Happy Canada Day, Happy Stampede and Happy Summer!
It has been an incredible eight months as your city councillor in Ward 5. I have to say we’ve had no shortage of things to improve and issues to advocate for. We’re making things happen because you have taken the time to reach out to me and my staff to let us know what you need and being a part of building better communities. I sincerely thank you for your engagement. Keep this up because this is how we move forward together!
As summer comes and all of the events and barbecues along with it, I look forward to meeting more of you in person and hearing what’s on your mind. You can always send an email to [email protected] or come up to chat if you see me at an event.
Adopt an Alley and Community Clean-Up
We heard very loudly that one of the big things to focus on in Ward 5 is keeping our neighbourhoods clean. The problem is particularly bad in our alleys, where residents regularly dump trash. In response, we worked with the City to create the Adopt An Alley project. Much like a community clean-up, a large garbage bin is brought to the alley for residents to conveniently take away larger pieces of garbage saving you time and money.
So far, this project has been an incredible success. In our first two events, volunteers filled the bins with 10 tonnes of garbage! We followed that up with another seven tonnes gathered and taken away during the annual Ward 5 clean-up on Neighbour Day, and another five tonnes on June 25. This is an amazing show of passion from our community and I’d like to say a sincere thank you to everyone who came out to chip in!
Taxi Fare Increase
In May, my council colleagues and I voted unanimously to raise Calgary’s taxi rates. Cab drivers have been impacted heavily by rising costs of fuel and insurance. It was the first time in eight years that rates have increased and they are now some of the highest paid drivers in the city, allowing this service to compete with apps like Uber. Pickups now start at $4.50 and cost 23 cents every 120 metres.
Community Safety Town Hall
On June 25, we hosted a town hall on community safety. It was an engaging and informative session featuring speakers from the Calgary Police Service, community organizations, and health care professionals. I think the key takeaway from this is if we all work together, we can create the conditions for safer neighbourhoods.
From the police perspective, they rely on us to be the eyes, ears and voice of the community. The officers said, “If we see something, say something.” You can do that without having police show up at your home. You can call Crimestoppers. You can file a report online. You can send an email to the Ward 5 office. You can even provide video from your doorbell cameras that can help them solve a case!
At a personal level, we can maintain open dialogue with our children and keep them involved in the community. We heard about parent-child connectedness: parents are the most significant person influencing children’s behaviour. Spend fun time together and meet their needs. The safest children are those who develop skills to communicate healthily with adults. If you find that they’re not comfortable talking to you, which can definitely happen with teenagers, let them know there are people at the Genesis Centre, Trellis, YMCA, Saddletowne Library, or their schools, who will listen and help.
Safety isn’t just preventing crime. It’s also emotional and mental safety. It’s having the resources available to be resilient in the face of adversity. And I learned there are a lot of resources for youth and seniors, men and women, newcomers, families, students and so on. I’ve compiled a list on my website. Look them up at www.rajyyc.ca.
Calgary’s Climate Strategy
By now, many of you will have heard that City Council debated a climate strategy at the July 5 meeting. I proudly championed the strategy because I believe Calgary should be a leader in the fight against climate change. We can’t be sitting on the sidelines. We must be part of the game!
I recognize there was a lot of concern over a potential price tag that was talked about in the news. We heard from many Calgarians that it’s too expensive, that it’ll lead to increased taxes, that fighting climate change is not the city’s responsibility, and it won’t make a difference anyway. I understand those concerns. It could be a lot of money, but the cost of inaction will far exceed the costs of these investments.
The climate strategy is not meant to be a budget. It’s the vision of where we want to go and how to build Calgary with climate change in mind. Investment will come from multiple sources, namely the federal and provincial governments, and private businesses. In fact, one of the main reasons behind declaring a climate emergency is to ensure Calgary is seen to be serious and deserving of investments. Having worked in the energy industry for a decade, I can tell you the transformation is already happening. The amount of research and development the oil producers are putting into new, clean-tech, green energy is tremendous. As a city where most of these companies are headquartered, we need to signal our support to them.
Finally, many of the strategy’s suggestions are things Ward 5 residents, and all Calgarians, are already asking for and they contribute to that investment. When the city expands CTrain service, that counts. When ENMAX buys electric utility trucks. When we plant more trees and build more green spaces. When a developer builds net zero, energy efficient homes. When you switch to a hybrid or electric car or choose to bike or walk more after we’ve built the infrastructure for it. Those all count!
So now I am working with my fellow councillors and city administration to create a robust climate action plan that we can all be proud of. We will show the world Calgary is a leader in making the energy transition and building a cleaner, more sustainable city. Ward 5 has already seen the impacts of climate change with the devastating hailstorm of 2020. As the councillor, I hope you will join me on this journey. We owe it to future generations.
Councillor Ward 5, City of Calgary