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COVID-19: The Responsibility Is Ours

COVID-19: The Responsibility Is Ours

All Levels of Government Must Act to Protect Our Citizens from COVID-19.

It is a challenging dynamic to be both a leader and to serve. Elected officials must straddle the line between taking the lead on issues, while knowing when to listen before speaking. I have worked as a public servant for years where I balance the demands of taking care of my students while knowing when to consult those with knowledge and experience beyond my own. It always comes down to one thing: Evidence.

 

The evidence is clear on COVID-19 – public health protocols work.

 

Image details: Current as of Sep 13, 2021. This image shows the daily case rates in correlation with public health measures. 

Image details: Current as of Sep 13, 2021. This image shows the daily case rates in correlation with public health measures. 

 

Public Health Measures and Protocols Save Lives

 

Let me be very clear on this, there is nothing more important than keeping people alive.

Alberta’s public policy in the last two years failed to stand up to the enormous challenge COVID-19 has presented us. City Councils should not carry the burden of implementing public health measures in the absence of provincial government action. It is not the job of municipalities to fill the void, but it has become our responsibility out of necessity—and we must act now.

There is always the evidence. 

  1. Every time public health measures are enacted, we see drastic decreases in community spread of COVID-19.
  2. On an international level, we know vaccines work to reduce severe outcomes of COVID-19.
  3. Vaccine passports present us with an opportunity to return to some semblance of economic normalcy, while also having a greater incentive on vaccination rates than a lottery or a small monetary incentive.
  4. Public health measures reduce the burden on our healthcare system and our front line workers–who need us now more than ever.
  5. Our kids need to be protected until they can be vaccinated.

 

Businesses Demanding Proof of Vaccination:

 

Our provincial government speaks often about keeping our economy “open for good.” Open for good can only come with the certainty that we are not going to see health measures ebb and flow as measures come in and out. The burden for certainty has rested on individual businesses to protect themselves by implementing their own vaccination rules in the absence of government action. 

Proof of vaccination, or a vaccine passport, would enable all businesses to stay fully open and not be subject to punishing and arbitrary half-measures — like shutting down alcohol sales at 10:00 pm. 

By implementing health measures, we build up trust in each other and our ability to care for one another. Doing so increases the confidence people have in going about their day-to-day lives, trusting that adequate precautions and protocols are in place to allow for businesses to function and our health care system to avoid critical strain. 

This is our responsibility as leaders, as members of society, as neighbours.

 

On Protests Outside of Hospitals:

I have stood between students and Anti-Choice protestors, as the latter handed out pamphlets with  graphic images to young students. This was never okay, and it has since been determined to be inappropriate by Bylaw. 

We have long recognized that an individual's right to peaceful assembly can sometimes conflict with our responsibility to protect and care for our most vulnerable. 

Anti-vaccination protests happening outside of hospitals are deplorable. It is embarrassing that even a single person would choose to protest outside of our health care facilities as people in their moment of highest need are forced to deal with the abuse of the ill-intentioned. 

To be clear: I believe in Canadians' right to peaceful assembly. However, the act of obstructing access to a hospital is anything but peaceful. 

While these groups of protestors appear to be extremely loud and vocal, their numbers appear to be relatively small at this point. This pandemic has been upsetting for a wide range of reasons— but protesting hospitals is not the way forward. I urge you all to get vaccinated and do your part in the fight against Covid to keep each other safe. 

Building a Legacy for the Next Generation of Calgarians

Building a Legacy for the Next Generation of Calgarians

I have spent years of my life investing in the next generation. I want to see that investment grow here, in Calgary.

Last year, CBC reported that despite Calgary being “one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, those aged 20-24 are the only shrinking age group.” But why?

As a high school teacher, I often ask my students what they plan to do after graduation. They say they want to leave the city and head to Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Kelowna, Ottawa, Halifax—the list goes on.

There is already a fight for talent in our country, and I promise you this: The students that leave take with them immense potential and talent that would’ve anchored Calgary’s future in something bold and innovative.

 

Why are our youth leaving?

 

"It's a lot of people who don't really see a future for themselves there," Chloe Loblaw said. 

To be a major city in Canada, and yet have youth who do not see a future for themselves here, is an unacceptable reality. Young people are moving to cities they feel have embraced a diversity of people, thought, and opinion—cities that build vibrant arts and culture scenes, and provide plenty of  education and industry options.   

Young Calgarians may see a life for themselves in many other places, but I am committed to seeing them make that life here.

 

Let’s see our next generation grow in Calgary.

 

Deborah Wong, an organizer with Calgary’s Future said that “[Calgary youth] don't feel like they are being heard or valued by decision makers."

It is only natural that people seek out places to live where they feel heard and valued—it’s a bare minimum, really. So as part of my commitment to Calgary, I asked young people what they want to see for their city so that I know what I need to build as Calgary’s next Ward 8 City Councillor.

Here are some of the responses:

“I want to live in a city that provides opportunities for growth for future generations,” said  Cassidy Osadchuk

“I want to live in a city where artists can thrive” and where they are “proud of their young people for trying to make social change.” said Yaisha Stilwell

I want to live in a rich urban environment that encourages alternative forms of transportation such as walking, biking, and public transit,” said Oscar Dewing.

The numbers have been quantified, and the stories are wide ranging and varied. The only question left is, are we ready to commit to doing the work necessary to support our next generation?

 

My Commitment to Calgary’s Next Generation

 

If we are not thinking two generations, five generations, seven generations ahead, we are doing ourselves a disservice. It all starts with ensuring that we are constantly including young people at the table as we look to let our city evolve.

Here is my commitment:

I will immediately implement a Ward Youth Council that will give young people, almost literally, a seat at the city building table. In collaboration with Calgary’s artistic and creator community, I will consistently advocate for the expansion of Calgary’s arts and culture scene, supporting strategic investments at every opportunity. I will also pursue intentional relationships with Calgary’s post-secondary institutions to make sure that Calgary continues to cultivate innovation right here at home.

Cities are inherited. What was built was left for us. What we now build is what we leave behind for the next generation. That is why I am committed to building a city that we can be proud to leave our children. Our youth know exactly what type of world they would like to inherit and I commit to invite them, engage them, listen to their stories, and empower them to be city builders.

The Future of Richmond Green

The Future of Richmond Green

There are no maybes as a city councillor. We vote yes, or we vote no. The public deserves to know why our elected leaders lean one way or another. On such an issue as the Future of Richmond Green, as I vie to be your next Ward 8 City Councillor, you deserve to know how I would vote. 

After much time spent speaking with the community, the City, and key stakeholders, I would say yes to the proposal to the Future of Richmond Green because it serves the goals of our city socially, economically, and environmentally – but with qualifications. 

Fund our communities: no more public dollars for the Flames

Fund our communities: no more public dollars for the Flames

The Flames were my introduction to Calgary

I moved to Calgary in 2006. One of my earliest memories of Calgary was seeing a sea of red get off the train and pile into the Saddledome. But I wasn’t going to a Flames game. I was heading down to the Red Mile to join the chorus of people who lined every restaurant and bar in sight cheering on our city's team. 

Reflecting on Truth and Reconciliation

Reflecting on Truth and Reconciliation

 

Let me be very clear from the beginning, as much as I can learn about the trauma of Residential Schools, I’ll never truly understand it. The trauma is not mine. That has been an important lesson for me.

A few days ago I was asked how I plan to pursue Truth and Reconciliation as a member of City Council. I paused before I responded because questions like this deserve respect. If we are to meaningfully do this work, we must commit to doing it every single day. Full stop. But you’ve heard that before. We’ve all heard the empty platitudes of politicians who make statements of guilt rather than taking action.

This is not that—this is a commitment to continue my pursuit of Truth and Reconciliation.

 Five years ago, I was hired by the University of British Columbia to teach an Aboriginal Access University Prep Course. The University partnered with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society to find a space for adult Indigenous students to re-enter the classroom in the pursuit of a post-secondary education.

I made many mistakes in that classroom, and I learned a lot, too.

I learned that my own education did not teach me the history of this country. The facts I learned in school did not prepare me to confront systemic discrimination in all of its forms. However, standing in front of those students—some of whom were Residential School survivors themselves—I learned quickly how much work was left for me to do in order to truly become a part of reconciliation here on Turtle Island.

That work continues—as a teacher, as an advocate, as a candidate, as a Calgarian, as a Canadian.

I am a settler on this land. I carry with me privileges that stem from living on stolen land, from broken treaties, and from discriminatory systems and policies built to prevent and deny Indigenous peoples the equality of opportunity so many others take for granted, myself included.

During the summer protests of 2020, my students expressed their fear that when it all calmed down, people would settle back into normalcy and change would never truly happen. My students were worried we’d forget about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery the same way we forgot about Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin, and Oscar Grant. I responded with a morbid reality. I told my students, “There will always be more bodies.”

I regret saying it without the sensitivity it deserved, but it was honest, and honesty is sometimes very painful. I said it because I knew it to be true. I said it because I knew that until we truly did the work of healing, there will be more pain. I knew that the shame of our history would ebb and flow with the bodies in the street or in the ground. I knew we’d protest again.

So when the discovery of 215 bodies were made at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, those words echoed in my memory.

Then another 104 bodies were found in Brandon, Manitoba. Another 38 in Regina. Another 35 near Lestock, Saskatchewan. And today we found an unmarked gravesite with an estimated 751 bodies.

More than 10 years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked for $10-million to search for, and identify, burial sites across Canada—and was denied by the federal government due to budget constraints. If we had acted upon principles of morality, truth, and reconciliation then, we could’ve begun healing 10 years ago. There are few political advantages in taking the moral high road. The cost of morality is always high. The cost of Truth and Reconciliation is impossible to truly quantify. The cost of doing the right thing should never be reason for inaction.

So when asked how I will pursue Truth and Reconciliation as a member of City Council, I openly acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers and that this work must be done in the spirit of partnership and collaboration as one of many caretakers of this land. However, one thing is true: I will confront these realities—even if they are ugly and shameful and heartbreaking—with the honesty and action they deserve.

Citizen Engagement and the Refined Guide For Local Area Planning

Citizen Engagement and the Refined Guide For Local Area Planning

We need to reinvest in Calgary’s established communities

The news is all too familiar, existing neighbourhoods are losing amenities while our taxes go to subsidize new communities to build new schools, roads, and recreation centres on the edge of the city. In and around Ward 8, we found out Rosscarrock School will soon be closing. The Beltline is fighting to save their Fitness and Aquatic Centre and the Eau Claire YMCA abruptly shuttered its doors back in February

A Vibrant Downtown is Key to a Thriving City

A Vibrant Downtown is Key to a Thriving City

The Greater Downtown is the economic and cultural heart of Calgary 

The Greater Downtown is Calgary’s business hub and gathering place for our arts and culture. It includes the Ward 8 neighbourhoods of Beltline and Downtown West in addition to Ward 7 neighbourhoods of the Downtown, China Town, Eau Claire and East Village. Despite making up only 0.7% of Calgary’s total land area, the Greater Downtown is home to 23% of the jobs and generates 14% of the city’s tax revenue



Make Calgary a magnet for the brightest minds and new investment

Make Calgary a magnet for the brightest minds and new investment

Having vision is important in our leaders. With vision, our leaders can look to address the changing landscape of Calgary with imagination and courage.

 

We can’t count on our City Council to magically turn back the clock to better days. We must look to the future with bold new ideas. Together, we must work toward a Calgary that is more than just remnants of our past.

 

My vision is to make Calgary a magnet for the brightest minds and new investment with a vibrant downtown, thriving arts and culture, and strong support for entrepreneurship.

Courtney Walcott Launches Campaign for City Councillor in Ward 8

Courtney Walcott Launches Campaign for City Councillor in Ward 8

Courtney is a community organizer, teacher, and basketball coach at Western Canada High School in the heart of Ward 8.

 

Courtney Walcott is excited to announce his candidacy as Councillor for Ward 8  in the 2021 Calgary Municipal Election. Known throughout the ward as a teacher, basketball coach, community organizer, facilitator, and equity advocate, he is ready to push Calgary forward and add his voice to Calgary City Council.

 

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