Calgary Minute: Accountability, Trust, and Transit Cuts
Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics
This Week In Calgary:
Buckle up! Council's month-long summer break is over and on Monday there will be a Combined Council Meeting. Of note on the agenda are an Arts Commons update, the City Auditor's Office 2nd Quarter 2019 Report, and a series of land use amendments.
Also on Monday, in wake of the recently released Mackinnon Report on the Province's finances, Councilor Farkas is looking to table a notice of motion regarding accountability and financial transparency at City Hall. Farkas is calling for Calgary to adopt the Blue Book standard, meaning an online tool showing exactly who is doing business with the government, and a listing of every single payment the City makes for supplies, services or contracts in excess of $10,000. We're hopeful that this common-sense proposal will be adopted unanimously by Council, but maybe we're being too optimistic...?
- On Wednesday there will be a Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services which will include proposals to establish three new Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). BIAs are essentially compulsory unions or chambers of commerce that force businesses within the defined area (in this case the Beltline, Crescent Heights, and Bridgeland) to pay additional taxes to the BIA. In our experience, these organizations tend to be controlled by the tax-and-spend crowd who are just looking for a way to get other people to pay for their pet projects. Even worse, those who want to create a BIA only need 25% of the businesses in a BIA zone to agree, while anyone opposed has to get 50% to sign a petition against it. How is that democratic?
Last Week In Calgary:
- The City finally released the municipal census results, and the city’s population has nearly hit 1.29 million people. Calgary's age demographics appear to be shifting to an older age group, likely because the city is struggling to attract the same numbers of young working-aged families as in 2014 when the economy was booming and jobs were plentiful.
- The Argyle Public Relationships Index, an annual study by Leger Research and the Argyle Group was released. The index showed that just 37% of Calgarians agreed with the statement, "I trust my city or town council". About 40% said they were satisfied with the local government, while only 34% of Calgarians felt that the government was concerned about people like them and that they had the ability to influence the decisions or direction of local politicians. We are glad to see that a clear majority of Calgarian's nailed this quiz.
Finally, the transit cuts that were approved by Council during this summer's mini tax revolt, came into effect last week. Remember that, even after the $60 million in spending cuts, City Hall is still spending more in 2019 than in 2018. The only reason that services like Transit need to be cut is because Council increased spending on non-essential services so dramatically. Maybe you can admire the new public art and dream of a gold-plated council pension while you wait an extra 15 minutes for the bus?
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