Olympic Plebiscite: My Comment on the Results

Calgarians have voted, and the choice is clear. The Olympic Bid process ends tonight.

For months now, I have supported the public’s right to be polled on this issue. Given the tremendous benefits and risks associated with bidding and potentially hosting the Games, it only made sense that Calgarians chose what they thought was the best course of action for our City.

That choice is clear tonight. I cannot support moving the Olympic project further.

I thank the official yes and no sides for coming out and engaging Calgarians on this issue. Your commitment to the Calgary community has not gone unnoticed.

At times, this debate has been difficult. If there is one regret that I have, it is that this process had led to divisions among friends and neighbours. However, now is the time for us to come together and be Calgarians – for that, is democracy. The vote is done and the will of Calgarians is clear. Now, we must work to build a better future – together.

Remarks Defending the Olympic Bid Plebiscite - October 31, 2018

Council, what more is there for us to say? Right now, Calgarians need leadership. Real political leadership. Because, before us today, we have a decision that will shape our City’s story.

Before us today, we have a signed proposal on the funding arrangement. This was the missing piece required, that ensures Calgarians have all the answers they need, to make an educated vote.

The deal before us is a good deal. The City’s share is approximately $390 Million dollars.

On our share: the City has identified that it would be spending approximately $350 Million on legacy and infrastructure updates over the next two budget cycles anyway. We are talking about a capital increase of $40 million.

To be clear we would spend $390 Million dollars to leverage approximately $4.4 Billion dollars of investment in our City that is desperately needed.

A deal like this comes once in a generation. I have always said I would support the plebiscite as long as we had numbers that made sense, and that we could present to Calgarians.

Today, we’ve seen the numbers, and they do make sense. I am confident that the information required for plebiscite is now there.

I remind you, business deals are always fluid. However, today we’ve set the parameters in which the deal can be finalized. A deal that is in the best interest of Calgarians.

Should this fail at plebiscite, then so be it. I remain committed to supporting the will of Calgarians who vote on November 13, 2018. My conscious will be clear, knowing that Calgarians now have the numbers to make the choice, and that we did our best to ensure a good deal and good plan for all of Calgary.

But let me be clear. To abandon the plebiscite after the news of this deal is a slap in the face to the democratic process. Council, it’s time for us to finally follow up on what we promised Calgarians what we would do.

We promised Calgarians that we would provide them with the information and a funding agreement before the plebiscite. We’ve done that now. Are we really considering backing down on what we promised, at a critical time where we are rebuilding trust with the public?

As Council’s representative to Calgary Economic Development, I strongly urge you to vote against this reconsideration.

We all hold accountability as a virtue. Let’s prove it today and follow up on what we promised to do. It’s now time for Calgarians to make the final decision. Sign the agreement, let’s go vote.

Transcript: Remarks on Street Safety and Neighbourhood Speed Limits Notice of Motion

As predicted, this issue would be controversial and it evidently is, but it spurted a much needed public conversation on speed limits, especially residential streets.

As a father of three small children who play on these streets, I can’t fathom the arguments against this Notice of Motion. We’re specifically talking about residential side streets, not main roads, not collectors – residential side streets.

The fact that this is a public conversation that has been muddled into confusion regarding a war on cars absolutely baffles me. I’m a car enthusiast – I’ll say that right now, but I still support the exploration work being done here.

At the end of the day, the most common complaint that my Office receives relates to transportation and transit concerns around safety. Almost daily, my staff and I received demands for speed bumps, traffic calming measures, pedestrian lights, or stop lights.
If we were to repurpose every demand, how much would that cost? I can tell you that its hundreds of millions of dollars just in my Ward.

So how can we be effective in making our residential streets safer while watching our budget? By having this very public conversation around awareness and behavioural change on our streets.

The suggestion that speed limit enforcement is a cash grab also doesn’t hold water with me. If you don’t speed you’ll never have to pay anything, therefore this is voluntary if anything. 

It’s like texting and driving – we’ve made some behavioural changes there and I am proud to say that if I ever pick up my phone while driving my nine-year-old will shame me right there and then.

It’s also like drinking and driving – these all spurted from things that should have never been.

Many have questioned, why is this even a priority, given everything that we have going in our City? I can tell you, given that we have 1200 collisions every year on residential streets and collector roads, the societal impact of these collisions is estimated at $120 Million or so. 

So how isn’t it a priority? 

These are people who can’t get to work, can’t do their job, can’t contribute to the economy because there is an impact down the road, and its one we forget when think about this as just pedestrians being affected.
Moreover, it’s the hundreds of millions of dollars of mitigation work that we would have to undertake without this behavioural change. 

That’s why its important – we’re mindful of the budget and we’re mindful of the impact that it has. We have to come up with a cost-effective solution that works.

However, I do note that the public conversation has led to much consideration and contemplation. I for one put it out to my community and found the community is in favour of a 40km/hr speed reduction. 

To be clear, we would still like administration to go out and bring out a recommendation. We are not the experts, there has to be societal buy in to what were trying to do here, but at the end of the day, I’d like a solid recommendation of how this can be effective.

I like the idea of supplying maps to clear up any confusion in our community. I like the idea of knowing what’s the impact on transit – that’s one thing we don’t want to slow down. People are busy, they want to get to work, they need transit – so what’s the impact on transit?

And what’s the flexibility that we have for collector roads? Because let’s face it, a lot of what we’re talking about here today does happen on collector roads – roads that have lots of accidents. We need to be mindful that there are communities out there that are saying that “the collector roads in my area are too fast and we need to get them slowed down”.

So for that, and all these reasons, I am happy to support this Notice of Motion and again thank you Councillor Farrell for putting this forward, and hopefully Council can support what we’ve put up here.