Due to renovations to the Parkdale Community Centre, we were unable to host a live candidate’s forum. The Parkdale Community Association’s Planning and Development Committee invited the candidates seeking election as our representative on City Council, to answer 5 questions. Although there are many issues in every community in Ward 7, these are five concerns for residents in Parkdale. The Parkdale Community Association does not have an opinion or a political affiliation with any of the candidates seeking election on October 21.
Question 1: What would you like Parkdale residents to know about your campaign platform?
My key platform items are:
- Being an accessible and responsive representative for all residents of Ward 7,
- Stewarding your tax dollars to focus on key infrastructure issues in Ward 7, including renewing our failing sewage and water systems as well as ensuring our flood mitigation systems are renewed and sufficient for at least a 100 year flood,
- Fair taxes – stopping the subsidies for new developments, and
- Evidence-based Decision making.
Please see http://brentalexander.ca/live/policy-platform-2013/ for further details.
The key issues of my platform are: smart growth, reinvesting our tax dollars in established neighbourhoods, and practical transportation solutions that protect neighbouring communities. These are all issues that are meaningful for Parkdale residents.
Parkdale is a community undergoing redevelopment and this can be challenging for existing residents. I am currently working on a Developer Code of Conduct to ensure that contractors conduct themselves responsibly and respectfully in your community. I have also successfully advocated for a watch list that will cast a spotlight on contractors that repeatedly fail to comply with city regulations. Re-development and renewal are necessary for our communities, but it must be done respectfully and responsibly.
As city growth puts pressure on our main arteries, our Ward 7 communities increasingly battle traffic conflicts in the community. I am committed to addressing issues around speeding and cut-through traffic to ensure the quality of life for Parkdale residents is kept high.
Collaboration will continue to be my focus. I will be initiating more neighbourhood walkabouts with City staff to identify opportunities and make recommendations about municipal programs and services that will directly benefit Parkdale.
For more on my platform, please check out my website at druhfarrell.com.
Taxes have gone up 32 per cent in three years. My taxpayers-first platform will represent you, the taxpayer.
The first tenet of my platform is advocating for a more responsible government through increased transparency and accountability, better disclosure and improved communication with residents, especially when initiating construction projects that affect nearby communities. I feel many large projects get pushed through our neighborhoods without adequate consultation with residents. This is highly undemocratic and unfair. Residents need to be informed and listened to before projects in their neighborhoods are approved for development.
Fiscal Responsibility. I believe there is a lot of money being misspent by our Council. Ever wonder why our taxes have increased 30% in the last three years (the highest in our City’s history)? Our council has been approving many costly projects recently that have lead to gross overspending of our tax dollars. Our new West LRT (the shortest leg but by far our most costly) was originally budgeted at 700 million dollars, but came in at 1.4 Billion dollars. The audit report did not disclose $400 million dollars of unaccounted expenses. When asking our City where this money went, we are told this cannot be disclosed. Is this the type of closed-door government policy that we want?
Equal representation of each neighborhood in Ward 7. Our current incumbent focuses heavily on her own neighborhood of Sunnyside/Hillhurst and Kensington but residents north of 16th Ave rarely see or hear from their councillor. Messages they leave aren’t returned in a timely fashion (or not returned at all) and they feel they have no voice. I would like to change that experience and be a very engaged, accessible councillor. Residents, businesses and organizations need a strong representative.
Question 2: What position would you take to your colleagues at City Council regarding the proposed escarpment parkade at the foothills hospital site?
I have spoken with residents of Parkdale and I know that they are against the parkade. I support the taxpayers, the people of Parkdale.
I am proponent of preserving green space when possible. Has the City looked into other alternatives other than the proposed escarpment area? There is a large parcel of land nearby in Montgomery (north of 16th Ave and east of Bowness Rd., south of McKay Road School/ Montgomery Jr. High). Has anyone explored other areas nearby that may be less invasive?
I do not support a parkade on the escarpment. At my urging, Alberta Health Services has agreed to explore options for an alternative location and this work is currently underway.
I have also been encouraging AHS to look at ways to reduce their staff parking requirements to minimize spill-over into surrounding neighbourhoods, including Car2Go spots on the hospital grounds, bicycle parking and car pool parking.
I will continue to work with Alberta Health Services to find alternatives to the proposed parkade.
We need to work better across jurisdictions to ensure all of our neighborhoods and institutions are being developed in a cohesive community-building fashion.
In the case of AHS, we must engage AHS to ensure the Foothills Hospital Campus is built out in a manner that respects the adjoining communities of Parkdale, St Andrews Heights and University Heights. AHS wants to be a good neighbor, but they do not have the city planning or community engagement skills to understand the impact of certain decisions on their neighbors. We must constructively work with AHS to ensure that the remainder of Foothills Campus is properly planned and works with the surrounding communities, eliminating these very aggravating issues for Parkdale and other adjoining communities.
Question 3: What type of development would you support on the corner of 29th and Parkdale Blvd?
I do not have any pre-conceived ideas for the development of this site. That said, any development must be in context with the existing community. Future plans for this site will go through a community planning process in consultation with the Parkdale Planning & Development Committee and neighbouring residents. I look forward to working with residents on this initiative.
I support development that complements the community it is being built in.
Any development on the corner of 29th and Parkdale Blvd. has to offer off-street parking as this is an area already tight for parking due to the proximity of the hospital, Stadium and University. The development needs to be contextual with nearby homes (not a high-rise), and well communicated with nearby residents.
I want to ensure the development at 29 and Parkdale Blvd works with the existing community and is a net benefit to Parkdale, is properly scaled and adds to the vibrancy and sustainability of the community. This can take many forms, potentially – but it is in consulting with the community that we will best understand what may work best. A top down approach does not work in city and neighborhood planning.
Question 4: What strategies would you employ to preserve mature trees in inner city communities?
As a past member of the Calgary Horticulture Society, I believe there are many reasons to preserve our trees. Trees serve many important purposes (shade, wind and privacy protection to our homes, cleaning our air, providing us with beautiful greenery, habitat for wildlife). Sick trees need to be cared for by our City, i.e. elms that have been suffering from scaling need to receive regular inoculations.
This is an excellent question that really pertains to many communities in Ward 7. Too often, new in-fill developers, who are attracted to established communities in part for their lush established canopies, find every excuse to cut down not only every tree on their lot but city trees adjacent to their properties as well. We must put a full stop end to the latter practice and work with private land owners on strategies to preserve mature trees on their property. This can include both a carrot and stick approach. The carrot can be relaxation of development permits to allow for the preservation of trees on private lots. This would need to be modest in nature, but sufficient enough to achieve the results sought. The stick approach can include restrictions on the removal of mature trees on private lots.
It is time to update our 2007 urban forest strategic plan and have increased penalties for clear cutting a lot.
I am a strong advocate for preserving and restoring our urban forest. I was instrumental in Calgary’s first tree bylaw, to preserve city street trees during redevelopment, and have ensured that private tree preservation is part of a new initiative on Council to improve the planning process. This initiative is strongly supported by Mayor Nenshi and Councillor Carra in Ward 9.
Question 5: What support could our community count on from you as Councillor to maintain our community association building and develop a community garden?
The City must have a much more proactive and supportive relationship with the established communities and their associations to both maintain and improve their buildings and related facilities, including community gardens. Parkdale is an excellent case in point and can be a model for how the city works with the community association to deal with significant structural issues that no community association can deal with on its own. As well, community gardens, with the development of a more formal urban agriculture and permaculture program in the City of Calgary, can be supported in their development and maintenance in Parkdale and elsewhere. We must do better for our established communities on both these counts and I intend to fully support Parkdale.
I have enjoyed working with the Parkdale community association and board since my election in 2001, and I look forward to continuing to work together on initiatives that enhance the fabric of the community. A good example of this is community gardens. I have facilitated many community gardens and orchards in Ward 7 and am looking forward to working with Parkdale residents as you plan and build yours. From playground revitalizations to the Parkdale Gathering Place, mini-sidewalk libraries and anti-graffiti murals, I will continue to foster initiatives that bring neighbours together to build community capacity and resiliency.
To my knowledge the community association building is currently suffering from a caved in roof and mould issues. There are programs through the city that help community associations maintain their buildings and their programs and I would encourage and help, in any way possible, to ensure that Parkdale has equal access to those grants. I support community gardens and the taxpayers. One of the best things I could do for the Parkdale Community is not vote to increase taxes once I am elected.
As your councillor, you will have my support in maintaining your community centre as a hub for your residents (support for programming, maintenance…etc.). I am proponent of Community gardens! I would like Parkdale residents to experience the joys of a community harvest. This initiative is a wonderful way for residents to get out and work together towards sustainable urban agriculture.