Ex-Candidate Disappointed By “Under-Delivered” Event

By Kyra Bird

When a candidate runs for city council and doesn’t get the coveted job they often return to their private lives, but that doesn’t mean that their interest and stake in municipal politics changes.

Keith Simmons, who ran against Jeromy Farkas for the Ward 11 seat on city council, attended Thursday’s “Our Changing Community: The Year Ahead” event as a resident of the ward and in his capacity as past president of the Acadia Community Association.

The event was held by the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area as an opportunity for business owners in the association and residents of the community to come and learn about issues facing the area.

Simmons said that the Beltline, because of its unique inner-city landscape and features, offers an interesting case-study for innovation and improvement within the city.

“We can come here and listen in on what’s going on with that they’re trying to improve,” Simmons says. “And then try to hit on some of the same notes and make the same improvements out in suburbia Calgary.”

Simmons was disappointed, however, in how the event focused on specific, current issues, instead of future plans for the area. “Sadly, I think this particular interaction was a little under-delivered,” he said. “It was promoted as a conversation about the next year coming and, of course, the conversation, because it was compressed, was about policing issues and the Chumir consumption site.”

Although Simmons believes these issues are vital, the event was titled “The Year Ahead” and he had been hoping to hear more about the future of the ever-changing area to potentially take some ideas back to his home community of Acadia.

Victoria Park Meets New Councillor

Victoria Park Meets New Councillor

By Kyra Bird

Jeromy Farkas has been on the job as Ward 11 councillor for about four weeks now, but “Our Changing Community: The Year Ahead”, held on Thursday, was the first public event he attended in association with the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area since being elected.

The event was promoted as an opportunity for business owners and residents of the community to engage in a conversation and learn about important issues in the area, including a new supervised consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre and the closing of the Victoria Park Police Station. A conversation that ended up being mostly one-sided.

To familiarize residents with their councillor, David Low – the BIA’s executive director and moderator for the evening – asked Farkas about how the inner-city community of Victoria Park fits in to his plans for the large, mostly suburban, ward.

Farkas played to the audience by describing how he feels he relates to the residents in the community. “I’m openly bisexual. I ride my bike as the default option, and typically only drive when I have to,” he said. “So, when you think of the demographics in Victoria Park, I probably relate to the Beltline more than I do to the southerners.”

Farkas, who lives in the Southwest community of Palliser, even went as far as to say, “I would probably be more comfortable living in a high-rise as opposed to my house in Palliser.”


Victoria Park BIA Event Short on Participation

Victoria Park BIA Event Short on Participation

By Kyra Bird

An event held on Thursday night by the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area was billed as an opportunity for businesses and residents of the community to learn about issues in the area, in hopes of fostering conversation. But the event, which centered around a new supervised consumption site being built in the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre and the closing of the Victoria Park Police Station, was a mostly one-sided conversation that presented little opportunity for residents to speak or ask questions.

The Victoria Park BIA, a not-for profit business association, invited Alberta Health Services program coordinator Claire O’Gorman , District 1 staff sergeant Shawn Wallace from the Calgary Police Service, and new Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas to Hotel Arts to speak.

O’Gorman talked about the recently opened supervised consumption site at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre. Currently, a temporary facility in the parking lot serves people who would like to use illegal substances in a supervised environment. The permanent facility within the building is expected to open in early 2018.

Wallace attended the panel to represent the Calgary Police Service and speak about the recent closure of the Victoria Park Police Station. The station was closed in November as the police service was looking for financial and operational efficiencies. That police presence will be replaced by a mobile unit that will travel around the downtown area as needed.

Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley, who used to serve Victoria Park when it was in his ward, voiced concern about the closing down of the station. Farkas, speaking to the Calgary Herald prior to the event, said he was also concerned and was “interested in hearing from the business community as well as the residents at the forum.”

The engagement that Farkas was looking forward to didn’t really happen, as only three audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions during the panel, which was moderated by BIA executive director David Low. Low pointed to time limitations as the reason for the narrow agenda and lack of participation, with panelists having prior commitments to attend to. Panelists corrected Low at the end of the panel, each saying that those commitments, in fact, would not have interfered with the event.

Despite the lack of panelist-audience interaction that he was looking forward to, Farkas pivoted away from his concerns about closing the police station and stressed that he believes CPS will keep the area safe without the physical location.

The event was the latest installment of a series of events named “Our Changing Community” which previously included a panel conversation with Ward 11 council candidates in the recent municipal election, a panel that then-candidate Farkas did not attend.