Outspoken resident running for alderman
Local business owner Mohamed Benini has been an outspoken member of the community for the past three years appearing before Airdrie City council dozens of times to voice his opinion.
The 30-year-old owner of Avacab and Cowboy Taxi in Airdrie says he has become frustrated with a lack of action by council, with regards to his suggestions, and has decided to take a stand by running in the Oct. 21 municipal election.
“I have been going to City council meetings since 2009 and so far I haven’t been able to achieve anything that I’ve wanted to,” said Benini. “The City has not acknowledged much of what I’ve brought forward.”
Benini has been outspoken about the City’s taxi bylaw, specifically the section that requires taxi drivers born outside of Canada to pass a CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) criminal background check.
“With this requirement it makes it much more difficult to become a taxi driver here,” said Benini. “You don’t even need a CSIS check to become an alderman.”
Benini has lived in Airdrie for the past five years and has a two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. He moved from Quebec when he felt there was little opportunity for his business to thrive there.
“Airdrie has given me everything I need to succeed,” said Benini. “In Quebec, I didn’t really have many opportunities, but I’ve been really fortunate coming here and being able to do what I want for a living.”
Benini said he feels the Airdrie business community could afford to expand and diversify in order to make the best use of commercial space.
“When you look around the City, there are too many businesses of the same type,” said Benini. “Do we really need a liquor store on every corner?”
At just 30 years of age, Benini is one of the youngest candidates running in this year’s municipal election; he would like to see council make use of technology in order to make the contents of their meetings more open to the public.
“Not everyone has the mobility or means to get to council meetings, these meetings could be streamed online at the City’s website,” said Benini. “It would be a fairly easy thing to implement and this way we could get more people involved in what’s going on at City Hall.”