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Calgary advocacy group builds from the neighbourhood up

The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) has been working behind the scenes for some time, building relationships and acting when Calgary advocacy is needed.

Now, the 29-member organization, representing 31,000 Calgarians, are celebrating their official founding assembly Thursday.

Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee, spokesperson for the non-partisan CACG, said they’ve celebrated some recent victories already, including involvement in the Keep Calgary Strong campaign, which urged city council to keep programs for vulnerable citizens whilst they were making $60 million in budget cuts.

“It was a bit of a victory in July in that they didn’t cut the mental health and addiction strategy. And they didn’t cut the low-income transit pass,” said Greenwood-Lee.

“Our main message in July was to do the least harm to the most vulnerable.”

The group also lobbied the province in 2018 for an increase in social supports for low-income Albertans.

They have four core areas: Mental health and addictions, social isolation, the environment and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, Greenwood-Lee said.  

These core areas came as a result of a listening campaign that engaged more than 1,000 Calgarians from different industries, organizations, faiths and ethnicities in the spring.

Greenwood-Lee said they already have the ear of Alberta’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, advocating for mental health prevention services in advance of the provincial budget. The CACG also has its eye on what happens with the Oct. 21 federal election.

“So whatever kind of government, whatever level of government we’re dealing with, that’s kind of our lens; the four issues our 31,000 members have told us they’re concerned about,” she said.

Time to celebrate, then time to look ahead

They’re going to continue their ground level, neighbourhood work with the idea of bringing together people from different backgrounds. They want to help them understand that it’s OK to participate in the process.

“The most important work we do is at a relational level. And then that all builds towards policy and I hope encourages people to vote and changes how people vote,” she said.

They’ll take some time out for their Thursday launch, bringing together 400 to 500 of their members to come out for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., Oct. 17 at the Knox United Church.

Greenwood Lee said they want to tell the story of the successes they’ve had so far, outline their plans and show local politicians they have a wide range of Calgarians behind them.

The celebration will be short-lived as work will continue on upcoming issues.

With potential Calgary budget cuts coming in both 2020 and 2021, Greenwood-Lee said they’ll continue their Calgary advocacy in support of their four core areas.

“We’ll be looking at that. And then possibly looking to meet with councillors and show up again at City Hall and doing that stuff again… to kind of have our voice again for the 2020 budget,” she said.

For more information, you can visit the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good website.