Sanjeev Kad said the last few years have been particularly trying times for Calgarians.
He said that as a business owner he’s seen dozens of families go from paycheque to paycheque, with rising property taxes and ineffective governance, things aren’t getting easier for them. When you put COVID-19 on top of that, people are struggling.
“I would say that overall governance in the in the in the city has not been up to the mark,” said Kad.
Kad said that there needs to be a change in mindset at Calgary’s city hall, one that focuses on citizens. That’s why he’s put his hat in to run in Ward 6.
After living in the Ward for more than 10 years and having run in the 2017 municipal election, Kad said he’s hearing tax increases and the economy are major issues for residents.
Taxes and the economy
Kad feels as though the city isn’t paying enough attention to the correlation between higher taxes and the impact on the businesses – and ultimately the citizens.
“If there is a relentless increase in taxes, year over year over year, It really discourages investors and discourages business people to invest,” he said.
“This affects jobs because they are lesser jobs, which if there are lesser jobs, it affects the economy at large,” he said.
He said over the past three years his business property taxes have increased 85 per cent. He said it’s tough to sustain a business that employs dozens of people when that burden increases annually.
Kad believes that the continual increase in taxes is a result of ongoing increases in City spending.
As a trained accountant, Kad said when he sees the city’s balance sheet there’s one primary form of revenue – taxes.
“You have got spending which is not efficient and smart and what happens is it puts a lot of pressure on taxes to be increased,” he said.
If elected, he would want a line-by-line accounting of city expenditures to advocate for spending on needs, not wants.
Safety, security and city services
At the doors, Kad said he’s hearing that, aside from rising city taxes, Ward 6 residents want adequate services. He said while taxes go up, city services aren’t keeping up the pace.
He said during a big winter snow dump the city hadn’t been able to clear snow for an extended period of time.
“The city couldn’t clear that snow – not for days, but for weeks – and still had their taxes go up every single day,” he said.
Kad said neighbourhood security is also a growing concern in Ward 6. He said there’s been an increase in vandalism and home break and enters in the area.
He ties it all back to taxes.
“Taxes have increased every year, but services have deteriorated, and that’s a frustration,” Kad said.
“It’s not only what Calgarian’s have experienced. I think Ward 6 residents have experienced the same.”
Green Line, Events Centre
Kad said he’d like to see a thorough review of the $5.5 billion Green Line transit project. He said he’s not against the project, but he’d like to see how the money is being spent.
“What it was proposed a few years ago for $5 billion, we will be getting less than half of it,” Kad said.
He believes the City shouldn’t be pressing hard for this project without being on the same page as the province in ensuring the tax dollars are well spent.
Kad also raised the issue of transparency on the Green Line project. Many of the decisions are being made behind closed doors. He has the same issue with the Events Centre deal.
While he said the project could be a great catalyst for the downtown, the deal seems to be shrouded in secrecy.
“My problem is that why should Calgarians be on the hook for X amount of dollars, and we don’t know what that x is,” he said.
He’s also worried that cost overruns could hamper the $550 million project. Kad also said any cost escalation shouldn’t come at Calgary taxpayers’ expense.
“Why it should be always the taxpayers? Why? There are other stakeholders as well,” he said.
“I feel that that file should also be opened up fully, and let everybody see. There should be more transparency.”
Police funding, fluoride
“I’m dead against it,” Kad said of Calgary police funding reallocation. He said it’s just another name for defunding the police.
Kad said he didn’t like how the debate was handled and how it was voted on at council.
“I simply feel that we should be able to provide enough resources which are needed by the college and that’s the bottom line,” he said.
Kad said more money would be available to fund much needed social programs to aid police response if the current council wasn’t funding “pet projects.”
With a fluoridation question likely on the upcoming municipal ballot, Kad said he would respect the decision made by voters. Still, he’s not personally in favour of it.
“It does not give a choice to the people who do not want fluoride in the water,” he said.
He said if there are Calgarians who want the fluoride in the water, it’s available as a supplement.
When it comes to running a city, Kad was clear on what he could contribute.
“I’m a businessman and an accountant. That’s what I bring to the table,” he said.
Calgary’s municipal election is Oct. 18, 2021.