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Time to listen: Chris Blatch vies for Calgary’s Ward 1 seat at city hall

Chris Blatch said no one at Calgary city hall is listening.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why he’s running to represent Ward 1.

“I know how hard it can be to deal with city hall when you phone in or if you can’t get in touch with your councillor,” he said.

“And it really shouldn’t be the way that we do things.”

Blatch ran in the 2017 Calgary municipal election. Over the past four years, he said one issue that’s really spurred him to run this time had to do with the firefighters and the connection with increased suburban growth.

“They were telling firefighters to increase their response areas, and it was really putting people at risk. It was putting homes at risk, and nobody was paying attention to that,” Blatch said.

He’s worked with city organizations and community organizations in the past. Blatch worked on the Calgary soldiers’ memorial and helped get free transit for city veterans.  He said it’s time to put that experience to work for the ward.

“We see what’s happening in communities and nobody’s taking the time to listen to people and include them in the ideas going forward,” he said.

Top Calgary issue: Economy

Blatch said the city’s economic situation needs to be addressed. An emptied downtown is putting tax pressure on small businesses and homeowners across the city.

“All of the decisions that are being made at city hall are really echoing right now. People are asking for some fiscal restraints,” he said.

Blatch said now, more than ever, citizens are looking for representatives who want to ensure tasks are done properly, so they don’t have to be redone.

Citywide, he thinks the cost of living is a growing concern. Calgarians are losing jobs and young people migrating away because of the struggle to find meaningful work.

“We have to make sure that we’re making our city as livable as possible and keeping people here because some people are saying, ‘maybe Calgary’s not for me, there’s no opportunity here anymore,’” he said.

In Ward 1, Blatch said there’s a patchwork of approaches to roads in the area.

“It’s not very sensible. It’s becoming dangerous for people to try to get around,” he said.

It comes down to the city not engaging with area residents, Blatch said. That’s causing even more problems than it’s fixing.

Blatch also said residents are concerned with public safety and how Calgary approaches it. You can’t put people in jail and then let them out the next day, he said.

Green Line / Events Centre

Blatch said he’s in favour of making transit more effective. With that said, he thinks the Green Line was a bit of a bait-and-switch.

He said what was proposed for the $5 billion isn’t what we got and we got half as much for the full price tag.

“What I’d like to see is more of a reliance on BRT and main feeder lines, and then bus routes feeding into that so you can jump on and jump off and get around the city better,” Blatch said.

On the Events Centre, Blatch said the city needs venues that can host large crowds.  Still, he said with COVID, we need to re-examine how future gatherings might be done.

“Will people still want to have large conventions like that? We need to make sure that we’re not just throwing money into ideas that may not work anymore,” he said.

It’s also important to ensure that the contracts the city is entering into are carefully reviewed. He said too often recently we’ve seen contracts signed and then a few months later the city is forced to change the documents with more money thrown into it.

“That’s where it comes back to that transparency and wanting to know exactly what the deals are,” Blatch said.

Police funding reallocation is short-sighted, Blatch said

Blatch talked about a community-policing model. He said police officers need to be involved with their communities. They need to work together to tackle some of the public safety issues in an area.

Reallocation of police funding is short-sighted, he said. It’s not an either-or situation. Police have a role on the city and they want to be tied into work being done by social workers, Blatch said.

Helping people find the programs they need will not only be a help to the healthcare system, but the legal system as well, Blatch said.

When asked about development, Blatch said suburban growth is a major problem. He said Calgary’s been growing in a very unhealthy way. It’s a giant Ponzi scheme, Blatch said.

“They keep expanding in order to pay for the rest of the city and they’re addicted to this,” he said.

“All the time, though, these communities become untenable because of the cost, and then they have to get more communities to pay for those communities.”

Blatch also said densification is a buzzword. It’s treated like a magic bullet to solve a city’s woes.

“The problem is, it looks good on paper but when you have to actually implement it in areas, it’s being done sloppily, and without proper engagement,” he said.

Fluoride and why voters should vote Blatch on Oct. 18

Like many candidates on the campaign trail, Blatch said he’ll listen to voters in the upcoming fluoride referendum.

“I think it’s really important that we have trust in the democratic process,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s right when people are given the choice for themselves for that choice to be completely ignored.”

Blatch said he’s been involved in northwest communities for years. He’s dealt with politics at all levels.

“I know how to work with people and collaborate, and from all sides of the aisle, from left to right and get people to find things we can agree on,” he said.

“That’s the most effective way to get things done.”