When Jennifer Wyness first ran for Ward 2 councillor in 2017, she did it because she thought the needs of the community weren’t being met by the current councillor.
Given the current expense situation and Coun. Joe Magliocca’s evasion of local media, she said awareness of the area’s issues is low.
“I though Joe wasn’t representing the needs of our communities and then it’s only gotten worse,” Wyness told LiveWire Calgary.
“I don’t see our councillor even advocating for the needs of Ward 2. I’m running to be the voice and work with our community. It’s not an ‘I’, it’s a ‘we’.”
Wyness has confirmed her candidacy in Ward 2 in the October municipal election. She placed second in the 2017 campaign, roughly 3,200 votes behind Magliocca.
She said citizens in Ward 2 want someone who will speak up for the services they need. One of the top concerns she’s heard area kids having the ability to take transit to school without a two-hour commute.
“We have all this vacant land for future school developments, which our community desperately needs,” Wyness said.
“If we’re not going to get these from the province, then we need to have more effective transit to get our kids to school.”
Top city issues
When asked about the top Calgary issues, Wyness immediately said one thing: Green Line.
“If we’re going to talk fiscal responsibility, the longer we put off this project, the more we’re going to pay for it,” she said.
“The inputs that we have to purchase to build this are going up with inflation.”
She said the city and province needs to consider the economic growth that comes with building a functional transit system and how attractive that is for businesses and for people.
Wyness said the recent news of a delay on the project until at least 2022 is devastating for the city.
The trickle-down effect of a better transit system is evident with commute times, accessibility and reducing traffic on Calgary’s roads.
Fluoride, the downtown and residential speeds
Wyness said it’s somewhat mind boggling that Calgary is still dealing with the issue of fluoride. What’s interesting to her is that it’s not a question of whether we should have fluoride in the water or not.
With it already naturally occurring, she said the question is actually how much do we want.
“Do we just want to maintain it at a level that’s going to provide dental benefit for Calgarians? That’s how I look at that question,” she said.
On this issue she’ll defer to the will of Ward 2 residents and the expected plebiscite.
Downtown Calgary wasn’t built with services for how we’re envisioning it today. That’s where we need to start, she said.
“We keep going back and forth on is what we want Calgary to be. We need to start going, ‘OK, what is our vision; what does a day in the life of a Calgarian look like,” Wyness said.
Once that is achieved, we need to start delivering on that vision in the downtown.
The issue of residential speeds really comes down to enforcement, Wyness said. She hasn’t heard it too much at the doors.
While she supports safety, she said a closer look is needed at conflict areas around the city to see how those could be addressed.
“When you’re trying to sell something with what is perceived to be a simple solution as lowering the speed limit, I don’t think we’re really taking a good look at what the true problem is and what we’re trying to solve,” she said.
Even then, she said it doesn’t matter what the speed is if it can’t be enforced by city police.
Defunding police and Guidebook
Wyness said it’s worthwhile to examine the area where police don’t need to respond. It just makes sense to free them up to focus on safety in Calgary.
“I’m sure there are police officers that I could go talk to and they, on a typical day, get a call and they’re like, ‘Well, do I actually really need to respond to this,’” she said.
She said an underlying issue is burnout with police and that could be contributing to other problems seen on the police force.
“It makes it really hard to be positive and functioning,” she said.
The Guidebook really put Calgary’s identity crisis in focus, Wyness said. On one hand you want to grow responsibly, but you want it to be a city where you can afford a home and raise kids.
“We’re a family-focused city and we need to start accepting that we’re not just a downtown core. I think the conversation has been focused on the downtown core,” she said.
“We’re losing sight of all the Calgarians contributing to our city. In Ward 2 I’m hearing that all of our issues are not being heard because we’re just so focused on the downtown.”
She said you have to look at the city’s priorities; it wants to focus on downtown and established areas, but yet allows the expansion of new communities on the periphery.
“How can we balance the needs of all of Calgary and hear everyone’s voice,” she said.
“If you do a micro-focus, you’re missing out on opportunities to effectively build your entire city.”
‘Conduit for the community’
Wyness said she wants to listen to the residents of Ward 2 and help deliver the services they need.
“I want to work with everybody. I don’t feel like it’s just me; I’m a conduit for the community to get that voice on city council,” she said.
“I want to listen to and work with the community because they’re the ones with the solutions.”
Calgary’s municipal election is Oct. 18, 2021.