THE BLOG

One-On-One with Ward 11 candidate Brian Pincott

10/17/2013 06:13 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

1. Name one specific capital project that you think Calgary needs now.

Pincott wants to see south-west BRT being implemented. This would be a real BRT rather than what he sees now, or 'BRT lites' as he calls them. The south-west BRT would have a dedicated bus way, separated from the car lanes, to make transit move efficiently. Pincott says this is "less than a cost of an interchange" and it is on the top of any benefit analysis.

What's the cost and timeline for something like this?

"$50 million, get it done within 2 years," says Pincott.

2. What's your viewpoint on the status of taxation in Calgary?

"Calgary taxes remain the lowest in the big cities in Canada," Pincott points out.

However, on a percentage increase basis, Calgary is creeping up says Pincott. The city needs to keep an eye on it. At its current pace though, it's unsustainable. He wants to continue questioning services provided if we want to continue having low taxes in the city.

On partnerships with the other two levels of government, Pincott is looking for stability. He wants the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding to continue at the provincial level so that we can continue funding long-term projects. He also wants to work with the federal government to promote long-term municipal infrastructure development.

Pincott is definitely happy that the federal gas tax got indexed this year to keep up with inflation.

"We also need more levels to pull," Pincott suggests.

Since property tax is almost the only source of revenue that the city can count on, he's looking to expand how municipalities can rely on other mechanisms of funding.

"The [City] Charter needs to give us better tools," says Pincott, referring to the possibility of a city charter for major Alberta municipalities.

He believes the province needs to realize that Calgary and Edmonton are all grown up.

3. So how do you fund the specific capital project you think Calgary needs right now?

Pincott says that transit plans amount to around $13 billion over 30 years for the city, so the "south-west BRT is small potatoes."

Pincott wants the province and federal government to recognize that transit is important, and that the value of municipalities is crucial.

Working on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Pincott continues to stress the importance of having the other two levels of government recognize cities and towns. For example, he highlights how many housing initiative grants are being discontinued this year by the federal government, and that's not the right direction for the federal government to take.

4. Do you think Calgary is boring after 6pm?

"I think Calgary is boring after 6pm if you let it be," says Pincott.

He believes there is an amazing arts scene as there is something happening every single night, but "the challenge is finding it."

Pincott does admit that suburbs might not have much to do.

"We need to figure out how cultural hubs can exist outside of the core," says Pincott.

There's nothing east of Deerfoot Trail, Pincott points out.

21 years ago, when Brian moved to Calgary to do his first show (the author believes it's in theatre, but forgot to note it), there was nothing in the city.

Now, Pincott sees something different.

"The last 5 years is such a change," Pincott says.

He also adds that "we weren't cultural capital by accident," referring to Calgary being named 2012 cultural capital of Canada.

"We still have quite a ways to go," Pincott adds.

5. Times are tough, Calgary's doing terrible, and we're seeing a massive budget deficit. Do you

a. Raise taxes to cover the shortfall, and would you add additional taxes?

b. Cut spending? If you do, which department(s) would you cut?

"A budget is never just one side, it's two sides," Pincott tells me.

He says you have to do a bit of both, ask what's reasonable, and what are some things we can and should cut back on.

He gives me different scenarios to work with. You could nibble back on the police department, but you wouldn't do it during the height of the gang wars a couple years back because that would affect public safety. Pincott also says he wouldn't cut recreation programs as well.

"You don't want to make it harder on families who are already in distress," he says.

Another scenario could be cutting back on the planning department, but you have to be wary of massive delays when the economy starts to pick up again.

6. What was one specific example of something the city did wrong?

It was a tossup for Brian between the airport tunnel and secondary suites, but he chose secondary suites.

"We did not handle the secondary suites issue well," says Pincott. "We tried to ram it through."

For Pincott, the city didn't pay attention to what people were saying, the city didn't talk to them, and the city didn't address the fears. The city just ignored them all.

7. How will you work with fellow councilors and the mayor given the tone of this election?

I told Brian I felt the tone of this election has been a negative and disheartening one.

"I share that viewpoint," he replies.

"This past council, they really have left ideology at the door," says Pincott.

However, he finds it distressing that ideology is front and centre for some candidates this election. He believes this is due to a lack of understanding of how municipal government works on the part of some candidates.

However, people are people.

"Of course there's a perspective that we bring, and that's absolutely natural," says Pincott.

8. Are the arts important?

"They are more than important. They are fundamental," says Pincott.

When asked about why people aren't talking about the arts much, he says it's a good sign that it's not an issue and how people aren't talking about how arts is a frill.

"I'll take that as a good thing," says Pincott.

9. If the arts are important, why isn't it on your platform?

"I didn't identify it, but I live it every single day," says Pincott.

He's more focused on his values, not a platform per say, and he believes being a councilor should be values-based, not platform-based.

10. What's your opinion on the colour of the city?

Pincott points to city council chambers as something that highlights colour in the city

"Everything in the room is beige," says Pincott.

When Pincott walks by chain clothing stores in Calgary, all the colours are muted and not very vibrant, but in Montreal, he sees the complete opposite.

All is not lost though.

Pincott believes that at one point, people came to the city to make their money and then headed home. However, people are starting to shift, and people are making Calgary their home and staying here. He believes the colours will change once our priorities change as Calgarians.

He tells me to read an article of how a mayor in an Eastern European country just started to paint buildings with different colours, and that changed the tone of the city. I don't know if I've found the right one, but here's an article about the mayor of Tirana, Albania dispatching an army of painters to change his city.

http://www.gadling.com/2007/10/25/the-bizarre-painted-buildings-of-tirana-albania/

"It's a level of maturity that we're coming into," concludes Pincott.