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Community direction: Anton Ovtchinnikov vies for Calgary’s Ward 14 city council seat

Anton Ovtchinnikov has spent many years volunteering for community organizations and working with local businesses around Calgary.

The next step is taking that experience to city hall.

“I believe that we need a big change in the City Hall. I can bring those changes in every perspective – from a business as well as from the community side,” he said.

That’s one of the reasons the long time resident of Calgary is running to become Ward 14 councillor.

Ovtchinnikov said he’s not a career politician; he’s a career volunteer, so to speak.

He was born in Russia in 1980. In June 1998, his family moved to Canada. Ovtchinnikov started working as a dishwasher at local Boston Pizza when he moved to Calgary.

But then he left the restaurant world and went into sales.

“Right now, I am still selling commercial kitchen equipment and sitting on a couple of local community boards,” Ovtchinnikov said.

“There are many things that I want to do, but I am not really concentrating on my platform right off the bat. I do want to be supported by local residents,” he said.

On the Green Line

“I do not think there’s a lot of people in favour of that because it’s double the cost right now,” he said, possibly referring to the escalating cost and the reduction in overall length compared with original versions.

Ovtchinnikov said he would like to take a look at connecting the airport to the LRT system instead.

He said if people want to have a Green Line connection in the southeast of the city to the hospital, maybe we need to look at some other options.

“I am very neutral to the Green Line, and I will take my direction on Green Line from the residents of Ward 14,” Ovtchinnikov said.

Fiscal Responsibility and Taxes

Ovtchinnikov said the city must change the ways it handles taxpayers’ dollars.

“We cannot just spend money and then try to come up with ways to cover that spending,” he said.

Ovtchinnikov said that’s the impression he gets from city council right now. He said we do not need to increase taxes as much as we do if it’s done wisely.

“Being in sales, I see the need for the government to spend money at the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

“I want to change that approach because there are so many mistakes being made when you are rushing to spent money without any research.”

Ovtchinnikov referenced the the Taxpayers Federation, who said Calgary is one of the largest spenders in Canada per capita.

He said if we can bring spending in line with other cities like Vancouver and Toronto, we can actually save half a billion dollars in general.

“If we can put half a billion dollars towards the budget, then we probably find out we do not need to raise taxes a lot over the next few years,” Ovtchinnikov said

His goal is to put a little more control on these increases through control spending and zero waste of the capital, he said.

On the Guidebook for Great Communities

Ovtchinnikov said residents saw the final product, and nobody really liked it. He would like to see this book discussed with all community associations, so it’s not a big shock for residents when it comes out.

“I am absolutely not in favour of what was presented to us about a month ago because it is really been administration, the city, and the developer-centric document in my opinion,” he said.

He said we do need an updated vision, and we need to involve residents because that document will impact everybody eventually.

“I am glad that a couple of councillors proposed the amendments to spend next couple months to do some engagement with the rest of the city,” Ovtchinnikov said.

“About a week ago, Coun. Davison said the big problem with a Guidebook is that people just don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish with that,” he said.

“My thought immediately was that why don’t you just spend some time explaining to regular people what you trying to accomplish.”

“I am looking for guidance from the community and not trying to push my own agendas,” he said.

Calgary’s municipal election will be held on Oct. 18, 2021.