Metro column: Welcome to 2011
Let me welcome you to 2011.
After the election and budget deliber-ations of November and December, our city council has emerged into a new year with all the possibilities in the world before them.
So what now? Well, here’s what to expect:
If you weren’t sick enough of hearing about the airport tunnel during the leadup to the election, I hope you’ve enjoyed your two month respite, because Mayor Nenshi is about to make it something you’re going to hear about every day moving forward.
Figures ranging from $100 million to more than a billion dollars were batted around during September and October, but the time for inflammatory politics is past. The first step for the airport tunnel is to find out how much it actually will cost, then if it can be built. Once that is settled, expect council to begin the debate on the need for such a tunnel in earnest.
Expect to hear a lot about secondary suites — an issue that has put a bug under about a third of our council members including, and perhaps most so, the mayor. The debate about a city-wide policy to give homeowners a less onerous — and less random — process will be a big one with lots of Calgarians getting the chance to have their say.
The future of the southeast LRT is something I expect you’ll be hearing more about soon enough, too. If the money is to be had — and some argue with the bounce back of the economy it more than likely will be — the southeast LRT could rocket to the top of the agenda once the airport tunnel is dealt with.
You can also expect the topic of campaign finance reform to return to council again, this time with a mayor and a couple of councillors who count this as a “pet peeve” actually committed to finding a way to make the change permanent and enforceable.
Don’t be surprised if you see Nenshi enter into a battle over the city’s procurement processes either. With Louise Crossing becoming an issue during the election and the mayor’s humorous public musings about the cost of everything from an internet router for his office, to business cards, to his quest to get a less expensive vehicle, this aspect of our civic government could very well end up under the microscope sooner rather than later.
Of course with all these issues to choose from, you can be forgiven for wondering why fluoridation — a topic that I’m confident councillors heard about rarely when door-knocking during the election — has become the first issue to make it on the 2011 agenda
It’s a good conversation to have, but is it really the most pressing one? The other items listed here should be dealt with next. If they aren’t, then you have my permission to lose faith in our new council’s ability to set priorities.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy few months. Hold on for the ride.