Friday, October 8, 2010
With that in mind, I had the pleasure of exchanging some emails with Ward 14 Aldermanic candidate Bill "Billy the Butcher" Tummonds. Mr. Tummonds agreed to respond to some questions through that medium, which I sent, and he sent back with answers.
His answers appear below.
E.S.: You talk about the need to accelerate expansion of C-Train platforms to accommodate 4 cars as a way to increase transit capacity. Are you in favour of increasing the frequency of trains, or of instituting 24-hour C-Train service?
B.T.: I'd like to see 24-hour service sometime in the future, but right now I’m happy with the service hours for the C-Train. I believe they are already running for over 20 hours per day. Where I would like to service extended is to our bus network. Currently, it can be very difficult to travel by bus outside of peak hours, especially the farther away from the core you get. In addition, if you don’t live near a C-Train station, service after midnight isn’t very useful, as there aren't any buses to take you from the LRT station to your home.
E.S.: You´ve spoken quite eloquently on your campaign blog about the importance of the Calgary Public Library system. Do you feel that the Library has done an adequate job of informing the public of the many services it offers, or do many Calgarians still assume that the only thing to do at the Library is to withdraw books?
B.T.: The library is one of the most important institutions the City offers. The problem is, they don’t receive enough funding. We have the second most used library in Canada, but we are near the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to funding. Many of our City’s libraries have fallen into quite a state of disrepair and aren’t meeting the requirements of a young, growing city like Calgary. So, while I think the library can do so much more, it has often done as much as it can with the funding it receives.
As for the perception of the library, I think you’re right. There is so much more to do at the library than simply withdraw books. Libraries offer classes and seminars, computer access, internet access, newspapers, magazines and of course, books. A library also provides the public with a place to gather, and should be an important part of any community. Libraries help educate, and education is one of the most imoprtant parts of an advanced society like we have here in Canada.
The good sign in all of this is that libraries in Calgary always seem to be busy. I guess that means a lot of people feel the way I do.
E.S.: One of your transportation proposals includes making MacLeod Trail free-flowing from Anderson Road south, essentially turning it into a freeway until 194th Avenue. Can you talk about how we can make that a reality?
B.T.: That’s true, saying you want to get something done, and actually getting it done, are two very different things. Obviously money is an important factor, so what we need to do is prioritize our projects and find the ones that have the biggest impact, on the most Calgarians. In the case of MacLeod Trail, it’s a road that affects over 100,000 cars per day, and one of the City’s five busiest roads. Its’ flow impacts over a hundred thousand Calgarians, and for this reason needs to become a bigger priority.
So to make a long story short, throughout the City, we need to start focusing our transportation dollars on the major routes, so we can complete our freeway network. Instead of putting a couple of interchanges on this road and maybe a couple on another road, we need to focus our dollars to a few key routes, and work on making those roads free-flow. After that, we can start to work on the less major roads.
The sad part is the interchanges at both Lake Fraser Gate and 162nd Avenue were in the City’s 2005 Transportation plan, and were both to be done by 2010. The money was there seven or eight years ago, but we shifted our priorities, and both those important projects were put on hold. Today they have no timetable for completion.
E.S.: Some older communities in Ward 14, such as Lake Bonavista and Parkland, have many "empty nesters" living in them, who might be inclined to try and install Secondary Suites to make more efficient use of their space and generate some income with their home after the kids leave the nest. Are you in favour of a simplified Secondary Suites approval process, rather than the current process, which requires each applicant to come cap-in-hand to City Council?
B.T.: Yes I am. The current secondary suite policy is so old-fashioned and doesn’t make any sense. There needs to be regulations, don’t get me wrong, but the current system is so difficult, it is impossible to get any suites approved. We need to have a good policy in place, making secondary suites legal and legitimate, to eliminate the estimated 50,000 illegal suites in the City. They pose a safety risk to those who live in them, and that needs to be fixed immediately.
Along with re-working the regulations and requirements, we need to educate the people of Calgary on the importance of secondary suites and dispel many of the myths that accompany them. Other cities in Canada have lifted most of the restrictions on secondary suites, and haven’t had any of the problems many of the opponents here have predicted.
Secondary suites are important for reasons other than just “affordable housing.” As you mentioned, secondary suites can also provide empty nesters with extra revenue, while at the same time providing young families a way of moving into a community before they can afford to buy their own house. They only add to the vibrancy of a community and can be a benefit anywhere in the City.
E.S.: The province has indicated that it won´t be adding any lanes to the bridge as Highway 22X goes over MacLeod Trail. Would you, as Alderman, encourage the province to re-think the bottle-neck and the traffic lights on this critical stretch of the ring road?
B.T.: It’s mind-boggling that this wasn’t included as part of the SE portion of the ring road, and it makes no sense to end a freeway at a community feeder road like Sun Valley Blvd. Not only will ending the road there encourage people to cut through the community of Sundance, but it also doesn’t link the two major roads in SE Calgary, Deerfoot and MacLeod Trail, two routes that are so important to the movement of people and goods.
E.S.: What is your favourite cut of steak?
E.S.: Many youth in Ward 14 face the prospect of either travelling downtown to the skate park or skating wherever they can find space in the area´s commercial spots and parking lots. Are you in favour of building a skate park in Ward 14?
B.T.: Yes, I’m very much in favour of building a skate park in Ward 14, in fact I’d like to see several of them in the area. Skateboarding is so popular with today’s youth and it’s essential that City parks and City recreational facilities adapt to new trends. We cannot continue to build our facilities as we did fifty years ago, and building skate parks would be a step in the right direction. Why not provide our kids with the facilities they desire, instead of forcing them to either travel downtown, or participate in places that can be dangerous.
E.S.: You´re running against in incumbent Alderman, which means you´re essentially asking the voters of Ward 14 to fire Linda Fox-Mellway, and replace her with Alderman Bill Tummonds. In 100 words or less, convince them why this would be an upgrade.
B.T.: In a lot of ways, Council has become stale. We need an infusion of new blood, in order to bring some fresh ideas to the way in which we build and manage our City. We also need to start getting things done. While Council has “supported” many projects the past five years, they haven’t got much done as far as it concerns Ward 14. So, if elected, I would bring fresh ideas to Council and I vow to get some of the needed projects in Ward 14 rolling.
E.S.: The City of Calgary is still short over a dozen Fire Stations to get to the targeted maximum response time for a fire alarm. Do you feel we would be better served by building stand-alone Fire Stations now to fill the need, or to wait and build more Tri-Services Centres to house Police, Fire and EMS like the one in Midnapore?
B.T.: Well, the tri-services centre is a far better expenditure of public money, but at the same time we need to ensure that every Calgarian is adequately covered by theses services. What it really comes down to is better planning of our City as it grows. By slowing the rate at which the City expands outward, we make it easier and cheaper to provide these essential services, and allow for existing infrastructure to be used longer.
(This has been cross-posted to CalgaryPolitics.com)
Posted by Enlightened Savage at 5:34 p.m.