Priority #2: Smarter Models for Infrastructure

The traditional model of creating infrastructure in Canadian cities is to patch together funding from property taxes at the municipal level, and then beg for matched funds from provincial and federal governments. We receive money when it is politically convenient for politicians at the other levels of government. Here’s the problem: regardless of the level of government that provides funding to the city, it’s ultimately your money as taxpayers. It makes planning for our future needs difficult, and it’s not working.

Here are a few ways that we can address the Ward 3 priorities (Green Line, Vivo and Schools) through new thinking around funding infrastructure:

Green Line

  • We must create, execute and expedite a plan to acquire the necessary properties in the proposed LRT right-of-way along Centre Street. I will also fight to secure a location for the LRT storage and maintenance facility, including exploring new options that may exist in the Livingston and Carrington area.
  • To continue the construction north of 16th Avenue beyond Stage 1, we must think outside the box for additional funding. I will advance innovative funding mechanisms as an alternative to the ineffective current system of waiting for matching grants.
    • I will make the argument for keeping a greater percentage of the property tax the City of Calgary collects (currently the Government of Alberta takes 40%) and dedicate it specifically to the north extension of Green Line.
    • I will challenge the federal government to return of a percentage of GST or income tax collected in Calgary for a set period of time while the north extension of the Green Line is being planned and constructed.

Vivo

  • Vivo has been a valued partner of the City of Calgary for over a decade, yet the much-needed expansion on this undersized facility has not been approved. The argument from each level of government is that they are waiting for other levels to commit funds first. Instead of this circular argument, Ward 3 would be better served by some innovation.
    • I will push to establish a Community Revitalization Levy (much like the one used for the redevelopment of Calgary’s East Village) for a set period of time that would capture the increased value of lands north of Stoney Trail as Livingston and Carrington are developed.

 

Schools

  • The location and design of schools is under provincial jurisdiction which means the City of Calgary has very little influence over location or the timing of funding and construction. The developers who own the land are also required to simply gift the school sites to school boards. While the provincial government and school boards should retain authority over operating items, like curriculum and staffing, there is no logic in leaving school location and construction under their mandate. As your Ward 3 Councillor, I will not rest until we return to thinking of schools as fundamental to complete communities, and change the inefficient process that is damaging our children’s access to education.
    • The City of Calgary has a responsibility to take the lead in establishing school sites as a community is being planned, while accepting feedback from school boards and province.
    • City Administration needs to work with land developers to identify optimal sites where school uses can be combined with other important and secure services (like fire halls, seniors care facilities or recreation centres).
    • Schools can be built under an agreement where full or up-front construction costs are covered by the developer, with expedited approval processes, offsets, or reimbursement over time.
    • We must also review underserved established communities (like those in Ward 3) and identify existing empty school or community association sites that could be used to create combined use projects with a school as the hub.
Jyoti Gondek for Ward 3 Calgary City Council 2017