Brent Trenholm


Brent Trenholm

Candidate for Ward 3


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Survey Results:


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 was elected to city council in 1993 in BC, so I know exactly what the job is and the endless hard work that is entailed. I spend 10 years in the system and was instrumental in bringing 3 large projects to fruition. 1. Push behind the design and passing of a referendum to build a 10-year overdue arena and pool addition. 2. Improving a main road that serviced all residents, without the homeowners on those roads having to pay the largest share of the costs. 3. Bringing in the BC winter games to town. Under the leadership of our mayor, our council spent the time talking with households and brought responsible change to the city. I have managed multi million-dollar service and manufacturing businesses and have experience working with large budgets including $20 million dollar budgets. I have hired hundreds of employees and have had to let go some people as well. I understand the pain and struggles families have. My management career has been focused on efficiencies and building effective workplace cultures. Every facility that I have managed has dropped its costs by 15%- 70% in 3 – 6 months and have reported record profits at the same time. I do this by creating positive cultures. If people enjoy what they do and they are supported while given the ability to make decisions, you need less supervisors and positive things always happen. I have worked in about 5 different industries as an operator, millwright or manager and have operated both light and heavy equipment. I am a journeyman millwright and welder who has worked in the trenches for 25 years. I have built or repaired, many things and I am very familiar with many of the pitfalls a lot of people make when they plan and try to implement change and the challenges of completing the project. While doing this, I watched many managers (good and poor) fail or succeed. I always took mental notes so that when I was in that position, I would not repeat the same errors but rather, emulate the successes. I also have a management consulting company where I work with companies experiencing challenges with efficiency concerns and add fluidity to their operations. I also have a renovation company where I can build or fix just about anything. I am a personal trainer who has trained many athletes and myself as a competitive Triathlete. I have traveled the globe repairing equipment, performing seminar training programs, or bringing different workers in facilities of the world to a better understanding of equipment familiarization/maintenance and service scheduling. From my extensive management career and my being previously elected, I understand “the hot seat” and have been successful in bringing opposing parties to agreement. I believe this experience provides me with the diversity to think things through and the versatility to create results in any situation. I am not simply offering hopes and dreams, I am bringing real experience from many different perspectives to council. I am a focused person who takes action and creates results.

Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?

I have been campaigning and knocking on doors for the past 1.5 years. During this time, I asked Ward 3 constituents to complete a survey on my webpage . It seems the main issue is economics (as seen in the pie chart). Inappropriate taxes are a by-product of council members not listening, poor priorities and overspending. Additionally, Ward 3 has a serious infrastructure deficit, from recreation and other types of community engagement facilities, and transit. Many in this community have a hard time getting around. Being that the LRT coming to North Calgary is a bit of a pipe dream at the present time, we need a BRT system that services both the north and south, and the same system that extends both east and west so people can get to work, and kids can get to school. Right now, city hall and most politicians work from an authoritarian perspective and this needs to change. I believe in community-based planning, where we work with the communities first and tell city hall what is needed and go from there. This is more work up front and less work at the end, with much more positive results. My plan is to also conduct a communications plan like ward 3 has never seen before. The goal is to create community engagement at three levels: constituents, politicians, and city hall.

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?

The role of municipal government is to focus on roads, sewers, sidewalks protective services and most of all those that pay the bill, meaning the taxpayers. Most important of all, government is to make it affordable for businesses and people to live while providing those essential services and support people need to live at an affordable cost. One of the complications is that most elected officials involve themselves in social and other types of issues that fall under provincial and federal jurisdiction. When many of us look at the present council, they seem to be very concerned about every other level of government activity, they have forgotten what they got elected to do. Consequently, they waste 100’s of millions of dollars and time and upset other levels of government, resulting in administrative dysfunction. My approach is to have healthy conversations with the province; meaning, ask questions, provide information and help, not create dysfunction like we have now.

Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?

Taxes have doubled in the last 10 years. People are losing everything! Politicians think there is an ATM machine or money tree in a field somewhere that they can pluck at will. This mentality needs to change. Inappropriate axes are a by-product of inexperience, poor priorities, and spending habits.

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?

Over the next four years, council needs to refine its processes within city hall so there is much less time being wasted on silly projects like 40K speed limits, more time assessing internal silos and inefficiencies within city hall. There is a record number of large projects rolling out that are going to finanically strap the city. In short, we need to focus our attention on how we run the business of government and how we can cut costs while focusing more attention on delivering core services to businesses and people and helping with their ability to put food on the table.

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 feel that the city already has enough taxation power. I also feel that those candidates that want to re-negotiate the 40% of taxes the city has to give to the province, should give it a rest. The province does not have money. If those candidates demand 1% from the province like they say they want, that means they are OK with taking money from social services, healthcare, and education. These candidates should be ashamed of themselves and spend more time on learning how to budget and show some financial restraint and less time dreaming up ways to spend money.

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?

Right now, there are $2 million dollars in slush funds, and $21 million in reserves which was put there from annual savings. If there are savings each year, that money should go back to the taxpayers in the form of keeping fees and taxes low and affordable. What city hall is doing now is giving themselves the ability to bypass the budgeting process. It is a cheap parlor trick that is self serving and does nothing for taxpayers except pushing people and businesses into bankruptcy.

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?

Over the past couple years, the rate of bankruptcy has gone up. More and more people are being forced out of their homes because of rising costs and economic collapse from poor government policy. Affordable housing is one issue that needs to be addressed, the other is homelessness. We need to spend most of our energy in getting people back to work and getting the economic engine in this city going and helping people get back on their feet again. The only way to do this is cutting operating costs, making it easier to do business with the city and looking at the labor costs of city hall. For me, I will voluntarily take a $5,000 cut in pay provided every other elected official does so as well. If other elected officials do not choose this option, I will donate that $5,000 to the mustard seed and help those in need get back on their feet.

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?

Development should keep pace with the influx of population growth. Right now, we basically have neutral growth. When you build too fast, or in times of economic callaps, all you get is people and businesses moving from one location of the city to the other side of the city and creating vacancies behind them. To address the affordability of housing and pricing, the city levies charged for new development need to be addressed as they are too high, which drives housing costs up and pushes businesses and families out of the city. Once again, the city needs to look in the mirror and concern itself with keeping costs and fees low so businesses and families choose to stay in Calgary because they can afford to, and not price the city right out of the market of affordable living like what is doing right now.

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?

The city needs to keep with its current green space requirement. I am not a fan of the guidebook and feel it was the brainchild of a couple councillors who wanted to inflict their will on others. I feel it should be scrapped or reworked to reflect what people (taxpayers) want. I am not opposed to higher density living, it just needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. The guidebook in its current form (being a guide or not) will be adopted by planners as a rule, no matter what they say they will do. Housing growth should be driven mostly by the market.

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 have staggered all the projects 1-2 years apart and started with the events center, BMO the field house, arts common. This last council must have found a money tree in a back room at city hall. This council was more concerned with leaving a legacy than understanding they are breaking the city and tying the hands of future councils. On that the city is broke, the province is broke, and the feds are broke, and people are losing everything, yet this council builds slush funds and spends money like people change their underwear. What has happened is unsustainable… the next council is going to have 4 years of serious financial and economic challenges. The only way to get out of this is to elect people like myself who bring actual experience, both life and leadership who have run a sizable business and managed large budgets. Hopes and dreams will not help businesses or families pay the bills, only proven experience will. It is time for real change. Let us get this city back on track.

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 feel the green line is a waste of money in its current form. There are a lot of design and route issues. The train does not have the required ridership to warrant the expense and the trains are a different design then what we have, so the lines are not compatible with each other which means increased operational and maintenance costs and going underground in the city center is simply not well thought out. At this stage of the game, I am unsure if the contracts can be canceled, so we may be stuck with the 5.5 billion expense to nowhere. With the COVID and the transitioning of people working at home, downtowns’ dynamics have changed. I would personally cancel the project if the design cannot be integrated into the present train design. The rumor mill is this project is going to go way over budget. The city can not afford for this to happen. My preference is to cancel the green line, extend the blue line to the airport, bring it into Ward 3, and into town, and not come up center street as we still need to drive and cannot afford for any major roadways to be closed.

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?

The first thing the city needs to do is get its house in order. The city needs to cut its own expenses and red tape. The biggest problem with the city are the bureaucracies behind the machine. When this is fixed and businesses know that they will not be taxed out of the city and that the city actually becomes business friendly, businesses will open up and pay for what the market demands, thus saving the taxpayer from having to pay for politicians’ dreams of downtown revitalization. I also feel that the next mayor needs to go after business. If there is a hint of a large business looking for a place to land the mayor should be on a plane and get in front of them. I also feel there should be some incentive to help existing and attract new businesses with caveats, so these businesses do not come in, collect the cash and bugger off. While door knocking, one of the people I spoke to asked, “What about filling a building with hydroponic vegetable gardening?” This thought does have merit. If people start thinking outside of the box and people drop their egos, good things will happen.

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?

Government does not know how to run a business. I feel they should subcontract the management out. As for garbage collection, the city is contracting out the easy routes to use as a comparison. If the city wants to entertain this, they should contract out the most difficult areas and see how they make out. This is the only way you will find out what kind of service you will get. Easy routes are easy, hard routes show character and creativity in solving difficult problems.

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?

Not on your life. This idea is half baked with little to no thought. If a person is undecided, look at Portland or Minnesota. This idea is based off an ideology that services no one except a radical segment of society. To address injustice, the court system needs to come down hard on criminal activity and be compassionate to victims, not the other way like it is now. I do believe that we as a society should look at today’s trends and put some thought into how government can help serve the public better without selling the farm.

Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?

To start with, I will say that I am double vaccinated. I did so because I saw the writing on the wall and understood that vaccines do work, however I have difficulty with ruling with a stick, as I feel no one should lose their job because they are not vaccinated. There is a better way. Vaccines started off so you could travel out of the country. Now people are being told if you are not vaccinated you cannot even go into some locations. Creating splits in society is destructive to the vary democratic fabric we live in. The next step is government will pit people with 4 vaccines against those with 2 or 3. COVID is here. The question is how does society keep its compassion for people and still lower the infection rates?

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?

Here we are with businesses and people going bankrupt at record pace and this council spend $3 million on speed limits that are unenforceable. This is one of the poorest decisions I have seen any council make. If the city or a department want to do something valuable, they should have helped out the increasing amount of homeless people get back on their feet.

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?

The blue ring and rusty pilons is a waste of money. I like tasteful art. Right now, there is no money for frivolous spending. The program should be scrapped, and the funds should go toward making Calgary an affordable place to live for a while.

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?

I always look at both sides before I make any decision. In the end, I report to Ward 3, not a mayor or administration, so my tendency is to do what ward 3’s wishes are.

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?

For starters, I am staying out of the mayoral race. I do have my opinions; however, I am running to represent Ward 3 not a mayor. Yes, I do feel there are some candidates that would add further damage to the city. I will work with whoever is elected. I am not affiliated with anyone or have any party allegiances. I have been endorsed by the Filipino community in Ward 3 and Lead Calgary, which is based on my campaign platform. I have not and will not take any donations from those that will hold that donation over my head and want to call in a favour at a later date. I believe in true transparency. There are a few candidates in Ward 3 that will have debts to pay off if they are elected. I pride myself by and make every decision based off facts and how that decision will affect the majority of people. I do not and will not succumb to special interest groups to get elected. In fact, I am not campaigning to get elected. I am campaigning to be elected and work for those that live in Ward 3 and if they like the job I am doing I will run one more time under the same ideology. I have no time to be concerned about trying to get elected again. My only priority is to do what is right by and for taxpayers now.