Before you elected me in 2013 as your Councillor for Ward 4, I was a Calgary Police Officer for 21 years. Public service has always been a driving force in my life, with CPS and through volunteer work in many organizations in our community. Opportunities to contribute to the health and vitality of the community is why I first ran for public office, and have been honoured to serve as your Councillor since earning your trust, and your vote, in 2013.
As a Police Officer, I saw the issues surrounding poverty, family violence, and accidents on our streets – experiences that can push many on the front line to tears. I know the terrible impacts on families and neighbourhoods when we have unsafe streets, and unsafe driving. Because of that, I have set a goal of making meaningful improvements to Ward 4, and to Calgary, when it comes to pedestrian safety.
I have pushed for practical solutions to the concerns I heard at the doors, and from my own experiences. Based on your feedback, my office has worked closely with Calgary Transportation to identify locations of concern, and implement solutions that Ward 4 residents said we needed to fix problems in the short and long term. Changes have been made, and I am proud of the work that has been accomplished – but more must be done.
There are three types of goals and timelines that Calgary Transportation and my office have been working through: long, medium and short term.
Long-term solutions are coming with the Green Line. This will mean a newly designed Centre Street, with more traffic signals, stations that are pedestrian friendly and ‘tram style’ with low floors – as well as new, transit-oriented developments, neighbourhood renewal, new families, and vibrant ‘main streets’. As you have told me, the biggest issues with Centre Street today are high car usage and bus traffic – Centre Street is, in fact, the heaviest used route for Calgary Transit. The Green Line will significantly alleviate these issues by taking large numbers of vehicles off the road, with daily usage of the Green Line expected to reach 140,000 people a day. This will also re-draw our bus transit system, directing buses to the new Green Line stations, making our commutes shorter and safer.
Medium term issues that I have focused on are the traffic intersections that needed to change. Beddington Boulevard and Beddington Trail, for example, are being redrawn, with new signals and, if needed, an easier right turn to ease congestion – decisions that will be made once the review is complete. A new left turn signal will also be placed at Edgemont Boulevard on John Laurie to ease rush hour traffic – and a new left turn signal on 14th Street into MacEwan has already been installed.
There are also changes coming to Hidden Valley, for residents who want to turn onto Beddington Trail – changes that will include better, safer pedestrian signals. Hidden Valley will see other changes next year, including the much-needed intersection upgrades at Shaganappi and Hidden Valley Drive – critical improvements I have pushed the City to get done because they will make our streets safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.
In the more immediate or short term, there are a number of changes I have focused on to improve pedestrian safety. That’s because they have the most direct impact on school, and playground zones, and therefore, our children. Improvements achieved in the last couple of years include reflective tape on stop signs, and flashing lights for pedestrian crossings at busy intersections (like the one in Beddington by the Co-op, and on Centre Street at 43rd Avenue).
Flashing lights have also been installed to monitor speeding in school zones on 72nd Avenue in Huntington Hills – and on 64th Avenue as you head to and from 14th Street. Replacing old school and playground signs with brighter ones that are easier to see, and getting worn out crosswalk lines repainted on 4th street in Highland Park this summer have been part of these efforts.
These are just some examples of what I have focused on, because they are issues you have asked me to address and advocate for on your behalf. They make a difference to all of us. My oldest daughter is learning to drive, and I want these changes for the same reasons you do – so that we all make it home safe.
I am proud of the work so far, and what has been accomplished, but more can and needs to be done. That is why I hosted a Pedestrian Safety Town Hall last year that brought CPS, and City Departments (like Roads and Transportation) together so that residents could talk to them directly, and give them feedback on where the pressure points are, and what the City can do to address your concerns. That participation brought results, and changes were made.
The event was such a success, in fact, that the City has copied Ward 4’s initiative, and held Town Halls in every Ward to ask the same question: where can we do a better job?
If re-elected on October 16th, I will continue to push for these kinds of positive changes for our Ward, as there is nothing more important than making our streets safer for pedestrians, and making them better designed for drivers. Success means fewer incidents of pedestrians being hurt in traffic accidents – and so that I can continue to make that kind of difference to the health of our community – I hope to earn your support for re-election this October.