News / Calgary

Candidates for Calgary’s downtown Ward 7 square off on range of topics

Ward 7 incumbent Druh Farrell and top challenger in the last election, Kevin Taylor, drew clear distinctions between their positions Tuesday evening, with the two other challengers – Joylin Nodwell and Brent Alexander – falling somewhere in between.

Farrell took on the topic of urban sprawl right out of the gate at the public forum hosted by Civic Camp, calling it “the greatest issue that our city faces.”

“Each house in the suburbs costs $4,500 in subsidies,” she said, adding that developers need to pay the “true cost” of new developments.

Taylor immediately challenged that, saying he “can't find any documentation on Calgary's website" to support Farrell’s claim.

"But what I can tell you is that – right now – we are subsidizing the East Village to the tune of $30 million a year and there has not been one building built there since 2008," Taylor said, taking aim at the project that Farrell has long supported.

Alexander, for his part, said subsidies to both the suburbs and the East Village would be better directed toward more recreation infrastructure – something Ward 7 is starved for.

“We need to bring those resources back into the general stream,” Alexander said.

On the topic of secondary suites, Farrell, Nodwell and Alexander supported legalizing them as a way to address the city’s rental housing shortage, while Taylor said he supports making them more easily available but not necessarily legalized everywhere.

All four also addressed the idea of a city charter and the potential for taxation powers beyond property taxes.

Nodwell said she wouldn’t trust Mayor Naheed Nenshi with such power, given the tax increases he has already presided over in the past few years.

“If we give that power of a city charter to our mayor, what’s to say he’s not going to keep increasing our taxes?” she said.

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