Candidate for Ward 8
I am the owner of a local business in Calgary's 17th Avenue district. It has been a gathering place for inner-city Calgarians for over 20 years and it has kept me connected to the pulse of this community. As a business owner, I’ve spent the last two decades strengthening my business skills, making tough decisions, navigating risk, and finding success amid economic uncertainty. And now I want to bring this skill set to city hall.
But I also love this ward—and the people in it. I celebrate our diversity, how eclectic we are, and how united our community spirit can be.
After I completed my bachelor’s degree at the University of Winnipeg, I travelled globally before choosing Calgary as my home. I’m so proud to live, work, and play here. Like many of you, I’m raising a family in this ward, my two teenage children attend school in this ward, I’ve been part of many fundraising initiatives associated with this ward—and I’m so proud to be part of our community.
I believe our next ward 8 councillor should demonstrate a history of service to this ward. I’ve always been engaged in civic matters, supporting the Uptown 17th Avenue revitalization and rebrand, and as an active member within the Ward 8 small business community.
A vote for me is a vote for an inclusive, sustainable, and transparent future.
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’ve been a small business owner in this city for 20 years. As an entrepreneur, I inherently know how to manage teams, navigate risk, make tough decisions, and—most importantly – stand behind them. I pride myself as a problem solver and I think that’s exactly what Ward 8 needs at this time. Examine all facts, determine the best possible outcome, and act. That’s what I am every day and that’s what citizens in this ward can expect of me if elected.
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?
I’ve been listening to residents of this ward since my campaign started 10 months ago. This is what I’ve heard across our communities: • Development and density. Calgarians are feeling like developers have the ear of the city at the cost of citizen engagement. No matter what consultation happens, community advocates and residents are simply not successful in being heard. I know in ward 8 we’re asking: what kinds of rules do we have to protect the integrity of our communities? And why, for a city of bright, educated, and entrepreneurial citizens, does our public consultation process not reflect us? My thought is that the relationship between developers and community advocates is an unnecessary David and Goliath. Inefficient and ineffective public engagement is also an unnecessary problem for a city of citizens like ours. We need development, but we cannot tolerate a problem system, especially when that problem is marginalizing our citizens as a stakeholder in how their communities look and feel. For too long our communities have not had a voice when it comes to development. It is just as important WHAT we build as WHERE we build it. Residents are reasonable and understand that development and density will come, and they deserve a voice in this process. • Residential Property Tax and Business Tax. There are three levels of government and only one taxpayer. We must respect taxpayers by putting greater scrutiny on their how tax dollars are spent in this city. Residents have made clear that paying taxes is understood and is the funding model for city services, but we must increase the confidence that they are getting value for their tax dollar and that the city is spending tax dollars wisely. I will ensure line-by-line scrutiny of the city budget, separate administration costs from core services costs to find efficiencies without compromising critical services, move the public wage structure in line with the private sector, ensure every decision to spend tax dollars be based in evidence, facts, and a clear way to measure the return on investment and work with the province to ensure money is allocated in Calgarians best interests. Additionally, I believe a regular audit of department spending should occur to ensure that our city budget is on track. We can better manage our budgets and highlight areas of concern when we are measuring our costs to deliver. • Economic Recovery. Every level of government agrees that the key to our economic recovery will rely on small businesses. My business acumen and economic experience are fundamental contributions to city hall to bring a lived experience as to how we embolden our small business communities as a key economic driver. I’ll support the removal of red tape for local businesses who wish to grow, reduce the duplication of regulations between departments for business licensing and permits, implement a timeline for all permits to be completed to create certainty for businesses trying to grow, make licensing requirements clear so that all departments are adhering to the same rules without ambiguity, provide a streamlined pathway for small business owners to have their concerns heard and addressed by city council, work with industry leaders to identify priorities for economic growth and build progressive responsive policy to reflect these opportunities, unleash the power of Calgary Economic Development and Invest Alberta to create policies and opportunities that bring the world-and its business-to Calgary, and, lastly, portion city communications services to help showcase Calgary as a space for global investment by showcasing our highly educated talent pool, great quality of life, access to amenities, proximity to mountains and green spaces, affordability, and office space availability.
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 ensure a high quality of life for our residents. It’s responsible for the daily tasks that residents see like garbage collection and snow removal. It is managing infrastructure like road repairs and park upgrades. And it’s listening to Calgarians about their priorities and community concerns and advocating for those concerns as priorities. I believe, currently, there is overreach. The current council acts like they have an obligation to run the city as if they are the province. True adaptive municipal leadership is about working with, not on behalf of, other governments—even when it’s hard and even when our values don’t align. Fundamentally, I believe what the majority of Calgarians believe: Less government. Less bureaucracy.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
The better question to this question is this: do Calgarians believe there is value for their taxation? I will champion a transparent model of accountability of taxpayer dollars collected and spent to give Calgarians the information they deserve in this area. Like I stated in question 2, we must increase Calgarians’ confidence that they are getting value for their tax dollar and that the city is spending tax dollars wisely.
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?
What this question misses is the importance of efficiency. We are overdue to review the budget, line by line, and implement efficiencies. If we determine through this audit that we can spend less and achieve an equal delivery of services, then this is a substantial win for the affordability of this city. This audit should be the first priority of the new city council. To answer this question properly, we have to extract administrative costs versus the cost of service delivery. Too often, when we talk of efficiencies, we believe they will come at the cost of core services that Calgarians rely upon and expect. Our administrative costs are significantly higher than that of other major cities (Vancouver, Ottawa)—and that must be rectified. We need a cerebral discussion on services, not a sound bite. What happens if a municipal government legitimately needs more money and taxpayers simply cannot afford this? I believe that the days when we can ask more of taxpayers, without a substantial increase in services and service delivery, are over. If elected to Ward 8, I’ll be asking: • What are the core services a city should provide and what is the hard cost of these services? • What are discretionary services, what are those costs, and are they critical to the city? • Are we optimizing services or just providing services? For example, amid the pandemic, other major cities implemented transit on demand. We did not. I believe this led to inefficient transit. On this issue, we have to have hard, uncomfortable conversations.
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?
As I’ve stated, there are three levels of government and 1 taxpayer. Additional taxation burden’s our citizen’s quality of life. I worry these are mechanisms that the city can deploy at any time, even during times of fiscal mismanagement. I don’t support additional taxation powers as I believe it removes critical oversight and accountability that taxpayers deserve.
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?
This question deserves substantial debate as there are areas where I believe a reserve is needed and a responsible fiscal choice. These are things like public park spaces, safety upgrades, transit, environmental efficiencies, and emergency preparedness (which would include additional expenses for snow removal). I do not support reserve account spending in the form of grants or contracts awarded to private businesses. I support a reserve ‘cap’ where funds that exceed the cap of a particular reserve are returned to taxpayers.
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?
I believe that we have a moral obligation in society to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. This means access to a safe place to sleep with a roof over your head. The city must work with both provincial and federal governments to ensure that adequate funding is available to support our vulnerable population. Market demand will drive housing costs and rental pricing, and I do not believe the role of city council it to artificially influence this area. We need to foster private-public partnerships to manage our affordable housing crisis and we need to audit organizations that receive city funds to deliver services in this area to report to Calgarians the effectiveness of their work. I will create spaces and working groups where organizations that serve similar mandates with greater collaboration in the spirit of increasing their effectiveness in this area.
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?
Supply and demand affect housing prices—as does inflation. Currently, our city needs to balance growth at the perimeter of the city with density growth inner city. There are challenges that face us as our city grows including new community infrastructure costs, public transit costs, and servicing costs. More communities mean more servicing requirements (think fire and police). To mirror capacity growth with citizen safety, we must invest equally in new community management and the city services to support them
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 failed guidebook exposed the vast ineffectiveness of our engagement process. Ward 8 residents were surprised to learn about the guidebook, what it represented, and how it could be developed with such poor consultation. Many became aware of this proposed policy document in the final months of the engagement process leaving major stakeholder, like community associations, and private citizens scrambling to read and interpret the document. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to development and zoning is a disservice to Calgarians. It dismisses the unique character of established communities and shuts communities out of the development process. This surfaced a city-council knows best thinking paradigm, which is also a disservice to Calgarians and, I believe, has become an important catalyst for change. It’s just as important WHAT we build as WHERE we built it. Residents are reasonable; they understand that development and density will come as the city grows and they deserve a voice in this process. It is market demand, not the will of councillors, that will influence the WHAT and the WHERE – that is simple economics.
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?
My position on infrastructure is simple: if our city does not invest in itself, we will struggle to attract outside investment. That said, we must recognize the limitations of our municipal budget. I am on the record that we should place our investments in the spaces where they will yield the highest financial return on investment to our city. The events centre and arts commons will do this. Conventions, concerts, events and more will stimulate residual economic benefit in hospitality and tourism. Investing in arts and culture is attractive to businesses looking to Calgary as their headquarters and to encourage young people to to call Calgary home. Both should serve the mandate as places of pride.
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 support the Green Line LRT to be built in phases with heavy fiscal scrutiny. • The Green Line must be a masterclass is data-driven decision making. Our largest medical facility—the South Health Campus—has no rapid transit access. How is this impeding the attraction of the most qualified health workers and patients who need services? • Why is the Green Line not connected to the north where readership is highest? • Why are we investing in a major events space and engaging in robust efforts to attach business to our city, yet we do not have a train link between the airport and downtown? These are the questions that we need to ask as we proceed—and the data should guide this decision making.
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?
We need to brand our city to the new investor. This city is entrepreneurial by nature with a large pool of talented, educated citizens. Our quality of life, access to amenities, proximity to nature, and relative affordability need to be shared with the North American marketplace. Red tape reduction is, without question, the first step. A downtown revitalization is next. Tax incentives to move them into our existing infrastructure follows that. And this is all encompassed in a city council that signals their eagerness to welcome new business to Calgary through smart, business-friendly policies.
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 am not opposed to the City operating golf courses, garbage collection, or other services. What I am opposed to is wasteful spending, fiscal mismanagement, and a city council afraid to make change. For years, private companies have remained profitable in these areas and deliver quality services. This is a fact we must recognize. If the city cannot determine practices to replicate this same success, it comes beholden upon them to evaluate private options. Calgarians are owed a city council that will hold our service departments to account on value of service for cost of delivery.
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?
If a system is broken or inefficient, the response of leadership is to fix it and reform it. That’s what true adaptive leadership is—and that’s what Calgarians should expect. This is a time of transition for the CPS. The community expects two things: greater emphasis on interdisciplinary policing and stricter sanctions and disciplinary measures for police that are charged with wrongdoing. I support both of these expectations. I believe the Calgary Policy Service should increase training in supportive areas to accommodate our changing societal needs and expectations. Additional supports in social work, mental health, addictions response, and counselling must form part of the police track force and community support strategy—full stop.
Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
At the core of our body autonomy, I cannot agree that we have the right to remove someone’s freedom of choice. The vaccination is there, it’s needed, it should be made widely available and easily accessible, but I do not believe it should be mandated as a condition of employment as I believe that is government overreach.
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?
This question speaks to the importance of data-driven decision making. At the time of review and mandate, residents expressed frustration over this initiative as it seemed to be a low priority for many at a cost to taxpayers. I believe that we have not allowed sufficient time to pass to measure the success of the reduction in terms of street safety and accident prevention. Additionally, traffic calming measures including curbside extensions are not yet complete and we need to include these pieces in the assessment.
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?
All major cities fund public art projects—and Calgary should be no exception. We need public art; it adds to the culture and vibrancy of our city. When done right, they are pride points. But we must balance the discretionary spending of public art against the economic realities and priorities of our city. I’ll support inclusive public art projects, so long as the budget allows. And in line with the changes to be made to our public engagement process, I will advocate for greater public engagement and transparency in the commissioning process.
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 have campaigned on serving the needs of Ward 8 by listening and engaging. I am first and foremost, elected by the residents of Ward 8 to represent the interests of Ward 8—and I will remain a faithful and steady voice for my ward on city council—even when it’s tough and unpopular. But I am a pragmatic person and fact-based decision maker. I’ve been engaged in this city long enough to know that there is always a way forward that manages expectations and needs. If we look at the data, manage the emotion, the answer—the way forward for all—really does reveal itself.
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?
Like so many Canadians, I struggle to find my place on the political spectrum. I believe I’m like other Calgarians and Canadians: a voter that’s unafraid to choose a candidate and a party that best represents and resonates with their needs at the time. What I appreciate about municipal politics is that it really is the last non-partisan space (or should be). I want to make clear that I am not beholden to political party ideology, unions, PAC or third party advertisers. What you see is me in service to the residents of Ward 8—without interference. That’s what I’ve done—and that’s how I’ve voted in this election.