Candidate for Ward 14
I was born in the City called Ufa, in what was Soviet Union at the time in 1980. In 1998, after a very long wait, our family was finally given an opportunity to move to Canada. My parents chose Calgary as our first stop and we fell in love with this city. My parents, my sister and myself are still proud to call Calgary our home today.
My career path started with washing dishes at a local Boston Pizza and I went on to working my way up to management.
I married my wife Krystlle in 2003, we moved to McKenzie Lake in 2004 and we welcomed our daughter Sofiya into this world in 2006. In 2014 we moved to Chaparral, where we still reside. In 2019, after many years of being begged by Sofiya, we decided to get a dog - Ray, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He is a great addition to our family!
After my daughter's birth I decided to make some changes but I just could not leave the restaurant world completely. I took a position with a company that sells commercial kitchen equipment to Food and Beverage and Hospitality businesses. My first hand experience of working in the kitchens and on the floors of restaurants helped me to have a very successful career to this day.
Back in 2012, I was infected with a "volunteer bug" and cannot really imagine my life without this aspect. Currently, I am proudly sitting as director on two local community boards.
Question 1: What work experience do you have that’s relevant to the role of a Councillor and how do you feel the skills and perspective you have gained will help you in your role as a Councillor?
I have spent last few years on local community boards and this gives me a very good understanding of some of the issues that our communities are facing. Being a director on different boards taught me to work collaboratively with other people and to take different opinions into account and move together towards an amicable and pragmatic solutions. By the nature of the business that I am in, I work very closely with every type of business, anything from a small café to a hotel, I have listened and learnt a lot about what the businesses would like to see, balanced taxes, less red tape, less bureaucracy, less "government".
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?
There were three more common issues being brought up during my door knocking in the Ward. Speeding and need for more traffic calming solutions in the area. Wasteful Spending by the City and the representation of community by the current Councillor. When it comes to speeding - I have specific thoughts on Playground zone pilot projects, more targeted enforcement. Wasteful spending - we really need to implement Zero Base budget with quarterly reviews, instead of the 0 base review programs, I think this failed to deliver the controls it was supposed to implement. When it comes to the representation - I have knocked on a lot of doors in the Ward 14 and I have talked to a lot of people, and I will continue to do so, I will not hide behind web entry forms, I will try to "touch" as many emails and messages as I can and I will have my email and phone number visible on the web site. I also thing that it is important for the Councillor to be more visible during meetings and to see the councillor supporting the communities.
Question 3: What do you think is the role of a municipal government? Do you think the City does too many things, not enough, or just the right amount?
To bring things back to basics - City should be extremely good at two things: Collecting just enough money to provide the necessary services and then to provide those services in a fast, efficient and the most comprehensive manner. Obviously, in real world, it is not as simple as that and I understand this. Right now - I think the city does a lot of things that it should not be doing and sometimes really overstepping on some of the mandates.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
Before I can say anything specific about the taxes - we need to really look at the budgeting procedures. So far it looks like the property taxes are OK, since we are posting 216 mil of surplus (which should really be investigated as well), if we have proper budgeting we should not have a surplus without knowing exactly why.
Question 5: Over the next four years, should the City spend less in absolute terms, increase spending but by less than the rate of inflation and population growth, increase by the rate of inflation and population growth, or increase faster than the rate of inflation and population growth?
I think the bigger question is What are we spending things on. We need to implement some efficiency programs, this will help with over all spending. I do not think that we need to "tighten our belts" but we need to be smart with our money, I think we are heading into some turbulent times and we need to be prepared.
Question 6: During the introduction of City Charters a few years ago there was a lot of debate about new taxation powers for the big cities. Would you support the City being given any additional taxation powers by the Province? If so, what taxation powers should the City have?
I think we already pay enough taxes and creating or asking for more taxation powers is sort of irresponsible before we actually assess the budget situation; before we go asking for more power we should really bring our own financial house in order.
Question 7: The City often claims that they’ve found savings in various budgets, but instead of actually cutting spending, they just put the savings into a reserve account and then spend that money on other things. If there’s money left over at the end of a financial year, do you think that money should be saved up by the City to spend in future years? Or should it be returned automatically to taxpayers the following year through some kind of rebate?
It is tough to address this one without knowing the exact reasons for the surpluses. But I think it would be fair to provide a portion of that as rebate as a credit on the next year's taxes.
Question 8: Everyone says they support affordable housing, but what does that term mean for you? Do you think the City should be subsidizing housing for lower-income residents? Or focused on keeping the cost of all housing from getting out of control? Or perhaps some combination of the two? If so, how?
Well, this is an interesting one. I think there should be a combination or affordable housing and the subsidized housing. The City should provide the ecosystem where more affordable housing is built, but sometimes even the affordable housing is out of reach of lower income residents. We need to address this issue as well.
Question 9: The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board is currently debating their Growth Plan for the Calgary region. What do you think about the plan? Do you think we should be limiting development in certain parts of the region? If so, are you worried about how that will affect housing affordability?
I think we need to combine the urban sprawl and densification of the current communities; we need to do it smart. When we are developing outwards - we need to make sure that we collect enough money form the developers not to just provide utilities and services, but also to help with coverage on future intersections, traffic lights and potentially spaces for CFD stations and CPS local offices. When we attempt to densify - we need to respect the local area plans and resident's concerns. We cannot apply a single coverage document to the whole City, like they tried to do with guidebook.
Question 10: There’s been a lot of debate about the City’s new “Guidebook for Great Communities”. What do you think about the Guidebook? What do you think should be the split between greenfield and established community growth for new housing? Should the City have a specific target? Should this be determined by market demand?
I think a document like this does have a place in the planning for the future. Not as an absolute rule for the future but as a vision. One thing that I was concerned with is the fact that this document was in development for 5 years and we only really heard about it a month before the vote. The documents of this magnitude, something that will have a potential to change the look of our City and neighbourhoods, should have been discussed with the communities, the stakeholders and the residents. Comment that came from one of the, then sitting councillor almost angered me - "The residents just do not understand the problems we are trying to solve with this book". I am sorry - then why is this document being rammed through the council without any engagement??? Please spend some time and explain to us, simple people, all the problems that you are trying to solve and not just drop this thing on us over night...
Question 11: When the City voted to approve four projects - the Event Centre, the BMO Centre expansion, the Arts Commons transformation, and the Foothills Fieldhouse - they did so against the advice of the City’s own CFO, who said the City could only afford one of them. Do you think that was the right move? Why? If, as the City continues through the process with each of these projects, it becomes obvious that the City’s CFO was correct, and Calgarians can only afford one of these projects, which would you choose?
I would say that BMO expansion is the one I would support. This project has a more broad application. The Event Centre - even though I do think our City needs a good arena where we can welcome some concerts that were missing Calgary, should have been financed with more private money. We should have been issuing a type of Municipal Bond to help with the project. The Arts Commons should have been postponed for a couple of years, especially now and a portion of Public Arts Fund should be used for this in the future. The Field House is a discussion for the future...
Question 12: Do you support the construction of the Green Line LRT as currently envisioned by the City, would you prefer changes be made to the plan (and if so, what changes), or would you prefer to cancel the project entirely? If, as a Councillor, you find out that - despite all the previous assurances - there has in fact been another cost overrun on the Green Line, what would you do?
I started my campaign as being "on the fence about this project". But talking to people in the Ward, I understood that the residents would like to see this project completed. I do have some concerns with the current proposal for this project. The whole premise for the project, back in a day, if I remember correctly, was to connect our brand new hospital to the rest of the City and to connect the line to downtown. Now what we have here is something that is not really accomplishing this. We are not at the Hospital - so people have to take more trasnfers. The budget is doubled, and the distance is nowhere near the original plans for this stage. And when a councillor says "It is expected for the projects of this scale to be over budget and have cost overruns" I am sorry - I do not buy this! We need to have more control over these projects. I am in sales and I have done project tenders. People expect things to be on time and on budget. There is room for inflation and moderate price increases on supplies, but to double (or more) the costs in the matter of a few years? I do not accept it.
Question 13: What do you think is the best approach to attract businesses to Calgary? Direct incentives to specific businesses, paid for by slightly higher taxes, or lower tax rates for all businesses?
It has to be a combination of things. ON top of that - we need to review the policies and procedures under which the Administration operates, reduce the red tape and combat the Bureaucracy. I have spoken to enough people that encountered many barriers when it came to operating and opening businesses in our City.
Question 14: Should the City be in the business of operating golf courses, or should they privatize or sell them off? How about garbage collection or other services?
I think we need to review everything. Golf Courses specifically. There have been some interesting job postings in the spring for some City Services that were extremely high compared to even some of the well paid positions in the private sector. One thing that I am having doubts about privatizing is the City waste management services. We do need to review as a part of the due process but I think this needs to be kept in house, as we will have more control over this service, it is a necessary one and people expect this done. We need to reimagine this particular one, may be even look at building garbage incinerator facilities, like they have in some of the Scandinavian countries. With proper controls - we can create energy and divert stuff from the land fills.
Question 15: Should we defund the police? If yes, what exactly does defunding the police mean to you? If not, what should the City do to address both historical and ongoing injustices?
NO!!! I have spoken to a few police officers in my travels. There is no room for defunding. Everyone understand that there are some issues and we need to deal with them separately. But one of the most important purposes of a City is to provide Safe environment for its citizens. We have to continue to do that and engage all the interested parties into the conversation about the evolution of the Service.
Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
I do support vaccination, I encourage people to vaccinate. I think it is important to look at the science and benefits of the vaccines - and it is important to get as many people vaccinated as we can.
Question 17: Council recently dropped residential speed limits to 40km/h, do you agree with that decision, and what do you think about the proposal by some to go further and drop it to 30km/h in the future?
No, we spent a few millions of dollars on changing some signage, but we did not actually solve the problem of speeding on larger roads. Now if we lower the speed limit to 30 - we have to spend more money on the updated signage; and it will still not solve the issues of speeding on 194th street, Sunvalley blvd, Midlake blvd, Acadia and Bonaventure and many other streets.
Question 18: For years there has been an ongoing debate about the City’s public art spending. Some say that the problem is the selection process for what art is commissioned, while others are opposed to any use of public funds for art. What do you think?
We have to change the process to favour more local creators, we need to untie this from the infrastructure projects and may be look at financing some performance art events, vs limiting to only physical objects. I do like art, I have talked to many people that would like to see more of it. We need to start looking at some other ideas of investing into art and change what we actually think about what ART is.
Question 19: Serving as a Councillor you are responsible to both your local constituents and every Calgarian. How would you deal with a situation where you feel that the best interests of your local constituents in your ward conflict with what you feel is the best interests of the City as a whole?
This is a great question. I think I would like to say that I would be asking for permission vs forgiveness on this one. Also will actually engage the residents of the Ward. We are there to do this together... But I cannot say or a force majeure issues, as this will be done on one on one basis.
Question 20: While the concept of a secret ballot is essential, many of our supporters have told us that they’d like to know the political alignment of their candidates. So, if - and only if - you feel comfortable saying so, who are you voting for for Mayor and why, and if you are affiliated with any provincial or federal political parties, which ones and why?
I am not sure who I am voting for Mayor yet. I am really glad that we will not end up with a 4% winner though... I consider myself to be on the right. Party affiliation - I am still sort of undecided at this point...