We had over 250 atendees! A special thanks to Wurst for their support and hosting us. For those that weren’t able to attend, you can still donate here and you can read Chris Davis' speech below.
Good afternoon– thank you so much for joining me today.
I know many of you - lots of you! - in this room quite well. For those of you I haven’t had the chance to meet yet, I’m Chris Davis and I am running to be the next City Councillor in Ward 8.
As someone who’s practiced municipal law here in Calgary for the past 25+ years, I’ll admit that had you asked me if I was planning to run for elected office, my answer up until a few months ago might have been “absolutely not”.
I never considered myself a politician. I was happy representing homeowners, communities and community associations, developers and builders, and other municipal clients as a lawyer who specialized in this area.
However, over the past four years, a lot of folks – me among them - have become dissatisfied with the inconsistent representation we’ve been getting at City Hal.
l decided that it was time to do more than simply advocate on behalf of those who faced challenges when dealing with our city government.
It was time to stand up and be part of a City Council that puts families and communities first – not the interests who seem to have special privileges behind the closed doors of City Hall.
Calgary once led the way when it came to being the best place - not just in Alberta but in the country - to start and run a business.
We were a magnet for those from across Canada who wanted to pursue new opportunities and live in safe and vibrant communities.
Our city was defined by a boundless sense of optimism – we looked forward to the opportunities and possibilities of tomorrow, based on the certainty that Calgary would remain not only an economic engine, but also a city that valued our Albertan values of fairness, integrity, and hard work.
However, I believe that during the tough economic times that Calgary has faced since low energy prices rocked our province and many Calgarians faced the difficult task of being out of work – many folks have started to lose hope that Calgary will offer us and future generations the same opportunity that it has in the past.
Instead of working to protect jobs by lowering taxes and cutting red tape, it's made doing business in Calgary more costly and more complicated.
Instead of making life more affordable for families hit with salary reductions and job losses, we have a municipal government that has continued to raise property taxes across the board.
Instead of lowering the cost of running our city and focussing on core services vital to everyday Calgarians, we see a dramatically grown bureaucracy and money flowing to pet projects and projects supported by special interests.
Add to that governments at the provincial and federal levels that are piling on taxes, and it’s clear our city needs a champion.
For anyone who thinks that by "special interests" I am NOT referring to the development community. I can assure you nothing is farther from my mind. Special interests are those whose agenda doesn't see the light of day - who plot schemes that grow hidden in shadows and in secret chambers.
So instead of making sure our government is open, transparent, and accountable to voters, we see an alarming trend of taking the business of running government out of the glow of the daylight and holding closed door and secretive "in camera" meetings to which you and I aren’t invited or aren't allowed to attend.
In short, instead of running a city in the best interests of all Calgarians, our City Hall is going the other direction. Honestly folks, in my opinion, it's time for a One Hundred eighty degree turn in direction!
Here in Ward 8, we’ve seen first hand the results of these bad decisions. Bike lanes on 8th and 12th Avenues which snarl traffic and hurt local businesses. Miles of new routes which demand scarce maintenance and operational dollars between November and May. Business taxes that were to disappear but haven't and have contributed to the mounting pressures on family businesses - forcing many to close their doors after decades – even generations – of being in business. Intense development and densification projects which have changed not only the face but the very character of many of our beloved communities. I have heard a repeated story on the doorsteps in Killarney, Richmond - Knob Hill, Marda Loop and South Calgary - "they don't seem to value our opinion ... they say we are in the way of the City's future plans".
And where was our Ward 8 Councillor during all of these critical decisions? He was busy voting with the Mayor on each and every one of them – because as he made clear when he was running in 2013 - he believes the Mayor, and not his constituents, should be the one who he takes his cues from when it comes to votes.
As a municipal lawyer, I’ve spent my entire professional career not only working in and around municipal governance, but in learning the very real impact city decisions have on the everyday lives of Calgarians. I’ve fought to protect homeowners from unfair re-zonings and developments that would decrease their quality of life. I’ve worked with developers to accommodate and address the concerns of local residents when a new project is being designed. And I'm not afraid of going toe-to-toe with municipal bureaucrats who fail to listen to Calgarians should they pursue their own agendas instead of putting Calgarians first.
Friends, this election we have a real opportunity to bring change to City Hall. We have the opportunity to throw open the closed doors of our local government and chart a new course for our great city. We can show not just Calgarians, but indeed all Canadians, that Calgary is quite simply the best city, in the best province, in the best country in the world. That at City Council, it is constituents and not bureaucrats who are at the heart of how we make decisions. That taxes can go down and not always up, that less red tape is better than crushing regulations.
And that it is you and me, and not special interests, who should be the loudest voice in our government.
I believe that Calgarians would welcome this change with open arms – and I’m excited about the opportunity to help lead that change as part of a renewed City Council that puts constituents first.
- To drag city hall business out of back-room decision making and back into the light;
- A tax warrior that will fight for fiscal responsibility at city hall;
- A fair urban density policy that realistically addresses the wants and needs of Calgarians, and allows for the broadest possible range of choice;
- A responsible solution that gets Calgarians a new arena while protecting city taxpayers;
- A reasonable secondary suite policy that takes into counts the different needs and nuances of different communities;
What Ward 8 needs the most is a councilor who talks to you, who listens to you, and who acts on your behalf.
I will be that candidate.
Join our team as we build a better future for Ward 8 and for the entire city of Calgary.
It’s a time to build, it’s a time for renewal; it’s a time for hope; it’s a time for change.
Thank you very much, I’m Chris Davis; vote Davis for Ward 8!