Transportation is a hot topic with priorities and focus varying from neighborhood to neighbourhood.
I am a multi-modal user. I drive, walk, bike, and take transit. This informs my perspective and I feel it brings a balance to the conversation that may not exist in other candidates.
The coles notes version of this blog post is that I support investment into Calgary Transit and the City’s 5A Network “Always Available for All Ages & Abilities”. A city which supports non auto-oriented networks ensures Calgary residents can navigate their neighborhoods safely and cost-effectively year round.
WALKING AND CYCLING
The 5A network recognizes that Calgarians are actively needing and choosing different modes of transportation to navigate our city. This includes separated cycle tracks along with sidewalk and pathway improvements.
What does improving the 5A network look like in Ward 11 neighborhoods?
Ward 11 has three transit stations, two BRT lines, and countless other bus routes. The Green Line will also be on the east edge of the ward with two stations. We have the opportunity to lead transit ridership in the city. To do this, our service must be responsive to ridership.
I haven’t forgotten about you auto-users. I want to assure you that investment into transit and bike lanes does not directly compete with investment in roads. We need roads for emergency services, transit, and to support ride-sharing, for-hire rides, and
I have experienced and know that snow clearing after major events needs to evolve to better support entry and exit from neighborhoods.
There are routes which are frequented by accidents (Crowchild south before Glenmore anyone?) which need traffic pattern reviews.
As a result of sprawl, road volume has increased and so traffic noise is affecting neighbourhoods more. Sound walls need to be life-cycled to improve quality of life for adjacent residents.
Calgary will always have a mix of transportation options. As demographics and priorities shift amongst residents, the City needs to adjust our deliverables to meet the needs of users. I believe all systems can complement each other, not compete. With a shift in mindset towards giving people viable options to travel for school, work, or leisure, we build a city which is inclusive and equitable.
Recently the Calgary Climate Hub surveyed Calgarians across the city on their sentiments about climate change and the need to act in Calgary. The full data set is available here.
A few highlights:
So, how can Calgary become a leader and what issues do we need to address immediately to help move us forward to ensure we have resilient measures against the effects of climate change? We start by listening to the experts, both on staff with the City and those who are leaders in their field and in communities. I will continue to learn about what Calgary can do, here are a few of my priority areas, in short form. Please feel free to follow up for a more in depth conversation.
Forward-thinking cities attract the best companies and the best talent. For Calgary to prosper we cannot ignore how our climate action must be part of our economic recovery. I also know I’ve likely got 40-50 years left on this planet and I want to be able to enjoy our city with clean air and fresh water for all of those years.
At the same time I was actively volunteering as President of the Haysboro Community Association and was on multiple working groups with the City of Calgary around growth and change in established neighbourhoods. I sat on those committees not because I was pro-density but because I am pro-community. Being pro-community meant advocating for plain language, clarity on definitions and descriptions, and supporting a vision which focused on community amenities, parks, green spaces, and expectations alongside growth and change.
I also wrote an op-ed for Live Wire a while back. I acknowledge that currently detached dwellings are outpacing condo sales and that covid has caused a shift in how and where we want to live. I would take this moment to advocate for denser housing with three or four bedrooms. This can include apartments, condos, and row-housing.
One thing I heard from candidates over and over this election cycle is the jargon of the ‘single-family’ neighbourhood. Ward 11 has 27 communities. Three of those have exclusively detached dwellings (Bel Aire, Mayfair, and Meadowlark Park). City wide those three communities are also an anomaly. Neighbourhoods aren’t defined by housing type. Communities have a boundary in which 89% of Ward 11 communities include a spectrum of housing. When we talk about ‘single-family (detached) neighbourhoods’ in exclusion of attached housing we do ourselves a disservice. That language is exclusionary and belittling of neighbours who for whatever reason live in housing that is not single detached.
Below are four photos of Palliser, showing a variety of housing type within a two block radius. Some existing Ward 11 neighbourhoods have done a good job mixing uses, like Palliser, Windsor Park, and Kingsland. These are good examples to model and use as a starting point for neighbourhoods to understand that multiple housing types can co-exist in the same neighbourhood and the sense of community isn't negatively affected.
I have met a great number of good people in the past ten years doing incredible work building community in Ward 11 and across Calgary. This spirit and energy is what we need more of. Good neighbours are not defined by their stage of life, income, or living situation. There are active and engaged people in all types of housing. I have yet to hear on the doors that housing type is the number one thing people love about their neighbourhood. I hear parks, schools, and people.
Calgary cannot continue to grow exclusively on the edges of our city. It is not an affordable or sustainable version of a city. The most fiscally responsible and best use of our tax dollars is to place more people near the infrastructure that already exists - transit, recreation, schools, emergency services, parks.
I want to work with communities through their growth and development. I want to have honest conversations about which areas of neighborhoods are most likely to absorb a change in zoning and housing type due to factors such as proximity to transit, parks, as well as market value. The city has actively worked to provide a framework for this conversation (Guide to Local Area Planning) and has committed to working with communities through the Local Area Plan process.
The Guide also has direction for transit oriented development, light industrial, and commercial planning. Ward 11 has all of these in our communities and we can take advantage of best practices to support a revitalization of our city to benefit the build out of Ward 11 as part of the overall growth goals for Calgary. There are empty and dead sites in Ward 11 which should be prioritized for development. Development will come in time as we continue to grow in population adding new residents to the city and as we see economic recovery or stabilization.
I want to support communities in providing affordable and appropriate housing for all stages of life. I want seniors to be able to age in place which may mean their neighbourhood, not their house, so they have a familiarity of services. I want children to be able to walk to neighborhood schools because the population can support operations.
Ward 11 has a choice. We can work with the process of change to shape our communities thoughtfully in a way which benefits residents, asking for delivery of amenities, services, and programs which foster community. Or we can resist and lose out on the opportunity to build relationships with local businesses and new neighbours. We will lose out to communities willing to accept the change. I don’t want this for Ward 11. I want our schools to be full, our playgrounds to be replaced, our sidewalks and intersections to be repaired. I want to protect a high level of service for our parks, snow clearing, transit service, and emergency services.
Raised in Calgary, I choose to stay here and raise my family here as well. Part of that has been driven by continued opportunities to work and volunteer in the city, part of it is driven by proximity to family and friends, and much of it is that Calgary affords me a lifestyle I appreciate. From the proximity to the mountains to our beautiful parks and friendly spirit, Calgary fits.
I've called a few communities home over the years, with my elementary school days in Deer Ridge, and later my mom, brother, and myself found ourselves settled in Haysboro. I did the inner city-living along with some condo dwelling throughout university and early full-time gigs in neighbourhoods like Sunalta, Kensington, and Glamorgan. Eventually I found myself back in Ward 11 in the neighbourhood of Haysboro with my young family. Through life changes, I’ve found myself in Garrison Green (also in Ward 11), exploring a new community and meeting new neighbours.
Growing up we were raised by my mom, with my dad living in Edmonton. He was around but it was her example we saw day in and day out. She was always volunteering at school, for our team sports, and was the ringleader for spirit days at her work. As a nurse she has shaped my vision of commitment to care, she still works casually to support the system during covid although she is technically retired. This is her reminder - get vaccinated!
I read more than watch tv. I like my two cups of coffee every morning. I really like shoes (but the comfy cool casual sneaker kind). I’m a horrible singer. My favourite food is potatoes (in pretty much any form), and I would eat vanilla ice cream for dessert every day.
Next week I will tell you more about my experience through volunteering and work, and how that has given me the foundation to be an excellent councillor for ward 11.
Ward 11 as a whole is amenity rich. Pathways, recreation centres and pools, athletic facilities and arenas, libraries, and transit. Ward 11 also has great access to major roads and shopping centres. We have a hospital and a good number of schools
Like much of the city built between the 60s and 90s, Ward 11 communities are experiencing a shift in their makeup. As councillor, my goal is to support neighbourhoods through shifts in neighbourhood populations, development changes, business cycles, and our civic infrastructure requirements.
Calgary has large opportunities and challenges in our next 20-30 years. Revitalizing the downtown core, bringing needed economic diversification, and working towards climate mitigation measures. I want to ensure that while we tackle these issues we continue to focus as well on the need of protecting community infrastructure and devising ways to bring more investment back into established neighbourhoods.
I've written previous blog posts about making Calgary a city that supports neighbourhoods across seasons, ages, and explores how we can encourage small businesses in our parks.
I want Ward 11 to be full of neighbourhoods where families see a future. This means playgrounds and green spaces to play, neighbourhood schools remaining open, and recreation programming which supports a sense of community. I also want communities to be multi-generational and accessible, meaning neighbourhoods need to be designed for seniors to age in place and those with physical impairments can navigate our communities. At both ends of the age spectrum and for those with disabilities, neighbourhood design looks similar - curb cuts at road crossings, well marked crosswalks, snow clearing at transit stations and bus stops, clean transit stations, and well lit roads and sidewalks to name a few. A spectrum of civic services hosted in buildings kept in good repair is critical to serving residents.
We can support neighbourhoods in the following ways:
A few major upgrades I would like to champion:
Within neighborhoods the following upgrades need to be prioritized:
Ward 11 needs an advocate at city hall. I am invested in bringing improvements to our neighbourhoods.
I will look into hosting office hours at community associations so travel to downtown isn’t required.
I understand that travelling to and from the core, by transit, bike, or car, isn’t feasible for some due to time, funds, or lifestyle constraints. My goal is to partner with community associations and other organizations to hold office hours in neighbourhoods.
I will build a family friendly office - toys, colouring, or maybe your teen has something they want to talk about, my office door is open to all ages.
I’ve been that parent. The one whose child care falls through but still wants to attend an important meeting. I also believe children benefit from watching their parents participate in city building. I grew up watching my mom volunteer and I have no doubt this spirit has been passed on. My own children are curious about my work, volunteerism, and my campaign. My office will need to be a space for them as much as for yours. Baby wipes, extra diapers, we will have it.
I will explore hosting town halls and finding a format that allows more people to connect, be it in person or online. This could include different days and times of the week to ensure we aren’t excluding voices by always hosting on the same day and time.
Many people have expressed both appreciation and frustration in previous town hall formats and availability. I would like town halls to be places where neighbours connect, subject matter experts join the conversation, and where we walk away inspired to tackle the challenges together.
I will leverage my social channels and newsletters to share about:
These are items I have been doing throughout the campaign, and they shouldn’t stop. I believe we benefit from participating in events and activities throughout our city, but best in our neighbourhoods.
I will support community associations and nonprofits with information about grants, connect leaders to each other for learning and sharing opportunities, and share about opportunities offered by other supporting organizations.
The councillor’s office is one of the main points of contact for community associations and other nonprofit organizations into the work happening with administration. It is vital to have a strong channel of communication and excellent working relationships. There are many other agencies and organizations which support nonprofits and community associations. Ensuring there is also knowledge sharing and good relationships is key to building neighbourhoods with a strong sense of community which in turn promotes safety, activity, and overall sense of well being.
I will participate in community events to the best of my ability and schedule.
I enjoy being out in the community. I like to have fun! I’m also not too shy to lend a helping hand, even the gritty stuff like hauling out tables and chairs. The best part of this campaign is getting to know people who feel the same way. Just like I will share out notices about events, I will also make sure to share the call out for volunteers.
I will work with my fellow councillors, city employees, and citizens in a collaborative, caring, and considerate manner.
There are many ways to be part of a respectful workspace. Coming to meetings prepared and having read the notes. Working through the appropriate channels to bring forward motions. Ensuring the voices of marginalized and underrepresented groups feel safe to voice their concerns. I will also listen to learn and understand and do my research where needed.
I will be honest and present facts to support my positions. I won’t conflate two items as being related when they aren’t.
I believe in an approach which both examines the data and the story. I believe in building trust and that comes from being honest and open with my thoughts and feelings as well.
I will advocate for investment into established neighborhoods across the city, not just for Ward 11, this includes transit, recreation, parks, and other civic infrastructure.
I want Calgarians to see our existing neighborhoods as great places to live no matter their stage of life. I want us to grow our population in a sustainable way and this means attracting residents to live in our established neighborhoods. This requires amenities which are safe, convenient, and able to support the needs of the community.
I will champion policies which require leading with courage, this includes truth and reconciliation, anti-racism work, climate resiliency, accessibility, and poverty reduction.
These issues are the most divisive. They are also the most critical. Calgary needs to be a city that works for everyone. I want Calgary to be a leader in this work and I will champion experts to guide us through this work.
I will take time off to spend with my family and friends.
I acknowledge that this job is important but I won’t sacrifice my relationship with those who have been my biggest supporters. The role cannot be a detriment to my health, mentally or physically. You need a councillor who can come to the table ready to work because I’ve recharged and reconnected with the other things in my life which are full of joy and laughter.
What I will not do is offer promises that I can’t fulfill. I want to offer more than catch phrases or empty platitudes that don't offer a how or why. If I haven’t been clear, please ask for clarification.
I also understand that I don’t have all the answers, nor am I a subject matter expert in all city departments. As a councillor, I would be part of a leadership team that works alongside talented city employees who have a much better understanding and specialization in many departments. I also respect there is ongoing work on strategies, policy, and finances that need to be respected and carried forward.
My hope is that in the lead up to election day, you will find yourself here, learning more about our city, where you can make a difference, and how I can support your efforts. My hope is that you will see I am considerate, curious, and caring. I am also deeply committed to Calgary, including the complex and nuanced nature of running a City. I won’t oversimplify the issues or the solutions.
Throughout the campaign we're working on three guiding principles - be part of community and amplify community voices, embrace innovation trying new ways to reach citizens (hello TikTok), and look to find commonalities and moments of celebration as the starting point for conversation. The platform details will be no different, all drawing from one or more of these three aspects. There will be a strong focus on neighbourhood amenities, climate resilience, inclusion and action for poverty, racism, and disabilities, and embracing innovation both in ways of thinking and in technology. Platform blog posts will include links to relevant City of Calgary pages and articles as supplementary information.
These blog posts are just part of the conversations leading up to election day. I have spoken to many topics through Conversations Among Candidates and Online meet and greets (both found on YouTube), as well as weekly 15 minute lives on Facebook and Instagram. 15 Minute Fridays on Facebook and Instagram continue to be part of the discussion along with commentary on topics through regular posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you in advance for your interest in Calgary, for being engaged, and for bringing your voice to the conversation.
"Coming home from vacation with a few insights that seem to be universal truths re: tourism that Calgary could leverage:
None of this has to be done in big ways by big organizations. Rather, the collective of independent organizations working together to tell our unique story, supported by the City, as enablers of our opportunities to inspire and educate."
Specifically, here's what I loved that I think Calgary could do:
Victoria had local vendors around the harbour on Saturday, a farmer's market a few blocks off the main street, and a small food centred area at one of the harbours. Calgary could do this more frequently at Eau Claire, Stephen Avenue, East Village, and North Glenmore Park.
We need to emphasize or provide more water rentals and tours. Canoes, kayaks, floating. Moving on the water is a great way to explore our city. Why is the SS Moyer the only boat to give tours on the reservoir? And because we have less water, more bike rentals too, especially at parks not along the river, North Glenmore, South Glenmore, Carburn Park, Fish Creek, Bowness, Nose Hill, the list goes on. And let's not forget the winter with skate rentals, toboggans, snowshoes, cross country skis.
I believe a big part of Calgary's success is going to be innovating on what exists here to create new opportunities. It is likely we are going to need to review bylaws and policies which prevent some of these practices from happening. I know Calgary can support local businesses in providing both local and tourist opportunities, I'm ready to be that leadership who will ask the questions to get us towards solutions.
In 2018 a man walked into the Beakerhead office on 4th street close to Safeworks. He was clearly in distress needing to use. I watched my co-workers freeze and one picked up the phone to call the police. We were two blocks away from the Chumir. I stood up and introduced myself, asked his name, and offered to walk him down to the site. My friend and co-worker joined me as we walked and made small talk about the weather.
The province is set to close Safeworks, the Safe Consumption Site at the Sheldon Chumir with plans to reallocate to 'partner organizations' (likely shelters) according to this recent article. I worry about the strain on social agencies to provide increased care and service for vulnerable populations. I see the continued stigma and assumptions made about users.
Access to a site assumes you are proximal or have means to use transportation to arrive. It also assumes the site will feel safe, welcoming, and inclusive. We have users of all genders, ethnicities, and span socio-economic statuses who need a site. Have these factors been considered when choosing new locations?
First - locations should have been chosen in partnership with the City of Calgary. I am not certain this is the case.
Second - by moving the consumption sites to shelter or social agency sites, we are stigmatizing who uses and casting a broad assumption that all users are homeless or living in the shelter system. We know this isn't the case.
I will say that I support having locations within social service agencies IF there are other sites as well and IF those sites are staffed (funded) by the province and the expectation of staffing does not suddenly become part of the agency's operating budget without funding from the Province.
Third - the recognition that need for sites does not exist solely in the beltline or downtown core; drug use is not a geographic phenomenon.
The need for MORE sites exists. We see this in the number of users at the Chumir site, and in the spillover for the users who are unable to access the site. I have spoken with communities and Calgary Police who see users at sites such as transit stations - because they are monitored with cameras and help buttons.
There isn't one answer to solving the challenges associated with drug use. I believe we need a comprehensive approach that is supported by the Province and the City which support both users and communities. We need funding for mental health care, housing, safe consumption sites, addictions treatment, and funding for social service agencies as early interveners. We need training for our first responders, bylaw and transit officers, and community leaders to be part of the solution in communities.
Mostly we need to talk about users as people - humans with complex emotions, needs, and histories. We need to see that we are all part of the problem when we stigmatize users but can also be part of the solution when we see users as humans who are for their own reasons, in a position where drug use is part of their life. Is this easy, not always. I believe we need to keep talking about it, openly and candidly. I am committed to these conversations to support all Calgarians regardless of the situation they find themselves in.