Note: Marek Hejduk believes that a campaign promises page, and specific promises is a “living” document, subject to greater community input, and able to change to adapt to the needs of specific communities and not towards special interest groups. Input is more than welcome, feel free to follow with the contact page to talk to Marek or any member of the campaign team.
1. Accountability and Common Sense
If we look at city halls track record, notably in the last 8 years we’ve seen a shift from politics of the people to politics of the egos, corporations and special interest groups.
That has resulted in economical disasters. The Peace Bridge whose ongoing costs did not account for the cold weather and additional traffic from people seeking to see the bridge (http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/it-will-cost-700000-to-replace-300-light-fixtures-on-calgarys-peace-bridge). Developers lacking proper community consultations regarding developments between city council and Calgarians, as one Community Association president mentioned “It’s not just a Ward 4 issue, This is about what we do with developments all over the city”. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/highland-park-golf-course-development-fight-1.4025742).
In all cases there is a distinct lack of public input, accountability by the City of Calgary and common sense. Instead of just talking about the problems Marek Hejduk is proposing some solutions with any public input welcome.
Peace Bridge should have taken into account the temperature variation using local architects who would account for 80 degree Celsius temperature variations would have been accounted for in local design firms, whereas a Spanish Architect wouldn’t appreciate the extreme cooling and heating that leads to much higher wear and tear. Marek is not opposed to art, but most councillors don’t seem to acknowledge that Calgary does have amazing world class art in our own backyard, and Marek would draw heavily from Calgary’s local artist community. In the case where developers lack proper public consultations Marek would ensure that part of the communication of developments would include a proper change management strategy ensuring all stakeholders sit at the table talking in order to develop a coherent community plan.
Finally Marek loves cycling. He loves the idea of bike lanes, after all he’s been struck by cars a total of 4 times in Calgary when he cycled down the streets in the last decade. However a bike lane is the last step the city should have taken to modifying car behaviours, a much less expensive and effective solution is to work with driving schools and public awareness campaigns via City of Calgary website to show that arcing 5 meters into oncoming traffic isn’t the proper way to avoid cyclists, and in order to ensure cyclists comply with local laws the City of Calgary should license all bikes at no charge so there are some accountability issues from the cycling community. Cheaper, more effective common sense solutions.
Unless we reverse the course holding our public officials accountable to the people who are voting for them we will see higher taxes, more boondoggles, and egoist spending on vanity projects inside city limits.
2. Secondary Suites in the City
As the Student Union at the University of Calgary has graciously pointed out, and then re-echoed by current Mayor Nenshi, secondary suites are a contentious issue. Sadly it seems no one holds existing council to dealing with the issue in a final way that doesn’t make it a recurring issue from election to election.
After considerable community input we are dealing with a multi faceted issue regarding the use of secondary suites, the high cost of living, legalizing secondary suites and landlord evictions in order to favor Airbnb in Calgary.
Marek Hejduk would propose an office that handles secondary suites that includes home inspectors to ensure that the secondary suites are up to fire and safety code as well as monitoring and accordingly charging rental units that wish to become Airbnb hotels.
- Home inspectors that physically inspect secondary suites to ensure that they are up to code. That includes legal escape windows, fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, current electrical work, water heaters within appropriate life cycle and separate entrance to the suite. The cost of the inspection is borne by the landlord who will pay for the inspection.
- The office upon passing inspection would grant the landlord a five year operating permit to ensure that the secondary suite remains to code meanwhile allowing city council to focus on other pertinent issues.
- The office would also be responsible for monitoring websites that allow for hotel like rental of properties (Like AirBnB) ensuring people who choose to become involved in the hotel industry are subject to the same levies, taxes and fines that larger, more commercial hotels are responsible for.
Marek feels the net results of such an office would ensure long term housing affordability for below median income Calgarians, would allow Community Associations to deny or accept secondary suites as part of their communities, and more importantly maintain the safety and security of Calgarians who rent.
3. Olympic Bid
There is a lot of controversy around the Olympic bid. Sean Chu wants a plebiscite on the issue, the problem is that a plebiscite isn’t legally bind Calgarians to changes in council vote. Mayor Nenshi and Druh Farrel have put their support behind it both catering to the ego boost from having their names on an Olympic Games.
The reality is that one way or the other we are going to have to upgrade the infrastructure in the city. The decision facing Calgarians is whether or not we want to continue to use and support legacy infrastructure left over from 1988 Calgary Olympics. Marek Hejduk is in favor of keeping and upgrading the infrastructure, those facilities have produced world class athletes that keep Canada in the international spotlight.
There are two questions that Calgarians need to ask themselves:
- Do you mind putting the city do the debt level or potentially over for an Olympics?
- Do we have any real benefit to retrofitting buildings and infrastructure that was slated for removal?
There are very little financial benefits to hosting the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has made unusually high demands of any Olympic bid including extra fees, security and paying for the entire IOC to be here. Secondly upgrading any Olympic venues would only serve to help a limited group of people; sports teams that profit directly from said bid. Marek is not in favor of using public money to bail out private enterprise.
We also have to face a few economic facts; is this really the time to spend money and get farther into debt with rising interest rates, low oil prices with no recovery on the horizon, a higher than national average unemployment rate and skyrocketing cost of living. Things may well recover in the future, for now we should let the Olympic bid lie until we are all financially and emotionally prepared for it.
4. Re-examine the Fluoride Issue
As we consider the importance of reinstating community water fluoridation, Marek was warned by his public relations people that this issue could ruin his campaign bid for council. Marek feels strongly about the subject matter because he is: a parent of two small children; a son to two Baby Boomer parents; a son-in-law to two other Baby Boomers; and losing a friend from an illness that is significantly linked to his friend’s tooth decay. Please read the total document deciding your position on reinstating fluoridation.
The decision to reinstate fluoridation has the potential to unite Calgarians regarding our common desire to everyone enjoy good health.
Yet a serious threat to public health emerged in Calgary when City Councillors decided in 2011 to remove fluoride from Calgary water. Some councillors said that fluoride was removed to save money. Removal of fluoride would help save the city $1 million dollars a year (about 80 cents per citizen per year). With increases to both council and employee salaries the following year, any purported cost savings were lost.
The health results of lack of fluoridation are now apparent: removing fluoride has hurt four of the most vulnerable groups; children, seniors, First Nations, and new Canadians. In response, City Councillor Druh Farrell said, “It’s not our responsibility, but what we’ve said is because we had this responsibility and because children in poverty are used as a reason to support fluoride, then let’s really help those children.” Ms. Farrell wrongly suggests that helping Calgarians avoid serious infection is not the job of city council when it is within its power to do so. Helping people in Calgary is City Council’s job; if Ms Farrell does not want to do it, then she should step aside now.
Calgary has many young families who cannot afford dental care and whose children are showing up at the Alberta Children’s Hospital emergency with dental infections. Moreover, Calgary has a growing population of seniors whom City Council put at risk for dental infection and dental care invoice increases. What steps did Councilor Farrell take this year and in the past six years to help those most disadvantaged by the decision she took to remove community water fluoridation?
Fluoridation is safe and effective and is recommended by Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Paediatric Society, Canadian Public Health Association, Health Canada, the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, the Canadian Dental Association, the Calgary & District Dental Society, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among many other national and international health organizations. There are many websites demonizing fluoride; they are ill-informed and designed to scare the public.
Calgarians know that removing fluoride has put our children and our seniors at risk regardless of their socio economic background.
City councillors should be responsible stewards with common sense who listen to those with the expertise to guide decision-making, and who care for all citizens in Calgary not just those who can pay for dental care.