Ward 6 - Richard Pootmans

Discussion Series: David Duckworth Video and Q&A

Discussion Series: City Manager David Duckworth

Discussion Series: Councillor Richard Pootmans & City Manager David Duckworth

March 2022 Discussion Series with City Manager – David Duckworth

Chief Administrator's Office

  1.  What are the responsibilities of a City Manager? Three target audiences: City Council, Citizen and Businesses, City Administration. Realize Goals and Priorities and get those things done. 
  2. Can you talk a bit about The City’s reputation and why is this a focus for the City Manager? Reputation is important for any Private or Public entity. Citizen trust, provide information, correct misinformation. One key goal is building reputation to keep citizens and attract new citizens/talent, and business investments.
  3. How does The City measure reputation? Business side – City of Calgary the most business friendly. Incredible quality of life. Administration side – Maintain and attract talent as an employer.
  4. What does a good reputation mean for talent attraction and retention? Every two years robust Satisfaction Survey of all 15000 employees. We have a good reputation right now. Citizens are very satisfied with City of Calgary Services. Important we keep listening to Employees and Citizens - what they like and don’t like, making those changes when necessary.
  5. How do we foster a stronger reputation and continue to make Calgary an attractive place to live and invest? Try to instill what every City of Calgary employee is responsible for. Every employee has a role to play in showing up and making life better every day. Empower employees, enjoy coming to work, and making a difference. Happy employees, provide a service that they can deliver.
  6. Has City considered focus groups to address high risk of poverty in our City? It is a challenge that is not just going to go away. We need to make sure that we partner with other levels of governments and think of all the solutions. Provincial downloading responsibility for Health, Homelessness, Affordable Housing to Municipal government, which is taxing – we can’t do it alone. Cooperating in an ecosystem environment i.e. Mental Health and Addiction Strategy adopted by Council 2021. Engagement with City is super important – The City of Calgary is pleased to be a key partner (in conjunction with Vibrant Communities Calgary, The Calgary and Area United Way and Momentum) on Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy: Enough for All. Enough for All is working to make poverty history in Calgary. It aims to ensure that Calgary is a strong, supportive and inclusive community, where everyone has sufficient income and assets to thrive, where all Indigenous people are equal participants in Calgary's future. The original development of the strategy was based extensive community engagement before being ratified in 2015. Today Enough for All is community-driven strategy that engages collaborators across various segments and sectors of society on an ongoing bases as it seeks to address the impacts and cause of poverty across multiple demographics and groups. To learn more about current activities visit Enough for All
  7. With the Downtown Strategy, can you talk a little more about that and what it will mean to all Calgarians. Vibrant downtown core is crucial for any size city. 30% vacancy rates in business core…needs to be something different. We are on a path now, over the next ten years, for 10, 000 people to live and work downtown. Will need Private sector investment for conversion of business offices into residential apartments, buildings. We are on our second conversion now. City Council has made a commitment to invest in significant projects like: Arts Commons Transformation, BMO Convention Centre Expansion.
  8. You also mentioned the future of the Events Centre. Can you give any indication on what might be next? Confident that working with Calgary Sport and Entertainment, our Partner, that we will have a new agreement. A new Event Centre is incredibly important to this City, this top priority to get over the goal line. 2021 Agreement fell apart due to future uncertainties about inflation, cost of this project, and responsibilities for cost overruns. City Council has directed Administration to pull together a Third-party Team to lead negotiations. An Event Centre Committee has been struck up, so the community will hear a lot more soon.
  9. Confidence for an energizing future for Calgary. Ten years from now that entire area will be transformed. Super excited, can see the potential, Calgary is a young community. We want to make sure that we continue to attract young talent, a fun city, exciting things to do. We have a lot going for us: High quality of life, affordable, young, diverse, building momentum. Entrepreneurial spirit lives in Calgary like nowhere else.
  10. How many or what percentage of senior management are women and people of diversity? Diversity, Inclusion, Equity incredibly important to this organization. WE have done a ton of work and have a ton more to do. Six general Managers and myself so seven people: three women and four men. Not just about gender, but also ethnicity. Big, important initiative for the City of Calgary workforce to reflect the diversity of our community. Not there yet, but well on our way.
  11. Is the City looking at making available its own inventory of vacant lots throughout Established Areas to incentivize investor development? Yes, we do have an inventory of land across the City that we are reviewing and developing a strategy for right now. The City is always looking for ways to best position our lands to help achieve citizen priorities and strategic goals, including to facilitate sustainable growth opportunities. Council has asked us to pursue this on a number of occasions in the past few years, including through the Financial Task Force and the Real Estate Working Group. Opportunities at transit stations are a good example that offer potential. In 2019, Real Estate and Development Services launched a program that reviews The City’s land inventory, confirms City land requirements, and identifies surplus land for sale. Sales strategies are prepared for surplus properties that optimize value, increase social/environmental/economic returns, boost revenue. and increase tax contributions. To date, the program has identified surplus properties across 21 established communities around Calgary. The program has sold land to create redevelopment opportunities in Established Areas and has incentivized investor development in communities. Surplus properties are identified and considered for future sale on a regular basis.
  12. It is important to note that not all vacant lots are surplus to The City’s needs.  The City often purchases land that is required for future capital projects in advance of formal funding and approval of these projects.  This enables The City to reduce the cost of land required for the capital projects.Property Tax Relief, or Fixed Property Tax? Bound by Provincial legislation, advocating for change, allowing the City to do more things.
  13. Given the organization realignment how is Planning and Development effected? Took a step back, organization hasn’t been restructured for 30 years. How can we become more modern, empower employees, compare with other Municipalities? Previous structure had Planning and Infrastructure all over different departments. By bringing all these resources together, we should be more effective at developing these plans, engaging collectively with one department.
  14. Residential energy prices have increased significantly, everyone is aware they are part owners of ENMAX, what can the City do to help them out? Energy regulation is strictly with the Province. While the City is 100% owner of ENMAX, they are a third-party entity – they operate on their own, and we have no influence on energy regulation or pricing . We work with ENMAX to advocate for funding, and ensure rates are affordable.
  15. What is the City doing to encourage innovation in how they do things, and freedom in which we grant risk? Compassionate about innovation and technology. We are risk adverse, mistakes can involve health and safety. However we want to ensure services are pushing responsibility deeper into the organization, to take calculated risks, to try different things.
  16. How filter good opportunities from bad ones? Make sure employees are thinking of new ideas and listening to others. Many professionals working at the City: planning, lawyers, engineers. . We create robust Business Plans, to weigh unique, leading edge ideas, analyze financing, will technology work?
  17. How might the City accelerate the Mental Health Strategy? Accelerating anything takes resources and funding. Advocating for funds, developing new four-year strategy.
  18. How do we balance right judgements from Bylaw enforcement to Police effort? Scale and magnitude. Bylaw Teams, Transit Police, Public Safety Groups in the City, work closely with Calgary Police – who have more authority. The City does not have authority over Calgary Police, they take direction from Police Commission. Weekly meetings to discuss upcoming events and share resources.
  19. Several communities have many active development and Area Structure Plan appearances for amendments. How is it possible after seven years of planning for a developer to have it changed? Respecting the rights of landowners, what role does the City play, if any? A developer, or landowner may want to submit an application that proposes an amended for various reasons (context has changed, market has changed etc). The City has the responsibility to review all development applications that are submitted. Applications are reviewed based on guiding policy that includes the Municipal Development Plan.
  20. In some cases, a policy amendment may be required  Are there additional revenue resources the City can tap into given high downtown vacancies without too much impact on residential taxes? Comes down to Provincial Legislation, Municipal Governance Act, what Municipalities in the province of Alberta can do to raise revenue. City of Calgary’s sources of revenue are mainly: property tax revenue, and user fees (i.e. Waste, Water and Recreation). We can sell land, and move services provided under taxes, to user fees? Look for as many grant opportunities as we can.
  21. Has the City considered a rent control system? Generally, there is nothing in the MGA which allows The City to impose rent control City-wide. Under section 651.3 of the MGA, The City may enter into housing agreement with the registered owner of a parcel of land respecting amounts of rents that may be charged in respect of the residential housing units and the rates at which these may be increased over time.  Note that the housing agreement can only be in effect for a limited period of time.  Typically these types of  housing agreements are entered into when The City provides project funding or when The City conducts non-market land sale for affordable housing purposes.
  22. What kind of business does the City want to attract i.e. Film Industry? Yes. Four pillars around: 1) talent,2) innovation (Calgary Economic Development), and  3) business environment, 4) place (City of Calgary). Developing a robust City where people want to live and work. City owns a film studio – fantastic opportunity for growth. Currently soliciting world’s biggest production industry.
  23. With the declaration of Climate Emergency, what is the City doing to be more climate resilient? Climate and Environment resources will be together under Planning and Development., Increased staffing to fast track Strategic investments.
  24. Places for people over 50 years of age to experience diverse culture? Want Calgary to be an exciting, fun place for every age group. We have incredible: Pathways, Parks. New strategic plan for significant event opportunities in our City.
  25. What is happening with Fluoridation and what is the timetable for implementation? Within the next 24 months.
  26. What specifically is the City doing to promote a safe night life in the downtown core? Work with partners at Calgary Police, and strategy to have more people live downtown. We need to have more events, fundamentally more people living downtown, journey – path forward looks exciting.
  27. What is a realistic time period for our downtown to be what we want it to be? 5-10 year window from now we will really feel the momentum. This is a long-term journey, with many new things coming and exciting bold moves.
  28. Do we have a Tourist Strategy? We have an Agency called Tourism Calgary, that works with the Hotel Industry, to host and bring in events. One initiative is Rail from Calgary Airport to Banff – a billion-dollar project led by the Province that will benefit the City.
  29. Is the City making an effort to include Indigenous perspectives in the revitalization plans and projects? Absolutely, Indigenous Relations Office, Indigenous Gathering Place, and other exciting things we will be doing over the next few years that the public will hear more about soon.

Send Questions to David Duckworth: David.duckworth@calgary.ca

Contact the City Manager’s Office https://www.calgary.ca/our-leadership/contact-chief-administrators-office.html

Invite the City Manager https://www.calgary.ca/our-leadership/invite-chief-administrative-officer.html

About the City Manager  https://www.calgary.ca/our-leadership/about-the-chief-administrative-officer.html

City Manager Role and Office https://www.calgary.ca/our-leadership/chief-administrators-office-role.html

Information on how to apply for a position on City Boards, Committees and Commissions: Richard.pootmans@calgary.ca


Public engagement opportunities of particular interest to Ward 6:

Ward 6: Wildwood / Spruce Cliff / Westgate / Glendale / Glenbrook

Ward 6: Edworthy, 5050 Spruce DR SW

Ward 6: McPherson Ranch House, Hart House Project, Battalion Park Numbers


The City of Calgary is continuing to prioritize online engagement for all City Projects.

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