Until his retirement, Doug Clark rode his bicycle from his home in Oakridge to his downtown office. This allowed him to save money and stay in shape.
“Before I moved to Oakridge, I was commuting to downtown Calgary from Douglasdale in the southeast,” said Clark, the new president of Bike Calgary.
“This speaks to the growing demand for this type of infrastructure, as more people realize it is possible to get around their communities without having to drive a car.”
Bike Calgary is one of several Calgary organizations asking people for their input during budget debate week.
The city council will debate proposed adjustments to the 2024 budget starting Monday. The budget includes investment in additional 5A network infrastructure (still available for all ages and abilities).
This would mean 6 to 7 kilometers of new 5A network infrastructure that would include connections to fill gaps, as well as new corridors connecting schools. The program focuses on addressing inequalities in access to the 5A network and providing safe and active routes to school.
Clark said the city has not prioritized spending in these areas, especially given the amount spent on major road construction.
“The city predicts that it will have two million inhabitants within twenty years. How do we fit two million people into the city without making traffic crazy,” Clark said.
“It’s about providing other alternatives so that people can get around without having to build more roads and congest the streets with more vehicles. I’m not against vehicles. I use it when necessary, but I also like being able to move around without having to rely on it,” Clark said.
The city administration recommended spending on areas such as public safety and public transit, as well as the city’s mental health and addictions strategy, as well as making more money available to cover inflationary pressures.
If all measures are approved, it could add $16 a month to the property tax bill next year for owners of a median-priced home worth $610,000.
“We’ve heard from hundreds of Calgarians who are concerned and upset that they continue to be asked to do more with less,” said Kristy Koehler, executive director of Common Sense Calgary.
She said Common Sense Calgary is calling on councilors to cut back on arts projects and consultants and questions whether the events center is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.
“I think Calgarians are asking a lot of questions about the arena deal. People are wondering if it’s a priority or if it’s a necessity,” Koehler said.
“We always encourage people to write to their advisor to share how they feel and to make a really thoughtful argument. It doesn’t make sense to message your advisor and rant in all caps, but really think about the priorities you have as a Calgarian and what you think is a sensible way to spend your money. They pay attention when they receive well-thought-out emails,” Koehler said.
Calgarians for Sensible Growth is calling on the city to implement its policy to limit urban sprawl and focus on investment in established neighborhoods and new suburbs already under development.
Noel Keough, a spokesperson for the group, says it’s important to have housing available as quickly as possible, but he says there is already enough suburban housing in the pipeline.
“Approving more suburban zones now will do nothing to build more housing,” said Keough, a*sociate professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.
Keough said existing community revitalization in areas such as sidewalks, parks, public transportation, water and waste infrastructure upgrades, the 5A active transportation network and affordable housing is severely underfunded .
“What we see in the city documents is that we are approximately $7.7 billion short of supporting infrastructure upgrades in established areas of the city, because we have sort of cannibalized the resources for this type of redevelopment to support these new communities. on the outskirts of our city,” Keough said.
Calgarians for Sensible Growth (CSG) has produced 5 steps for the citywide growth strategy.
The document provides a model for how to control urban sprawl and redirect taxpayer dollars to established communities and suburban neighborhoods already under construction.
CSG is calling on the City of Calgary to implement the plan to implement a city-wide growth strategy over the next 12 months.
Clark said that by 2050, the city would like to have a 5A network always available for all ages and abilities established in the city.
“We’ve only built a small part of it, but there’s still a lot to do,” Clark said.
He believes the city would need to double the amount it currently spends to reach that goal.
“We’ve done a lot of spending in the center of the city, but we recognize that there are communities all over the city that can benefit and it’s not just the streets themselves. It also makes intersections safer,” Clark said.
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