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The builder: Tony Dinh digs in for hot Ward 10 Calgary city council race

Tony Dinh sees Calgary’s transformation happening quickly.

He doesn’t want Ward 10 to get left behind.

“They’ve had a city councillor for 27 years and then when he retired, I was like ‘oh my god, this is an opportunity here to give service to the community,’” he said.

Dinh is a long-time resident of Calgary’s northeast. He was raised in Whitehorn and Monterrey Park. Dinh studied engineering and real estate at the University of Calgary before getting into real estate development.

He’s built all over Calgary; Marda Loop, Killarney, Renfrew – but then he moved to Albert Park and Forest Lawn to build affordable housing.

“That’s where we found the most impact, because we can build in Marda Loop and it’s just, we get more impact in southeast Calgary, because people want to live in their communities, but nobody is offering diverse housing options,” he said.

While it might be a good time to stick with the private sector, Dinh said he thinks he can make a bigger impact going public.

“It’s probably the best time to be in the private sector,” Dinh said.

“And I’m not doing that, I’m going for the public sector.”

Ward 10 top issue: Reinvestment

Dinh said Ward 10 is made up of working class Calgarians. He said they pay their bills, they pay their taxes.

“We don’t get reinvestment in our communities,” he said.

“It’s time that someone actually stands up for our community and actually starts getting reinvestment in Ward 10.

“There’s other city councillors, where they cut ribbons and open fields, it’s like, it doesn’t happen in Ward 10.”

Dinh also said that safety is an issue for Ward 10 residents.

“There’s always been that kind of, ‘oh, there’s the northeast,” Dinh said.

He said the streets are safe, we just need to make sure they remain that way in Ward 10.

Green Line / Arena

Dinh said he’s a huge fan of Calgary’s Green Line transit project. He said there needs to be a big infrastructure investment to help Calgary move ahead.

Dinh said these bigger investments activate different parts of Calgary and make them accessible to others.

“These are long term, equitable investments that are for generations,” he said.

“It’s really going to be a big impact and I think we need to do that.”

The biggest impact and the best value for the Green Line is to go from the south to downtown, Dinh said. He said that’s where we’ll get the most bang for the buck.

Dinh said he’s so convinced of the merits of the Green Line, he sold the historic Chinese Laundry in Ogden to help make way for the transit line.

“I’m a proponent and I’ve really taken steps towards the Green Line,” he said.

Dinh also supports the Event Centre investment.

“The Calgary that I know is young, it’s vibrant, and that’s what we need from that Event Center, to really have that world class city,” Dinh said.

He said the city needs to watch the costs carefully and overruns should come at the expense of the Flames, not taxpayers.

City development and engagement

Being a builder, Dinh knows about public engagement. He said the city’s actually come a long way to being better listeners. He said it takes public engagement to know what’s going on in a neighbourhood.

“It’s super important to get the engagement so that everyone is heard and that you know parties that are impacted,” he said.

“Sometimes people don’t, they don’t speak up, but it’s important to engage the public so that they know and that they can have input.”

Dinh said the city’s goal of 50 per cent urban and 50 per cent suburban growth is appropriate.

“If we keeping building more roads, we’ll just keep adding more cars,” Dinh said.

“The bike lanes, I think it’s sustainable and people like it. Similar to like an LRT – these are all sustainable infrastructures.”

Business and the economy

Dinh said Calgary needs to embrace the tech and film industries.

“I believe it takes someone to nurture that; someone to really start pushing that forward and advocating it in a way,” he said.

“I talked about sometimes with people Ward 10, that, what if we had the next unicorn in northeast Calgary, or the next director or actor, actress or makeup artists.”

He recognized that Calgary is still going to be a leader in energy for some time. Now, not everyone is growing up wanting to be a petroleum engineer.

To realize this, Calgary needs strong leadership, Dinh said. Ward 10 has had the same councillor for years and it’s time for a new direction.

“I think they need young, strong leadership. Someone that’s been there through the communities,” Dinh said.

“Calgary is at a really pivotal point where we know we are looking to build infrastructure. We’re going to build a Green Line. We’re going to build the Event Center. And I think there’s never been a better time to get a builder on city council.”