Candidate for Ward 1
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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 have over 30 years of financial experience including roles as a Branch Manager of a Credit Union, elected 2 terms as a Board of Director for Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC), was appointed a seat on the Mortgage Broker Regulatory Council of Canada (MBRCC), Financial Literacy Council, and running a successful mortgage brokerage business. I have a deep understanding of Finance as it comes to the effects on homeowners while seeing firsthand the effects of mismanagement of social services throughout other regions across Canada. My early training within the credit union system taught me the value of people and their needs and that they are not just another number. Along with the realization that every action has a reaction and we need to learn how to balance the scales to make a stable environment.
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?
The biggest issue in the Ward is the constituents don’t feel like their voices are being heard, decisions are being made at council with very little to no input from wards on projects that affect their communities. I will always put the interest of the community first while working with them to try and find a reasonable solution that satisfies all parties. This is our backyard, and we need to make sure the decisions we make are logical and common sense for everyone it is affecting.
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 a municipal government is to provide the following services. Building Permits and Zoning Water and Sewer Services City Parks and Recreation Roads and Sidewalks Public Transportation Libraries Local Police Fire Rescue Service Garbage and Recycling Snow Removal Animal Control I believe our city is trying to get involved in politics outside the scope of their responsibility and we need to get our focus back. By taking care of these basic services, we will have a happier tax base which in return, will attract outside investors and population growth.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
I believe the taxes Calgarians pay should be maintained. Comparing to the other major cities across Canada, Calgarians pay a reasonable amount of taxes that will allow the city to operate and provide services efficiently. However, the way these taxes are spent needs to be adjusted to reflect the needs of Calgarians.
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, the city will need to increase spending equivalent to the rate of inflation and population growth. This is because as inflation occurs, the services the city provides in turn will become more expensive. If the city spends at a rate equivalent to inflation, it will allow for the same services to be provided consistently to all Calgarians.
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?
Yes, I would support the introduction of City Charters, but only as a means to lower or maintain residential property taxes. If given this taxation power, the municipal government should be subjected to a dual approval which would involve both civic and provincial approval prior to implementation.
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?
Neither, the city is approximately $2.8 Billion in debt, every chance we get we should be looking at reducing this as bond rates won’t remain low forever.
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 to me is providing a path that helps residents of our community who need temporary assistance. Allowing those who are just getting by and struggling, to climb back up. Thus, reducing the stress of perhaps choosing between rent and putting food on the table for their family. When it comes to subsidizing housing for all low-income earners, I think there are better ways of helping them such as rent control. This would prevent landlords from subsequently creating large increases on a tenant or not renewing a tenant’s lease in order to raise the rent on the property. We would set a maximum rent increase allowed each year unless major renovations have been done to improve the property that would justify a larger increase. The actual increase amount would be determined each year using the previous years inflation rate as a basis to set the percentage. This will help tenants feel more confident when planning their future while giving landlords the ability to offset rising costs.
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?
Calgary has too many developments in process at this time, we need to stop and assess the needs of the area prior to approving any new developments until the current projects are over 70% sold. We currently have over 2000 vacant homes for sale in the city which creates an unstable market, especially when we continue to add to the inventory. Limiting new builds will not affect housing affordability as house prices are determined by an open market value. Essentially, we can try to assess a value on a home, but we truly do not know its value until it hits an open market. We also have to look at overall consumer drive, home prices will always continue to rise as long as there is a push, once the consumer hits that threshold that they’re not comfortable with, this will automatically stall the growth of the market.
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?
We need to think very carefully prior to making any changes to an existing community and not move forward with any projects without consultation from the actual stakeholders the residents. Community growth should always be determined by market demand, we currently have enough developments on the go to last through the next 4 years.
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?
Based on the current bond rates and the ability to grab stimulus money from the other two levels of government. This will have a positive effect on our economy not only now but in the future with the creation of permanent employment. It would be hard press to just have one project, if possible, I think I would lobby to have a discussion with the arena stakeholders to see if we could revamp the deal that would see tax incentives over the next 10 years to offset the $305M investment, which would free up enough funds to complete two of the other 3 projects.
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 a Green Line LRT, with changes to how we connect through downtown. I feel if we tie into the existing infrastructure, we could free up enough funds to reach both ends of the city. There are two points on this one, it seems like an unnecessary cost to build a tunnel when we can tie into an existing track or have a transfer station. Second not to take away the enormous cost of going underground, most passengers enjoy daylight and the visuals the train has while being above ground. Creating happier passengers and safer transportation.
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?
When attracting new business, we should look at offering tax incentives to new businesses but let me be clear this is not a handout. We would create a plan that would see tax rebates back to corporations that move either their head offices or regional offices to our downtown. Rebates would be based on a few different conditions such as square footage of office spaced occupied, the number of employees and the number of new employments created as an example. These rebates would last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Keep in mind this is revenue we were not receiving prior to offering this deal so all revenue even with a rebate is growth.
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?
We should look at creating a bidding system that would see the public sector and private sector bid on the same projects. This would include golf, garbage, and other services. By doing this we can make every reasonable effort to keep public services intact. I want to state that the basis of this project is not to pick the lowest cost but the best overall scenario for our city, thus we will not compromise service while maintaining reasonable costs.
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, I don't support defunding the police. With the increase in crime and vandalism in our neighbourhoods, we need to find ways to free up police services while staying within a budget. I would work with the police department and see if we can create a plan that will see either Cadets or Peace Officers handling traffic control, situations such as; when we send police out to help visualize a tow truck, direct traffic at a non-severe traffic accident or even when road crews need support at night. This will free up valuable time to have our police more visible in the communities which will help reduce/prevent crime. I do believe we need to find new funds to increase social services, which will eventually help reduce the total cost of policing. We need better public engagement with our police, we need to have them become a part of our communities and not only when we need them but to become intertwined within the fabrics of the community. Although we can’t correct the past, we can work with our police services and the local communities to find ways to correct injustices.
Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
This is a legal question for the lawyers that are staffed by the City, I do support the concept that we should all do our part to keep our fellow citizens safe and our economy going. As well as the continued encouragement for all to get fully Vaccinated.
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?
I believe the reduction from 50km/h to 40 km/h meets the needs of today’s residential streets. I would like to go one step further and have the removal of the 30 km/h speed limit in playground zones as this causes a greater distraction than prevention.
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?
Art has shown to add positivity to our day-to-day routines, my concern is not the Art itself but rather the process of vetting the project. If we were to hold a competition for students across Calgary, this would allow for a wider local perspective of Calgary, providing a bigger arrangement of ideas and designs. The city can then award scholarships to the top designs and showcase the best throughout our city. This would save funds, be more effective and will strengthen our economy by giving back to our talented local artists while helping them build their own personal portfolios. With this approach, we would be growing a relationship with these artists to achieve a more consistent and beautiful Calgary.
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?
My first responsibility will always be to my local constituents, I will always do everything in my power to put the needs and interest of Ward 1 first. As every situation is not the same I would exhaust all options to try and find a resolution that suits the needs of both parties. While leaning on the voices of my community for their input on projects that will affect them negatively, there is always a solution to every problem sometimes we just need to work a little harder.
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?
I would like to start with I have no affiliation with any group, political or third-party interest groups. I am truly an independent doing this for the good of my fellow constituents. If the election was held today, I would look for a person that has a strong business background for a city especially one of our size that is equivalent to a large corporation has a lot of moving parts. We need people in our government that have the experience of running large corporations, this will help us in revitalizing downtown while also getting our costs under control. A good leader will know how to get good value out of your dollar without cutting services or increasing taxes.