THE BLOG

One on One with Ward 11 Candidate Wayne Frisch

10/15/2013 10:31 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

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

Frisch indicated that for the city, the south-east LRT was on the top of the priority list, but if he had to choose a ward-specific priority, he'd go with the infrastructure corridors along 14th Street SW, Glenmore and Crowchild Trail.

"We're looking at two different beasts," Frisch tells me.

Frisch's priorities will all depend on the referendum on the ring road happening October 24, 2013. For Wayne, he believes the ridership in the south-east is a lot higher than what people are led to believe, and the demographics speak volumes on where the next LRT line should go. In his own ward, Frisch doesn't believe money will be well spent in the south-west on transit, since it's a higher car-oriented community.

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

"As a taxpayer myself, we see taxes have risen by a percentage that's risen a lot" says Frisch.

He's concerned about the debt ceiling, and he doesn't see how operational growth has benefited citizens. As an example, he says it's being used to pay for extra employees, and that's where the value for money isn't being questioned.

As a citizen, Frisch says the budget numbers that the public sees doesn't give you much detail. He wants to see where the growth is truly happening, and where we are making mistakes in each department.

"Are my services improving? How are they improving?" asks Frisch.

While being fiscally prudent, Frisch did question candidates that claimed to be fiscal conservatives. He doesn't think candidates who label themselves as such understand the system and can go through the budget as thoroughly as they would like if elected. He refuses to promise that he can cut taxes.

You can't just build the LRT all today, he states as an example of something that simply can't be done.

"We need to bring in a third party or firm," says Frisch, in order to show council operational issues.

He understands that he can't bring city finances in line on his own; he'll have to work with others.

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

"It's going to be difficult with the provincial government and the flood," Frisch says.

On the federal side though, Wayne points out that Toronto recently received $660 million "under a newly minted program to expand the LRT."

"You can start at the $660 million" says Frisch, in terms of transit financing for Calgary from the federal government.

All is not lost on the provincial side though. Frisch believes there are lots of investors from China and around the world who are ready to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects here in this province. This can be in a form of a bond or a similar method where people can invest money in with a maturity date so they can cash out at a later time.

"Because we're in a debt ceiling, we're really limited to what we can do," laments Frisch.

So can Calgary keep playing catch up with its infrastructure debt?

"As long as the federal government and province can hold a majority of it," says Frisch.

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

"I think Calgary is definitely lacking in the metropolitan feel."

Frisch is active in the arts, but feels that the city doesn't have enough vibrancy in the arts and culture area.

"We need to start funding small cultural events," says Frisch.

He wants to see more diversity, more creative people, and more activities that will inspire people to live and work in Calgary. He fears the city's growing to a point where it's scaring away culture.

He wants to see more pro bono approaches so that it's easier to organize and encourage more events in the city. An example would be a relaxation of the noise bylaw for such events.

"We've grown, but we certainly are not at the point where we should be," says Frisch.

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?

Frisch restates much of what was said previously, including the need to bring in a third party in order to audit and look at redundancies. He feels these small items can add up over time.

He also doesn't want to be tied down with how PlanIt directs our finances.

So what would Frisch cut? He recommends cutting down on new initiatives, but not services necessarily. He's also concerned about the communication budget, and perhaps a review contracts for non-city employees is in order.

As for taxes?

"We don't have the right to raise taxes until we prove to Calgarians that we've reviewed our finances."

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

"I think there's been a huge movement towards transparency."

Frisch is encouraged that he can see and watch what city council does now, and it's to the point where nobody is questioning what council's doing, beyond the limits on what we can do as a corporation in terms of in-camera sessions.

One specific example of transparency Frisch points to is open data. He wants it to continue growing so that people can eventually say "there's an app for that" to any type of data.

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

Frisch believes he's proven that he can sit down with people even when they don't see eye to eye on issues. On the issues he deals with, "I try to take the emotion out of it," describes Frisch.

On the whole 'sprawl vs. density' debate, Frisch understands where both sides are coming from and wants to be able to "facilitate some reasonable discussions in council."

Wayne has a problem though with any endorsement or slate talk, which he believes "[Nenshi] did a disservice to all Calgarians." Frisch can't see how any implied endorsement of the incumbents by the mayor would create a good working environment, and is contrary to the Nenshi's vote pledge. Frisch questions why we need a vote pledge if the incumbent mayor has already endorsed the incumbent council.

In working with council, Frisch welcomes a diverse range of voices. Frisch believes that incumbent councilor in Ward 11 has "been good at pushing council into looking at different options, whereas a conservative council probably wouldn't."

8. Are the arts important?

In Frisch's earlier life, he was a practicing artist. He feels that the "economy of the arts is as important as any sector"

However, Frisch admits there's not much recognition of the arts in Calgary. He wants to see it promoted so that the city has an identity, an intangible and metropolitan feel of a real world-class city.

We're seeing it grow in the city, Frisch points out, like the Peace Bridge for example (although he was against the project mainly for the tendering process, not the bridge itself).

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

Frisch's main platform is primarily about correcting the system and public safety. He tells me he neglected to put it on the website, and decided not to put everything on it. You'll have to go to forums to listen to his ideas as he missed the ArtsVote survey.

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

"We made huge mistakes as a city when we grew out," laments Frisch.

He agreed with me that there is no character in homes and that people don't really want to live in a beige house.

Choices that were made in the 1980s and 1990s have led to this, Frisch points out.

"We need to actually almost need to mandate some diversity," says Frisch, referring to more mixed use options and maybe, just maybe, some more colour.

Frisch recommends that I watch a documentary called "Radiant City" by Jim Brown and Gary Burns that touches on the exact topic of a beige Calgary.

It can be found here: http://www.nfb.ca/film/radiant_city

"We could've done better," concludes Frisch.