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JYOTI'S PRIORITIES

THE NORTH IS RISING.     I AM YOUR VOICE.     ARE YOU READY?

Mobirise

PRIORITY #1: ENSURE THE NEEDS OF WARD 3 COMMUNITIES ARE NOT OVERLOOKED

Our ward is diverse. It is comprised of established communities, as well as others that are newly emerging. We have a variety of people, housing, neighbourhoods and jobs that form an amazing place to call home.

For too long, however, many members of City Council have perceived Ward 3 as a cookie-cutter suburban community. This is a flawed perception that has led to decision-making that does not effectively serve the real day-to-day lives of Ward 3 residents and communities.

Your Ward 3 representative needs to be able to effectively articulate the realities of north central Calgary to other members of City Council. Ward 3 needs a leader that can sound the alarm on the impact of critical infrastructure shortcomings, and take action on the needs of our communities. 

North Central LRT

The proposed Stage 1 of the Green Line shortchanges Ward 3. North central Calgary has proven ridership that deserves an upgrade from bus service to LRT sooner rather than later. I will fight to secure further funding and ensure construction of the Green Line does not stop at 16th Avenue NW.

Vivo (formerly Cardel Place)

While Calgary City Council approved the construction of four state-of-the-art recreation centres in other parts of the city at a cost of almost half a billion dollars, the needs of north central residents at Vivo have been ignored. This facility has been bursting at the seams for years, resulting in less children, seniors and families in Ward 3 who can participate in recreational activity close to home. I will continue to fight for the long overdue investment in the expansion of Vivo.

Schools

The inability to prioritize the role of the City of Calgary in establishing school sites and the lack of creativity in funding methods for building schools has resulted in multiple generations of students facing long commutes for basic education. While the school boards and provincial government have a big role to play in delivery of educational programming to students, it should be the City of Calgary that leads in establishing school locations, as well as innovative partnerships to fund construction much earlier in a community’s existence. Schools must be the hub around which communities are planned and built. Instead of telling you that schools are not part of the city government’s mandate, I will be your champion at Council to fight for new approaches to delivering schools in our communities.

Mobirise

PRIORITY #2: SMARTER MODELS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE

The traditional model of creating infrastructure in Canadian cities is to patch together funding from property taxes at the municipal level, and then beg for matched funds from provincial and federal governments. We receive money when it is politically convenient for politicians at the other levels of government. Here’s the problem: regardless of the level of government that provides funding to the city, it’s ultimately your money as taxpayers. It makes planning for our future needs difficult, and it’s not working.

Here are a few ways that we can address the Ward 3 priorities (Green Line, Vivo and Schools) through new thinking around funding infrastructure: 

Green Line

We must create, execute and expedite a plan to acquire the necessary properties in the proposed LRT right-of-way along Centre Street. I will also fight to secure a location for the LRT storage and maintenance facility, including exploring new options that may exist in the Livingston and Carrington area.

To continue the construction north of 16th Avenue beyond Stage 1, we must think outside the box for additional funding. I will advance innovative funding mechanisms as an alternative to the ineffective current system of waiting for matching grants. 

  • I will make the argument for keeping a greater percentage of the property tax the City of Calgary collects (currently the Government of Alberta takes 40%) and dedicate it specifically to the north extension of Green Line.
  • I will challenge the federal government to return of a percentage of GST or income tax collected in Calgary for a set period of time while the north extension of the Green Line is being planned and constructed.

Vivo

Vivo has been a valued partner of the City of Calgary for over a decade, yet the much-needed expansion on this undersized facility has not been approved. The argument from each level of government is that they are waiting for other levels to commit funds first. Instead of this circular argument, Ward 3 would be better served by some innovation. 

  • I will push to establish a Community Revitalization Levy (much like the one used for the redevelopment of Calgary’s East Village) for a set period of time that would capture the increased value of lands north of Stoney Trail as Livingston and Carrington are developed.

Schools

We must create, execute and expedite a plan to acquire the necessary properties in the proposed LRT right-of-way along Centre Street. I will also fight to secure a location for the LRT storage and maintenance facility, including exploring new options that may exist in the Livingston and Carrington area.

To continue the construction north of 16th Avenue beyond Stage 1, we must think outside the box for additional funding. I will advance innovative funding mechanisms as an alternative to the ineffective current system of waiting for matching grants. 

  • The City of Calgary has a responsibility to take the lead in establishing school sites as a community is being planned, while accepting feedback from school boards and province.
  • City Administration needs to work with land developers to identify optimal sites where school uses can be combined with other important and secure services (like fire halls, seniors care facilities or recreation centres).
  • Schools can be built under an agreement where full or up-front construction costs are covered by the developer, with expedited approval processes, offsets, or reimbursement over time.
  • We must also review underserved established communities (like those in Ward 3) and identify existing empty school or community association sites that could be used to create combined use projects with a school as the hub.
Mobirise

PRIORITY #3: FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY

Rebuilding Calgary’s economy will not be an easy task, nor will it be accomplished overnight. Collective action and collaboration is needed to help Calgary rebound from this disruption and secure our economic future. It’s going to take cooperation between the private, public and social sectors. And we’ll need to check our egos at the door. There’s no single person or organization to blame for the downturn, so let’s stop trying to take individual credit for the ideas that can improve our economic situation.

City Council’s approach to our economic reality must reflect what most of us have been doing at home: assessing our income and expenses, making changes to our habits, and accepting that it is time to tighten our belts. That doesn’t mean we can’t be forward focused and optimistic. We just have to plan for our future in a way that includes restraint in the present.

There are some important steps we need to take, together, to show ourselves and the world that Calgary has not been and will not be defeated: 

  • Change our property tax assessment system. For too many years, it has been based on market evaluations. If we hope to be a progressive city, it’s time to evaluate how property taxes can be better assessed and managed through an examination of what works in other places.
  • Fix our non-residential property tax system. The Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program was created to soften the blow of property tax increases for business in 2017. There are multiple steps in the calculation for eligibility, which is often not easy to understand. In reality, this program is extremely complicated and quite often results in absolutely no benefit to those businesses in areas like Ward 3 who need it the most.
  • Accelerate “zero based” departmental reviews to realize better and more efficient services across the City of Calgary. In plain language, have all departments conduct an assessment of current needs and projects, drafting a realistic budget that is right for the times. Stop the practice of regenerating the same budgets year after year without a review of current needs and potential cost savings through partnerships, technology and/or innovative practices that have been proven in other cities.
  • Loosen unnecessary restrictions on land use. One of the biggest reasons for lack of diversity in business districts – both downtown and other parts of the city – is the restrictive nature of our land use processes. Land use and zoning regulations are often created to keep uses apart, resulting in districts where you can only shop or eat or access professional services. In reality, we need spaces where many of those things can be done in one trip.
  • Leverage our universities and colleges. With multiple post-secondary institutions in Calgary, there is an opportunity to partner with research experts and students to conduct many of the studies that are currently being assigned to City Administration. The ability to collaborate on research to produce great results should be a priority, delivering results in a more efficient manner and allowing administrators to focus on other tasks.
  • Invite financial experts to our city to show them the true diversity of our business sector. Many eastern Canadian and US companies are hesitant to invest in Calgary because they have never been here or interacted with our business community. We need to dispel the myths about our city and start the process of establishing faith in our future.
  • Identify leaders in the business community who can accompany Calgary Economic Development representatives to other cities where we are pitching Calgary as an ideal head office, franchise or craft market location. Companies and entrepreneurs are more likely to relocate after speaking with someone who shares their experiences.
Mobirise

PRIORITY #4: A COMPASSIONATE CITY

Let's build a safe and caring city for all of us.

There are many aspects of governing a city that are tangible and can be measured with numbers. That’s why we tend to focus on things like budgets, employment statistics and population changes. These are all critical elements of creating great cities. However, it’s sometimes attention to the less tangible social issues that can have the greatest impact to both the average citizen and the most vulnerable amongst us.

Federal and provincial governments are typically the ones that set social policy, leaving it to municipalities to figure out the ways that each policy will work in reality. This includes their grand promises about affordable housing and access to healthcare for physical and mental wellness. The reality is that their policies don’t always translate into practical ways to deliver services, nor do they come with the funding that cities like Calgary need to take care of our residents.

For that reason, I’ll ensure that our focus on Calgary’s future includes these key elements:  

  • Each of us deserves a roof over our heads. We need to do a better job of creating and managing both market and non-market housing. As one of the founding members of the Community Housing Affordability Collective (CHAC), I have learned that the step between leaving social housing and entering market housing is the most difficult to bridge. This results in people staying in the support system when an innovative method of financing, a damage deposit, or down payment would see them gain independent housing. Calgary needs to be a leader, working between public/social/private sectors to provide housing solutions funded by the provincial and federal governments.
  • We cannot wait to address the opioid/fentanyl crisis. Calgarians are dying from accidental overdoses. Our police, fire and emergency services front line workers are urging us to take action. Our health care workers are telling us it can happen anywhere. We are witnessing people of all ages, social backgrounds and income brackets falling victim to addiction. Desperation in times of economic or mental crisis can lead people to do things otherwise unimaginable. Our increased crime rates are a reflection of this situation. Creating spaces where people suffering addiction can be treated, and stopping the channels of fentanyl into our city, will reduce the financial burden on our healthcare system, as well as helping families in getting loved ones through their pain.
  • Physical and mental wellness of Calgarians requires facilities in communities all across the city. North central Calgary has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. Yet, we are missing a major health care facility and do not have a social services hub. For those who can drive, it takes about 20 minutes to access urgent care. Those who rely on public transit must rely on multiple connections to get care. As Ward 3 Councillor, it will be a priority to bring provincial and federal funding to our community for a healthcare hub.

Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek    |    Calgary