Andre Chabot said he’s feeling better than ever and ready to take a crack at the vacant seat in Calgary’s Ward 10.
Chabot, the former Ward 10 councillor and 2017 mayoral contender, also ran for the United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary East in 2018.
He served as Ward 10 councillor from 2005 until the 2017 election. Ray Jones was the most recent councillor in Ward 10, but he’s resigned his seat due to health concerns.
Three years outside of the council semi-circle has given him some new perspective, Chabot told LiveWire Calgary in an interview Friday.
“I kind of had come to the conclusion that I didn’t think that city council was truly in touch with what was going on in the real world,” Chabot said.
Chabot said he doesn’t think the city can spend its way out of the current economic situation. It does have an impact on operating funds, he said, and that hits taxpayers.
“Rather than pull back on some of the capital plans that have property tax dollars associated with the funding component, they’re (council) moving ahead, full speed ahead, as if everything is remaining the same,” Chabot said.
He’s not advocating for any project cancellations, but until the city can ride out the economic malaise, it might be wise to push them out a bit, he said.
Economic impact felt in Ward 10
“The economic downturn has impacted this ward probably more so than many others,” Chabot said.
“They’re blue collar and some of the challenges they’re facing here due to the tax burden… a $100 increase here means a lot more than $1,000 to someone living in Mount Royal.”
He said the city needs to exercise its fiscal stability reserve to help lessen the tax burden on Calgary taxpayers. They can use it as one-time funding to keep people moving by bolstering the snow clearing after big snowstorms.
After all, he said, the money that ends up in reserve is because of over-taxation anyway. He said reserve are due to a “positive variant” at the end of the year from taxes being collected.
Chabot said the release of reserve cash has been a real positive that’s come out of city hall recently. He said it’s not enough though.
“I think a lot more could have been done for tax mitigation for some of the outlying areas, the small businesses in the outlying areas,” he said.
“But in this year, of course, miraculously this year, they come up with a 0 per cent increase. And I think that’s a testament to how much they were over collecting.”
Big projects, potential big savings
Chabot is in favour of the Green Line as a project. He thinks it would be valuable for Calgary – particularly in the south.
He said, he just doesn’t know how critical it is today.
Still, the city’s committed the $52 million in provincial tax room for the next 30 years to fund it. There are already obligations that need to be fulfilled, so he said it’s important to move forward.
Other capital projects like the Arts Commons Transformation could perhaps be set out a few more years.
“So rather than holding off, or giving that money back to taxpayers, they are looking for new places to spend it,” he said.
“Meanwhile, these businesses are crying for her relief on tax increases in the outlying areas because of the emptying of the downtown core.”
Health and bringing back council continuity
Chabot just passed his five-year mark after a heart attack.
“I just celebrated my five-year anniversary. I’m feeling better than I did long before I had my heart attack,” he said.
He’s been cigarette-free for more than a year and was playing hockey regularly prior to COVID-19.
“Health is not going to be an issue; I’m in better shape now than I was at 50 years old,” Chabot said.
The former city councillor has stayed connected with some members, but he’s noticed something about this current group. From his perspective they’re disconnected from one another, each fulfilling his or her own agenda.
During his 12-years on council, members talked with each other more, found common ground and built consensus.
“I see a little more, well, quite a bit more animosity on council now than I did when I was there,” he said.
“I think I can bring some connectivity back if nothing else.”