My Priorities

For a city to be great it has to be great for everyone. I want Calgary to regain it’s standing as one of the top destinations in the world for people to call home. To do that, I believe we need to focus on the following priority areas
It is possible that you have not been downtown in years. It is possible that the high price of parking, the hassle of travel, and the limited entertainment options have kept you in Ward 13.

It is IMPOSSIBLE for Calgary to be successful without a revitalized downtown core that meets the purpose of a modern-day downtown. I believe this vision needs to include a multi-purpose location where people can live, work, and play without leaving the centre of the city. The downtown core must also be designed to attract people from all corners of the city.

We need downtown to be more accessible. We need a thriving downtown core to support revenue for the city to help mitigate the taxation shifts to small businesses outside of the core and to residents. We need downtown to be accessible for people who want to start business, move their business from other urban centres, and to attract the required labour force to meet the needs of business. Calgary’s downtown can and must change.
A strong downtown means a strong economy
Downtown Calgary has been the heart of global business for decades, with almost a quarter of the city’s jobs still located in the greater downtown area.
Downtown Calgary has been the heart of global business for decades, with almost a quarter of the city’s jobs still located in the greater downtown area.

As has been well-documented, the decline in energy prices and the global pandemic of last year have devastated property values in downtown Calgary, and brought on high levels of office vacancy.

After talking about it for a long time, we must finally realize the potential of a new downtown by embracing technology and innovation. Although oil and gas has been the foundation of the downtown economy for decades, we cannot continue to rely on this industry to pay the bills. The transition away from traditional energy sources is moving at a rapid rate, and we need to change with it.

The energy industry remains the bedrock of our local economy and it continues to innovate in response to global shifts. However, we can supplement our traditional economic engine with technology companies that bring more high-paying jobs to the core. The recent expansion of Infosys in Calgary, with its 500 new jobs, is exactly the type of investment needed in our city. This is only the beginning and there is a long way to go, but we can do it with the right vision and the right people.
The changing nature of downtown
The reputation of Calgary’s downtown precedes itself: Busy by day, sleepy at night.

We need to realize that 45,000 people now live in the greater downtown, with another 20,000 residents expected to arrive by 2035.

We must accommodate this growth by relaxing zoning laws and increasing the vibrancy of downtown by creating new spaces to gather — like patios, cafes, and live music venues — especially on evenings and weekends. Overall, our city would benefit from relaxed regulations for buildings, businesses, and entertainment  — the cumbersome and inconsistent permitting processes must be addressed.

For evidence of what’s possible, take a look at the series of outdoor light and cultural displays set up at the Chinook Blast festival in February 2021. Despite frigid temperatures, Calgarians turned out in droves to check out the variety of displays, bringing new business and enthusiasm downtown.

Relaxed parking and transit fees on weekends would reduce the barriers for Calgarians to come downtown from places such as Ward 13.

Downtown Calgary needs more, not fewer, co-working, co-living, and short-term rentals giving rise to people out and about on evenings and weekends. This includes mixed-use developments with robust street activation. Amenities like green spaces, special activities, and events will attract more people downtown, which will appeal to all citizens of Calgary. Also, repurposing existing spaces for multiple uses, i.e. utilizing the Plus 15 network for a night market, would attract diverse users and create a vibrancy desperately needed in our core, while supporting local entrepreneurs and makers.
Public safety is a priority
Many people don't feel safe going downtown. While the actual numbers of criminal incidents have been going down, the perception of safety has declined. We need to change this perception if we want to revitalize downtown. We need to create a safe environment that attracts people who want to live, work, and play in the downtown core.

We need more events that attract more businesses, which, in-turn will attract more people. People will go downtown if it is safe, affordable, and accessible. We need to work with the Calgary Police Service, not to create a police state, but change the perception of community policing to one that is inclusive, welcoming, and supportive for all people.
The weight of the national tragedy of residential schools rests on all of our shoulders. We all share a responsibility to meet the recommendations contained in the White Goose Flying report to help create a “more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health and economic outcomes...[as realized through] joint leadership, trust building, accountability and transparency.”

The City has made some progress toward reconciliation in the creation and implementation of the White Goose Flying report. However, we must do more to meet the goals outlined under the categories of Own, Encourage, and Partner. We must also show Calgarians that progress has been made; it’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s more meaningful to show it. We need action, not rhetoric. Any and all progress, successes, and setbacks need to be openly shared with Calgary citizens, not kept behind closed doors with endless extensions.
We can make progress, together
We must ensure the right people are at the table to be able to take meaningful action. We must rely on the expertise of the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC) and Indigenous leaders, while bringing together city administrators, Councillors, and private and non-profit community members. We need people who have lived experiences to help shape our future, and we need truth before reconciliation.

At the same time, we cannot just depend on a working group. We must make this a part of our everyday conversation, building awareness around how each and every citizen can play a role in creating a shared future of awareness, healing, understanding, acceptance, and collaboration.
The way forward
City leaders must help build connections and equip young people with the knowledge to ensure the horrors of our past do not reoccur in our future. To do this, we must strengthen our collaboration with local school boards and post-secondary institutions to create an environment of understanding and shared learning. The past cannot equal the future.

Together, we can create rich learning opportunities and deeper understanding for young Calgarians through story sharing with Indigenous youth and elders, Indigenous speakers’ series, student exchanges and project collaborations.

There also needs to be more focus on giving Indigenous youth a large-scale platform to share their talents and big ideas, to make connections in their passion areas, and to meet potential mentors, collaborators, funders, and sponsors. Through partnerships with the private sector, we can create a robust long-term program to provide opportunities for Indigenous youth to pursue their dreams, and help influence and build a positive and inclusive future for all Calgarians.
We live in a safe city. Calgary has one of the lowest crime rates of all the big cities in Canada, but that does not mean there aren’t troubling signs. According to Statistics Canada, the seriousness of crime in Calgary has increased each of the last four years.

I am incredibly lucky to have some amazing friends who serve in the Calgary Police Service, the Calgary Fire Department, and various positions within the healthcare system to provide expertise in this area.

However, reducing crime and creating safe communities does not fall to emergency services alone. City Council needs to take a 360-degree view of issues related to poverty, addictions, mental health, access to supports, transportation, employment, and affordable housing when building safe communities.
Target the root causes of crime
Public safety and the economy go hand-in-hand. The continually declining economy in Calgary has led to deteriorating public safety. We need economic diversification more than ever. This can no longer be a conversation without action.

Frontline workers are increasingly having to deal with multiple issues of not only crime but social disorder. Mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, abuse, and antisocial behavior occur on a  daily basis. These issues are straining the system and preventing resources from being allocated to proactive or preventative measures. We need the right resources working on the right problems. We need our first responders to be trained, resourced, and supported accordingly.
Let’s bring experts to the table
From a funding perspective, I feel it is critical to have our emergency services personnel at the table during budget development as they know best where the gaps, pitfalls, and overlaps occur. Nobody is asking for a blank cheque. That is not the answer. However, we need to trust our emergency service personnel to help identify how to better fund their areas. We need to ensure they are receiving the funding they need to protect citizens and to properly address the complex issues they are facing on a daily basis.

We need to ensure that there are appropriate systems of accountability in place to ensure funds are going where they are needed most, and that root causes of issues are being addressed. Our collective safety and wellbeing depend on it.

Our first responders do a great job in facing all the different challenges of life in a modern city. The different departments need to continue to use metrics to analyze performance, use information management to be more efficient, and to continue to push for a more diverse workforce. Further examination is needed to determine where there are opportunities to add expertise in de-escalation and service delivery.

City Council must support progress in these areas.
As a city, we have a moral and economic imperative to make sure every Calgarian can afford to put a roof over their heads. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

Simply put, there’s not enough affordable housing in our city. Only 3.6% of all housing in Calgary is non-market housing, which is almost half the national average. It has been estimated that Calgary needs 2,000 to 2,500 affordable homes per year, however over the past 10 years only 300 have been built per year.

This is not acceptable, especially for a city like Calgary. If Medicine Hat can do it, we can too!
It’s about people
Estimates suggest that 17,000 families in Calgary are at immediate risk of experiencing homelessness because of their level of income.

Lower-income individuals and families often need to make compromises to find or keep housing they can afford. These compromises may pose health and safety risks for these individuals and families.

For Calgary to thrive, it needs to be accessible to all.
It’s about your tax bill
Housing is not only fundamental to people’s quality of life, it’s also a smart investment.

Proactive investment has proven to be much more cost-effective than emergency responses to homelessness. It costs more to ignore our housing problem than it would to fix it. Consider the estimate that homelessness alone costs the Canadian economy over $7-billion per year. While the Government of Canada invests $119-million annually to address homelessness through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (provinces and municipalities also invest), this is not sufficient to address the problem and as a result has not led to a noticeable reduction in homelessness in Calgary.
We can do something about it
Calgary must continue to expand on the different types of affordable housing options for individuals and families. We need supportive, emergency, and transitional housing for people in need. Cooperative housing and non-profit housing for those looking to secure safe, affordable, and sustainable housing. Private developers also have a role with purpose-built secondary units, secondary suites, and rent to own. Furthermore, Calgary needs to partner with impact investing organizations as this will lead to predictable, long-term funding while at the same time generate additional revenue sources for the city's tax base.

The location of affordable housing must work hand in hand with public transit and other amenities. Planning must also take into consideration the service needs for Calgary’s diverse residents, including newcomers and Indigenous people. Accessibility requirements must be taken into account when designing new structures or retrofitting existing buildings, and this means people with lived experiences must be part of the solution.
Other orders of government must step up
We know we can't fix the affordable housing crisis on our own.

In Canada, affordable housing policy is defined by the Federal and Provincial governments who also provide funding for building and maintaining affordable housing properties. This is detailed in the Municipal Government Act, so the responsibility for affordable housing technically rests with the province. Calgary needs to be more involved and active in solving affordable housing issues. Accessibility, predictability, and reliability are critical in supporting our vulnerable and under-employed citizens. The City of Calgary needs to take a stronger stance in working with the Provincial and Federal Governments to ensure funding is secured and policies are in place to address housing issues.
I believe in fiscal responsibility — as both an economic and a moral concern. There is no excuse for being frivolous with taxpayers’ money. Full stop.

With that said, we need to be honest about what it takes to balance the City’s $4-billion operating budget as it is legally required through the Municipal Government Act. It’s not as easy as some candidates would have you believe when they’re on the campaign trail. Budgets don’t balance themselves, and it takes time and expertise to understand all of the ins-an-outs of budget creation, implementation, and monitoring to provide fiscally responsible outcomes.

Achieving long-term financial sustainability means addressing both the revenue and expense side of the ledger. By addressing historical imbalances, we can not only deal with our short-term issues but also strengthen our financial position in the long-term. We need to act today while planning for tomorrow.
Efficient spending
Contrary to what some candidates will tell you, the city is capable of finding savings without having to simply raise tax rates. Every business that I have been involved in has efficiencies that can be realized. It’s amazing what can happen when the right people are at the table asking the right questions.

An example of this is the  Solutions for Achieving Value and Excellence (SAVE) program. SAVE was designed to increase service efficiency and effectiveness of the city by reducing the cost of government and helping the City get value for every dollar spent. It has been a success so far, saving $26-million in 2020 as highlighted by Ernst & Young who oversees the program. This is the accountability that we need and should expect.

We need to find even more ways to save throughout the city budget and, with my experience, we can do it in a responsible manner.At the same time, Calgary’s infrastructure gap keeps widening. The city’s infrastructure status report showed the funding gap has increased from $5.7 billion in 2017 to $7.7 billion in 2020. We need to hold the Province to their previous financial commitments. We can no longer afford to send forty percent of our tax base to the Province without sharing the financial responsibilities of maintaining our capital infrastructure. If we don’t act soon, this burden will be left to future taxpayers. Furthemore,  If we fail to address this issue there will be an increased risk of service disruption, higher maintenance costs, and — most importantly — safety concerns.

The Province needs to do their share, and we need to hold them accountable. Municipal politics is about municipal issues. It is not about political ideologies, it is about providing Calgary taxpayers with the services we pay for. Calgary needs to be governed by Calgarians, not ideology that is outdated and ineffective. Municipal politics should not be a stepping stone for provincial or federal political gain, it should be about us, our neighbors, and our future.
Raising Revenue
Kudos to the City of Calgary for trying to keep zero tax increases while maintaining the same level of services. However, the unpopular reality is that we can’t keep property taxes below inflation forever without seeing cuts to frontline services like police, fire, rescue personnel, and critical infrastructure maintenance.

So what can we do to prevent tax increases but retain services?

One major fix is to change the funding equation. As it stands, two-thirds of residential property tax goes to pay for city services while the other third goes back to the province, which has its own means, beyond assessment-based property tax, to raise revenue.

The City is being stuck with the bill for an increased number of services. According to some experts, Calgary is now responsible for about 61 different services for its residents, which has gone up relative to the other orders of government over the last three decades.

We need to sit down with the Province and get a better deal for Calgary and Calgarians.

We must have a serious conversation with our neighbouring cities who take advantage of our tax-funded public infrastructure (recreation facilities, roads, transit, housing, and airport infrastructure) while enjoying tax breaks in their own jurisdictions.

Lastly, City Hall has done well with its equity investment in Enmax. The city made a surplus of $98 million from its investment. We need to expand these types of relationships. We need to attract more private investment to help spread out the tax burden. We can no longer afford our current public/private investment ratio - this needs to change.
Let’s talk about salaries and pensions
We must offer fair, market-rate compensation — not more — to attract and retain talented, capable employees.

Morneau Shepell and the Wynford Group did a review of Total Compensation for City Employees in 2020. The reviewers found Calgary was “generally competitive with the combined competitive market and is slightly ahead of the public sector and slightly behind the private sector for base salary.”

We hear a lot about supplementary pension plans. Most City employees (88 per cent) do not participate in a supplemental pension plan and if they do, they pay into it.

I support what Council did in late 2019 when they ended the practice of paying out large retirement bonuses to compensate for vacation time over the employees career. That was the right thing to do because there was no evidence that it helped attract or retain employees.

People, not politicians, should be in charge of setting compensation and benefits for the City Council.

We need to give the experts on the Council Compensation Review Committee the respect they deserve and honour their recommendations. Compensation is largely based on the Alberta Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) calculation.
Great cities allow citizens to move freely — and Calgary must invest in more efficient ways to get around the city, including affordable public transit.

Public transport is at a turning point in this election. We’ve been here before. In the 1980s, Mayor Ralph Klein faced criticism and built the first LRT line to Anderson that has become a lifeline to the city for the citizens of Ward 13.

We must continue building to connect Ward 13 to the city and the city to Ward 13. We need to bring Calgarians together and look to the future.

Together, we can create a transit system that is safe, inclusive, affordable, and accessible.How people move around matters.
The economic case for the Green Line
I am a strong supporter of the Green Line and am pleased to see that it will finally be moving forward. It is two years overdue.

The Green Line is the largest public infrastructure project in Alberta’s history and it will kick start our economy by creating 20,000 jobs. I want to put people back to work, both directly and indirectly.

In addition to the badly needed economic stimulus in the near term, the Green Line brings future benefits like increased business activity and higher home values in the communities that surround the LRT.

Transit connects all of Calgary’s different business centers. Labour mobility increases economic activity by enabling workers to access jobs and employers a larger pool of workers. Strong public transit will connect the residential communities to the places they study, work, and play.

We need to think of all the externalities that come with public transit, such as reduced costs for road maintenance and the lower health care costs associated with traffic accidents. It’s also key to reducing our carbon footprint and the costs of climate change.

The Green line is a major investment that will transform the future of our city. It’s expected to give 65,000 Calgarians an easier, greener, more affordable way to get where they want to go.
Getting rid of gridlock
Improved transit is not going to eliminate traffic on roads. However, there is data to show that high-quality transit provides a viable alternative to driving, especially highly congested roads. Increased public transit will take pressure off major arteries like MacLeod Trail and Deerfoot Trail.

Road maintenance is a major and growing financial expense. Ring road construction has not even been completed across the city and we are already spending $48 million to maintain, improve, and widen it. City of Calgary workers do well to fill potholes, but they never stop coming and it is dependent on the weather. Costs to maintain our roads are only going to increase, and we need more efficient, economic, and environmentally friendly ways to move people in a timely and reliable manner.
First-choice public transit
Calgary has an average transportation network, and it needs to be better. Many people do not have the luxury of owning a vehicle. They are expensive to buy and maintain, causing major financial strain. However, choosing to take transit over owning a car is not an option for many people, especially those in Ward 13, not to mention all of the citizens who are unable to drive for a variety of reasons. Transit has not caught up to all of the development that has taken place in many parts of Ward 13. In some circumstances riders cannot get to all corners of the city from Ward 13 on a 90-minute pass. This is unacceptable as it limits choice and freedom to choose where to work and go to school based on time constraints.

We have a long way to go to make public transit the transportation mode of first choice. However, there are enormous environmental, economic, and social benefits to creating a viable alternative to single-occupant vehicle traffic. Great cities are able to move all people, not just those who are able to drive.
Calgary has always been a young city but that’s starting to change. According to Statistics Canada, Calgary ranked 29 out of 35 cities in 2019 in terms of the percentage of residents in the 20-24 year old demographic. Only a decade earlier, it was in the top five for young adults.

Instead, the population increases in the city are in the 55+ demographics which is similar to cities like Winnipeg.

Calgary needs to be able to keep and attract skilled labour to continue to diversify its economy. Equally important is ensuring Calgary has a young and educated workforce to continue to attract new businesses.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
The reality is, young adults are leaving to find jobs elsewhere. In a City of Calgary survey, 60 percent of 18-24 year olds said they’d leave to find “better job opportunities elsewhere.” This is not surprising considering the unemployment rate for this demographic hovers around 18%, which is twice the provincial average.

I recognize that the oil and gas sector has been the bedrock of our economy for decades. However, I agree with our largest energy companies that we need to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will require a massive transition in the kinds of jobs available and the skills required. We must move to immediately fund and scale short-term programs to re-skill workers to prepare for the jobs of the future.

Research by BCG, cited by Calgary Economic Development, indicates approximately half our workforce is at risk of automation in the next 20 years. We have world-class colleges and universities in Calgary, and we need to leverage their expertise in preparing our workforce for the future.

As City Councillor for Ward 13, I will be a champion for our city’s high school and post-secondary institutions. This means advocating to the Province for increased operating funding to create more student spaces, as well as working with institutions to create opportunities to expand work-integrated learning programs within the City of Calgary.

At the same time, there is room for growth in many other job-creating industries, such as our creative industries. In fact, the economic and strategic impact of Calgary’s creative industries cannot be overstated. Calgary’s creative sector supports nearly 28,100 jobs and contributes $2.7 billion in local GDP, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
Calgary: A destination for talent
The ultimate solution to our current issue of “brain drain” is to work together with other City Councillors and the Province to make Calgary an even better place to live. We need to continue to diversify the economy, revitalize downtown, promote inclusivity, and make Calgary a vibrant place to be.

To do this, we need young people to be engaged in funding solutions and creating our future from the start. Traditional employment opportunities are changing at a rapid rate, and if Calgary doesn't start listening to our youth and addressing this head on, we will be in further danger of losing the vibrancy this city once had. Standing still in a world of rapid change is like walking backwards. Our young people have great ideas and are the key to moving our city forward. They deserve better from our leaders. Together, we can make Calgary a destination for talent, not a one-way ticket to somewhere else.

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