Seconday suites, urban sprawl and the need for a city charter dominated discussion at a forum for Ward 7 in the civic election on Oct. 8.
About 100 people attended the forum, at Eau Claire Market downtown, and questions were drawn from a website, as well as the audience.
One of the first questions was whether the four candidates believed urban sprawl was a problem and what they would do about it.
“Urban sprawl is one of the greatest issues in the city,” said Druh Farrell, the incumbent in the election.
She added that the city needs a growth management strategy and developers should have to pay the costs associated with sprawl.
“Live where you choose but cover your own cost,” said challenger Brent Alexander. People should have the option to live where they want but that they should be clear of the true costs associated with their decisions, he said.
The candidates generally agreed that action is needed on secondary suites.
“There is a strong need for secondary suites,” said Joylin Nodwell, a resident of Bowness who also is running in Ward 7.
“We need multi-use neighbourhoods… and should embrace diversity,” she added.
The other candidates were also supportive of legalizing secondary suites as a means to provide more affordable housing within Calgary.
A question that all candidates felt the need to answer was that of a City Charter.
Kevin Taylor, the second-place finisher in Ward 7 in the last municipal election, supported creation of a City Charter but one that would not provide the city with additional taxation powers.
“Extra taxes would hurt small business. We should have a City Charter with no extra tax powers,” said Taylor.
Both Farrell and Alexander agreed that a City Charter was important for a large city like Calgary while Nodwell felt that it was unnecessary and would cause a duplication of powers as well as increase taxes on Calgarians.
Ward 7 covers most of downtown Calgary and inner city communities across the Bow River and alongside Crowchild Trail as far out as Dalhousie. It includes the SAIT campus, as well as U of C.