Blair Berdusco – Ward 4

CREB®Now: What is your vision for Calgary in terms of planning and development in the short and long term?

Berdusco: Calgary has been growing for a number of years. While I would not want to deny anyone their preference in where to live, I worry the City has not done its due diligence in planning for the services, maintenance and infrastructure needs of communities as we grow further outwards. In Ward 4, specifically, we are what I call a “mid-city” ward. We have well-established neighbourhoods that are seeing significant changes. Infills, redevelopment, new transit options and new recreation facilities are all considerations. We have opportunities to create neighbourhood hubs in a few of these communities, and we need to be mindful of the impact we could have if we take the time to do it right.

CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?

Berdusco: I think the fact Alberta currently does not have a land transfer tax is a good thing. In our current economy, for Albertans to be burdened with another tax could cause major financial issues for some. In Calgary, we see a condo market that has a significant stock. For people trying to sell, the addition of a land transfer tax could cause them to lose money on their investment, walking away with less and maybe making it very difficult for them to decide whether to sell.

CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?

Berdusco: I am all for energy-efficient homes. There are many new options in housing – energy-efficient, homes built from sea cans, miniature homes and I’m sure some of which I’m not aware. I think being creative around housing is an excellent step toward providing affordability and options for people who maybe never thought owning was a possibility. Energy efficiency, and lowering our overall environmental footprint, is something every industry, and the City, should be striving for.

CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?

Berdusco: We are already very fortunate to have organizations working on affordable housing and creating awareness. The most recent number I heard is about 4,000 people on the waiting list with the City for affordable housing. The City announced recently the sale of eight public properties for affordable housing projects, and I applaud that step. One area where we seem to be falling short is in affordable housing for families. The market has a decent number of options for housing for individuals, but a single parent or parents with two or three children have a much more difficult time finding affordable housing.

CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?

Berdusco: The Green Line. More community libraries – Ward 4 only has two. Expanded recreation options with more inclusivity of alternative sports like skateboarding and BMX. Being mindful of green spaces and their importance to communities and the health of Calgarians. Mainly, I want to see preparation in planning for the next 25 years. I want to ensure whatever the City is approving today, works for those utilizing the City in 25 years. We need to be forward thinking practically, innovatively and creatively.

CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?

Berdusco:  The secondary suite approval process needs to change. Having city council debate and approve or not approve each of the applications is inefficient, embarrassing and unnecessary. There are many other considerations around secondary suites that require attention, such as how we enforce absent landlords, how we bring illegal suites to being legal suites, and ensuring every suite is safe. When a secondary suite becomes an income generator for an owner who does not occupy the home themselves, we might need to institute and enforce some kind of licensing. Enforcement around these suites would be a great start to addressing concerns of neighbours to some of these properties.

CREB®Now: What is your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how would you propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?

Berdusco: The west side of downtown makes little sense to put the arena as originally proposed by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, the remediation alone will take a minimum of five years and the City still needs to work with the province to figure out that responsibility. The East Village/Victoria Park area makes sense in that the area is currently being developed as a live/work/shop area and adding entertainment sounds like a great idea. I am partial to a mixed-use space like what they have for the Capitals in Washington D.C. There they have retail on the bottom built around the bowl of the stadium. It becomes a space where taxes can be levied on the businesses and provides some return on investment for the City.

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