When we talk about economic development in Calgary, especially using the City budget, I believe we need to be thoughtful about which industries can and should be bolstered to provide to most impact. Right now I believe those sectors are tech (and tech adjacent), arts (including film), and the non-profit/social sector. There is also the case for the trades and the building industry as we take on large city building projects and improve our built form in our existing neighbourhoods. Economic growth and development must be a balance between resourcing and support for small to medium sized businesses while also attracting (and retaining) medium to large scale businesses, especially those who are looking to scale.
Where it is important for the City to be involved is supporting arms length organizations which focus on programming and resources specific to their sector. There are a few industries that are ripe for development and Calgary needs to continue to be a supporting player.
I strongly believe a new fieldhouse is key to Calgary’s opportunities around life sciences, medical, and sport technology. Our elevation and seasonal changes make studying athletes and related technology ideal. We have already seen the likes of Garmin relocate to nearby Cochrane. Continuing to have world class facilities to study physiology, anatomy, and sports performance will help Calgary companies be leaders in their field.
In the arts, Calgary Arts Development continues to improve their offerings. Spaces, grants, and mentorship programs are all critical to the development of artists across disciplines from performing arts to visual arts.
While economic recovery is a city wide issue I want to ensure you that Ward 11 residents are top of mind for me. How we get people to and from their work, what kind of opportunities exist in neighbourhoods after work hours, and opportunities for participation in economic activities close to home (shopping, food, festivals) is top of mind for me. We need economic prosperity at the neighbourhood level as much as we do for the overall city.
Ward 11 in the City of Calgary is one small corner of Treaty 7 land. As immediate neighbours of the Tsuut'ina nation we recognize all of Ward 11 resides on the traditional territories of the Tsuut'ina, the Blackfoot confederacy, the Ĩyãħé Nakoda nation. As neighbours we are stewards to the prosperous and just future for all Indigenous Canadians including the Metis, Inuit, displaced, and urban Indigenous who live across Calgary and in Treaty 7 territory.
When I was in Jr. High, students were bussed in from the Tsuuti’ina nation. From this we were exposed to hoop dancers, Indigenous artists, round dances, and bannock. What we were really part of was a system of racism and oppression. Bridging the gap wasn’t easy. You were told by older students that the ‘indians’ were lazy, poor students, and you had to watch your back because they would fight with you for no reason. I struggled. I watched them struggle. At the time I didn’t have the skills to build a bridge between our communities.
There has been a call for a dedicated Indigenous gathering place in Calgary. It is time to honour the commitment and move forward on finding a location in Calgary.
I am in favour of supporting Indigenous led justice and harm reduction. We must acknowledge the distrust in colonial systems like health care and law enforcement. This must be accomplished through budget allocations.
Things specifically I want to accomplish in Ward 11 are:
Reconciliation is an ongoing process. I am committed to unlearning my biases I’ve been taught. I'm committed to learning about ways in which we can support Indigenous teaching and leadership into our systems, services, and solutions.
My Experience is my WHY
I am often asked at the doors, what’s your background? Or what’s your experience?
This isn’t the place for my life story, but let me tell you about some defining volunteer, professional, and personal experiences. The culmination of these have developed a skillset that is suited to be an excellent councillor: adept communication, team work, leadership, innovative thinking, and amazing at building relationships.
I was raised predominantly by a single mother who was a nurse. She was also an active volunteer. I am an active volunteer for multiple non-profit organizations.
Why this matters:
I believe community stewardship and volunteerism is a learnt behaviour. Freely giving of our time is a gesture of kindness that not everyone embraces. I saw early on that her involvement enriched our experience in our school and sports community, and this made me want to be involved in giving back to my children’s communities as they’ve grown as well. No matter her schedule, she made time, and still does to this day. I want to model this behaviour not only for my own daughters, but for other people as well.
There are many volunteer driven organizations across our city who partner with the City. I understand the important role volunteers and volunteer driven organizations play in the shaping of our city. These are voices and actions which need to be championed. I know, as a volunteer, that the support we receive from others is paramount to our success. I am committed to working with community groups to improve their relationships and reduce the barriers with the City and within their neighborhoods.
Through our playground rebuild, I knew the value of having a central hub, ie. placemaking, as a key component of a community. Bringing this knowledge to the role of councillor means I understand and value the role community association buildings, playgrounds, as well as parks and green spaces play in creating strong connected communities. This is important as neighbourhood spaces need resources and funding to continue to provide programming and events for the community, and I can be a strong advocate and resource for these improvements.
As board member and President of the Haysboro Community Association I was able to lead an organizational shift. I supported new initiatives for events and programs and while supporting existing programming. I stewarded through a rebranding of the organization, moved membership fees to a more financially inclusive structure, and supported the growth of our message to new audiences through the adoption of social media. This increased community participation at events, in programs, and supported a sense of well-being and safety in the neighbourhood. I was also the lead in the large exterior renovation of the building as well as other interior renovations.
I am uniquely positioned to support Community Associations through my intimate knowledge of their opportunities and challenges. Many are facing a need for extensive upgrades to their buildings and are exploring ways to partner with the city to upgrade parks and green spaces.
Why this matters:
Committees are composed of representatives from various stakeholder groups including city planners and staff, developers and builders (private industry), business improvement associations, other community representatives, students, and other civic groups. The shaping of policy and plans is a collaborative effort of a spectrum of interests and objectives that need conversation and context.
Being on committees for the past five years means I have a solid understanding of how policy is developed to come to council, how working with others needs time together which is thoughtful and nuanced, and how compromise is key to a successful outcome. Policy work and good outcomes are dependent on the process of cooperation, this is an environment I thrive in and do my best work in.
Organization leader in the tech sector and board member of the Calgary Regional Innovation Network.
Why this matters:
Multiple studies show that economies that operate in a high trust environment grow faster and have better deal flow. As Community Manager for Rainforest Alberta my role was to connect entrepreneurs, employees, and startups to talent, education, and funding. The community also held an expectation that you gave as much as you got, and you gave first. The result, a foundation of entrepreneurs, support organizations, and education institutions contributing to a rapidly growing tech sector in Calgary.
In the role I mentored entrepreneurs with knowledge from my own business experience, reviewed resumes of those seeking employment, designed course work for post-secondary students, and hosted multiple events to create connections between the various people and groups in the sector.
As an elected member to the Board of Fellows for the Calgary Innovation Coalition, we support the tech sector through funding allocation to member organizations who are supporting entrepreneurial growth in the tech sector. To sit on the board, fellows have to be nominated and elected by their peers from over 30 organizations. I have proven that I have the trust and support of leaders in Calgary to support the growth of the sector.
Small business owner selling goods across Alberta, BC, and Ontario.
Why this matters:
As a small business owner, based out of my house, I grew my novel business to pay employees a living wage, cultivated wholesale accounts across the country, and won awards for my work. The experience also led me to partnerships with other small businesses in Calgary where we raised the exposure of local companies.
Shopping local is important to me and cultivating the growth of neighbourhood businesses is an important part of a successful city. I also know the challenges small businesses face in permitting and accessing commercial space for production and sales. With a strong network of small businesses I believe we can modernize permit applications, sales opportunities, and local procurement of goods to improve the local economy and support small businesses in our City.
Community development is integral to who I am. I want to encourage volunteers, non-profit groups, businesses, administrators, city staff, to be bold in their thoughts and actions. I want to champion ingenuity. The most impactful action I can take as a councillor will be empowering others to build a city that serves others and builds our collective capacity to be resilient and thriving against economic ups and downs, climate change, and health and social crises. Connecting with others is my passion and the greatest strength I can bring to this role.
Calgary continues to be an attractive place to do business yet we have to ensure our competitive advantages can continue to support the needs of an evolving economy. Calgary has strengths across sectors. Many of these have been operating under the shadow of Oil and Gas and have also had to weather the ups and downs of the global oil market.
There is lots of talk about diversifying the economy. This is true, but what this really means is that many industries which are affected by ups and downs, like retail and food (restaurants), have a better base of stability to rely upon for consistency. Retail and restaurant can also be part of our diversification strategy when done alongside the growth of other sectors.
The success of recreation, art, and food based businesses is contingent on the economic health of our city overall. Calgary continues to see growth in our tech based businesses and the City can continue to support growth in this area through key investments. There has been lots of talk around transforming vacant downtown office towers to residential but I’m wondering if we’re missing the mark on the transformation. Perhaps we need to look at the cultural structure of technology companies - should we instead be transforming existing office towers into layouts that support the open floor plan culture of technology based companies? By opening spaces up (ie taking down walls), towers can support a co-work model vision, creating spaces for actual co-work companies, or for small businesses to partner on spaces to lease in a shared environment.
This kind of transformation can benefit more than tech companies. Marketers, realtors, artists, consultants - these are all people who may seek an office space outside of their homes. Downtown needs to be filled with all kinds of companies. When we create collision opportunities, people get creative and innovative, they build relationships, and businesses flourish. I have spent the better part of a decade being part of and creating these opportunities, and I want to bring this thinking to our City. I will stress, this model should and can exist outside of downtown as well.
The need to attract outside companies who bring external talent and work cultures to Calgary is important alongside local growth. This helps us grow our mindset and brings senior talent in new sectors to mentor junior talent. Often companies experiencing growth are looking for a home base for their company which matches their value model. Much of that attraction is the environment, both literally as in our parks and green spaces, but as well the lifestyle opportunities, low cost of living, great recreation, and other factors which make cities livable - education, healthcare, travel. This is why I will always keep sight on what the next generation of workers is looking for in a city, transit, bike lanes, parks. I will explore external attraction and arts and tech in the next blog post, and where the City can play a key role in their growth and development.
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.