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Ward 11 - Jeromy Farkas

Ask Jeromy March 2020 Questions

Ask Jeromy
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 March.
While Jeromy does his best to answer each constituent question individually, below are what we thought you wanted answers on the most.
 
What are your thoughts on COVID-19?
 
We are in unprecedented times, but I am confident that we will get through this together.
 
I am on full Council duties and am now on the Community Support Task Force to help guide our community stakeholders through this difficult time.
 
The challenge ahead of us is significant. There will be opportunities for technology and innovation, and I know that our entrepreneurial city will help pave a path to recovery.
 
Now more than ever is time for the City to rein in wasteful spending. The public sector cannot be immune to the sacrifices that the private sector is experiencing.
 
My office has put together a revolving list of resources from all levels of government to help you get through this time. Please click HERE or check out COVID-19 tab on our home page.
 
Please continue to adhere to the direction of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw – to stay home whenever possible, wash your hands with frequency and be vigilant with physical distancing, keeping a minimum two-metre distance - or a hockey stick length - between yourself and others who do not live in the same residence as you.
 
Is the City doing anything to help residents and small business owners in the face of COVID-19 (property tax relief, utility payments)?
 
I am disappointed to report that my latest efforts to cancel the 7.55% property tax hike were not met with support by my council colleagues. I proposed a freeze to current property taxes by drawing down some of our large reserve funds, particularly public art.
 
This plea was based on the many phone calls, emails and meetings with so many of you who could not afford a tax increase before and certainly cannot now, in the face of this pandemic.
 
While the 2020 Property Tax Bylaw has now been passed, know that there are deferral options in place. Please take note of the following:
  1. The tax payment deadline has been extended from June 30 to September 30 without late payment penalties. The tax due date printed on the bill will be June 30. However, the annual 7% penalty applied on July 1 has been cancelled. Property owners have until September 30 to pay their 2020 tax bill without penalty. Any unpaid 2020 tax balance as of October 1 will have a late payment penalty of 7% applied.
  2. The Tax Instalment Payment Plan (TIPP) has suspended its 2% filing fee for taxpayers who join TIPP between January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021.
If you are a small business owner, click HERE to learn about the deferral of the province’s portion of non-residential property tax.
 
Utility payment deferrals are available to those who need it. Rate payers can now pay all, part or none of their City Utilities (water / wastewater / stormwater and waste / recycling / organics for April, May and June without interest or penalty. Amounts owing will be rolled into the remaining bills for 2020.
 
Click HERE to learn more about City programs and links to resources to assist you during this time.
 
How have City transit services been impacted by COVID-19?
 
I encourage those of you who use Calgary Transit to click HERE to learn about service adjustments and modifications that are ongoing during this pandemic. 
 
With reports of ridership dropping by up to 80% since the City declared a Local State of Emergency on March 15, Transit has reduced frequency of buses and trains to improve efficiencies, as transit is a major source of revenue for the City.
 
In addition to service reductions, other modifications include limited seating, face masks for drivers, enhanced cleaning/ disinfecting and uniformed peace officers at downtown checkpoints to validate fares and ensure safety.
 
Safety of all passengers and drivers is paramount. Please respect the rules in place to keep everyone safe.
 
When will my organics bin (green cart) return to weekly pick up and why hasn’t it already?
 
I have heard from many of you on this. I completely agree that a return to weekly curbside pick up of the organics bin makes sense and I am advocating for this.
Waste & Recycling has advised me that they are hoping to return to weekly organics pick up by the third week of May, but this is yet to be confirmed.
 
The service reductions are attributed to staffing challenges the City has faced due to COVID-19.
 
With everyone staying close to home, I understand that gardening season is just around the corner and those bins will be filling quickly with yard debris. Other modifications include:
 
  • If your green cart is full, extra paper yard waste bags can also be set out for collection. We are working towards resuming weekly green cart as soon as we can.
  • Black carts are collected every other week. If your black cart is full, extra garbage bags can also be set out for collection.
  • Blue carts are collected every week. Extra recycling is not accepted. Please hang on to recyclables until your next collection day, when you can fit them into the blue cart.
  • Alternatively, please ask your neighbours if they have space in their carts that you could also use.
 
Please also note that at this time, the City has also cancelled the Community Clean Ups.
 
While many are wondering why the fall dates are being cancelled at this time, administration has advised me that they have cancelled all Clean Ups for 2020, based on a decision that uncertainty will impede planning.
 
They are also concerned that if they wait too long, community groups run the risk of being out for such expenses as signage; and because they felt it was unfair that this would only allow one-third of Community Associations to have Clean Ups.
 
What is going on with the Guidebook for Great Communities?
 
The “Guidebook for Great Communities” is a major policy document that would dictate how we build and grow as a City for another generation. Given the significance, and the inability for Calgarians to participate at this time, I am pleased that it has been put on hold.
 
A public hearing that was scheduled for April 27th has now been postponed indefinitely – presumably until we are through this pandemic and have resumed some level of normalcy.
 
You spoke loudly and clearly on this one: now is not the time. A policy document this important must be able to accommodate the ability for people to speak up in a public forum and a call-in option or alternative is simply not acceptable.
 
I have shared with you my concerns with the Guidebook and I was the only councillor to vote against it last fall, as well as attempting to make amendments when this was before Committee a few weeks ago. I remain concerned that there is lack of true public engagement, that it is too density-driven, and there is an absence of addressing flood mitigation and heritage concerns.
 
On a related note, the online public engagement for the review of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP) has been extended indefinitely. These documents coincide with the Guidebook and again, it is so important that Calgarians have a say in how we move forward. Click HERE to have your say.
 
I would also encourage you to reach out to your local Community Association to learn more. As always, reach out to me and my team at ward11@calgay.ca if we can assist you in any way.
 
 
 
 



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.
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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.