnb and how do you feel about it?
While I voted against the proposed Airbnb (short term) regulations, council opted to move forward with a tiered business licensing system much like what is being done in cities elsewhere.
Even though I can appreciate the city’s intent to address properties that experience high traffic from short-term rentals, I remain concerned with overregulation and find some of the details being asked by administration to be invasive and unnecessary. I don’t want to see the entrepreneurial spirit behind this dampened by bureaucracy.
We will implement this bylaw on Feb. 1, 2020, but the details on what the regulations will look like will be hammered out in committee in December. This will translate to operators requiring a business license, depending on the volume of business they do.
Is there a way to keep the Inglewood/Beltline pools open and where do you stand?
My office has heard an outpouring of support from the various individuals and user groups of the Inglewood/Beltline pools who want to keep these city pools open.
I strongly disagree with these closures, especially given that Council recently allocated $275 million for a new hockey arena. When I learned that these pools were part of the $60-million budget cuts, I lobbied other Councillors and put forth a successful motion for a four-month extension on the closures. I am pushing hard for all other options to be considered.
These facilities are particularly important because they serve under-privileged youth and seniors. They serve a social good that is not accurately measured in the City’s statistics. I believe that we are seeing a self-fulfilling prophecy, with chronic under-funding of needed upgrades, resulting in less and less people using the pools which results in less revenues. I think that if these facilities received the needed upgrades, they would be able to return to viability.
I’m working with partners such as the Y, Repsol Centre, and other non-profits to ensure that the programming offered is still available to the community at an accessible price point. Perhaps they can deliver services on location instead of the City, at a lower cost -- as is the model for the new recreational facilities in Rocky Ridge, for example.
I’m open to your ideas and will not be dropping this issue anytime soon.
What is the latest on construction along 14 Street, S.W.?
The construction on the southwest BRT route is scheduled to be completed later this fall. The project is running on-time and on-budget, and the new rapid transit service is scheduled to begin on Dec. 23 of this year. The sound barrier will be constructed starting in November of 2019 and is scheduled for completion in 2020.
For additional information on the click on: SWBRT construction updates.