With the boundary changes to Ward 11, some new communities are moving into the ward, including Victoria Park/East Beltline, Mission, Rideau, Roxboro and Erlton and Elbow Park (part of Elbow Park was previously in the ward, now all of it is). Further south, Willow Park, Acadia and Maple Ridge are also joining.
I have had the opportunity to spend time talking to residents of these communities and wanted to take some time to share my thoughts, ideas and learnings that I’ve taken from conversations I’ve specifically had with Victoria Park/Beltline and Mission residents.
“We are different from the rest of Ward 11”
I’ve heard this at forums, in emails, via social media. There is concern that Beltline, Victoria Park and Mission neighbourhoods don’t “fit” with the rest of the ward. While many Ward 11 communities are becoming what’s considered “inner city” there is no question that Victoria Park, East Beltline and Mission are truly highly urbanized, densely populated, inner city environments.
Beltline, Victoria Park, Mission neighbourhoods and you, the residents, are an important focus for me for several reasons. A lot of people work here (from all over the city), travel through here to get further into downtown, and also visit the area in their leisure (you have some of the best restaurants and shops!) While that’s awesome and adds to our vibrant city, we also need to remember you live here. This your home, not a destination from 9-5 or a place you come to just eat a great meal. We need to make sure that decisions affecting the area have you, the resident in mind above all else. We need to make sure the area is safe and vibrant both in and outside of working hours and weekend prime time.
Generally speaking, a day in the life of a Mission resident is different from the average day of an Oakridge resident. While you both still want Calgary to move forward in a positive way, and work on issues that affect the broader city, your day-to-day needs are a bit different. For example, I have heard you typically walk, bike or take transit to work. Because of that, connectivity and safety are high on your priority list. Large projects like the Green Line and a new arena will directly affect your area in a number of ways. Construction projects (like the major work currently being done on 17th Ave) in some cases will re-route traffic and change safety at specific intersections, not to mention disrupting access to places and spaces you know and love. Bike lanes are also an important part of how many of you get around – both for commuting and for running errands, as well as social activities.
Growth and development are also things you are interested in. There are various sites being redeveloped now or in the coming years, and you want to be a part of that conversation and help shape the way your neighborhood evolves. There are major area plans for around the Stampede Grounds and (possible) arena location that will likely see additional housing and amenities added to the area – but with that comes more construction as well as additional people using the same services, streets and pathways.
While you and/or some of your neighbours do choose to raise their families in your area, I’ve also heard from a number of you that you want to make sure the Ward 11 councillor understands there are a lot of single, young professionals as well as seniors living in your neighborhood who may not share the same needs and priorities as those who have children. I want to assure you that I understand this. We have a diverse ward and everyone has a voice and perspective to add to the discussion around the direction we take on projects and policies that affect their neighbourhoods.
What do you have in common with the rest of Ward 11?
Differences aside, you do have things in common with many of your fellow Ward 11 residents, such as:
You love where you live
My team and I have knocked on a lot of doors, have attended community events and have done pop up meet and greets throughout the ward. The common message I resoundingly hear everywhere? People love where they live. They love their neighbours. They love their neighbourhood and they enjoy the sense of community. They like how accessible their community is and all it has to offer. Sure, there are things they’d like to see improved, in the area, ward and city as a whole, but people are generally happy.
Crime and personal safety are important
People want to feel safe in their neighbourhoods. The economic downturn as well as the opioid crisis has led to an increase in concerns with safety – in just about every community. We need to work together, along with Calgary Police community resource officers, to find solutions that give residents peace of mind. As your councillor I will look at how we can work with various agencies in our neighbourhoods that assist with poverty reduction, addictions treatment/assistance and mental health to ensure all our residents have access to the help they need.
Flood mitigation is top of mind
There is no question that the flood of 2013 devastated many areas of Calgary and that your neighbourhoods were particularly affected. Homes were lost or damaged, businesses were shut down weeks and in some cases months and recreational spaces/parkland was significantly affected. The Elbow River, from the time it enters the city to just short of where it joins the Bow River, flows through Ward 11. Because of this, flood mitigation is a priority for many of Ward 11’s communities.
As your councillor, I will advocate for the timely completion of the Springbank Dry Dam Project. I have already met with MLA Greg Clark to discuss this project and agree that the Province needs to move forward with it to ensure upstream mitigation efforts are implemented as soon as possible. I will make sure as a City we continue to put pressure on the Province to have this dry dam operational within the next 5 years, if not sooner.
With this latest economic downturn, seniors, families, individuals and businesses (big and small) are all struggling with affordability. We need to explore ways to make things more accessible financially within our communities. We need to make sure there are efficient, economically accessible services and amenities available for families and individuals, including transit, housing, park space and recreation facilities. We need to better prioritize how we spend money as a city to ensure we are receiving good value for our dollars.
Businesses, particularly small businesses, are struggling to meet their expenses and have revenue flow to their bottom line. In some cases, this is due to issues like transferring of significant property tax values down on them, because their business is on high value assessed land. Your community along with other communities in the ward, need a variety of small and medium sized businesses for multiple reasons. If the land value pushes businesses away from certain areas, the community is less complete as a whole. I will work with all the Ward 11 communities to maintain complete communities that support small businesses and a variety of services.
You may be different – but Ward 11 communities are on the same page
We want to see Calgary grow in a vibrant, sustainable, inclusive way. We want a city and ward with safe streets, great transit, and a variety of amenities. We want a range of housing options and should we choose, we want to be able to stay in our preferred community throughout the various stages of life.
Each community will not always have the same priorities. However none of Ward 11’s different priorities are competing – there aren’t any where we’d have to choose the needs of one over another. If given the opportunity to be your Ward 11 councillor, I know we can build strong communities together throughout the ward – whether that be in Beltline, Victoria Park and Mission neighbourhoods or south of Glenmore.