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Affordable housing, public safety and transit top Calgary provincial election priorities

Housing affordability, public safety and public transit were the main priorities of survey respondents in Calgary’s provincial election feedback portal.

More than 564 people shared 142 different items of importance on the YYC Matters website set up by the City of Calgary. The site was set up to gauge the priorities of Calgarians going into the May 29 Alberta provincial general election.

The Community Voices portal of the site opened just before the election was called and then closed May 7.

In the What We Heard report delivered with the survey results, LWC tracked the mentions of certain phrases or words in the verbatim comments area. 

127 – Affordable Housing

60 – Transit

53 – Public Safety

53 – Mental Health

48 – Downtown

8 – Transit safety

Note: Because the responses were recorded verbatim, there is a crossover in the terms (ie: Public/Transit Safety) and we’ve attached the full document at the bottom of the story.

“It is important for us to keep listening to the people of Calgary whom we serve,” said Chris Arthurs, General Manager, People, Innovation and Collaboration Services with the City of Calgary.

“The Community Voices tool has provided a method for the people of our city to tell us, in real time and in their own words, what matters to them.  It helps us understand their interests and helps us propel their voices.”

Provincial leader responses

When these Calgary priorities were brought up during UCP leader Danielle Smith’s drug recovery press conference on Monday, she said that their commitment to these issues was one part of a larger plan to address public safety.

“It goes to the continuum… the guys who are committing the crime who are involved in gang violence, who are dealing and getting people addicted, who are causing harm or committing crimes, all the way to the poor souls who are just suffering through addiction,” she said.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said these are critical problems cities are facing. She said governments needs to address the issues from all perspectives.

Notley said they would return money taken from cities for law enforcement, but also add more police, paired with social services personnel. 

She also said that any solution needs to be considered in conjunction with affordable housing, and in some cases, wraparound social services nearby.

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said that she doesn’t believe either party has really addressed citizen concerns adequately. She also recognizes, however, that the province isn’t only paying attention to the needs of Calgary and Edmonton.

“Alberta is a complex province,” Penner said Tuesday.

“But when it comes to Calgary, I’ve been saying what’s good for Calgary is good for Alberta. We’re the economic engine, we often lead in terms of policy. We lead in terms of program development that a lot of our smaller municipalities look to mirror and copy us on and that we share that knowledge.”

She said both parties have their own approach to these issues – UCP tough on crime, with the NDP looking at transit and helping in the downtown.

Penner called the one leading issue, affordable housing, a beast. While the UCP announced their stronger foundations plan, Penner said, both parties’ ideas on this issue have been somewhat shallow.

“I would hope to see some things in the coming weeks,” she said.

“I would hope to see some discussions around – I know that a rent cap is controversial, but opening up the landlord and tenant act (Residential Tenancies Act) and how do we support renters.”

A recent report by the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health shows that neither party’s affordable housing plan would improve Alberta’s housing situation.

YYCMatters2023-CommunityVoi… by Darren Krause