Kimberly Feser said access to recreation will be a top priority for her, if elected in this October’s Calgary municipal election.
Feser wants to see more attention brought to local sports. She also has her eye on alleviating pressure on businesses surviving the ongoing pandemic. The two have a connection, she said.
Feser’s now launched her campaign for the Ward 9 seat on city council.
“I’m hoping that going forward, that we think about what the tax burden implication is on all levels of [residents] and businesses,” she said.
“It’s the businesses moving forward from the pandemic that will create the jobs and help support the sports within our communities.”
Feser has three children who are all involved in sports to varying degrees. She said the current lack of available indoor recreation hits close to home.
“I do have a child who’s in extreme, high-end sport and another child who’s just interested in playing for fun. That’s not something we’ve been able to really find,” she said.
“I want to be able to see communities have better access to recreational facilities.”
Feser added she’s concerned that many students graduating from their post-secondary educations are seeking work outside of Calgary. There’s a lack of opportunity in local markets, she said.
“Our children moving forward will need jobs and we’re having a massive drain of the young professionals who are leaving universities [and colleges] right now… leaving our cities and looking for jobs elsewhere.”
Ensuring the use of the Green Line
Feser said she supports the construction of the Green Line. She has concerns about accessibility and available infrastructure to support parking.
“The Green Line is definitely needed. However, when there’s no infrastructure to put in this line, so that the people who aren’t near [it], have nowhere to park, have nowhere to easily access it, I don’t think that’s been fully thought through yet,” she said.
She’s concerned about the rising costs of the project. Feser’s also concerned about the absence of a concrete plan for its development.
“There isn’t a full plan yet to say ‘this is stage one, here’s stage two…’ but what are we doing about parking, how is it rapid transit when it’s from point a to point b with really nothing in between,” she said.
“I understand that we need it. I question how much it’s costing and every day that we wait, the more it costs.”
A new approach to Downtown
As the effects of the COVID-19 continue, Feser suggested many companies and businesses that formerly occupied office towers in the downtown core have adjusted to operating remotely.
The change, she said, frees space to potentially redevelop some of the towers into more versatile facilities for housing, shopping, or other alternatives.
“With all those empty office towers, we need to see if we can work with developers to rethink these towers,” she said.
“If we start moving around taxes, even rethinking how we’ve done some of the parking or access to businesses that are already down there, we have to encompass that as well.”
Feser said converting former offices into multi-use buildings, dedicating various stories to alternative purposes is a good place to start.
Reducing speed limits: right idea, wrong time
Feser said she supports reduced residential speeds from a safety perspective.
“I understand the safety point of view… my question comes down to, is this the right [expense] at the current time,” said Feser.
She said the estimated $2 million to change signage could have easily been better spent on a higher priority issue. Feser also questioned the enforceability of the new limits.
“Who is going to be policing this? Who is going to be making sure that Calgarians as a whole are listening that this is the speed limit?” she said.
Feser explained despite her reservations on the timing of the decision, she still ultimately supports it.
“Is this an initiative that could have waited? I think so. Is this an initiative that will keep more people safe in the community? Absolutely.”
Police funding and fluoride
Feser said she understands where the calls to defund the Calgary Police Service come from. Instead of taking money away from the service, a better approach would be to change police response, she said.
“We can’t defund our police and think they’re still going to be there when crime is happening,” she said.
The negative narrative surrounding the police must change if residents are to feel comfortable contacting police.
“We need the public to see that, when they call 9-1-1 because they are concerned about somebody’s safety, it’s not necessarily right away that [the situation] escalates to the full police force coming in,” said Feser.
With regards to ongoing discussions regarding whether to keep fluoride in the water, Feser said she is behind its use.
“Not everybody in the city is able to afford to go to the dentist,” she said.
From a financial sense, she added it doesn’t make sense to continue teetering back and forth on the issue. The cost of the ongoing discussion could be put to better use elsewhere, she said.
Calgary votes Oct. 18, 2021.