Your vote: Focus should be on tight budgets, lively neighbourhoods and jobs, say these south Calgary residents

·5 min read
Residents of Seton and Cranston turn their attention to the municipal election. (Elise Stolte/CBC - image credit)
Residents of Seton and Cranston turn their attention to the municipal election. (Elise Stolte/CBC - image credit)

Drive through some of the most southern neighbourhoods of Calgary and you might wonder if a civic election is even happening.

Lawn signs are few and far between in Cranston and Seton, two Ward 12 neighbourhoods just a 10-minute drive from Okotoks. But with the federal election in the books, residents say conversations are slowly starting to turn local.

Ward 12 has an open race with no incumbent. It's also one of the youngest areas of the city, with more than half its residents under the age of 35.

CBC Calgary talked with several people in the ward earlier this week in an effort to hear from voters across the city. We'll be using what we learn to help shape our coverage, both during this election campaign and after. You're invited to add your thoughts here.

Here's what five residents in Seton and Cranston had to say.

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

Kara Wurmnest

Kara Wurmnest counts herself as part of a younger generation of voters. She moved here for work from Winnipeg several years ago and is just starting to follow the issues.

In her experience, Calgary is a great place to find work, but finding long-term career jobs isn't easy. That's one topic she'd like candidates to focus on. Then there's the arena.

"I'd like to see a new arena go through and not just talk about it for the next five to six years," she said.

"And also affordable housing. Living down south, there are a lot of great places that are affordable, but I'd like to see that more inner city, too.

"Nowadays, they're building the bigger houses but in a duplex form. That's awesome. I think that's a lot more affordable. But it just seems way out of reach for a single person to even get a single-family house in the city right now, unless you're driving to Okotoks, at this point. It would be nice to see that go down a bit.… I would be moving way more inner city if I had the opportunity and the money to do so."

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

Cory Murphy

"I'd like them to talk about fiscal responsibility. It's all sorts of things, like making sure we're not spending more than we're getting. Don't overpay yourselves, don't make programs we can't pay for," said Cory Murphy, stopping to talk outside the Sobeys in Cranston.

Murphy says he's had two candidates come to his door so far. But there are so many people running, it's hard to keep them straight or remember any names.

"The one guy was talking about taking more of a business perspective. That seems interesting, but (a city is) not really a business," he said.

"I'd like to see (council) weigh the pros and cons of each decision a little more.… Like the new arena, that's got positives attached to it," he said. "Or the whole defund-the-police movement. That's something you can look at, too. It's not defunding the police, it's moving resources to better use."

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

Marie Regimbald

When Marie Regimbald looks around her quiet neighbourhood full of new five-storey apartment or condo buildings, she wonders about the city's urban planning. It's filling up, but the neighbourhood shops that are supposed to come with the density seem to be lagging behind.

"There's more traffic, but there's no cafe, no little store. Everything is on hold. So we have to go to the next neighbourhood to do our shopping," said Regimbald, walking her dog Loki in the late afternoon.

"There's one (shopping site) on the other side of Seton, but there's only half the stores built. This is supposed to be a park with trees but there's nothing, so nobody goes," she said. "It's not smart. It's smart to plan for 20 years, but a neighbourhood development shouldn't be 20 years, it should be five years."

Regimbald downsized to a condo here. She said planning and developing new neighbourhoods is one thing she'd like to ask candidates about. The other is how they would handle the pandemic.

At the moment, blame for the fourth wave is focused on the Alberta premier, she says. But what about city council's decisions? Responding to the pandemic is the real priority, she says.

"The trees, they can wait a year."

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

Gurbachan Hayer

Outside Dr. George Stanley School, Gurbachan Hayer was waiting to pick up his granddaughter from junior high. He hasn't given a lot of thought to the municipal election yet, but taxes are top of mind.

"I want some honest politicians who can think about property taxes … which are always increasing, never coming down," he said.

He says an increase is understandable when inflation is four per cent, as was reported this fall. But since he moved to Calgary in 2008, he can't remember a time when taxes came down.

Still, knowing how to vote will take some research, he says: "There's not only one issue. There are so many issues."

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

Glenn Foster

When Glenn Foster looks around Seton, he says the traffic is OK and the neighbourhood is growing well. It's the larger, citywide issues he'll be watching for in the campaigns, he said.

When candidates come to his door: "I'd like to see how thought-out their ideas are for where they see the city going."

"The city downtown core has got a problem with vacancy rates reflecting on our economy right now. I don't know how much the city can fix that," he said. "[Council is] spending money on converting buildings to residential. That might entice people downtown. I suspect we need to bring the businesses in, too."

What would you like the candidates to be talking about, both for your ward and the city? Tell us about it, give us some detail and together we can dig deeper into some key election issues. You're invited to add your thoughts here.

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