I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I voted NO to the additional hiring of 10 Full Time Employees for the city-wide Pedestrian Strategy – STEP FORWARD. As a former police officer of 20 plus years, including three years of service with the traffic unit, I can assure you that safety is one of my top priorities. As well, I believe that the City of Calgary has a significant role to play in ensuring appropriate safety levels within our communities.
However, it is also my opinion that one of the first things we do here at the City is to look for opportunities to build up our business units and portfolios. I believe that occurs not through malice, or even specific intent, but that it occurs organically through initiative and drive of those within a particular purview of service. That being said, regardless of why it happens, to ignore its existence would be self serving. In order to address this ongoing issue I believe Council must play the very important role of realist.
This is how I see it working. First, the idea of enhancing public safety is brought to the public consciousness. From there it becomes very difficult for anyone to argue against an initiative that could enhance public safety. But herein lays the challenge. Someone has to stand up and say yes we need to ensure public safety but we also have to live within our means. Instead of spending over a million dollars on hiring 10 Full Time employees perhaps we can implement lower cost activities that promote accountability through educational and awareness programs?
During our current economic times, and the fact that residents are telling us they do not want to pay more in taxes, we must begin to be more diligent in saying we cannot have everything we want; when we want it. Council was assured by Administration that not hiring for these positions would only delay implementation of the program and I am sure that of the 4000 employees within the transportation department 10 suitable workers can be found. However, it has become too easy, and all too common, to utilize emotional based statements to justify expenditures. Instead, we must start to consider what is best for all current and future Calgarians.
That is why I voted YES to the city-wide Pedestrian Strategy – STEP FORWARD, but only after my motion to remove the requirement of 10 Full Time Employees was defeated by a vote of 11 to 2 in Committee. I believe that pedestrian safety, like all forms of safety, is very important but that additional strategy plans should, whenever possible, be accomplished under current budgets.