October 12, 2017
As we inch closer to October 16th and residents of Ward 11 make a decision on who should represent them at council, I feel it is important that you know where I stand on the issues which impact you. It’s why our team has collected all of our policy and value releases in to a single page called Linda’s Values, so you can easily find what I stand for and what I will do as your next councillor.
I believe voters should know clearly where their candidates stand on topics such as City Finances, The Arena, Flood Mitigation and Engagement with citizens. You can read my polices here or use the navigation menu.
September 17, 2017
During the campaign, I will be discussing the issues facing Ward 11 residents. The next topic I want to dive into is, the proposal for a new arena.
This past week we’ve seen a lot of debate and rhetoric from all sides on the new arena proposal. Calgary is a culturally vibrant city, from our arts, to music, to film, and of course to our sports– and a new arena will continue to build on that vibrancy. But we can’t let the project play out in public theatre, and most importantly we can’t have Calgarians’ public investment be held hostage.
As a Calgarian, I’m supportive of any projects that grow our cultural economy, and a new arena builds into our reputation as a world class city; the continued revitalization of Victoria Park is something I also welcome. At the same time projects that use public funds need to benefit Calgarians and respect the use of taxpayer dollars.
The proposal released by the City on the three-way ⅓ funding split is a solid framework that a new deal can be built on. The deal respects public investment and is financially responsible on the public versus private investment.
- The Saddledome is an aging arena, and needs upgrades to infrastructure, capacity and aesthetics.
- The level of municipal funding for the project needs to align with the public benefit of the project for Calgarians and the local economy.
- The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) is a private business, that needs to demonstrate financial accountability for a new arena and highlight the use of public investment. The deal needs to be a partnership and a business transaction.
- The arena deal needs to be respective and transparent; Calgarians deserve to know how their public dollars are being spent.
- Get A Deal Done; Transparently – For the last two years the negotiations between the City and CSEC have taken place behind closed doors, and have been plagued by ultimatums, rhetoric and mudslinging. Both parties have a common interest: build a new arena and contribute to Calgary’s cultural economy. But in order for this deal to get done, we need a new forum for discussion and a platform that is transparent to the public. Discussions need to be fair and reasonable – we can’t have either side being held hostage in this debate.
- Clearly demonstrate public benefit – Using public dollars for the new arena needs to be supported by clear public benefit. The project needs to be a partnership between the City and CSEC and Calgarians need to see the benefit of their public investment. An arena is an important part of a vibrant urban centre, but I would push CSEC to demonstrate the full value of the partnership and the return on value to Calgarians on their public investment.
- Risk and Return Must Align – A basic tenet of finance is that there is a relationship between risk and reward. If multiple entities are investing capital into a common project, they share in the rewards or losses. This must be true in the deal for the arena, the City and CSEC should share in the rewards and losses of the venture pro-rata their contributions of capital. A deal that reflects this will be a fair deal for all parties, a market deal.
September 2, 2017
The news reports of the closure of the Midfield Mobile Home Park over the past week have been very concerning. The feeling residents have of not having their concerns heard and the uncertainty with previously agreed upon offers, shows that along the process the city has let down residents of Midfield. But I do believe we have a way to help rectify the situation and provide a compassionate solution that works for all. Here are a couple of ideas that I believe would provide a positive solution:
- The City should pay out residential mortgages for trailers left on the site. This would alleviate the impending financial issues for owners and personal stress. (People who have already moved on, but are currently paying an existing mortgage would be allowed to apply as well)
- The City should fulfill the original promise and pay out the full $10,000 moving allowance to the remaining residents.
- The City should no longer pursue previous owners for the clean-up costs of previously abandoned Mobile Homes.
These simple steps would allow the city to regain credibility and show compassion for the residents of Midfield. This demonstration of integrity would begin a healing process with residents of Midfield and their families.
August 3, 2017
Over the next ten weeks of the campaign, I will be discussing the issues facing Ward 11 residents. The first topic I want to dive into is how we can start improving The City’s Engagement and Communication Process with Citizens.
One of the reasons I decided to run for Councillor in Ward 11 was because of the concerns I have with the City of Calgary’s current engagement process. Over the past several years, many friends, family members, and residents of Ward 11 have expressed their concerns and frustrations with how the the City is sharing information and getting feedback from residents. In many cases, people tell me that they feel they were never properly informed of upcoming decisions or that the outcome of the engagement sessions were all but decided by the time the City came to the community for input.
- The City spends a significant amount of money on engagement and communication strategies, without the ability to quantify the results of these practices.
- Residents tell me that they feel that the City does not listen or respect their input or concerns related to projects and services.
- When people don’t feel they are properly engaged on topics, they feel isolated and not heard on key issues.
- Engage Earlier – Involvement should occur at the beginning and strategic stages of planning, not at the end, when you do not get a strong say in what is happening. City administration should be required to engage with communities at earlier stages of the process. As your councillor I will provide regular updates regarding major projects in the ward.
- Ensure Policy Best Practices and Compliance – The Engage Policy CS009 is already in place to govern the actions of the administration related to the engagement process. We need to ensure that these frameworks are being followed by city officials and that we are always improving upon processes. We should look to and reflect on best practices across other municipalities, and use those ideas to improve our own process.
- Leveraging Technology – There are a significant number of technologies and platforms, that can offer a more effective form of communication between us and the City. We need to look at updating the Engage web site to improve conversation and feedback.
Ward 11 Outcomes:
As Councillor for Ward 11, one of the tasks I will look into is improving the guidelines set out in the City’s Engage Policy CS009. The current policy and framework is open ended about the administration’s ability to decide when the engagement process occurs. A certain amount of flexibility makes sense to ensure that the policy can be applied to the variety of services and projects the City offers. It is important the rules relating to the stage at which the City talks with you must be better outlined and defined to ensure it occurs early on in any project process.
I will also start looking into the current online tools for engaging with you. There are two web sites that the city is currently using (and testing) to get citizen feedback – The Calgary Engage web site and Civic Innovation YYC. The current Engage web site is a good start, but when you drill down to a specific topic, you cannot log a comment or leave a message. Also we need to make sure that the data collected from the web sites is used effectively. We need to know: Are the web sites being used? How is city officials or staff using these tools? And are your comments and ideas reaching the administrators in charge of these areas?
The other item I will address is the engagement event process. In particular, city council needs to have an honest look as to whether or not these events are the proper way to reach you. The reach of engagement events has fallen due to changes in how we all communicate. The current event process makes it difficult for those with other commitments and cannot attend to have meaningful impact. Citizen impact should not be determined by your availability to attend meetings – all opinions deserve to be heard and respected. We need to look at the event process and see how we can improve this for your busy lifestyle.