Robert Dickinson

Survey Responses:


Question 1.1:

Do you think municipal taxes should:

a) Reduce in absolute terms
b) Reduce in real terms (grow, but slower than inflation)
c) Reduce in relative terms (grow, but slower than inflation plus population growth)
d) Stay the same (grow, but only in line with inflation plus population growth)
e) Increase a bit (grow in line with the city’s Municipal Price Index)
f) Increase more (grow faster than the city’s Municipal Price Index)

 

Answer 1.1 [Choose One]:

e) Increase a bit (grow in line with the city’s Municipal Price Index)


Question 1.2:

Comments?

 

Answer/Comments 1.2:

I don’t think property taxes are a sustainable form of revenue for the city – I think we need to look at other recurring income options. In the interim though, we need to do what we can to keep property taxes stable and look at creative solutions to fund the services we need. We also need to find efficiencies within the city processes to save money.


Question 2.1:

Would you vote in favour of allocating any tax dollars or giving any subsidy towards a new stadium/arena?

 

Answer 2.1 [Yes/No Only]:

Yes.


Question 2.2:

If yes, how much and in what form would these taxes take (direct cash, land, subsidy, indirect, etc), and why do you support public dollars being directed towards a corporation?

 

Answer/Comments 2.2:

When it comes to public dollars (taxes, other city revenue), I believe that investment of public dollars should provide public benefit. We need to see a return on the investment in some way. I think the Flames are good for our City and a new space is needed, but the deal needs to make sense for the City as a whole.

I feel that the arena in Victoria Park, logistically makes the most sense and investing in that area would stimulate growth and provide economic benefits to businesses beyond just the Flames. I struggle with the idea of providing direct funding to sports teams, as I don't feel that in most situations public dollars should subsidize private business. That said, when you look at the big picture, the Flames provide value to our community. I think our city is better off having them as part of it. How they are supported is the big question.

I feel the City's offer is very generous & more than fair. I am surprised the Flames did not feel that way. 

Ideally if any public dollars are given (which I am not really in support of without a strong business case which I have not seen), I would want to see the Arena be used for more than sports and concerts, targeting events like large conventions which would be an additional opportunity to attract visitors and business (and revenue) to the city.


Question 3.1:

Recent research on Calgary’s City Council found that council spends nearly a quarter of its’ time meeting in private (in camera). Do you agree that this is too much time spent in private?

 

Answer 3.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No.


Question 3.2:

If so, what would you do to fix this? Which topics do you believe should be discussed behind closed doors and why?

 

Answer/Comments 3.2:

In camera sessions are legislated by the province. In addition, they are also voted on (in terms of whether or not it should go in camera based on the criteria).

Third party business interests;

 

>Third party personal privacy

>Individual or public safety

>Law enforcement

>Intergovernmental relations

>Economic or other interests

 

I do think that after the fact a high-level summary of what was discussed could be shared with the public.


Question 4.1:

From the $470,000 Blue Ring, to the $236,000 for a “Poop Palace”, and now another $500,000 for Bowfort Towers, council has consistently failed to engage with Calgarians about which public Art projects their tax dollars are spent on. Do you support continuing to use taxpayer dollars to fund art projects for the city?

 

Answer 4.1 [Yes/No Only]:

Yes. 


Question 4.2:

If yes, why do you think council and administration have repeatedly failed on this issue, and what guidelines should be used to ensure Calgarians are happy with the results in future?

 

Answer/Comments 4.2:

Interchange public art pieces are challenged due to location, project scope and engineering requirements. If elected I would review the Public Art Policy in relation to these interchange installations. I want to maintain the policy for other types of projects such as fire halls and recreation centres, where we’ve seen success with the Public Art Program

Specific areas I would like to review in relation to the interchange projects are:

 

  • Art is best not viewed from the window of our vehicles – Getting out of our vehicles and experiencing it as part of the community, is a much more rewarding experience.
  • The location requirement – Provincial and Federal government rules require a large portion of the art funding to be used at the interchange site area. I would like to see this revised to allow interchange art projects to be constructed off site, nearby, in the community. I think portions of art funding can be used to make the stone patterns at interchanges more interesting. Good examples of this are the Glenmore Trail G5 project with the jumping trout, or what is currently under construction at 162 avenue and Macleod Trail South. However, I would like to see more flexibility for the remaining art money to produce art pieces in areas that are more easily enjoyed, accessible to the public and interacted with more directly.
  • The committee – I would like to review the committee process when it comes to these interchange art projects. Do we need to have more public input into the final art piece? Currently, the committee is seven people, three community representatives, three representatives from the art community and a City of Calgary representative. Given the scale, location and complexity of interchange projects do we need to revise how these projects are reviewed and approved? Should the evaluation part of the process be more public and perhaps have more public input or influence?
  • Engagement – I would like to review the engagement process for the policy. Artists often look to the community for input around the history and themes of the area to inspire their art. It is important not to hamper the creativity of the artist, and prescribe what they will create. However, we need to ensure that the unique characteristics and any sensitivities or restrictions of the area are shared with the artists. With the recent art piece at Bowfort Towers, there has been discussion around whether the Blackfoot Nation was properly engaged with during the process. We need to be respectful of the land we are building these projects on and the history of the area. Ensuring all the appropriate stakeholders are involved in the public art decision making process is vital to creating a project that resonates with the community and can be enjoyed by all.

 

In reviewing the Public Art Policy, I think the following considerations are critical:

 

  1. Focusing on the 1% portion of a capital budget that goes to public art is not fiscally responsible. It would be more prudent and beneficial to focus on the other 99% and look for ways to improve contracts and gain efficiencies that can be applied to future large scale infrastructure projects. (Bowfort Interchange: Budget $71.2 million. Art portion $500 thousand (less than 1% and under budget)
  2. Community input is already part of this process and the artist will often look at local connections to be represented in the final work. The public art advisory committee for each project is made up of seven representatives and is formed fresh for each new project. It involves three community representatives, three arts professional and one City of Calgary representative.
  3. Local artists are supported and are part of the process. Calgary is an international city and the international trade agreement directs that projects over $75,000 be open to bidding internationally. It is important to note that local Calgary artists also benefit from having international opportunities. Local artists are supported and mentored to be able to compete on a national and international scale, and training is also available to local artists on responding to requests for proposal.
  1. It is important that we invest in infrastructure during this economic downturn. The City can often get better pricing than during a boom. It creates jobs, and this is not limited to the large road infrastructure being constructed. The art portion of capital projects also enables job creation. Most public art projects are done by local artists, and for those where the artist is from outside of Calgary, much of the work associated with the installation of the art piece is provided by local contractors, putting dollars back into the local economy.
  • 78% local artists in Calgary
  • 11% artists from other Canadian cities
  • 11% international artists
  • 79% of contractors hired for public art projects were Calgary-based

Question 5:

How can council support small businesses?

 

Answer 5:

As a City, especially during an economic downturn, we need to look at innovative, impactful ways of helping our small businesses start-up, grow and stay successful. As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges and excitement that come with owning your own business. 

I think it can happen in various forms, such as ensuring start up processes are streamlined and costs are minimal. I think the City could be more conscious that property tax and business tax are costs that have a higher percentage impact on small businesses – especially retail and restaurant type businesses that have lower revenues. I think we need to look at options within the tax structure as it relates to businesses that have these lower revenues but play an important role in our city and community diversity. Another option would be to support businesses through networking and learning opportunities – encouraging a sharing of resources and ideas. The City is a central part in all of our lives and if they have the ability to bring different groups together to share best practices and leverage efforts (the way they do with some of the Arts groups), it could be a creative way of helping businesses. Along the same lines, if there could be a way for the City supporting networking opportunities between businesses and community organizations, we could look at ways to mutually support each other through sponsorship and marketing opportunities.


Question 6.1:

Do you support the current plan for construction of the Green Line?

 

Answer 6.1 [Yes/No Only]:

Yes.


Question 6.2:

The construction of the Green Line was approved based on a cost-benefit analysis that assumed the project would be completed two years earlier than now projected, and at a lower construction cost for the entire line than is now estimated for half of the line. If the costs increase again or the project is further delayed, would you continue to support it, and why?

 

Answer/Comment 6.2:

If costs significantly increased, I would have to re-evaluate support.


Question 7.1:

In July, City Council voted against a motion to hold a referendum/plebiscite on whether Calgary should bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics bid. Do you support holding a referendum / plebiscite on whether Calgary should bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics bid?

 

Answer 7.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No.


Question 7.2:

Why do you support/oppose a public vote? Should the results of a vote should be binding?

 

Answer/Comment 7.2:

I don’t think we need to spend money on a plebiscite – I don’t think at this time an Olympic bid makes sense.