Grace Yan


Grace Yan

Candidate for Mayor


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Survey Results:


Question 1: What work experience do you have that’s relevant to the role of Mayor and how do you feel the skills and perspective you have gained will help you in your role as Mayor?

I’m a successful leader, businessperson and entrepreneur and developed several valuable skills including the importance of collaboration and the art of negotiation which continue to serve me well today and is an important asset as your next Mayor. I am a solution driven leader with demonstrated results, strong ability to achieve consensus, successful business experience combined with a strong knowledge and appreciation of the City of Calgary. I have the best qualities to succeed as your next Mayor.

Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting Calgary are, and how would you approach these issues as Mayor?

Currently the biggest issues affecting Calgary is economy and jobs. As Mayor my focus is a place where businesses grow and families thrive. It’s not all about the business. I am committed to ensuring that we take care of the vulnerable and the older population and committed to the values of inclusion and creating a fair and equitable environment and society which everyone can feel respect, dignity and belonging. I believe can help get Calgary back on track to recover, rebuild, and lead to a more prosperous future for all. As a Commercial Broker in our city for decades, I am passionate about helping make Calgary affordable for businesses and entrepreneurs. It's no secret that our business community has been amongst some of the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn in our oil and gas sector. This is why I believe it is vital that our elected leaders do more to make it easier for businesses in our community to thrive and create economic opportunities that benefit everyone. I’d like to discuss the commercial property tax rate in our city and why it needs to change. Currently, the gap between commercial to residential property tax is 4 -1, which means Calgary's business owners are paying up to 4 times more than their residential counterparts on the same assessed property value. The current commercial tax rate was predicated on a booming oil and gas industry but as Calgarians know, circumstances have changed drastically. The current rate is simply no longer workable and needs to change to reflect the economic realities our city is facing. As Mayor of Calgary, I propose to bring the tax gap rate down to 2-1, helping to level the playing field for businesses in our community, allowing them to get back to work faster and keep their businesses financially viable as we weather these difficult times. This policy is essential if we want to support business growth in our community. But how do we pay for this? The good news is that Calgary has viable economic options to cover reduced commercial property tax revenues without decreasing city services. I am proposing the selling of non-essential city assets. Not only would this generate revenues that can be used to help us get through the economic downturn, it will also drive expansion of the city's tax base and diversification of the Calgary economy, thereby generating more revenues in the long run. Furthermore, it will help to decrease city operating costs by removing depreciating assets and services from city responsibility. By privatizing non-essential city assets, we also give our businesses further opportunities to invest in our community and revitalize urban spaces. As an accomplished experienced commercial broker, I believe I am the best person to negotiate a solid financial return on our assets. As Mayor of Calgary, I will bring my expertise and experience to the table to leverage the best We are facing unprecedented challenges, and Calgary deserves leadership that reflects the strength of the community. That is why I am passionate about serving as the next Mayor of Calgary.

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 purpose of municipal government is to provide good government and to develop safe and viable communities. The main areas of focus is planning and development; government and administration and assessment and taxation. In each of those areas are myriad of roles, responsibilities, services and programs that municipalities develop, administer and assess including: - Drinking water, stormwater and wastewater - Garbage collection and recycling - Police and emergency services - Land use planning and development - Environmental impact and conservation - Economic Development - Maintenance and upgrading bridges, streets and potholes - Social housing - Recreation, arts, entertainment and culture The City should focus on governing and businesses run businesses.

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

The taxes are inequitable and in my platform is a solution to the current tax ratio. The commercial tax rate is too high and I laid out solution also in questions above.

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?

According to Calgary Economic Development “For the government, population growth would add to operating cost pressures. For businesses, with population growth, the market for their goods and services expands and operating cost increases can be spread across more consumers. The base case forecast for non-residential building construction inflation would impact private sector and government capital spending. Like higher prices for operating activities, non-residential building construction inflation is expected to exceed consumer price inflation over the next four years. Upward price pressure would come from increased world oil prices that increase transportation costs to get materials to construction sites. Continuing international trade disputes would limit the supply and increase the cost of material inputs across borders. The operating and capital cost pressures on Calgary’s municipal government would be higher than consumer inflation because of increased demand from population growth, raw material price increases, a higher product price index, and non-residential building construction inflation. It will require innovation to maintain infrastructure investment and the provision of frontline services that keeps up with population growth.”

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?

Pursuant to various reports of Canadian Cities: “Provinces can raise money only by direct taxation. Therefore, legally the Provinces can only authorize municipalities to levy direct taxes. The essential difference between direct and indirect taxation is as follows: Direct Taxation: the person/entity taxed is the one that ultimately pays the tax i.e. the taxpayer cannot easily pass on the tax to someone else (e.g. income tax) Indirect Taxation: the person/entity taxed is expected to pass on the tax (e.g. GST and customs and excise taxes). Generally, provinces have allowed municipalities limited powers to levy even direct taxes. Municipal taxing powers have generally been restricted to property taxes. In addition, provinces have given municipalities the authority to raise money by user fees: i.e. charges for services. Some cities, however, have access to other types of revenue. For example, Calgary and Edmonton are receiving a road infrastructure grant based on fuel consumption in their cities.”

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?

As Mayor I believe that during this challenging time in this pandemic that if there is excess money at the end of a financial year it should be returned automatically to the taxpayers as the money received from the City is from taxpayers so it should be the taxpayers that receive the benefit through a form of rebate.

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?

Affordable housing is a major issue in this space within Calgary. There is a current proposal to convert hotel spaces into affordable housing but it requires more funding. There can also often be issues when the city attempts to build shelters or affordable housing – residents in the neighborhood can sometimes take a ‘not in my backyard’ stance. I have spoken with financial experts wherein the possible solution would be that low income people would have a different qualifying rate for mortgage with zero down payment and lower debt equity ratio to enable them to afford housing particularly the oversaturated condo market that exists. This program would be backed by CMHC and would be a viable solution to affordable housing.

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?

Research shows that the Regional Growth Plan passed at the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) level on May 23, after years of meetings, studies, and contention between urban and rural municipalities involved. The CMRB Growth Plan dictates where and how development can take place in the region. It details where employment centres are appropriate, what lands suit industrial zones, where to reserve land and how to connect these regions with transportation corridors and other servicing. Now that it's finalised and approved, the Growth and Servicing Plans are in the hands of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. As Mayor, I believe that we have to be mindful of taxpayer money and we have to live within our means. As the city sprawls the more money it takes to service (transportation, safety, health, utilities etc) so it makes logical sense to build up until the economy is resurrected and the city can afford to expand outwards.

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?

As Mayor, I believe the communities need to be heard and actively engaged in developmental changes to the community in which they live, work, learn, volunteer and play.

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?

During this challenging time of this pandemic we have to be mindful of taxpayer money. We have to live within our means. As Mayor, I support all infrastructure projects that make sense. The event centre is approaching over $600M and it has been in discussion for 2 elections now. Calgarians deserve transparency and accountability where the money is going. I believe that we need an iconic and monumental event centre that Calgarians can be proud of and that we can attract world class shows, concerts, entertainment and sports.

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 Mayor, 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 all projects that make sense. The Green Line starts at Sheppard Industrial then goes north. We need efficient and effective transportation where Calgarians will use it. The Green Line should start at South Health Hospital then go to a central station (City Hall) as most cities have a central station where it branches off to various parts of the city including the airport would be very useful. The Green Line is 20 kms and currently at $5.5B and it will take 6 years to build. We have been discussing the Green Line for the past 2 elections. As Mayor, if there is another cost overrun we will have to examine why and how these overruns are happening. Calgarians deserve transparency and accountability where the public money is going.

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?

Research shows that: Small Medium Enterprises (SME) Category: The growing opportunities for SME in Calgary should give you another reason for setting up business here. The consistent growth in the economy, investments, entrepreneurship support programs, and government grants have helped the SMEs to great extent. 28.2% of the SME entrepreneurs in Calgary are aged between 45 & 54, while 24.2% are between 35 & 44. The other interesting aspect is the fall in a number of bankrupt SMEs from 2005 to 2017. This is said to the lowest in Canada. Core Infrastructure: The core infrastructure of Calgary is energy, transportation, and logistics. You can connect with consumers, suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders within Canada, the Americas and the rest of the world. The phenomenal growth of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the year 2017 is another encouraging sign for SMEs. Now you can deploy the latest technology based gadgets and networks at highly affordable costs. Women SME: The nonprofit Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) has a significant presence in Calgary. The organization can provide a maximum financing of $150,000 for the business establishment and development. Besides, it also supports your marketing, product and service promotion, brand establishment, sustenance and expansion schemes.

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?

As Mayor I believe that government should govern and businesses run businesses. By selling underutilized ad underperforming properties would alleviate tax burden and operating expenses.

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 to defunding the police. The meaning as I understand it “Defund the police.” The phrase is as complex as it is current. ... It covers a spectrum of ideas, from redistributing a portion of police funds toward social services to abolishing the institution altogether.” As Mayor my message would be that we need to support the police in order that they can support our safety. I will take a pay cut before I defund the police or reduce funding for the police.

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

The pandemic is not a black or white matter and there are many grey areas. As Mayor I am committed to the safety of Calgarians. I am pro-democracy and believe that you take care of yourself. I believe that businesses should mandate themselves and as Mayor will be a guide to policy of ensuring Calgarians are safe.

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?

During this challenging time of this pandemic we have to live within our means and be mindful of how taxpayer money is spent. It appears that at this time this sort of expense is not necessary or logical.

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?

By far, the most pressing current issues for arts organizations in the city is COVID recovery. With theatres, live music, galleries, etc., forced closed for over a year now, arts workers and artists have been hugely impacted. The arts community has always been well organized when it comes to municipal politics and advocating for themselves. Arts organizations will always be largely concerned with the municipal budget for Calgary Arts Development, which is the main arts funding body in the city. In 2018, their budget was significantly increased by the city to bring it more in line with per capita arts funding in other Canadian cities. Having spoken with many people in the arts community I am aware that there needs to be a centralized accessible portal in order that citizens can easily find artists for their relative projects. As Mayor I believe that we should strongly support local artists. Artists/arts orgs are engaged in how arts can contribute to economic recovery and creating vibrant communities that attract businesses and tourists.

Question 19: Serving as Mayor you are elected by and responsible to all Calgarians, but some policies and government actions inherently benefit one part of the City at the expense of another. How would you deal with a situation where you feel that the best interests of some Calgarians conflict with the best interests of Calgarians in other parts of the City?

As Mayor, I believe that proper engagement of relative parties is the key to success. There is a key to every lock. There is always a solution.

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 in your local ward race and why, and if you are affiliated with any provincial or federal political parties, which ones and why?

I am not a career politician. I believe in term limits in order that we as public servants remain accountable to the citizens who we serve. I am not affiliated with any provincial or federal political parties. As Mayor I am non-partisan as I represent the people of Calgary.