Building a Better Calgary for All of Us
To make sure every tax dollar collected is utilized to maximize value added services and infrastructure to constituents. Many city council members, including the incumbent WARD 2 councilor, voted to keep the City budget unchanged year over year but voted in favour of taking more of the budget for their own salaries, only voting to freeze salaries on election years. This is not in the best interest of Calgarians and does not increase value added services or improve infrastructure.
So many Calgarians are either on a tight budget or fixed income. I will focus on making difficult decisions, on what best serves Calgarians, and what is the best use of limited resources to improve quality and abundance of services for Calgarians.
Incentivised budget reduction Plan:
Currently, city departments use a “use it or lose it” form of budgeting. A department gets a budget and if they want to keep their budget the following year they must spend the budget to show the need.
With a budget incentive program, you take the budget system that exists now, and you allow departments to carry over a percentage of savings (50% to 75%) from the previous year to the next fiscal year. This carryover is allowed to be spent where department management sees fit. What this does is incentivize departments to not spend on items with low durability or low impact. Instead, the savings can be put towards the long-term, high durability, and high impact expenses.
With zero-based budgeting, the prices of goods inflate as departments have a need for more money. The easiest way to increase your budget is to inflate the cost above market prices. This is witnessed with CPD now asking for twice as much money than they did last year to pay for 50 new staff.
This also allows frontline staff to manage more of their impact in the community and improve services over the long run.
Accountability and Transparency in City Council
The current city council is ineffective. They continue to dip into reserves year over year, without solving the problems and looking at ways to be more efficient. They spend numerous hours in meetings away from the public eye and act in unprofessional and childish ways. Calgarians want leadership that shows the voters, and the world, the hardworking and creative people who make up this great city. It has been too long that big donors and lobbyists have controlled City Council, and it is time for taxpayers to have their voices heard.
Technology can make city council more transparent, but only as a tool for delivery. It is up to the elected councillor to share this information. I will write a letter outlining my votes at council meetings and my rationale behind making the decision I did. This is a simple thing to do, and constituents deserve a councillor who communicates clearly and in a way council can be held accountable.
Innovative and Effective Public Services
It is not enough to continue doing things the way they have always been done. Public Services and Infrastructure have to be managed in creative and efficient ways that maximize the value added benefits to Calgarians without spending more money. For too long City Council has approached services and infrastructure by a method of throwing money at problems and seeing what works. This has been witnessed by never ending expensive reviews and bad financial management. Calgarians want a leader who makes the difficult decisions, communicates with their constituents and works with others to find creative ways to solve problems without spending more money.
Be the Future of Canada
Calgary is the youngest and most dynamic city in Canada, and our city council should reflect this. It is time to remove what has not been working and bring in new, young fresh leadership and ideas. Calgary needs leadership that showcases our city and is committed for the long haul. Leadership that focuses on what is best for the families of Calgary. Calgarians have had enough of double dipping councilors and politicians who are out of touch with the modern world. They spend taxpayers' money without common sense. We are a youthful and dynamic North American City, our politicians need to showcase this.
Business Cluster Plans
Entrepreneurial businesses thrive and grow when surrounded by like-minded businesses and people. The city needs to focus on developing cluster plans to revitalize Calgary neighbourhoods and foster a fertile business environment. The current strategy focuses on oil and gas and the banking sector. Infrastructure investments and tax incentives should be shifted to allow the City to attract and maintain these businesses—while diversifying the base and building a reputation for business-friendly “cluster” environments. It also allows the city to plan for specific business needs in these areas and reduce infrastructure spending.
Basic examples of cluster plans include districts that welcome and showcase technology, the arts, retail areas, entertainment and/or wholesale businesses. Think: New York’s Theatre District, Boston’s Route 128 High Tech Corridor—and all of the potential packed into Calgary’s own East Village, Arts Commons, The Music Mile in Inglewood, art galleries and home furnishing stores in the Beltline area, as well as Chinatown and International Avenue.
I haven’t left Ward 2 out of this idea. Our ward has several business and shopping areas ripe for cluster development as tech centres, small business and eatery hubs.
Constituents and city employees are both frustrated with the bureaucracy and slow response times of City hall, its subsidiaries, and its functions.
The only way to really solve these problems is to talk directly to frontline staff and get their unique perspective as to what can be improved. I am a firm believer, that frontline workers are the best source of creative solutions. It is leadership’s role, to build the communication and connection with all staff and constituents to make sure the City is run as efficiently as possible.
Hand Ups, Not Handouts
The City of Calgary is blessed with many engaged charities and non-profits that do an amazing job with very little resources to support the less fortunate in our city. As City Councillor I will make sure my door is always open for those who are looking to help the less fortunate in our communities and be an advocate for those looking to provide solutions that result in lifting people up out of poverty and not just providing a handout.
A prime example is Centre 4800. This is a transitionary housing project to help those who find themselves without the means or local family support to get off the streets. It also provides a safe and constructive platform for those to build up their confidence and reserves to afford to move into the normal housing market. This project already has funding in place and has been facing opposition from the current council. We must not treat the less fortunate as if they have less value to our society.
Jennifer's Stance on Core Issues Facing Calgarian's
The Green Line
Let's get Calgarians working and the Green Line is an opportunity to get people working, as well as access Covid recovery funding from the federal government. If we wait, the price goes up, the negative impacts of construction increase, the timelines get longer, and the need continues to grow. Calgary needs to get to work and stop spending money discussing it further. In the long run, this piece of public infrastructure is needed, and if we wait, Calgarians will pay more for its construction. We need to do it right and the sooner we get to work, the more positive the outcome will be.
Urban Recreation and Green Spaces
Great cities are built on balanced development and innovative green spaces. The Ward 2 incumbent has shown that he is not capable of having discussions between developers and constituents that provide balanced community growth and protects essential green spaces.
Urban green spaces and parks are like endangered species; once they are gone, they are lost forever. City council needs to come up with an innovative bylaw to protect our parks and recreation facilities.