Jeff’s Mayoral Action Plan

There is much to talk about and much to do. Chestermere needs a clear plan of action, a Master Plan to guide us through the development that we want, not just what hits us.

We need development to meet our community needs; Retirement & Seniors Focus, significant improvement for all aspects of recreation. We need more commercial development to bear the weight of new amenities and the reduction of home owners taxes.

 

Spending needs to be controlled, Tax increases need to be controlled. City Hall needs to work within a budget, not just raise taxes and call it a budget. Residents need real transparency, not just lip service. City Hall works for the people.

I find this to be a surprising topic. City government are 100% there for the benefit of its tax payers. Why would City financial information not be shown crystal clear to its tax payers? There is absolutely nothing to hide, why would there be? This is publics money.

 

This constant fighting around disclosure of financial information of the City and of CUI is a waste of time and money. Period! Every little fact should be disclosed, every asset the City owns or controls should be clearly disclosed. There is nothing to hide.

 

Obviously, in camera meetings are needed. Though why is it Chestermere leads the province, leads every single city and town in the most number of in camera meetings? These are not statistics to be proud of. Somethings wrong and needs to be drastically changed.

 

This is why, I sought election to the Chestermere Recreation  Centre Board when it was being accused of wrongdoing and lack of transparency.

 

I joined because they are a public entity that should be 100% transparent and have nothing to hide. Myself and the other Board members were able to prove that there was no wrongdoing and are transparent with all aspects, as should be expected. Chestermere needs to be 100% transparent.

A healthy City financially is one where 60% of our tax base comes from commercial tax payers and 40% of the taxes received come from residential.

 

What is commercial? Commercial is the combination of retail, office and warehousing. Right now Chestermere collects less than 7% from the commercial base. 93% comes from home owners.

 

What a dismal statistic. Chestermere councils have failed to attract commercial business to Chestermere. Our current businesses need our support. They simply cannot be expected to support the entire city commercial tax base, their taxes cannot be increased.

 

We simply need more commercial. Commercial development brings Jobs. Jobs for Chestermere youth and adults. Jobs in Chestermere, allows parents to stay in our city, close to their home and families. While at the same time allowing taxes to be shifted from home owners to commercial.

 

Increasing the commercial tax base will reduce our home owner taxes. Developing with a plan, spending smarter, reducing debt, being more efficient with our City expenses will all help to reduce our home owner taxes and allow for more growth of amenities and recreation that residents want.

 

Chestermere Council needs to look to alternative sources of revenue. Benefiting by what Chestermere has to offer. There are numerous opportunities where the City can earn significant revenue. One I will mention is P3’s (Public Private Partnerships). The City can expect to earn revenue while not taking risks, by letting qualified private corporations take the risk.

For residents that have lived in Chestermere for over 20 years, we experienced a tax increase I have never heard of anywhere. Many of our home owner taxes doubled or tripled. A government should never be allowed to do this to its citizens.

 

I plan to aggressively reduce our taxes and freeze them. Allowing taxes to either increase by the rate of inflation, around 1.5% or as some cities have done, only when your home is sold. Thus if you stay in your home for a long period or retire your taxes do not increase. Further to ensure its longevity, this can only be changed by a plebiscite, a vote by the public.

 

Cities must learn they have to follow a budget, not just increase taxes to what they want and then call that a budget.

 

If elected I propose we review operations and administration and reduce our expenses. Our City expanded since 2010 approximately 100% more homes, 100% more roads, 100% pathways and grass maintenance. Yet our departments expenditures expanded as much as 400%. City expenses and structure need to be reduced, to reduce the budget, to reduce taxes.

 

Additionally, we need to look at restructuring our city debt for more favourable terms, allowing our budget to be reduced, allowing taxes to further be reduced.

 

Approaching the provincial government and negotiating more grants and getting more provincial assistance for the poor position our City has been put in financially by past councils. Home owners should not have to pay high property taxes to cover exorbitant debt, that never should have happened. This will reduce our home owner tax payments.

Another major issue that gets no air time is the vast amount of debt Chestermere has. The Highest per household in all of Alberta, likely most of Canada. That’s quite a statistic to be at the top of. Pretty incredible, pretty embarrassing and downright wrong.

 

This has to stop! Chestermere including CUI, is approximately $50 million in Debt!  How is it possible that councils have been allowed to do this?

 

How could they have been allowed to expand CUI like they did? How could they be allowed to buy Webster Lands at the South end of Chestermere, with no feasibility study, no appraisals, no checks and balances? Probably one of, if not the worst spending disaster in the history of Chestermere. This should never have been able to happen. I propose it should never happen again. Spending limits need to be placed on Council, not allowing them to make such major mistakes and set a city and its home owners back for years. These proposed limits can only be changed by a public vote.

 

I feel the provincial government should help Chestermere solve this debt issue as they let this happen also, without any checks and balances.

 

Chestermere used to be one of the lowest debt per household Towns, it used to have some of the lowest residential tax rates in all of Alberta. Now it’s one of the highest. What happened? How do we ensure this cannot happen with future councils?

 

Council doesn’t understand that you need to make money to buy things. What we residents got, was council that realized they can spend big cheques by raising taxes on home owners with no plan and poorly thought out wishful thinking on how to pay it back.

 

Now we have to clean it up. If elected I plan to put controls on councils ability to spend money, particularly through getting more debt and raising home owners taxes. These controls can only be adjusted if the public agrees, through a plebiscite or vote by the public. Councils need to learn to work within a budget, like everyone else has too. Like Home and Business owners have too.

 

Councils can learn to use grants and positive revenue to benefit our community. Positive revenue comes from charging developers properly, mainly more, which hasn’t been done properly, and is generating a large tax base from commercial businesses. Residential taxes do not cover the expenses residents create.

 

Commercial taxes more than cover expenses they create. Meaning you never get ahead financially by developing more and more residential homes. Residents require more policing, health, schools, social programs, fire department use, than businesses, retail and warehousing do. You want a healthy balance of commercial for a community to keep home owners taxes low and allow for more amenities to be built.

 

What is commercial? Commercial is the combination of retail, office and warehousing.

First we need a master plan on how we want to see Chestermere grow. We do not want to simply add residential houses just because its easy to add.

 

The only way to balance a budget with only a residential tax base is having a high tax base. That makes no sense for a home owner to want to live in that situation. Home owners want low taxes. They work hard for their money and we want them to keep more of it. Though we need commercial to work hard for the home owners, so we can have the services and amenities we all want.

 

Working a Plan is the key. Residential development needs to be on larger lots, while keeping the pricing affordable. Our City is fortunate to be next to many acres of raw land. Small lots cause parking issues and neighbour to neighbour stress and download this problem to the City to handle in the future, while the Developer is long gone. Home lots should be large enough to allow all parking to be off street.

 

To add significant retail we need to ask the Owners, Pensions and Real estate investment trusts (REIT) that own the shops, what will make them come to Chestermere. For them it’s a very specific set of conditions. For example they may require a certain level of residential density. Then we have a reason why we would add more residential, to obtain that group of retail stores and also being beneficial to our commercial tax base.

 

We want office or warehousing that does not impact the enjoyment of homes and our community, so it needs to be far enough away yet an easy commute. Chestermere is lucky or strategically located between the Trans Canada highway and Glenmore Trail, two of the highest traffic transportation routes. Chestermere needs to take advantage of this.

 

Conrich commercial district and Balzac have exploded with growth, creating a tax base for Rockyview County that covers over half their budget. Over $40,000,000 in tax revenue. That was never there before. This kind of commercial tax revenue would allow Chestermere to have pools, major recreation, and fully support a myriad of social programs.

 

For Commercial Growth. I recommend growing Chestermere North, South & East working with Rockyview County to McKnight and Country Hills Blvd , becoming part of the warehousing district that will travel east of Conrich. South to Glenmore Trail joining the industrial corridor Glenmore already is planned for. East to take advantage of more commercial opportunities along the Trans Canada Highway.

 

Chestermere is an Oasis. It just needs some work. We need a Master Plan that encompasses more, to follow and to let us do things on purpose, rather than just shooting in the dark.

 

Developers want this also, so they do not waste time and money approaching the City with something that will not be approved. Which further helps the City stay efficient and keep a low budget by not wasting time on projects that will not proceed. The City must continue to work towards the lifestyle and amenities that Chestermere home owners and families want and deserve.

 

With the significant shift all communities are experiencing with Seniors and Retirees. Healthcare will become more and more important. Additionally, with a focus on the expansion of athletics in Chestermere, access to health care is crucial. I plan to push for a larger health campus with multiple MRI, CT scans, Xray machines. Bringing costs of access to these machines down for users.

 

Chestermere needs to explore getting its own Water Utility Treatment and not relying on the expensive City of Calgary water. This can be done as a P3 or wholly owned by Chestermere.

 

Let’s make commercial work for us. Let’s make government work for us.

I often hear politicians say we need to hold Developers accountable. What does that mean? Are they currently not holding the Developer accountable to the Development agreement that the City created? Who’s fault is that, it is the Cities agreement.

 

I believe the main issue with the Developers is they are not being charged enough or correctly. The Developer must pay every penny their development requires for upgrades, to roads, water, sewer lines, lift stations, electrical or gas. Naturally, right? Amazingly, not here in Chestermere. Which is rather unbelievable and one of the major reasons why CUI and Chestermere have so much ridicules debt.

 

Developers are also charged offsite levies. These pay the City and tax payers back for the years of costs to make Chestermere what it is, make it attractive and desirable for a Developer to want to come to Chestermere. This needs a proper formula to follow.

 

Now Developers don’t have unlimited pockets of cash. So this is a delicate balance which further emphasizes the point that Councils must operate smartly, efficiently and transparently in the operation of the City.

 

Another area that makes Chestermere undesirable to develop in, is the amount of time and expense it takes getting developments approved. It almost seems as if every time there is a development, it’s a brand new concept to the City and the City deals with it by the seats of their pants. People are paralyzed in making decisions. This happens when you don’t have the right people and a proper plan to follow.

 

I propose a Large Planning Group be created for large developments, to be created inside Chestermere’s planning department. That is fully funded by the large developers, they are still City staff, funds would be paid to the City. This team would only work with large more complicated projects, nothing else. They would be highly skilled and of the same caliber as the professionals the Developers are using. Allowing the process to proceed quicker and more accurately, allowing the best protection for Chestermere. Having discussed this with some developers who are massively frustrated currently, would welcome this new team and feel it would result in lower costs to them. Again lowering our budget and lowering home owners taxes.

 

For smaller permits for renovations, all too often planning gets too involved with what residents are trying to do and frustrates and delays the renovation. If a resident follows the bylaws and the proper inspections are done as already required, plumbing, electrical, property setbacks. Then the project moves seamlessly and quickly. Costing the City much less time aiding in less staff time, a lower budget and lower taxes.

Having the incredible opportunity to have amenities on the lake is extremely unique and very rare. Whats been done has not been done properly, massively over budget and has missed many key opportunities our lake provides.

 

Some key ideas I would like to put forward are:

 

  1. I believe Chestermere needs to have an entertainment district on the lake with a Boardwalk, Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Pubs, Live music, Shops, farmers market similar to that of what Kelowna and Granville Island have. I propose this entertainment district be developed by and connected to John Peak Park or Lower Park as the youth call it.  John Peak Park could be turned into a long public beach with a swimming area and with a proper marina quite inexpensively. Along with residential condominiums above the retail shops, which ensure activity in the area to keep crime away and to help support the shops below. What a beautiful place to bring your family or for Date night and spend the evening.Eventually encompassing City Hall and converting it to supporting the entertainment district.
  2. When development occurs the City needs to combine the municipal reserve lands they get given by the developer in as large of chunks as possible. Creating space for recreation amenities. Having these lands banked for when it makes sense to turn them into various types of recreation fields and amenities.
  3. I believe Chestermere needs to keep the Chestermere Community Rec Centre lands for recreation for ever. I have heard discussions had by City folks that it should be turned into condominiums. I don’t agree. We need large parks, like Bowness park & Glenmore park in Calgary. We have only a few very small parks. Again these things need to be planned, if they are going to happen.
  4. The Chestermere Community Rec Centre needs a Pool, another 2 to 3 hockey rinks and 1 to 2 indoor soccer field houses, with running tracks, fitness facility, top tier athletic training facility and food amenities. These sports rinks and fields would only be built based on contracts with minor sports for their committed use and needs. Additionally, getting financial support from leasing space for athletic related businesses and adding youth support areas, programs and meeting rooms.
  5. The Anniversary Beach can be expanded into the community centre lands allowing for Tennis, Pickle ball, Volleyball, Basketball courts, Splash park and fire pits. Also allowing for a proper Skateboard park. Allowing Chestermere families to enjoy one area for their kids to explore.
  6. Large outdoor sports fields need to be developed close to Chestermere town centre. The benefit of this is, visiting teams and tournaments would help support businesses in Chestermere. I propose we lobby to get two quad Baseball fields, eight Soccer/Football fields and a Campground on the lands by the old water slides on the east side of the Trans Canada Highway. These can be managed by the Chestermere Community Rec Centre.
  7. Golfing is a great pastime that should be kept in Chestermere. Golfing has been part of Chestermere what feels like forever. It is evident that many residents want to keep Golf in Chestermere, which I agree with.  If Golfing cannot be sustained as a business, the land should remain at a minimum as park land for the benefit to home owners living directly on the lands, home owners that are fortunate enough to have views of the gorgeous lands out their windows and the rest of Chestermere residents who would use the park and pathways.

 

The Youth and Adults in Chestermere would all benefit from these amenities, activities and changes to Chestermere. This is one of the main reasons I wish to run for Mayor in Chestermere as I have three teenage daughters and I want to make sure that our family and them and their friends have a broad range of activities to enjoy.

Thirty percent (30%) of Alberta’s population is among this group. Chestermere is a perfect place for a retirement community living along side a small city with a resort feel. Chestermere is easy to get around and with a few tweaks accessibility would easily be possible for seniors.

 

Unfortunately, Chestermere was not master planned when it was developed. There is very little development space left around town centre. Having said that, I propose that a retirement and seniors shuttle be created, fully paid by the Retirement and Seniors Housing Developers.  Allowing pockets of Retirement Development to occur and still have easy access to the town centre, restaurants, shops, grocery stores and recreation amenities. To do this a certain level of Retirement Development is required to fund this appropriately. Again, creating a plan to follow and understanding why.

 

Retirement recreation and amenities is a must to create an attractive retirement lifestyle here in Chestermere. Seniors and retirees I have spoken with would love to partake in the entertainment district and were very interested if the Chestermere Community Rec Centre would be expanded with a pool, running track and other amenities. Along with participating in golfing.

 

One point Chestermere needs to consider is economies of scale for these Seniors and Retirement projects. In order for them to be self sustaining and affordable they need to have enough density. It’s rather funny when we have a 5000 seniors person accommodation issue per year in Calgary and area and developments come up with 100 units at a few odd locations. They are doomed to fail. They can be phased and need to be large enough to meet the clients needs and in order to reach economies of scale to be sustainable long term. Chestermere doesn’t want seniors accommodations going under.

 

Since taxes are a major concern for Retirement and Seniors. As discussed in the Property Tax section, reducing tax is a priority and then forcing the council and administration to work within that budget is a major goal of mine. Fixing the tax rates so they cannot go up with out a home owners vote, past an agreed upon maximum such as the rate of inflation, typically 1.5%. or freezing the tax rate on a property until that home is sold and only changes if the home value changes. Thus eliminating the risk to home owners, seniors and retirees of unpredictable tax costs.

I feel that Chestermere is a very safe city thanks to its citizens and its Police. I have mentioned that we should develop further an entertainment district with a boardwalk, and the two beach areas with their amenities. With these areas becoming the primary areas with so many amenities, I believe these will become very popular. We can integrate the police into these areas, so everyone gets to know each other as in small towns. With police walking and on bicycles participating and integrating with the community.

 

Further, if elected I intend to work with various community leaders in making sure Chestermere is a safe community for all, rather than just Police. Council has passed an important Bullying bylaw that needs to be enforced. Bullying is unacceptable.

 

Living is Chestermere is a privilege. Many of us have chosen this City as a place to raise our families and retire here. Our development should recognize this. When people respect where they live they will also protect it.

Transparency

I find this to be a surprising topic. City government are 100% there for the benefit of its tax payers. Why would City financial information not be shown crystal clear to its tax payers? There is absolutely nothing to hide, why would there be? This is publics money.

 

This constant fighting around disclosure of financial information of the City and of CUI is a waste of time and money. Period! Every little fact should be disclosed, every asset the City owns or controls should be clearly disclosed. There is nothing to hide.

 

Obviously, in camera meetings are needed. Though why is it Chestermere leads the province, leads every single city and town in the most number of in camera meetings? These are not statistics to be proud of. Somethings wrong and needs to be drastically changed.

 

This is why, I sought election to the Chestermere Recreation  Centre Board when it was being accused of wrongdoing and lack of transparency. I joined because they are a public entity that should be 100% transparent and have nothing to hide. Myself and the other Board members were able to prove that there was no wrongdoing and are transparent with all aspects, as should be expected. Chestermere needs to be 100% transparent.

Economics

A healthy City financially is one where 60% of our tax base comes from commercial tax payers and 40% of the taxes received come from residential.

 

What is commercial? Commercial is the combination of retail, office and warehousing. Right now Chestermere collects less than 7% from the commercial base. 93% comes from home owners.

 

What a dismal statistic. Chestermere councils have failed to attract commercial business to Chestermere. Our current businesses need our support. They simply cannot be expected to support the entire city commercial tax base, their taxes cannot be increased.

 

We simply need more commercial. Commercial development brings Jobs. Jobs for Chestermere youth and adults. Jobs in Chestermere, allows parents to stay in our city, close to their home and families. While at the same time allowing taxes to be shifted from home owners to commercial.

 

Increasing the commercial tax base will reduce our home owner taxes. Developing with a plan, spending smarter, reducing debt, being more efficient with our City expenses will all help to reduce our home owner taxes and allow for more growth of amenities and recreation that residents want.

 

Chestermere Council needs to look to alternative sources of revenue. Benefiting by what Chestermere has to offer. There are numerous opportunities where the City can earn significant revenue. One I will mention is P3’s (Public Private Partnerships). The City can expect to earn revenue while not taking risks, by letting qualified private corporations take the risk.

Property Tax

For residents that have lived in Chestermere for over 20 years, we experienced a tax increase I have never heard of anywhere. Many of our home owner taxes doubled or tripled. A government should never be allowed to do this to its citizens.

 

I plan to aggressively reduce our taxes and freeze them. Allowing taxes to either increase by the rate of inflation, around 1.5% or as some cities have done, only when your home is sold. Thus if you stay in your home for a long period or retire your taxes do not increase. Further to ensure its longevity, this can only be changed by a plebiscite, a vote by the public.

 

Cities must learn they have to follow a budget, not just increase taxes to what they want and then call that a budget.

 

If elected I propose we review operations and administration and reduce our expenses. Our City expanded since 2010 approximately 100% more homes, 100% more roads, 100% pathways and grass maintenance. Yet our departments expenditures expanded as much as 400%. City expenses and structure need to be reduced, to reduce the budget, to reduce taxes.

 

Additionally, we need to look at restructuring our city debt for more favourable terms, allowing our budget to be reduced, allowing taxes to further be reduced.

 

Approaching the provincial government and negotiating more grants and getting more provincial assistance for the poor position our City has been put in financially by past councils. Home owners should not have to pay high property taxes to cover exorbitant debt, that never should have happened. This will reduce our home owner tax payments.

Debt

Another major issue that gets no air time is the vast amount of debt Chestermere has. The Highest per household in all of Alberta, likely most of Canada. That’s quite a statistic to be at the top of. Pretty incredible, pretty embarrassing and downright wrong.

 

This has to stop! Chestermere including CUI, is approximately $50 million in Debt! How is it possible that councils have been allowed to do this? How could they have been allowed to expand CUI like they did? How could they be allowed to buy Webster Lands at the South end of Chestermere, with no feasibility study, no appraisals, no checks and balances? Probably one of, if not the worst spending disaster in the history of Chestermere. This should never have been able to happen. I propose it should never happen again. Spending limits need to be placed on Council, not allowing them to make such major mistakes and set a city and its home owners back for years. These proposed limits can only be changed by a public vote.

 

I feel the provincial government should help Chestermere solve this debt issue as they let this happen also, without any checks and balances.

 

Chestermere used to be one of the lowest debt per household Towns, it used to have some of the lowest residential tax rates in all of Alberta. Now it’s one of the highest. What happened? How do we ensure this cannot happen with future councils?

 

Council doesn’t understand that you need to make money to buy things. What we residents got, was council that realized they can spend big cheques by raising taxes on home owners with no plan and poorly thought out wishful thinking on how to pay it back.

 

Now we have to clean it up. If elected I plan to put controls on councils ability to spend money, particularly through getting more debt and raising home owners taxes. These controls can only be adjusted if the public agrees, through a plebiscite or vote by the public. Councils need to learn to work within a budget, like everyone else has too. Like Home and Business owners have too.

 

Councils can learn to use grants and positive revenue to benefit our community. Positive revenue comes from charging developers properly, mainly more, which hasn’t been done properly, and is generating a large tax base from commercial businesses. Residential taxes do not cover the expenses residents create.

 

Commercial taxes more than cover expenses they create. Meaning you never get ahead financially by developing more and more residential homes. Residents require more policing, health, schools, social programs, fire department use, than businesses, retail and warehousing do. You want a healthy balance of commercial for a community to keep home owners taxes low and allow for more amenities to be built.

 

What is commercial? Commercial is the combination of retail, office and warehousing.

Development

First we need a master plan on how we want to see Chestermere grow. We do not want to simply add residential houses just because its easy to add. The only way to balance a budget with only a residential tax base is having a high tax base. That makes no sense for a home owner to want to live in that situation. Home owners want low taxes. They work hard for their money and we want them to keep more of it. Though we need commercial to work hard for the home owners, so we can have the services and amenities we all want.

 

Working a Plan is the key. Residential development needs to be on larger lots, while keeping the pricing affordable. Our City is fortunate to be next to many acres of raw land. Small lots cause parking issues and neighbour to neighbour stress and download this problem to the City to handle in the future, while the Developer is long gone. Home lots should be large enough to allow all parking to be off street.

 

To add significant retail we need to ask the Owners, Pensions and Real estate investment trusts (REIT) that own the shops, what will make them come to Chestermere. For them it’s a very specific set of conditions. For example they may require a certain level of residential density. Then we have a reason why would add more residential, to obtain that group of retail stores and also being beneficial to our commercial tax base.

 

We want office or warehousing that does not impact the enjoyment of homes and our community, so it needs to be far enough away yet an easy commute. Chestermere is lucky or strategically located between the Trans Canada highway and Glenmore Trail, two of the highest traffic transportation routes. Chestermere needs to take advantage of this.

 

Conrich commercial district and Balzac have exploded with growth, creating a tax base for Rockyview County that covers over half their budget. Over $40,000,000 in tax revenue. That was never there before. This kind of commercial tax revenue would allow Chestermere to have pools, major recreation, and fully support a myriad of social programs.

 

For Commercial Growth. I recommend growing Chestermere North, South & East working with Rockyview County to McKnight and Country Hills Blvd , becoming part of the warehousing district that will travel east of Conrich. South to Glenmore Trail joining the industrial corridor Glenmore already is planned for. East to take advantage of more commercial opportunities along the Trans Canada Highway.

 

Chestermere is an Oasis. It just needs some work. We need a Master Plan that encompasses more, to follow and to let us do things on purpose, rather than just shooting in the dark. Developers want this also, so they do not waste time and money approaching the City with something that will not be approved. Which further helps the City stay efficient and keep a low budget by not wasting time on projects that will not proceed. The City must continue to work towards the lifestyle and amenities that Chestermere home owners and families want and deserve.

 

With the significant shift all communities are experiencing with Seniors and Retirees. Healthcare will become more and more important. Additionally, with a focus on the expansion of athletics in Chestermere, access to health care is crucial. I plan to push for a larger health campus with multiple MRI, CT scans, Xray machines. Bringing costs of access to these machines down for users.

 

Chestermere needs to explore getting its own Water Utility Treatment and not relying on the expensive City of Calgary water. This can be done as a P3 or wholly owned by Chestermere.

 

Let’s make commercial work for us. Let’s make government work for us.

Developers

I often hear politicians say we need to hold Developers accountable. What does that mean? Are they currently not holding the Developer accountable to the Development agreement that the City created? Who’s fault is that, it is the Cities agreement.

 

I believe the main issue with the Developers is they are not being charged enough or correctly. The Developer must pay every penny their development requires for upgrades, to roads, water, sewer lines, lift stations, electrical or gas. Naturally, right? Amazingly, not here in Chestermere. Which is rather unbelievable and one of the major reasons why CUI and Chestermere have so much ridicules debt.

 

Developers are also charged offsite levies. These pay the City and tax payers back for the years of costs to make Chestermere what it is, make it attractive and desirable for a Developer to want to come to Chestermere. This needs a proper formula to follow.

 

Now Developers don’t have unlimited pockets of cash. So this is a delicate balance which further emphasizes the point that Councils must operate smartly, efficiently and transparently in the operation of the City.

 

Another area that makes Chestermere undesirable to develop in, is the amount of time and expense it takes getting developments approved. It almost seems as if every time there is a development, it’s a brand new concept to the City and the City deals with it by the seats of their pants. People are paralyzed in making decisions. This happens when you don’t have the right people and a proper plan to follow.

 

I propose a Large Planning Group be created for large developments, to be created inside Chestermere’s planning department. That is fully funded by the large developers, they are still City staff, funds would be paid to the City. This team would only work with large more complicated projects, nothing else. They would be highly skilled and of the same caliber as the professionals the Developers are using. Allowing the process to proceed quicker and more accurately, allowing the best protection for Chestermere. Having discussed this with some developers who are massively frustrated currently, would welcome this new team and feel it would result in lower costs to them. Again lowering our budget and lowering home owners taxes.

 

For smaller permits for renovations, all too often planning gets too involved with what residents are trying to do and frustrates and delays the renovation. If a resident follows the bylaws and the proper inspections are done as already required, plumbing, electrical, property setbacks. Then the project moves seamlessly and quickly. Costing the City much less time aiding in less staff time, a lower budget and lower taxes.

Development of Inner City

Having the incredible opportunity to have amenities on the lake is extremely unique and very rare. Whats been done has not been done properly, massively over budget and has missed many key opportunities our lake provides.

 

Some key ideas I would like to put forward are:

 

  1. I believe Chestermere needs to have an entertainment district on the lake with a Boardwalk, Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Pubs, Live music, Shops, farmers market similar to that of what Kelowna and Granville Island have. I propose this entertainment district be developed by and connected to John Peak Park or Lower Park as the youth call it.John Peak Park could be turned into a long public beach with a swimming area and with a proper marina quite inexpensively. Along with residential condominiums above the retail shops, which ensure activity in the area to keep crime away and to help support the shops below. What a beautiful place to bring your family or for Date night and spend the evening.Eventually encompassing City Hall and converting it to supporting the entertainment district.
  2. When development occurs the City needs to combine the municipal reserve lands they get given by the developer in as large of chunks as possible. Creating space for recreation amenities. Having these lands banked for when it makes sense to turn them into various types of recreation fields and amenities.
  3. I believe Chestermere needs to keep the Chestermere Community Rec Centre lands for recreation for ever. I have heard discussions had by City folks that it should be turned into condominiums. I don’t agree. We need large parks, like Bowness park & Glenmore park in Calgary. We have only a few very small parks. Again these things need to be planned, if they are going to happen.
  4. The Chestermere Community Rec Centre needs a Pool, another 2 to 3 hockey rinks and 1 to 2 indoor soccer field houses, with running tracks, fitness facility, top tier athletic training facility and food amenities. These sports rinks and fields would only be built based on contracts with minor sports for their committed use and needs. Additionally, getting financial support from leasing space for athletic related businesses and adding youth support areas, programs and meeting rooms.
  5. The memorial beach can be expanded into the community centre lands allowing for Tennis, Pickle ball, Volleyball, Basketball courts, Splash park and fire pits. Also allowing for a proper Skateboard park. Allowing Chestermere families to enjoy one area for their kids to explore.
  6. Large outdoor sports fields need to be developed close to Chestermere town centre. The benefit of this is, visiting teams and tournaments would help support businesses in Chestermere. I propose we lobby to get two quad Baseball fields, eight Soccer/Football fields and a Campground on the lands by the old water slides on the east side of the Trans Canada Highway. These can be managed by the Chestermere Community Rec Centre.
  7. Golfing is a great pastime that should be kept in Chestermere. Golfing has been part of Chestermere what feels like forever. It is evident that many residents want to keep Golf in Chestermere, which I agree with.If Golfing cannot be sustained as a business, the land should remain at a minimum as park land for the benefit to home owners living directly on the lands, home owners that are fortunate enough to have views of the gorgeous lands out their windows and the rest of Chestermere residents who would use the park and pathways.

 

The Youth and Adults in Chestermere would all benefit from these amenities, activities and changes to Chestermere. This is one of the main reasons I wish to run for Mayor in Chestermere as I have three teenage daughters and I want to make sure that our family and them and their friends have a broad range of activities to enjoy.

Retirement and Seniors Focus

30% of Alberta’s population is among this group. Chestermere is a perfect place for a retirement community living along side a small City with a resort feel. Chestermere is easy to get around and with a few tweaks accessibility would easily be possible for seniors.

 

Unfortunately, Chestermere was not master planned when it was developed. There is very little development space left around town centre. Having said that, I propose that a retirement and seniors shuttle be created, fully paid by the Retirement and Seniors Housing Developers. Allowing pockets of Retirement Development to occur and still have easy access to the town centre, restaurants, shops, grocery stores and recreation amenities. To do this a certain level of Retirement Development is required to fund this appropriately. Again, creating a plan to follow and understanding why.

 

Retirement recreation and amenities is a must to create an attractive retirement lifestyle here in Chestermere. Seniors & retirees I have spoken with would love to partake in the entertainment district and were very interested if the Chestermere Community Rec Centre would be expanded with a pool, running track and other amenities. Along with participating in golfing.

 

One point Chestermere needs to consider is economies of scale for these Seniors & Retirement projects. In order for them to be self sustaining and affordable they need to have enough density. Its rather funny when we have a 5000 seniors person accommodation issue per year in Calgary and area and developments come up with 100 units at a few odd locations. They are doomed to fail. They can be phased and need to be large enough to meet the clients needs and in order to reach economies of scale to be sustainable long term. Chestermere doesn’t want seniors accommodations going under.

 

Since taxes are a major concern for Retirement and Seniors. As discussed in the Property Tax section, reducing tax is a priority and then forcing the council and administration to work within that budget is a major goal of mine. Fixing the tax rates so they cannot go up with out a home owners vote, past an agreed upon maximum such as the rate of inflation, typically 1.5%. or freezing the tax rate on a property until that home is sold and only changes if the home value changes. Thus eliminating the risk to home owners, seniors and retirees of unpredictable tax costs.

Safety and Policy

I feel that Chestermere is a very safe city thanks to its citizens and its Police. I have mentioned that we should develop further an entertainment district with a boardwalk, and the two beach areas with their amenities. With these areas becoming the primary areas with so many amenities, I believe these will become very popular. We can integrate the police into these areas, so everyone gets to know each other as in small towns. With police walking and on bicycles participating and integrating with the community.

 

Further, if elected I intend to work with various community leaders in making sure Chestermere is a safe community for all, rather than just Police. Council has passed an important Bullying bylaw that needs to be enforced. Bullying is unacceptable.

 

Living is Chestermere is a privilege. Many of us have chosen this City as a place to raise our families and retire here. Our development should recognize this. When people respect where they live they will also protect it.