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Refilling the ‘gap in the map’: Ian McAnerin runs for Ward 3 city council seat

Ian McAnerin said it is his goal to make Ward 3 matter.

McAnerin has been a part of the Northern Hills Community Association since 2017 and was elected President of the volunteer-run organization in 2019.

“I became very interested in wanting to help the people in this area. I’ve been volunteering for a lot of years here, and I’ve lived in the area for 27 years, so I’ve been pretty involved in [the community],” He said.

As a well-known volunteer in the community, McAnerin considers himself a good candidate, with a board governance background in law.

“I know how to do the job and I’m accountable. If you want to know what I stand for, it’s all there on my website,” McAnerin said.

“I’m open and transparent, experienced and I’ve got a proven history of helping the community, even when I wasn’t being paid … it shows that I’m committed to the community, not just the position.”

He made the decision to run for council after Jyoti Gondek announced her mayoral candidacy.

“I became very concerned that the replacement may not be as easy to work with. So it became to me imperative to run to make sure that Ward 3 continues to get served.”

“I’m concerned about making sure that the best candidate that’s focused not on their own political career, but rather on what’s best for the community is the one that becomes the councillor for the community.”

McAnerin urges Calgarians to choose wisely when casting their vote, as the City Council will look a lot different and have a brand new mayor.

Top issues: Making Ward 3 matter and the Calgary economy

McAnerin said the area lays right in the middle of the northeast and northwest quadrant of Calgary. That makes it a “gap in the map” and when it comes to city improvements, it’s often overlooked.

One way the city decides to invest in infrastructure is looking at how much money has gone to the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest.

As the only ward in the middle of the city quadrants, Ward 3 is frequently not considered in those calculations, McAnerin said. The communities feel incomplete, specifically when it comes to amenities, transportation and pedestrian safety, McAnerin said.

“We’re missing a lot of things that normal, properly-designed neighbourhoods should have,” he said.

The community was promised a medical facility about 20 years ago. It’s yet to be constructed despite having two plots of land set aside.

McAnerin said his second priority is to recover from the economic slump, which was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City council efficiency

His third priority is to improve the efficiency of city council, which he plans to do with his long history of board governance.

“City council is a board of directors for for an organization is at the end of the day … and there’s a lot of things that can be done to make the city work better,” McAnerin said.

He’d like to see city departments work better together. McAnerin would also like to see something called a priority-based budgeting system

“You identify all your major priorities and then you fund those priorities,” he said.

Currently, the City of Calgary has a four-year budget cycle where budget plans are laid out for future years in advance. They are then adjusted annually to reflect needed changes.

“I would really like to see the city of Calgary move towards a priority-based budgeting system, which should also help with taxes as well. We need to we need to get our taxes settled down, and we need to work with the provincial government, which has more of an effect on city taxes than most people realize,” McAnerin said.

“Things like that really kind of need to be looked at and negotiated with the province I’m pretty good with intergovernmental relations, so I’m hoping to take a leadership role in that area.”

Green light for the Green Line

McAnerin supports the Green Line, and would like to see enabling works underway immediately, to shorten the timeline between stage one and three of construction.

“I think we need it. We’ve needed it for a while, so it’s not just something that needs to come, it should have been here already,” McAnerin said.

The City needs to buy out a bunch of houses and demolish them in order to make space for the Green Line, which will undergo a legal process that will take a while, McAnerin said.

“I would like to see them doing initializing works on our side of the tracks, so that once we’re done stage one of the Green Line, we can immediately go into stages two and three without there being a delay and potential issues,” he said.

An example of an initializing work could include creating a Calgary Bus Rapid Transit Program lane that could later be transformed into part of the LRT system by adding tracks, McAnerin said.

Police funding and area redevelopment

McAnerin said the Calgary Police Service don’t have a good enough budget and have been taking on additional responsibilities in terms of victim services and social work.

“The budget going to those services should go to actual professionals and trained professionals in that field,” he said.

“Even once you’ve taken that budget out, I still think that police need a larger budget to work with. Basically, I want them to have more time doing their job, by not needing to do those extra duties, and then to have the money and resources necessary to do that job properly.”

While redevelopment isn’t a huge issue for Ward 3 as other areas, McAnerin said it is still an issue for the city. He mentioned that the Guide for Great Communities is one of the potential things now that it is no longer statutory.

“There will need to be decisions made and policies created based on that guide,” McAnerin said.

“Those decisions and policies are the ones I’m really interested in, and a lot of times they kind of get swept under the rug and ignored. That’s something that I would want to spend a lot of time taking careful care … to make sure that we learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Ward 3 was designed to be housing-dense, which has made it nearly impossible for residents to walk to any amenity, forcing people to rely on their vehicles, although there is a massive lack of parking space, McAnerin said.

“If this was SimCity 2000 we could just bulldoze the area and rebuild it. This isn’t a video game, this is real life and you can’t do that,” he said.

Arena and Arts Commons

McAnerin is bothered by the way the decision to support the Arena deal was made in secret. He supports the Arts Commons transformation.

“There might have been a really good reason for [further funding the arena], but the public wasn’t made aware of that. So we’re sitting in the dark,” McAnerin said.

“When decisions like that are kept from the public, the public often will assume the worst. So I think we need a lot more transparency on things like that.”

McAnerin said his initial instinct would have been to stick with the original amount of money agreed on. Though if the argument for further funding was good enough, he would have been open to listening to it.

“But the fact is though that we don’t know what the argument was, whether it was good or not. And so that concerns me.”

He is in favour of having a robust, yet reasonable, municipal investment in arts and culture.

“I’d like to incentivize the private sector to support artistic endeavours in Calgary, as part of tourism and quality of life in a city is the arts and culture. I’m a big fan of supporting them,” McAnerin said.

McAnerin said he would like to see possible tax incentives or other regulatory incentives for building structures that would take extra time and money to make them architecturally appealing. Developers could add green space or some form of artistic value to the area.

“I think I’d like to find a way for the city to encourage people to do that in a real sense without going down a huge road of massive taxpayer expenses,” he said.