Hejduk: Although I recognize that we need to increase urban density, the breakneck speed at which it’s been done, coupled with a distinct lack of communication from community associations, needs to change. Better collaboration between developers and communities is a priority for me, and opening the debate to updating Area Redevelopment Plans would need to happen with all stakeholders at the table.
CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?
Hejduk: This a basic problem endemic to politics at the moment. If we need money, let’s grab it out of the public’s pockets. No one gives me more money, I have to learn to budget and make do with what I have. The City of Calgary should do the same.
CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?
Hejduk: I like energy-efficient homes, and they simply should be classified accordingly. I would like to see more solar panels that feed back into the grid, allowing homeowners to pay back the cost of building solar in their homes. Additionally, I would like the City to pay fairly for electrical generation and usage. Currently, it would take a homeowner well over 30 years to pay off any energy creating and saving initiatives.
CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?
Hejduk: After speaking with Vancouver and the housing costs there, you can see the urban density also astronomically shot housing prices through the roof. Then the City needed to subsidize housing for low-income families in order to make housing more affordable. That to me doesn’t address any problems – essence, the City then ends up subsidizing developments meanwhile raising taxes to keep people housed. I would start a special commission tasked with finding the answers and reporting a better solution than wealth redistribution through taxation and subsidy.
CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?
Hejduk: As a resident of an older neighbourhood, I would like to see road works catch up to housing. Our roads were never meant to take the volumes currently travelling on them, and traffic congestion is a symptom of poor planning. I would love to see a study on road works, expansion of main arteries and working with community associations to cut down on “shortcut” traffic solutions. Speaking from experience, I’ve seen the “shortcut” become “the route,” and every day from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. I have a traffic jam outside my house making it almost impossible to get onto the road from my driveway.
CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?
Hejduk: It’s deeply flawed and a waste of taxpayers’ money to have council weigh in on the final decision. I would form a special office that does three things: send inspectors to secondary suites to ensure their safety for renters, create an office that would monitor the rental supply and help landlords understand the costs associated with secondary suites, and finally, allow renters’ neighbours to anonymously report secondary suites for inspection.
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?
Hejduk: I’ve long stated public money should never be used to for private enterprise. Although the Flames contribute to the community, let’s face it – for every dollar of investment, Calgary Flames Limited Partnership makes $120. I would offer a unique solution that would tie the Flames to the city and offer a reprieve from the marathon tax juggernaut City Hall has become: let the City of Calgary buy into the Limited Partnership of the Calgary Flames. Other teams, such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Green Bay Packers, are city owned. It would give the fans a real stake in the games, tie the team to the city and make spending on infrastructure associated with the Calgary Flames easier to justify.