Public trust and spending concerns on agenda for Calgary council next year

Calgary city council plans to take a deeper look at its fiscal situation and how to rebuild public trust in city hall in the coming year. 

Councillors decamped from their usual chambers on Monday for a strategic look ahead in a meeting room at Ralph Klein Park in the city's southeast. 

Some of the things they decided to look into next year include spending, modernizing municipal government and regaining public trust.

City Manager David Duckworth says the city doesn't have a spending problem, despite what some may say. 

"I've been hearing this for a while, and so from my perspective what I tend to do is I look at the budgeted spending per capita with the seven or eight largest municipalities in Canada," he said.

"And I can tell you that the City of Calgary is probably at the median or slightly below that."

Farkas disagrees

Coun. Jeromy Farkas disagrees with that assessment and says spending in the city has eroded public trust, something he wants to discuss in the coming year. 

"It's what businesses, homeowners, everybody else has been saying all along, and it's an uncomfortable question to ask, but this council needs a significant course correction if we're going to be able to regain the trust of Calgarians," he said. 

Duckworth says public trust tends to fall when the economy is struggling. He also points to a negative global trend when it comes to discourse about government. 

He thinks one option is to focus on better communication with Calgarians. 

Rebuilding trust will be the focus of a day-long meeting in January.