There are few things more humbling than a re-election campaign, especially for an incumbent. I ran on my track record as your local representative for the last 7 years. What I was offering to residents of Ward 12 was my same dedication and passion for the priorities that I have been fighting for since 2010.
I was humbled that an overwhelming majority – 73% – of Ward 12 voters agreed with my approach. I’m thrilled to be returning to represent Ward 12 for another 4 years – I’m back because I’m committed to finishing what we started. Reflecting on the past is easy, setting a plan for the future is more difficult. As part of my commitment to Ward 12 I have identified three key priorities that I want to work towards over the next 4 years:
- Green Line LRT (shocking, right?)
We have made so much progress on this project over the last few years. We can now point to a firm date on a calendar and know when LRT is going to come to southeast Calgary. But we cannot stop there. We need to finish what we started. I am looking to maximize value for Stage 1 of the project and stretch the line further within the initial funding envelope. Currently the line will terminate at 126th Ave SE, but I feel through procurement and contracting efficiency we can find an additional $300M to get us to McKenzie Towne Station. McKenzie Towne Station would provide direct access for folks that live in McKenzie Towne, New Brighton and Copperfield.
We also need to get moving on the next stages of the project. That means agreeing on future stages, acquiring the remaining land along the alignment and bringing additional funding to the table. I am already working on a few ideas to get more funding to the table, and I will be presenting these ideas to my Council colleagues soon. Additional local funding to the project would go a long way to attract more investments from other orders of government. If we can get additional funding on-line soon, I believe subsequent stages of the Green Line could be under construction concurrently with Stage 1. In that scenario we could see a tentative opening of Stage 2 and beyond within a few years of Stage 1 opening in 2026.
- Community Safety
I see two key issues that need to be managed with respect to community safety:
First, we need to address local crime in our communities. I do not believe that we have a significant community crime issue in Ward 12 – Calgary Police Service (CPS) statistics back that up. But collectively we can do more to make our communities safer. My staff and I attend monthly Community Association meetings throughout the Ward. At these meetings a Community Resource Officer from CPS will give an overview of crime in the community. The common trend with all of these reports? The vast majority of crimes in our communities are preventable. Criminals are targeting unlocked vehicles or vehicles with items in plain sight. Administration and CPS need to keep communicating with residents to ensure that crime is not being invited into their communities. Simple things like locking doors or having motion detecting lights in an alleyway can go a long way to keeping our communities safer.
Second, we need to ensure that our community streets are safe for everyone. Street safety is far and away the #1 concern my office hears about from residents. Over the last decade we have seen an influx of young families look to Ward 12 as a great place to raise a family. This has been complimented through numerous new school openings in our fast growing communities. Ultimately growth has been positive for southeast Calgary, but it has also exposed a number of conflict points between pedestrians and vehicles. If we want to keep our communities safe for everyone we need to ensure we have the right pedestrian infrastructure in place and that we are getting enforcement into the right areas. During my last term I initiated the creation of a Residential Traffic Safety Strategy. Through this program we are bringing communities together with CPS and City transportation engineers to work towards solutions to some of the issues in our communities. This program needs to continue and we need to lean on expertise from within our communities to ensure everyone gets to where they are going safely.
- Value for your tax dollars.
This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but I believe it is the lens that your elected officials should be viewing the issues through. Value for money means finding a balance. Are we achieving the best possible service delivery with the resources that we have? Is our tax burden appropriate and is there a positive return on your tax dollar investment?
Council sets a budget for a four-year cycle. The last budget was created during a very difficult economic time in Calgary. Council needs to be prepared to sharpen our pencils and make some tough choices to make a budget for the economic circumstances currently facing Calgary. That means asking the public sector and our municipal partners to play their part as Calgary enters a period of fragile economic recovery. That also means having a frank conversation on what our core responsibilities are as a local government. Many of these decisions won’t be easy. My office hears from Calgarians every day that want to see more transit service, more park maintenance and more resources for snow and ice clearing. The real challenge for Council will be finding ways to improve our level of essential service delivery without automatically resorting to increasing our revenues.
I’m a results driven person, and I believe that is reflected in my track record as your Councillor over the last 7 years – and I want to continue pushing for positive results for our communities over the next 4 years. We have a lot to get done, so let’s get to it!