The rise in taxation over the last 10 years. Affordability for both housing and doing business in our city has been declining. As a city, we have to look within our own jurisdiction and adjust where necessary in order to not let the situation grow out of hand. We need to bend the curve of rising taxes as one means of addressing affordability to both improve the lives of those living here and increase the desirability of our city as a destination for both people and business.
What are the three most important issues in your ward, and how would you address them?
As mentioned earlier, the biggest issue is rising taxation affecting affordability. This could be addressed with more rigorous application of the S.A.V.E. program and opening it up to input from residents and businesses in Calgary rather than just city staff. Our most actionable means to achieving our budget and taxation goals is to look within to ensure we are operating as efficiently as possible. An approximate one per cent increase in savings and efficiencies would have kept both business and residential tax increases at zero last year.
Third, the Green Line. The goals of increasing transit ridership as a whole for the city, reducing vehicle traffic, and connecting people with places, are not achieved by taking construction across the Bow River to 16th Ave. They would be achieved if the construction was taken to Seton in the south. This would provide transit to more people who don’t currently use it now, assist in removing vehicle traffic from Deerfoot Trail, and connect the world’s largest YMCA as well as the South Health Campus hospital (which employs approximately 3,000 staff) to the transit line. The land is available now and ready to build on to advance this important project for Ward 12 and the City of Calgary.
While improvements to downtown can be made, I do not agree with all of the strategy that has been proposed. The net benefit of the $80-million cost of the Art Commons project is questionable. I would suggest leveraging our investment in our new public library as a more effective method of supporting the arts. A second questionable item is the $10-million budget set aside just to manage the plan. A third concern is access and timing. The plan is looking to reduce vehicle traffic in and to the core even more than it is now. To make downtown more successful in the short term, we need to get more people to go there, sooner than later. When I ask people, “What is the number one reason that keeps you from going to a restaurant, show, or event downtown”, the answer is almost invariably issues with parking. Too little and/or too expensive. To bring more vibrancy to the core in a shorter period of time this needs to be addressed.
What innovative project or job creation measure can you propose to aid Calgary’s post-COVID economic recovery?
We have a major investment of funds including large amounts from the provincial and federal governments allocated and ready to be spent on construction of the Green Line. This project needs to move forward as quickly as possible.
What should city council do to keep young adults from leaving Calgary?
Reasons to stay in Calgary will be the same as the reasons why people and businesses will want to come to Calgary. It’s two sides of the same coin. I can remember the excitement and energy that was in the air when Calgary became the number two municipality in Canada for corporate head offices. People were flocking to our city for its good management, relative affordability, and the opportunity it provided. We have a great city and we do not need to re-invent the wheel. If we stay focused, control the costs of both housing and doing business in the city, and make it easy for corporations from all sectors to locate here, all we will then need to do is to better spread the word and tell the world of our great story. By ensuring Calgary is a great destination, those already here will be less likely to leave.
*Original article online at https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/mike-lavalley-ward-12-calgary-council-candidate-questionnaire