My #3thingsyyc

3 things for Calgary encourages Calgarians to do three things to make Calgary better and then encourage 3 more people to do the same. While it seems simple, the cumulative effects of every single person buying into this type of engagement makes me believe that ordinary people can have an extraordinary effect on their community.

As these things can be of various degrees of “bigness”, coupled with my need to challenge myself, I thought that I would attempt to do 3 things every quarter.

Q1 2012

1. Unite Calgarians for a global cause: Giving to places we will never go to benefit people we will never meet is a very different form of charity.

My friend J was being incredibly annoying. He had heard all about the famine in the Horn of Africa and he wouldn’t shut up about it. Even worse, he wanted to do something about it and wanted to be a part of this effort. And thus, kicking and whining, I was dragged into Step Up for Africa.

Organized completely by young people, the event was a 1.5 hour concert with a silent auction from donations from local businesses and donors. Working with people I’m proud to call friends, we came together to not just give people a fun night out but also educating others on what was going on with the famine that continues to rage through Africa. We ended up raising over $5000!

Even one of my paintings ended up on the auction block to raise money! By not making it about us but rather turning the focus on the little we could do to benefit people across the globe, we were able to bring together diverse people from across our city to open their hearts and purses for a great cause.

2. Get a group of friends to go volunteer with me: So many options! The Drop-In Centre and the Brentwood Seniors Centre seem like the top contenders right now…

3. Trying 3 of Calgary’s best restaurants: In addition to appealing to my hedonistic side, this can help support local businesses. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Q4 2011

1. Attend a 2012-2014 City of Calgary Budget public information session: Need to be informed to be able to provide helpful comment.

I went to the budget open house session held at the local rec centre and was so excited to see all the senior members of the City of Calgary who were taking the time to explain the 2012-2014 Budget & Business Plans. Most Calgarians are willing to pay for quality service but don’t really know how their service compares to other cities. I guess everyone would prefer never to pay any taxes ever (especially a new taxpayer like myself), but society can’t operate under that paradigm. I think that the property tax increases are reasonable and will be able to accommodate future growth expenditures without causing huge hikes to the average household. It also gives the City a chance to review its operations for efficiencies as well as evaluate which services would be better provided through other means (such as a private provider for recreation services) or which services should be cut completely (probably most printing services in about a decade).

2. Provide comments to all CivicCamp Governance cabin emails: My procrastination ends tomorrow! No more unanswered emails.

I was glad to provide comments mostly in the form of structure and presentation to the group on the budget submission. I think this submission captures the idea that we as a city are willing to pay for services, especially those that protect the most vulnerable in our community. The increased revenue from tax-payers will be critical as we look at our vision for the city, as outlined in ImagineCalgary and the Municipal Development Plan.

The submission also mentions one of my favourite topics (as a bona fide policy nerd): Municipal finance. As the City remains dependent on other levels of government for its revenue, it is necessary to bring some new thinking into how we pay now for the infrastructure we need in the future (as current dollars are always discounted future dollars). Options like Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST ie. the best acronym ever!) and differential tax rates need to be discussed and debated at our City Council with an open mind.

3. Give information about Pearson College to Calgary high schools: This experience moulded me into the adult I am now and more young people need to know about this amazing initiative.

Talked to coordinators at the Siksika reserve to talk to their students. Can’t wait to tell these kids about my story and what it could mean for them!

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