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2017 municipal election

The five candidates for councillor for Ward 11 in Calgary’s Oct. 16, 2017 municipal election took the time to respond to seven questions posed to them by the Lakeview Community Association. Our thanks to Robert Dickinson, Janet Eremenko, Jeromy Farkas, Linda Johnson and Keith Simmons, not only for replying to our list of questions, but also for taking the time to meet with Lakeview residents at the community’s annual meeting on Sept. 9.

Questions for the candidates for council
Ward 11
Election date: October 16, 2017

Robert Dickinson
Website: robertdickinson.ca
Email: robert@robertdickinson.ca


1. Why should Lakeview residents vote for you?
  • I have a diverse background - I have experience in the small business sector (both as an employee and owner), I am a long-time community volunteer and I have previous City Hall and City Administration experience. This gives me a strong understanding of the varied perspectives of stakeholders which will help me better evaluate plans, build relationships and ultimately achieve results that will benefit everyone.
  • I can hit the ground running. I have knowledge and experience working in a Councillor's office and with City Administration. I will be able to start working for residents right away, helping navigate their specific localized concerns through the system. 
  • I am invested in Ward 11. I’ve lived here for over 20 years, I have co-owned a business for 10 years, my children attend school in the Ward and my family is involved in many area activities. 
This gives me a unique perspective on the current system, how it affects us now, as well as what we need to build and plan to make Calgary great for our future generations

2. The Tsuut'ina Nation will soon be developing its lands west of Lakeview. Given that the development is not within Calgary, how will you represent Lakeview's interests?
The most important thing I can do as Councillor in regards to this development is build and maintain a strong working relationship with Tsuut’ina nation and their development team to collaborate and ensure Lakeview and other Ward 11 community voices are heard. I met with members of their development group earlier this year to discuss the project and learn more about how we can lay a foundation to work together as their project progresses.

3. To what extent are you comfortable with the design of the SW ring road bridge over the Elbow River?
The current proposed version is an improvement on the original, however I know there is still concern about the impact on the Weaselhead. I would hope that the Province would build the bridge that best mitigates the impacts on the natural environment, is flood resilient and factors in both road safety for future ring road users as well as drinking water safety downstream. 

4. Do you support the SW BRT in its current form? Please explain.
I am very supportive of the SWBRT and transit as a whole. I think the SWBRT will provide transit options for many SW communities that have challenges in getting to key community hubs like Rockyview Hospital, Heritage Park, Mount Royal University etc. I’ve heard from many residents across Ward 11 who look forward to the SWBRT being complete either for their own use or their children/aging parents.
I do believe the City needed to do a better job of engagement once the funding was secured in 2014. There were some mistakes made that I believe they learned from. That said, this is a key project to support the growth of our city.

5. Are you in favour of allowing secondary suites in R-C1 zones, such as most of Lakeview?
I am in favour of changing how the city evaluates suite applications – the current system isn’t efficient for anyone involved. I support basement suites being a permitted use in single detached dwellings and garden suites being a discretionary use. These applications do not belong in Council, they should be handled through city administration. If a homeowner can meet the strict criteria required in order to add a legal basement suite (including safety and parking requirements), then I believe their application should be approved. 

6. How would you describe the performance of Councillor Pincott during his time at City Hall?
I appreciate Councillor Pincott’s commitment to Ward 11 and the city through his 10 years of service.
One of Councillor Pincott’s qualities I have admired is the respect he shows the people he works with at the City. He maintains a positive working relationship with administration while challenging employees to improve systems and efficiency. I also appreciate his support of community grassroots initiatives which helps strengthen our community at a fundamental level. His support of local organizations, such as the Southwest Community Resource Centre has been important to ensure our communities have resources available to our neighbours who need them most. Councillor Pincott has built many strong relationships in Ward 11 communities with community associations and residents and has worked with them to move projects forward.

7. What are the biggest problems facing City Council and what are you going to do to bring about change?

I think some of biggest problems facing council right now are
  • Affordability: these economic times are challenging for low income residents, seniors, small businesses and families who are facing reduced incomes
  • Traffic safety: residents are concerned about the safety within their communities, particularly around pedestrian and cycling safety, especially for children within residential areas
  • A lack of collaboration between key stakeholders on public and private projects: there is a lack of consistent, professional conversation to move things forward in a positive way whether that be within council or engagement of the larger community
Solutions:
  • We need to ensure all Calgarians have access to programs and services that will help them get back on their feet and stay in their homes and communities. The City could act as a better liaison between citizens and local agencies, connecting residents to a variety of services. Tax credits or relief programs could also be implemented for vulnerable Calgarians and small businesses
  • We need to implement traffic calming measures including lower speed limits, better lighting and visual identifying elements around cross walks and cycling areas. Working closely with each community to identify problem areas is also critical
  • As a councillor, it is important that I be able to work professionally and respectively with all personalities regardless of background and values and get things done for your Ward and the City as a whole. As an administration, the City needs to look at how to engage residents earlier, and re-engage effectively once a project begins to move forward.


Janet Eremenko for City Council – Ward 11
Website: www.janeteremenko.ca
Email: info@janeteremenko.ca

1. Why should Lakeview residents vote for you? 
As a Lakeview resident myself, I travel the same roads, experience the same construction, and enjoy many of the same community assets as you do.  This is where my husband and I chose to raise our family, and we want it to remain an amazing neighbourhood for our kids as they grow up.  This means safe streets, diverse amenities, walkability, and high-quality communication with all orders of government.  More specifically, I want to mitigate impacts of construction, curb cut-through traffic through Lakeview, maintain the environmental integrity of Weaselhead and North Glenmore Park, and to work closely with surrounding communities on areas of mutual interest and benefit, such as the pedestrian overpass across Crowchild Trail

2. The Tsuut'ina Nation will soon be developing its lands west of Lakeview. Given that the development is not within Calgary, how will you represent Lakeview's interests?  
The best thing I can do as your Councillor is to establish a strong working relationship with Tsuut’ina Band and Council so that concerns can be discussed and addressed through respectful, open lines of communication.  As a resident on Treaty 7 territory, I am continuously building my own cultural competency related to First Nations, Metis and Inuit People, and support City Council’s initiative to advance the relevant calls-to-action from the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.  I also look forward to learning from and supporting the good work of the Lakeview Community Association’s Tsuut’ina Nation Relations Committee.
The development of the land to the west of Lakeview has the potential to generate tremendous value for residents, but there will be some growing pains with construction.  I will strive to give Lakeview a voice in project management to lessen the impact of what may be several years of disruption.

3. To what extent are you comfortable with the design of the SW ring road bridge over the Elbow River?  
I'm a conservationist at heart so it saddens me to see the degradation of the Weaselhead as a result of the Southwest Ring Road construction.  Certainly, a clear-span bridge would have many benefits over the current design, however, it too has drawbacks, namely the significantly higher price tag and the risk of its construction pushing the project past the 7-year deadline.  I support Lakeview residents in their concerns for the wetlands in Weasehead, and believe the Environmental Appeals Board is the best forum for concerns to be heard and for a decision to be made.  Until it is reviewed, I'm glad to see the work has stopped.

4. Do you support the SW BRT in its current form? Please explain.  
Public transportation is a vital part of a vibrant city and the BRT network that spans all four quandrants of the city is important infrastructure. For the most part, I support the SW BRT in its current form, though not in its timing.  I would have liked to have seen the ring road completed prior to approving the plan for the BRT.  The leg of the BRT that touches Lakeview does not have a stop.  I would like to see an expansion of the bus routes that serve Lakeview, so that they remain accessible during non-peak hours.

5. Are you in favour of allowing secondary suites in R-C1 zones, such as most of Lakeview? 
I support the right of property owners to develop their homes as they see fit,  including legal secondary suites. This does not mean property owners are granted a carte blanche to create suites without thorough application and review. I would like a comprehensive review of the Secondary Suites bylaws with concerns of residents in mind.  For example, having spoken with many constituents concerning neglectful landlords and poorly maintained properties, I suggest an addition to the bylaws that requires a property owner to have his or her primary residence in Calgary to reduce the ’absentee landlord’ phenomenon.  The process concerning secondary suites must change; public hearings are not an efficient use of time for residents or council. Changing this process will require leadership from council to empower and support Administration.

6. How would you describe the performance of councillor Pincott during his time at City Hall?  
Public service requires dedication to residents, communities, and the city. Councillor Pincott should be applauded for his many years of service to the City of Calgary as a hard-working and dedicated official.  I know Councillor Pincott through my work at Vibrant Communities Calgary and  he is a vocal champion for the non-profit sector, for vulnerable and marginalized Calgarians and for the environment.  Brian is a big-picture thinker, and systems-oriented.  I plan to strike a balance between city-wide, systemic issues and community-level engagement.  I want to continue in Brian’s work as a tireless champion for the non-profit sector, but understand Ward 11 constituents need to see their Councillor in their communities.  I plan to be where my constituents are. 

7. What are the biggest problems facing City Council and what are you going to do to bring about change?  
Calgary’s shifting economy is the biggest challenge City Council faces; Calgarians were hit hard by the downturn so supporting businesses and industries through recovery are definitely top of mind.  I plan to bring about change by approaching this problem differently.  The changing economy isn’t only related to reduced revenues from oil and gas.   Our economy is adapting to climate change, the changing nature of work, affordability of goods and services, and growing inequality.  Now’s the time for innovation, leadership and a forward-looking perspective.  The change that I want to bring to City Council considers how we can do business differently to support small and medium-sized business.  How we can be sure that you are seeing the value of your tax dollars and that you can count on government programs and services to be responsive to your needs, in good times and in bad.  Lastly, I plan to lead and support Council initiatives based on merit, best practice and feedback from constituents in Ward 11, not on political ideology or party affiliations.


Jeromy Farkas
Website: jeromy.ca
Email: jeromy@jeromy.ca

1. Why should Lakeview residents vote for you?
I’m not looking for a job – I genuinely want to serve. Lakeview is facing unique transportation, demographic, and development challenges and your family will benefit from having a representative with both energy and financial responsibility. After visiting every single home in Lakeview, I’ve come to really appreciate what makes your community special. I have a proven record of fighting for the safety and character of your neighbourhood, the value of your properties and tax-dollars, and accountability on major issues like the McDonald’s development, Southwest BRT, and Earl Grey Golf Course pathway. I’ve made the effort to be present when you needed a voice – for eighteen months, long before the election – rather than just showing up when it was convenient.

2. The Tsuut'ina Nation will soon be developing its lands west of Lakeview. Given that the development is not within Calgary, how will you represent Lakeview's interests?
In meeting last week with Chief Crowchild to discuss your concerns, I believe strongly that an open and honest dialogue is key to ensuring that there is a seat at the table for Lakeview. The door is open to working together in a way that maximize the benefits of development while mitigating the negatives. Ultimately, I am accountable to my constituents and I am prepared to fight to protect your interests using the full resources available to the City. 

3. To what extent are you comfortable with the design of the SW ring road bridge over the Elbow River?
I have followed this issue closely as a director of the Weaselhead Preservation Society. I do not support the current design, as there is concern that it may create significant flood risks for both upstream and downstream residents. I understand that a better clear-span bridge can be built for lower financial and environmental cost, and will not delay the opening of the ring road.

4. Do you support the SW BRT in its current form? Please explain.
No – I am the only candidate who will move to cancel it. The Southwest BRT is based on flawed economic analysis and engineering studies that are almost a decade old. There is still no realistic cost structure and the budget could balloon to well in excess of $200 million. The consultation process was a sham and designed to be a misinformation campaign. I have real concerns that the proximity of the SW BRT will open the door to Transit Oriented Development in Lakeview – high density developments which are highly lucrative for developers but potentially destructive to established neighbourhoods.

5. Are you in favour of allowing secondary suites in R-C1 zones, such as most of Lakeview?
Our Councillor’s job is to represent Lakeview, rather than impose City Hall’s view on you. That said, my family chose to live in an R-C1 neighbourhood for a reason and want to see that lifestyle maintained. In my experience, many residents in Lakeview feel similarly. I oppose blanket rezoning and grant that the current approach where homeowners plead their case at Council public hearings isn’t working. Approval for secondary suites should move out of the hands of city councillors and into the hands of neighbours and an administrative process.

6. How would you describe the performance of councillor Pincott during his time at City Hall?
I began my campaign before Councillor Pincott’s decision to retire, and wish him the best. While spending time in Lakeview, I have heard a desire for a fresh start at City Hall. We’ve built a young, diverse, and data-driven team; I want to give you something to vote for, rather than against. As your councillor, I will be a positive and ideas-driven voice for financial responsibility and transparent decision-making. 

7. What are the biggest problems facing City Council and what are you going to do to bring about change?
City Council does not listen to citizens. With 748 secret meetings since 2013, City Hall seems to be run by the administration, rather than the elected officials. Our families and businesses are being crushed by high taxes, red tape, and a City Council that doesn’t listen to our issues and concerns.  We cannot afford this Council anymore – they’ve already signaled that they will raise property and business taxes in areas like Lakeview to pay for unsustainable 4% wage increases and pet projects. I will put everyday Calgarians - and not special interests – first. My strong data and financial background will allow me to bring back fiscal responsibility to City Hall, as well as hold administration accountable. After knocking on more than 60,000 doors, I have shown a willingness to listen, and the energy to persist – even when the odds may be stacked against views like mine. With your support, I will be a strong voice for better value for your family’s tax-dollars at City Hall.


Linda Johnson
Website: lindajohnson.ca
Email: info@lindajohnson.ca

1.   Why should Lakeview residents vote for you?
As your councillor, I would bring a unique level of knowledge and experience to the position. As a small business owner, community volunteer and previously elected official, I have experience collaborating with a variety of stakeholders to get results and advocating for community members through all three levels of government. I will make sure all citizens are engaged, and that projects are effectively managed and implemented. I am passionate about public service. I have the energy, experience and wisdom to serve residents by bringing your voice to Council.

2.   The Tsuut'ina Nation will soon be developing its lands west of Lakeview. Given that the development is not within Calgary, how will you represent Lakeview's interests?
I look forward to following Chief Crowchild’s intention of being good neighbours and building a strong relationship on both sides of 37th Street. I personally believe that building trust and finding ways to work together will be critical for all parties moving forward - especially to address any potential future concerns from Lakeview residents which may arise from the new development. 

3.   To what extent are you comfortable with the design of the SW ring road bridge over the Elbow River?
I am comfortable with the current design of the Ring Road Bridge over the Elbow River. From my understanding, the design that has been approved, complies with the current environmental standards and has taken in consideration the need of the local flora and fauna. 

4.  Do you support the SW BRT in its current form? Please explain.
I support the SW BRT with the design changes achieved in the consultation process as outlined in the SW Transitway response dated July 2016. I understand that for many residents, the SW BRT has been a topic where many people feel their concerns were never fully addressed during the initial consultation process. If elected your councillor, my first order of business will be to get a detailed update of the current design, budget and development timelines and share this information with Ward 11 residents as soon as possible. I will also closely monitor the financial and ridership performance of the BRT once service is introduced to ensure that it is meeting or exceeding its service goals.

5.   Are you in favour of allowing secondary suites in R-C1 zones, such as most of Lakeview?
I am not in favour of blanket redesignation of neighbourhoods for secondary suites (which would be the process of changing the designation of entire neighbourhoods away from R-C1 zones). The process should acknowledge that when owners wish to develop their property their desire can be balanced with the interests and needs of the greater community. We also need to have a process that is conscientious of the number of secondary suites on a given street and how that impacts neighbours. I also believe that the process for individual secondary suite redesignation decisions is currently flawed, and it should be delegated to an administrative process, and not be decided by City Council on an individual basis during Council meetings. 

6.  How would you describe the performance of councillor Pincott during his time at City Hall?
I have always given credit to anyone who is willing to put their name on a ballot and serve their full term as an elected official. From my previous dealings and interactions with Mr. Pincott, we may not have always agreed on policy, but we have always had a professional relationship as we addressed issues with our shared constituents. 

7.  What are the biggest problems facing City Council and what are you going to do to bring about change?
The biggest problems facing City Council is lowering the tax burden on residents and business owners, while ensuring that we are able to maintain our city services for all Ward 11 neighbours. In my opinion this can only be done by having a Councillor who is willing to ask the tough questions of city administration and find ways to work with all of the councillors to get things done. On October 17th, we will have a different council and I believe we need a representative willing to work with the different policy positions that make up the new council to find innovative solutions to respond to the concerns of all residents.


Keith Simmons
Website: worksforcalgary.ca
Email: keithsimmons@worksforcalgary.ca

1.   Why should Lakeview residents vote for you?
Having been very active through the last decade or so in creating in-roads with City departments to benefit the community of Acadia, I became aware through interaction with other communities and citizens that a number of issues and concerns faced by Calgarians go by the wayside. This shouldn't be - City Hall is there to serve the City and it's Citizens, my motivation to run for council is to represent the people of my Ward at City Hall.

2.   The Tsuut'ina Nation will soon be developing its lands west of Lakeview. Given that the development is not within Calgary, how will you represent Lakeview's interests?
At this time I think development to the west of Lakeview will be a benefit to Lakeview and to Calgary. With that in mind when plans are being firmed up I'll being engaging Lakeview for input and doing my best to ensure Lakeview's concerns are being heard throughout the process. As you are in close proximity to whatever development happens I would be weighting Lakeview opinion heavily in interactions.

3.   To what extent are you comfortable with the design of the SW ring road bridge over the Elbow River?
If you mean the Weaselhead interface specifically - I think the plan didn't go nearly far enough. The wetlands are, and needed to be treated as, a reserve of sorts as this is a major tributary for Calgary. That coupled with the major revision the river must go through to accommodate the roadway, clearly the bottom line played too heavily in the conversation and a number of decisions were made hastily.

4.  Do you support the SW BRT in its current form? Please explain.
For Lakeview - Yes. My only concern is why the line is not a spur (rail) line from the Blue Line or at least a plan that sees a rail line down Crowchild terminating at MRU or in Lakeview. The remainder of the SW BRT line leaves me questioning why we'd run a line immediately adjacent to the reservoir and less densely populated areas. In my view if you plan a rapid transit line you do what you can to ensure you have the largest capture area for that line. I look at the Red Line and think why not run another train route on that existing asset and spur off at Anderson - bringing bus routes to that line.

5.   Are you in favour of allowing secondary suites in R-C1 zones, such as most of Lakeview?
The safety part of the equation is a no-brainer - if it's your kids or your parents or a renter - suite or no - it needs to be safe: end of sentence. If we focused on why illegal suites work, we'd come to realize it's a social contract. If I rent part of my house to you, you represent me to my neighbors - do this well and everyone gets along fine. If we'd like to do this better, we should be addressing a license situation. If you have a good relationship with your neighbors you'll have already done the work to green-light the idea, and the blue sign is a formality. The plus of a license is it ends with the current owner and when the home changes hands the license would need to be re-initiated with the subsequent owner keeping the immediate neighbors in the loop.

6-7.  How would you describe the performance of councillor Pincott during his time at City Hall and what are the biggest problems facing City Council and what are you going to do to bring about change?
Unfortunately I can't answer that question honestly as I've only met Brian on a handful of occasions. I have however heard frustration and disenfranchisement from numerous Calgarians (level-headed and otherwise) who are looking for remedy and betterment for their part of Calgary and they are not being heard - this is where we need to demand more of our Councillors and Council, they're there for us - I'll be there for you.