Kent is the only proven progressive in this race. His progressive values are foundational to his political beliefs. He believes Calgary’s best asset is its people, but some of those people have been left behind during the past few turbulent years. Kent wants a fair deal for all Calgarians, and that is what his plan delivers.
Gender Responsive Urban Planning
It’s important to note that different people face entirely different risks. That’s why gender-responsive urban planning is gaining traction in cities around the world.
Thoughtful, inclusive urban design can address issues that are often a catalyst for dangerous situations. Tactics a city can take for making all genders feel equally safe include:
- increasing lighting where people walk and wait outdoors;
- increased efforts to make transit available and safe; and,
- increased efficiency in housing women and girls escaping abuse.
Economic decline and the pandemic have increased the danger for Calgary women, both at home and in the community.
- As vacancy rates increase, so do areas where women have to walk alone.
- Police have also seen an increase in domestic dispute calls during the pandemic.
- Economic struggles, and lack of opportunities for families to spend time apart can increase violence towards women.
One gender-responsive planning tactic especially pertinent in Calgary is helping foot traffic in areas of increased vacancy, and improving the safety of shortcuts and alleyways by adding mirrors, cameras, and lighting.
We as a city need to ensure that everyone can find their way back to a home without fear. Some solutions are as simple as providing improved lighting, maintaining clear sightlines, and clear signage. However, the city can provide additional support to assist women in moving through our city by identifying clear routes, implementing new policies such as allowing women to get off between stops, and better pathway monitoring.
Within the first 90 days of his term, Kent will ask a representative group of senior female leaders to begin working on policy, programming, and infrastructure investments to ensure that Calgary is on pace to become one of Canada’s safest cities for women and girls.
A Progressive Property Tax
The city gets the majority of its money from property taxes. A third of those taxes go to the province, leaving the rest to fund city services.
A progressive property tax system takes the burden off middle-class families and small businesses by taxing expensive homes at a higher rate.
With a progressive property tax, the tax rate increases as the property’s value goes up, similar to how income is taxed in Canada.
The increase in business taxes over the past several years, combined with the disruption of the pandemic, has devastated small business in Calgary. [A] A progressive tax structure would allow small businesses to recover and grow while drawing more tax revenue from those who can most afford it.
The city needs a leader who has demonstrated the ability to collaborate with stakeholders to update the tax system in a way that reflects the needs of the city.
Calgarians deserve a predictable tax system that secures our future as one of the most liveable and desirable cities in the world. An equitable property tax system is necessary to ensure fiscal sustainability, equitable growth, and a thriving economy into the future.
Kent Hehr has a plan to address property tax reform by:
- Exploring the merits of a progressive tax system where property tax rates follow a curve indexed to market value.
- Consulting, validating, and debating other innovative revenue streams that advance the city’s urban agenda.
- Use the tools outlined in the Municipal Governance Act to implement exemptions, incentives, and other tools to support small and local businesses, and encourage resilient and sustainable development
Addressing Chronic Homelessness
Calgary is known for its innovation and passion. We can do a better job applying those qualities to helping members of our community escape the continuous cycle of homelessness.
On any given night, about 3,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Calgary. Many are trapped in a cycle of homelessness because they can’t appropriately address the complex problems they face.
Calgary has the potential to become a magnet for people, investment, and industry. We can’t achieve that if we leave our most vulnerable citizens behind.
Research demonstrates helping someone find a home is a necessary first step that allows them to access other supports they need to get their life on track. Most notably, a Canadian study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a “housing first” approach has the best outcomes.
Cities throughout the United States, Europe, and here in Alberta have managed to eliminate chronic homelessness. There is a clear road map describing what works and what does not. There is evidence demonstrating this goal is realistic, and the evidence shows it has economic spin-offs that benefit the entire community.
Kent’s plan to eliminate chronic homelessness includes:
- Identifying service gaps, as well as duplication of effort within city programs and services;
- Harmonizing service delivery with organizations that already help Calgary’s homeless population; and,
- Eliminating barriers to assistance that are currently preventing people from qualifying for help.
The challenges the city has faced over the past several years have hit our most vulnerable citizens the hardest. When Calgarians are facing so many challenges, we must turn our ingenuity and passion into finding everyone a path home.
An Innovative Policing Model
The Calgary Police Service is our city’s line of defence in tackling crime and disruption. However, CPS is frequently called upon to respond to instances of non-violent mental health and addiction problems they’re not fully trained to handle.
This creates strain on the officers and the individual, and results in a continuing cycle of unnecessary arrests and even deaths.
Many experts consider it best practice for police to identify a mental health crisis, and then send unarmed outreach workers and medics trained in crisis intervention to respond.
This would require a training program to ensure that officers can recognize and de-escalate a mental health crisis when encountered.
Kent’s plan to modernize police services include:
- Creating a separate call line for mental health crises, so citizens have support from the social services experts most appropriate for the situation.
- Implementing a new public safety response system for mental crisis cases, modelled after the most successful examples from cities across North America.
- Enhanced training for police on neurodiversity, to ensure officers have the best tactics possible to recognize and de-escalate a mental health crisis.
- When responders don’t address a mental health crisis appropriately, it can result in additional trauma for the citizen and for the officers involved. We as a community have a duty to ensure that we are providing the best approach possible to addressing non-criminal emergency response.