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The attention we deserve: Abed Harb vies for Calgary’s Ward 10 seat

Abed Harb said it’s time for the city to turn its attention to Ward 10.

Harb, who has lived in the ward for most of his life, said Ward 10 residents have been happy to help grow Calgary with the use of their tax dollars.

It’s time for the city to reinvest in their area, he said. And that’s why he’s decided to run as a candidate in Ward 10.

“Ray Jones was there for obviously a very long time. When he announced his retirement, I thought to myself, here was a great opportunity for us to identify a councillor who is going to fight for the people of Ward 10, and who’s going to help revitalize the community,” Harb said.

That’s the crux of his campaign: Equity in investments for Ward 10.

“We’re at a critical point now in our infrastructure cycle where we need to start investing more to revitalize these core neighborhoods, because we’re at risk of them starting to look quite degraded,” Harb said.  

“We didn’t mind over the years, helping the city grow but now we’re not getting our fair share. We don’t want more than other wards, but right now we’re getting less, and that’s not fair.”

Diversify – top challenge      

Harb said there’s been an overreliance on the energy industry in Calgary. He’s spent time working in the sector and he understands its importance to the economy.

But it’s time to change things up to move Calgary forward, he said.

“One of the most important challenges facing city council is ensuring that city council does everything it can to help diversify Calgary’s economy… To start attracting the economies of the future,” Harb said.

He said they need to look at how to attract the types of businesses outlined in Calgary Economic Development’s future economy report. In particular, renewable energy, transportation and logistics and in the agri-food sector.

“We need to focus on attracting the economic drivers that are going to help Calgary continue to grow,” Harb said.

With that will come more jobs for Calgarians and a better overall economic outlook.

In Ward 10 – aside from addressing issues of equity in investment – he wants to see better utilization of the area’s green spaces.

Harb also wants to improve the feeling of connection between the municipal government and that ward’s communities. He said there’s a feeling that the same opportunities don’t exist in Ward 10 that are available in other Calgary wards.

“I think it’s an important time. We’re at a critical point in Ward 10’s history, where we need to ensure that we get the attention that we deserve,” he said.

Issues: Green Line / Police funding

Harb said that climate change is an existential threat to Calgarians.

To that end, he’s a big supporter of Calgary’s  $5.5B Green Line project.  There are four current transit stations in the ward and he recognizes the importance for commuters.

“We need to make public transit more affordable, more accessible and reliable,” Harb said.

While on the backburner – to a degree – the issue of police funding is an important one for Harb.

He said it’s important to invest public safety dollars in the most appropriate areas.

“What I mean by that is there are things that the Calgary police are good at. And there are things that other entities in organizations are better,” he said.

He used the example of youth development and community education. Harb said that perhaps it isn’t always best to have a police officer leading those programs. It would be better to have resources directed to youth-specific organizations.

“I would rather see that money go to community-based organizations who have established relationships with their members and they themselves could host youth development programs, instead of having the police do it,” he said.

“Thereby giving police more time and resources to focus on what they’re good at, and not having the Calgary police focusing on areas that they’re not good at.”

Arena / Redevelopment

Harb said he’s not a big fan of giving millions to billionaires. 

He said the consultation process to get to Calgary’s Events Centre deal wasn’t up to snuff either. Harb said that if elected and the issue gets kicked to the next Calgary city council, he’s looking forward to examining the details.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re using taxpayer dollars, efficiently, and the project aligns with what Calgary residents want,” he said.

In the issue of established area redevelopment, Harb said community consultation is a must. Ward 10 has a lot of opportunity for redevelopment, but it can’t be done without proper citizen input.

“Each project has specifics that need to be consulted on with stakeholders, with community members, with neighbours, to ensure that we are doing what the neighbours and community wants,” he said.

End the neglect

Harb said that it’s time that all of Calgary moves forward together. No area of the city should go without. That’s what’s prompted him to run in Ward 10.

“I’m sick and tired of Ward 10 being neglected. There always seems to be money for downtown and for other projects around the city,” he said.

“But when it comes to Ward 10, northeast Calgary there never seems to be any money for our projects.”

Still, Harb is energized by the potential in Ward 10 and in Calgary.

“I am confident that Calgary’s best years are still ahead of us,” he said.

“We live in the best city in the best province and in one of the best countries in the world. I’m confident that our future will be better than our past.”