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The mayor’s frontrunners meet in the forum dealing with taxes, development

The mayor’s frontrunners meet in the forum dealing with taxes, development

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Calgary’s mayoral frontrunners met Tuesday morning at a virtual forum where candidates offered competing visions of property taxes, housing and development.

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Councilors Jeff Davison, Jeromy Farkas and Jyoti Gondek were present along with Jan Damery, Brad Field and Grace Yan at the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) hosted event, which was livestreamed on YouTube.

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Each candidate had equal time to speak, but the format provided little opportunity for back-and-forth debate. However, some of the sharpest contrasts between candidates emerged during the first round of questions about vacancies at the center.

“If our provincial government really wants to help our city recover, we can not send 40 percent of the taxes we collect to them,” Gondek said, referring to the portion of property tax bills that go to the province.

Calgary mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek speaks to media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek speaks to media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

She added that attracting more people and investment to the core is the key to reversing the shift in property values ​​at the center: “We need to be stronger as a city and we need a better deal from the provincial government.”

Farkas said the city is solely to blame for Calgary’s current difficulties and later complained about what he called the council’s “burned ground” approach to its relationship with the UCP government.

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Calgary Mayor Candidate Jeromy Farkas Speaks to the Media Following a Mayoral Forum in the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary Mayor Candidate Jeromy Farkas Speaks to the Media Following a Mayoral Forum in the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

“We can not keep pointing fingers of the province. The town hall’s budget is a problem of its own creation, ”said Farkas, promising a four-year retention of property taxes if elected.

Davison said he would also prioritize a tax freeze on residential real estate. The Ward 6 councilor said he is committed to the development of an entertainment and cultural district, anchored by the new event center.

Calgary Mayor Candidate Jeff Davison Speaks to the Media Following a Mayoral Forum in the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary Mayor Candidate Jeff Davison Speaks to the Media Following a Mayoral Forum in the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

“It’s about investing in growing our tax base, not our tax rate,” Davison said.

Almost all of the candidates talked about affordable housing and about the importance of building more subsidized and under-market housing.

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Gondek and Field talked about the negative effect of stricter standards for mortgage stress tests on new home buyers.

Davison and Farkas talked about reducing roadblocks for developers seeking approval for City Hall projects.

Some of the sharpest arguments came from candidates running for mayor for the first time.

Calgary Mayor Candidate Jan Damery Speaks to the Media After a Mayoral Forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary Mayor Candidate Jan Damery Speaks to the Media After a Mayoral Forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Damery criticized current councilors for the delays in building the Green Line and for “missing out on opportunities” to secure agreements with other government orders to build more affordable housing.

“I offer that none of the existing councilors actually deserve a promotion,” Damery said. “We have one of the most divisive, dysfunctional councils ever at a time when we need action in leadership.”

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Calgary mayoral candidate Brad Field speaks to the media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary mayoral candidate Brad Field speaks to the media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Field called the recent guide to large communities – the city’s recent efforts to improve planning policy – a “debacle”.

“For the city council to dictate where and how we live in the city of Calgary, I think, is beyond bounds,” Field said.

“We can not continuously socially construct the city of Calgary, we have to get out of the way of private companies.”

Calgary mayoral candidate Grace Yan speaks to the media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Calgary mayoral candidate Grace Yan speaks to the media after a mayoral forum at the Calgary Real Estate Board on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Yan said businesses and communities are not properly engaged by City Hall: “The government needs to focus on managing and letting businesses run businesses,” Yan said. “We need to work with developers (and) really interact with them and work together so we can all succeed in Calgary.”

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