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Ward 1 - Sonya Sharp

March 2023 newsletter

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Hi Ward 1, 

With some warmer weather and longer days, it's starting to feel like spring is finally around the corner! 

Spring means you may begin to notice some changes around your property and the city, particularly as the snow starts to melt. This is a good time to ensure that downspouts are draining away from your house and to consider shovelling snow away from your house to prevent seepage into the foundation. The City also recommends ensuring that furnace and dryer exhaust vents on your home are free from snow and ice to prevent the buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide. 

If you have any concerns about catch basin drainage or potholes, you can submit a service request online or by calling 311. 

March is also community association awareness month. I'd like to extend a very special thank you to all of the community association volunteers and board members in Ward 1 who offer their free time to develop programs and events, and to advocate for their community's needs. We are extremely fortunate in Ward 1 to have such committed volunteers and such vibrant community associations. Thanks for all your hard work!

Sonya Sharp

Councillors Sharp, Wyness, Mian and Penner at the 2023 She Governs Event in the Council Chamber
Councillors Sharp, Wyness, Mian and Penner at the 2023 She Governs event

Updates on City services


Youth hiring event

The City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre is hosting its 24th annual Youth Hiring Fair. 

Youth 15-24 can connect with 80+ employers offering part-time, full-time, permanent, and seasonal job opportunities. 

The event runs from 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm on Thursday, April 6, 2023 at the Big Four Building at Stampede Park. 

Details on the event, and on year-round employment support opportunities, are available at calgary.ca/yec.

Photo of crowd from the 2022 youth hiring fair

Winter response for vulnerable Calgarians

Cold weather puts vulnerable Calgarians at risk. Temperatures like we saw during our most recent cold snap can cause frostbite in minutes and can cause hypothermia and even death. 

The City of Calgary, in partnership with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and numerous other community partners, takes steps to ensure that Calgarians experiencing homelessness can access shelters and warm spaces. These spaces offer an alternative to public or private spaces that are meant for other purposes—like CTrain stations—for sleeping or keeping warm. 

The Calgary Homeless Foundation has a resource list of warming spaces available across The City, including Ward 1's own Journey Church, which was recently featured by The City. Overnight, Calgary Transit offers an emergency shuttle service that transports anyone in need from several CTrain stations to available shelter spaces.

Calgary shelters remain below maximum occupancy throughout the winter. The City reminds Calgarians they can contact the DOAP team at 403-998-7388 if they see someone who needs help. 

Updates in brief

  • Four times a year, Calgary Transit makes service changes including updates to its schedule. Spring service changes come into effect on Monday, March 20. Find out what's changing at calgarytransit.com
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  • After a two year waiver period, The City of Calgary will reinstate fees for business licences and business licence renewals beginning Friday, March 17. Business licence fees were waived in March 2021 as a way to alleviate stresses on businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Renew or apply for a new business licence by visiting apply.calgary.ca.
Transit bus

Community updates


Bowmont storm pond cleaning

The City will be draining and clearing sediment from another storm pond in Ward 1 this month. The pond is located in Silver Springs east of 85 St NW and south of Silver Valley Blvd. 

Residents may notice increased traffic and odours will the work is taking place. Work is expected to be complete by mid-April. Visit calgary.ca/waterprojects for more information

River and pathway cleanup

Calgary Parks is hosting its annual Pathway and River Cleanup from May 5 to 7

Volunteers 12 years or older are welcome to join thousands of others across the city in keeping our pathways and riverfronts clean. Registration is open on calgary.ca until March 31.

Can't participate in the official event? Later this spring, TLC litter cleanup kits will be available at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

Bow River in winter

News from City Council


Tax bylaw finalization

Council finalized its 2023 property tax bylaws at the March 15 meeting of Council. The bylaws reflect the budget approved by Council in November, and Council's decision last month to maintain the current tax distribution between residential and non-residential properties. 

City Administration will mail tax bills in May, with taxes due on June 30 unless you participate in the TIPP monthly installment program. 

Council must wait until March of each year to approve the property tax bylaws, as this is when we learn what the provincial property tax amount will be from the Alberta Government. 

Many property owners will be seeing higher tax bills this year compared with last year. Councillor Sharp knows this puts additional financial pressure on families, and she knows that with rising costs, many households will struggle to afford the increase. That's why Councillor Sharp ultimately voted against the four-year budget in November, and why she advocated for the status quo property tax distribution in February. 

While taxes have been finalized for this year, Councillor Sharp will be continuing to look for efficiencies and ways The City can practice smart spending. Thanks to everyone who submitted their feedback and participated in the budget process over the past several months. 

 

Council chamber

Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw

Last week, Council passed the Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw (PDF) in response to recent protests of LGBTQIA2S+ events, including Reading with Royalty at the Calgary Public Library. The bylaw requires that protests on issues covered under the Alberta Human Rights Act take place at least 100 metres away from entrances to libraries and recreation facilities. 

I'm a strong believer in free expression. But I also believe that all Calgarians should feel safe being who they are without enduring threats, insults or hate. I strongly support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, including members of the trans community and drag performers who have been most directly targeted by recent protests. 

I believe all Calgarians should be free to express themselves through drag shows, through protests, or however they choose. 

I voted against the Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw. The goals of the bylaw are laudable,  but it is flawed. I don't believe we had time to consider the effect it has on fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. I expected to see clearer evidence that our existing laws are not already enough to uphold the safety of the LGBTQIA2S+, but I believe we must continue to do so. 

Ultimately, I hope the debate over this bylaw becomes unnecessary. I hope that we can find a way as a community to uphold safety, tolerance, and free expression for all. The health of our city depends on us affording the same freedoms to others as we expect for ourselves. 

—Sonya Sharp

Downtown Strategy update

Council recently approved changes to its Downtown Strategy incentive programs to reduce the amount of vacant office space in our city and to encourage new development. A vibrant downtown supports the social and economic health of our city. Increased property values in the core will also reduce the tax burden across the rest of the city.

The updated program offers a streamlined process for developers to access office space conversion projects, and allows for a wider variety of uses in addition to new residential space. The program will also create incentives for post-secondary institutions to establish a new presence downtown. Finally, where appropriate, the program will also offer incentives to demolish vacant office spaces where conversions would not be possible. 

In all cases, accessing these incentive programs requires clear public benefit. Councillor Sharp believes that the conversion incentives are one of the most successful programs The City has ever offered, with economic benefits for years to come. 

Downtown office-to-residential conversion project

Public art policy update

Council has approved changes to The City's public art program to deliver better value (and better art!) for Calgarians.

Previous Council policy required that 1% of the budget on all major infrastructure projects be spent on public art as part of that project. This meant that every new interchange, for example, required a public art component like Bowfort Towers or the blue ring. 

The new policy no longer ties the public art funding to its source project. Instead, The City can use these funds to create public art elsewhere, in more appropriate places. 

In addition, the Calgary Arts Development Authority will assume responsibility for selecting new public art. We hope that new public art projects better reflect the values and tastes of Calgarians.

Categories: General, Newsletter