Group of candidates stand together on issues
Rocky View Publishing
Four candidates for Airdrie City council are bucking political trends to form Team Airdrie United.
According to the conglomerate, the four candidates are vying for spots on council and are “committed” to working towards three key initiatives for the City.
Team Airdrie United held its official kick-off on Sept. 5 at Il Forno restaurant and members addressed the close to 30 Airdrie residents in attendance and answered an array of questions about the platform. The team - made up of Jane Anderson, Mike De Bokx, Kevin Hughes and Angela Pitt – are campaigning on three common initiatives: a 24-hour healthcare facility, “sensible” growth and an Airdrie-first mentality that will make the interests of Airdrie residents a priority.
“Although we respect the work of the current City council and their service to the community, we do believe that our team can bring something new and fresh to the table and ultimately make for a stronger City council and a stronger community.” said De Bokx.
“I saw three other people who all had the same ideas that I had with those three key issues,” said Hughes. “When we all sat down and discussed it we thought, why not all four of us get together, the four of us (together) have a much louder and more powerful voice than four individuals.”
While the four have formed a united front in pushing for their three initiatives, each member of Team Airdrie United will be running and funding their individual campaigns separately.
Hughes says power in numbers is the driving force behind Team Airdrie United, whose four members are hoping to secure as many of the six available alderman seats as possible.
Anderson says once the election has passed, however, the name Team Airdrie United will be dropped.
“We are all very independently minded individuals and this doesn’t mean that if we were to get voted to council that we would all vote together on everything,” said Anderson. “It’s just these three main things that we have outlined where we share a common vision.”
One Airdrie resident in attendance wanted some further clarification as to how the team would function if voted in.
“I’m a little perplexed about how this is going to work, if you say that you are Team (Airdrie) United does that mean that you are one vote on council?” she asked. “Do you each have an individual thought process where you won’t necessarily agree with each other?”
Pitt reiterated Anderson’s comments, stating while the group stands together on its platform, they will vote individually when it comes to other issues.
“If all four of us are voted to council then we will vote together on our three main issues,” said Pitt. “That’s what we believe we can come together on, but independently we all have very differing opinions, we meet quite a bit and talk about many different things and we definitely don’t always have the same opinions.”
One of the issues the group is united on is creating access to 24-hour health care for residents.
“I’ve seen Airdrie grow from 22,000 residents to close to 50,000 residents and for a city this size not to have a 24-hour healthcare facility is unacceptable,” said Hughes. “Even though healthcare may be under provincial jurisdiction, our team members feel that unless you put the full weight and influences and resources of City council behind this issue, we will not see 24-hour healthcare in the near future.”
The team’s plan with regards to healthcare, as Hughes mentioned, is to use the political weight of City council to partner with the Province, community members and local businesses who are willing to help ensure that citizens of Airdrie will one day have access to 24-hour health care in their city.
“This current council, with the exception of Mayor Brown and Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter has not shown their willingness to work with or support the Airdrie health community to get the job done, talk is cheap, it’s actions that speak much louder than words,” said Hughes.
Brown and Hunter are members of the Airdrie Regional Healthcare Committee, which also includes 11 healthcare professionals, local business people, politicians and residents.
Since Airdrie’s last municipal election in 2010, the city’s population has grown by nearly 11,000 people and a “dedication to sensible growth” is part of Team Airdrie United’s mandate. The team members say “that council must effectively manage the City’s growth rather than growing as fast as possible and approving overcrowded developments.”
“Growth is generally a positive thing and we want to welcome new people to our city,” said Pitt. “Promoting explosive growth without a plan to keep up with that growth is not healthy; Airdrie is not managing its growth well enough.”
Pitt went on to explain the need to look at diversification of neighbourhoods that will give homeowners more options, such as a larger yard or no yard at all. Pitt advocates the need for more green space in the community along with more recreational and educational facilities.
She said opting out of the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) may be a necessary step in order to avoid high housing density requirements.
This was met with some skepticism from those in attendance, who questioned what it might mean for the city’s water and sewer supply, which are managed through the CRP.
“It’s inconceivable that with a city of 50,000 people, that we could actually believe the City of Calgary would just turn a switch and turn off our water,” said De Bokx.
“We want to work with the City of Calgary, but we want to work for what the citizens of Airdrie want, not the council in Calgary.”
The third part of Team Airdrie United’s mandate is one that focuses on an “Airdrie first model,” putting the interests and needs of the residents above all else.
“City council must ensure that every decision they make reflects the needs of the people of Airdrie,” said Anderson. “You’re going to hear a lot about the CRP in this coming election and the City must take a hard look at our involvement in the CRP and recognize that if we continue to expand so quickly and remain in the CRP with its high-density requirements, we run the risk of losing the unique character that makes Airdrie such a great place to live and raise a family.”
More information, including bios of team members and the platform can be found online at: www.airdrieunited.ca