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Voice of business: Craig Chandler vies for Ward 12 Calgary city council seat

Craig Chandler said there’s no business-focused voice on council.

As a result, over the past 10 years, there has been “an overwhelming destruction of small business” in Calgary. Now he’s running in Ward 12.

Chandler, executive director of the Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB), founder of the lobby group Concerned Christians Coalition and long-time political operative and candidate, said he’s seen the pain mounting among city business owners.

That lack of a business voice has been apparent during the pandemic, too, Chandler said.

“I’ve seen small businesses being forgotten about.  Even during the pandemic where Walmart could be open, but Suzie’s sweater shop couldn’t be open,” he said.

“I just see a lot of carnage in small business and a lot of people I’m talking to at the doors, they’re a mortgage payment away from losing their homes.”

Chandler said Calgary’s been good to him and he wants to make changes to bring back prosperity. There have been lost opportunities in Calgary, and he doesn’t want that to continue.

“I think having blindly ideological individuals at city hall is very detrimental, which is why I think we need business people,” Chandler said.

“We’re more pragmatic and quite frankly, we’ve met payroll, we’ve signed the front of a cheque.”

Top issues for Calgary / Ward 12

Chandler said he’s done a large survey and it shows taxes to be the top issue. That’s followed closely by jobs and the economy. There’s a drop-off to infrastructure and transit, Chandler said.

“People understand the gravity of it. And they understand that look, if we don’t bring more business back to the City of Calgary, we are going to end up having more vacancy,” Chandler said.

“What more vacancy means is, well, somebody needs to pick up the shortfall in the residential property tax.”

Another main plank of his campaign is to push for term limits for Calgary city councillors. He’d like to see the Municipal Government Act amended to limit tenure to three terms.

“We were going to save millions of dollars on pensions because we’re not going to have these sliding scale pensions (like the one) that (Coun.) Druh Farrell’s getting on the way out,” Chandler said.

For Ward 12, Chandler said there are some localized issues he thinks need to be improved.

Road access issues in Mahogany and Cranston come to mind. He also said the design on 130 Avenue makes it difficult to navigate the area.

Add in foxtail issues in Auburn Bay and the nagging traffic circle in McKenzie Towne and Chandler said there is no shortage of local tasks.

Signs, doors and Take Back City Hall

Chandler said Take Back City Hall isn’t operating right now. It’s been referred to as a ‘slate’ of candidates in this Calgary municipal election.

“(It) is now defunct because it was just a project to recruit candidates,” Chandler said.

Chandler also addressed questions on signs being put on residents’ properties without their permission. He’s also been vocal on social media about them being pulled out. It’s often come with the insinuation of legal action.

“Think of it this way – why would I alienate voters by putting signs on people’s property who didn’t ask for them. A, it alienates a voter, and B, it’s five bucks a sign? Why do I want to waste money and piss off a voter,” Chandler said.

Chandler said he has evidence in his campaign office that the signs are placed with permission.

The Ward 12 candidate has also been vocal about fellow candidate Evan Spencer. Spencer worked in the Ward 12 office with outgoing Coun. Shane Keating.  Spencer’s also being supported by Keating’s newly formed third-party advertiser and other TPAs like Calgary’s Future, Chandler said.

“We don’t need more of the same by having the assistant of the former city councillor,” Chandler said.

“We find it stunning that the former city councillor, on his way out, has created a PAC to help get his executive assistant in, and no one’s attacking him for it. I find that a misuse of the office.”

In a recent article by the Calgary Herald’s Meghan Potkins, Chandler had been served with a cease-and-desist letter from Keating regarding comments made at ward residents’ doors with regard to Spencer. We did not ask Chandler about this as the story came out after our interview.

Green Line / Events Centre

On the issues, Chandler said if you’re in Ward 12 and you don’t support the Green Line, you should have withdrawn.

He said when he bought in the area in 1995, he said they were told about the eventual Green Line. 

“I’ve been waiting forever,” Chandler said.

As far as the future of the Green Line, Chandler said we have a new, busy hospital in Calgary and the line should be built to service that area.

“We’ve been patiently waiting for a very, very long time and we seem to be getting done last,” he said.

With the Events Centre, Chandler said he’ll abide by the current deal, but he wouldn’t have necessarily voted for this version. He thinks the project should go ahead because of the value to Calgary.

Chandler doesn’t think there’s room to come back to the table.

“I would not continue to give a blank cheque to the Calgary Flames franchise, even as a season ticket holder,” he said.

Police funding, development and fluoride

Chandler doesn’t like to even refer to it as reallocation of Calgary police funding. He wants to keep the funding as it is. 

“If we want to do something differently, why don’t we send bylaw officers to actually do photo radar, write tickets, but have our police fight crime?” Chandler said.

At the doors, he said no one wants police defunded. There are concerns about crime increasing, he said. Chandler also points to the high citizens’ approval rating for the Calgary police.

On development, Chandler said it needs to be done on a community-by-community basis. He said there are some areas where the “Guidebook mentality” can fit, but not in Ward 12 areas.

“You’ve got to lay out the clear rules and say, ‘OK, for now, all communities are mixed-use, or whatever. But, you can’t put a skyscraper McKenzie Towne,’” he said.

Chandler said he doesn’t want fluoride added back into the water. Not because of the science, though.  He said it’s because of the cost to reintroduce it.

“Maybe we need to just be a little more responsible and brush our teeth more and do other things along those lines,” he said.

Chandler wanted to run because he’s upset. Upset with tax hikes, a high unemployment rate and downtown vacancy.

He said if Calgary wants to attract businesses, they need business people.  He believes he has that, along with political experience.

“I think we need people to ask questions from a fiscal perspective and frankly, bring fiscal sanity to City Hall,” he said.