Candidate for Ward 11
Rob has lived in Ward 11 for over 10 years and Calgary for more than 30 years. He has seen the ups and downs of both Calgary and our economy, and believes this is a crucial election that will decide the direction of our city. Rob knows that now, more than ever, fiscal responsibility, common sense, and collaboration among all stakeholders is needed to help our city flourish once again.
In speaking with thousands of residents in Ward 11 already, Rob has heard the same common concerns: we need better value for our tax dollars, and we need better core services delivery. Snow Removal, road repairs, police/fire/ems. These are the services most important to residents and Rob will focus on them. Rob is running for one reason: he wants to see better for our city. Unlike other candidates, Rob is not affiliated with any political parties, special interest groups, unions, and he is not a part of a slate of candidates put up for election by campaigns or groups.
As a business owner himself who works with other businesses, Rob has seen firsthand the struggles our local economy is facing. He has the education, experience, and drive to find solutions that will help our local businesses and residents come out of this challenging time stronger than ever.
Rob knows that a culture change is needed at City Hall. Calgary is full of intelligent, innovative, and passionate people who have great ideas on how to not only make our city services better, but more cost effective. All they need is someone willing to listen to them and champion their ideas. We are being told that there are no ways to find efficiencies and offer better value to the taxpayer. Rob knows that is simply not true. We are capable of better, and we must do better. Rob wants to be part of that positive culture change at City Hall.
By voting for Rob Ward you are voting for change and a new way of doing things at City Hall. You are voting for collaborative work to find the most cost efficient and best ways to deliver core services to citizens. You are voting to eliminate wasteful spending on pet projects that deliver no value to residents. You are voting for someone who is working for YOU – not a political party, special interest group, union, or a group of other candidates.
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 began my education at SAIT where I took computer engineering. I then transitioned into the Business Management program where I obtained a diploma and degree in Business Management with a major in marketing. Out of school I worked as a financial analyst and business development analyst. I worked mainly in competitor analysis, analyzing quarterly results from competitors and comparing them to our own. I also worked alongside our legal team on international tender bids. This has given me strong experience in both financial and legal analysis. I currently have my own IT/Marketing company that works primarily with local small businesses. My business has given me the opportunity to work with business owners across a diverse range of industries. Working with these businesses I have seen firsthand how difficult it can be to do business in Calgary. I know the challenges, and I know what changes need to be made to make Calgary business friendly. Our local businesses hire our people, pay into our tax pool, and support local causes.
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?
After speaking with thousands of residents the same issues come up: basic infrastructure, taxes, and safety. Snow removal, pothole repairs, deteriorating sidewalks, and safety in our communities are major concerns. We aren't nailing our most basic of services, but we are spending like we have. We need to focus and reprioritize our spending to ensure these basic and expected services are being done properly before spending on major projects. I always say, "pay your bills before you go on vacation".
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?
As stated in my previous answer, the municipal government is expected to take care of basic services such as basic infrastructure, police, and fire. The city needs to get out of the business of being in business. For example, our golf courses that have packed tee sheets (sold out) are losing us money. That is not a well-run business and should be passed off to be run privately. Citizens expect the city to take care of the basics. The city needs to focus on the basics and nail those first.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
Property taxes are too high for the value we receive, especially for small businesses. I have seen small businesses I work with's tax rates explode. This is not encouraging business in Calgary and it is not attracting new businesses to come here. Again, we aren't even nailed our basic services. Residents and businesses feel that for the tax they pay, the very basics should be taken care of properly.
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?
Less in absolute terms. Many companies in our city have had to tighten their belts during this downturn. Increasing spending would mean higher tax rates for residents and businesses that are already struggling. Over 40% of residents have either lost their income completely or taken a pay cut during the pandemic, it's time for the city to adjust accordingly and give residents and businesses a break. If we can't hold the tax rate during a pandemic, will we ever? This needs to change.
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?
No. Now is not the time to find new ways to tax residents or businesses. As I stated above, now is the time to find ways to hold the tax rate and give people a much-needed break when they are struggling the most.
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 should be returned to the taxpayers after a portion is held for contingencies. You always want to have a contingency fund in case of unexpected costs, but this should be a reasonable amount with excess being 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?
Both. The market dictates pricing. Right now Calgary has a low supply of housing, thus the pricing is high. Development processes hinder the ability to build affordable housing quickly. This time hindrance results in higher costs for housing which makes homes less affordable in Calgary while also having a supply deficit. Make building affordable homes quicker and easier to ensure costs stay low.
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 always say, let the market decide. New communities are being built and people are buying. I understand that there are costs associated with these new communities so we need to ensure capital expenses are covered when planning and building new communities. The pandemic has made people want their own home with a backyard and space more than ever, so let's ensure there is market supply available.
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?
Market Demand. People like to have a backyard with space. I have yet to meet someone who is completely opposed to densification, they just want to be consulted with, heard, and have their opinion and input matter. City Council did not properly consult with residents with the Guidebook and this was shown by a record two days of call-ins from residents to Council. We need to stop the top-down approach from City Hall where they tell residents how their community will change rather than the community telling the city how they would like to see to their community change. Council is not listening to residents. We need to listen to residents and gain their acceptance on development to ensure a strong, and happy community.
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?
If these projects put the city into a position where they need to raise taxes to fund them, this was not the right move. Now is not the time to spending on large projects when so many residents and businesses have been hit so hard. If I had to choose one it would be the Event Centre since the money is coming back to the city.
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 would have liked to see a line from the airport to downtown first. Any world-class city has transit access from the airport to downtown. I would want to see a guaranteed delivery date and cost guarantee on tender bids. If a company cannot guarantee dates and costs, how confident are we in the project? If these conditions cannot be met I think the project needs to be re-evaluated to ensure the project stays on budget.
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?
Lower tax rates for businesses. We just lost 4 dealerships to Tsuut'ina Nation due to our high tax rates and unpredictable future in regards to tax rates. Businesses are looking for certainty and risk mitigation when deciding to plant roots in Calgary. Look at it this way, would you sign a mortgage if you didn't know the rate? Why would a business start here if they didn't know the tax rate and where it may go. We need to provide confidence and stability for businesses here in Calgary.
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?
The city has proven it cannot operate golf courses properly. Maple Ridge has a booked tee sheet nearly every day, yet it still is in the red. If a business is selling out of product every day (tee times) but still loses money, you would say that is a bad business model and the business would close. The courses need to be privatized and run properly to maximize profits. I would not sell them off for fear of redevelopment. I will never sell a green space to a developer. Waste will be doing a privatization pilot project in the new year. I will be watching this closely to see if the same or better service is provided at a lower cost. If so, I would be in favour of privatization.
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?
I would not defund the police, I would allocate resources properly to ensure the best person is going to each call. Police are not mental health experts. We need to send social workers into situations where there is a mental health crisis so police can do what they do best: fight and investigate crime. The Police Chief is on board with this idea as well. There are bad apples in every organization. I would want to see CPS ensure there is a process in place to report incidents without fear of repercussion to an employee. Most incidents go unreported due to fear of backlash to the reporter, we need to ensure they feel safe/protected when reporting issues.
Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
I am vaccinated, I encourage others to do so. There are some very legitimate concerns for some people about the vaccine. For example: I met a nurse who has leukaemia and both she and her doctor are unsure if the vaccine will conflict with her medications/treatments. This is a legitimate concern, so forcing a vaccine on someone like this is very wrong in my opinion.
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?
In Ward 11 just 5 of 38 pedestrian collision locations in 2019 will now be 40km/hr. Just 13%. The city has estimated implementation costs of up to $716.6 million dollars on further traffic calming and signage for this change in the future. They also plan to make residential streets 30, and collect roads 40. Approximately 20-30% of pedestrian collisions are due to distracted driving, I would like to see a stronger focus on this.
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?
I am opposed to public funds being used for art. We have many local aspiring artists who would love the opportunity to build their careers with a local art project. I have proposed utilizing new grad artists to design pieces for local communities that are relevant to the community itself. These projects could be sponsored by local residents or businesses in the community. This would give the business a chance to show that they care about the local community. This would be a mutual benefit for the artist, business, and taxpayers since the cost to them would be zero.
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 would always prioritize my local constituents. They are who elected me and I promise to serve them when elected.
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?
One of my campaign fundamentals is independent integrity. I am not affiliated with any political parties, unions, special interest groups, or other candidates. City Council is meant to be non-partisan and I intend to ensure that I uphold that. I am a fiscal conservative at heart and I will always ensure our dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible. Whoever wins, I am ready to work with them to best serve the residents of our city.