In city’s far NE, Ward 5 candidates call for better transit

If you don’t have a car in those outer suburban neighbourhoods, you’re pretty much stuck.”

At last night’s Ward 5 candidate forum at the Genesis Centre, council candidates faced off about what they’d do to rejuvenate older communities, improve community safety and improve transit service to new neighbourhoods on the city’s outskirts.

Ward 5 encompasses the city’s far northeast, from McKnight Blvd. to the northern city limits.

Tudor Dinca said people living on the outskirts need more transportation choices. “Right now, if you don’t have a car in those outer suburban neighbourhoods, you’re pretty much stuck,” Dinca said.

It’s been a longstanding conundrum for sprawling cities like Calgary. The further out you go, the lower the housing and job density—and the more costly the infrastructure. As a result, bus service is expensive and often doesn’t have the ridership to warrant improved service.

“At any one time, as many as 20 to 25 new communities are under development in Calgary and each of them will require transit service,” according to the city’s long-range transit plan, RouteAhead, approved by council in 2013.

“This pattern of development creates a continuous demand for service expansion beyond what can be accommodated within Calgary Transit’s operating budget.”

But Calgary is seeing a shift—albeit a slow one—as new communities are built with higher density.

Dinca and Hirde Paul Jassal both said the LRT ought to be extended from Saddletowne, where the Blue Line currently ends, to Redstone, a neighbourhood just south of the ring road. Jassal also called for the route 445 bus to go to CrossIron Mills, the shopping mall beyond the city limits, so seniors and others on the city’s outskirts have better shopping options.

George Chahal said people in new communities deserve the same level of transit service that the rest of the city enjoys. “We also need a regional transit policy which ties in other cities and towns around our city,” said Chahal.

Aryan Sadat said it’s important for new communities have bus services while at the same time spending wisely. Balraj Nijjar said Calgary Transit needs more funding to expand the number of bus hours in outer neighbourhoods.

The first part of the Ward 5 debate at the Genesis Centre featured a debate between candidates for school trustee for Wards 5 & 10.

Jasbir Chahal, Marilyn Dennis, Rekha Dhawan, Jameela Ghann, Raman Gill, Pamela King (incumbent), Sohail Sherwani, Bianca Smetacek and Wasima Sultan were all present.

Candidates Gurpreet Singh Grewal, Syed Hasnain and Veerpal Rai were absent.

The second part featured a debate between council candidates George Chahal, Tudor Dinca, Hirde Paul Jassal, Balraj Nijjar and Aryan Sadat.

Sarbdeep Baidwan was absent.

There is no councillor incumbent in the ward, as former Ward 5 councillor Ray Jones is running in Ward 10 this time around, due to the recent rejigging of ward boundaries.

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