Mayor Gondek discusses Calgary's road to recovery, other priorities in business speech

·3 min read
Mayor Jyoti Gondek discussed the city's economic recovery in a speech Friday at a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon.   (Rebecca Kelly/CBC - image credit)
Mayor Jyoti Gondek discussed the city's economic recovery in a speech Friday at a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC - image credit)

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek discussed several issues that were top of mind on Friday — just one month after she was elected.

At a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Gondek spoke to the business community on how the city will navigate the road to recovery.

Here's a breakdown of some of her priorities.

Business

Gondek says companies near and far are starting to take notice of what Calgary has to offer them and their employees.

"I think we have attracted global attention by demonstrating that our municipal government is one that is inclusive and diverse and one that's ready to take on some pretty big challenges right out of the gate," she said.

As for issues of importance, Calgary's new mayor says the city needs to stay focused on investing in its downtown as a place where people can live, work and play, as that's what many employers are looking for.

"If we look at how people are working now and we offer them those opportunities, we'll be successful," she said.

She says one way to do this is to prioritize drawing different talent and innovation to the empty office spaces in the city's core.

"One thing we missed in the past was not having an amenity-rich downtown, and that's what we're trying to do now so that downtown can be the place that you can stay after you're done your work day."

Non-profit sectors

The mayor also brought up investing more in the non-profit sector to tackle issues such as homelessness, poverty and mental health.

She says in order to do so, all levels of governments should work jointly on issues that challenge society.

"I think it's going to be incredibly important moving forward to understand that federal, provincial and municipal governments must work together to address issues like homelessness, to address issues of poverty and mental health, because we locally see it in front of us and we have to deliver that message to our partners, to make sure that we're taking care of people."

Gondek says she will try to convince other orders of government to work with the city on social issues.

"I've had conversations with a few different federal ministers who are very interested in ideas around how they can work directly with cities like ours."

She also says local agencies have approached the city to help set up warming centres this winter to help those who are homeless.

Climate change

City council voted in favour of declaring a climate change emergency this week, which Gondek says will be an important signal for investors.

"People cling to the notion that you either support economic recovery or you support environmental sustainability and that you simply can't do both. That is not true."

She adds that telling the world that Calgary means business about this issue will open the doors for new opportunities.

"There's no way we can walk away from everything we're doing right now and immediately change.… We need the types of innovations that can make things more sustainable, but that comes with an investment and over time."

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