Advocates At Work: Promotion vs. Self-Promotion

This past week offered a contrast between those who promote issues that matter, and those who self-promote. Unfortunately it looks like we have the latter in Ward 4.

Thursday evening I attended a panel discussion on the Green Line. Organized by the U of C Debate Society, it featured Councillors Shane Keating and Evan Woolley answering direct and pointed questions about the project. Representing Ward 12 and Ward 8 respectively, each offered a different point of view on the proposed train. Their responses and interactions were lively and informative.

A number of interested students attended. Few of them reside in either Ward, which meant they are unlikely to vote for either speaker. Regardless, Keating and Woolley gave their time willingly, and answered questions with patience, depth and passion for this critical project and what it means for our city.

We’ll need advocacy like theirs. While the Green Line is Calgary’s most important and ambitious infrastructure project ever – certainly for the Ward 4 communities along Centre Street and beyond - there is no guarantee of funding. Active, vocal and informed advocacy is key for the Green Line to become a reality.

Unfortunately informed advocacy is in short supply in Ward 4.

That same Thursday Sean Chu hosted a different kind of session. Billed as an “Open House - Area Redevelopment Plan”, no one was quite sure what the point of it was. Those who trickled in were confused. A few thought that Highland Park was getting an ARP (it isn’t). Others attended hoping to debate the merits of an ARP for the community (sorry). Perhaps it was an outcome of the 40th Avenue Station Design Charrette? (Nope). At least the donuts seemed fresh.

(Earlier last week, Chu discouraged those who attended a Beddington Heights Community Association meeting by declaring that "an ARP means more density". In fact, an Area Redevelopment Plan is a plan. It's not needed for every community. But older Ward 4 communities have asked for one to assist them with complex planning issues. Chu has delivered exactly none during his term.)

Why did Sean Chu hold the open house? Well, it was well-publicized.

Sean Chu had large, multi-coloured signs printed, and posted them along major thoroughfares, including this one in Highwood in Ward 7 (who he doesn’t represent):

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His personal website was referenced – even though it contained no information whatsoever as to the purpose of the open house. His photo was prominently displayed – very useful with a civic election less than a year away.

Sean Chu has already billed taxpayers for the literature he used while campaigning in Ward 7 communities. We’ll see if he’ll bill taxpayers for the signs and the other expenses he incurred for Thursday’s confusing "open house".

I'm passionate about the Green Line and what it can bring to all Ward 4 Communities if we do it right. I've facilitated a group that connects city planners with community leaders. I talk about it at the doors. I talk about it with provincial MLA's. I write about it. I promote and attend the city's many Green Line sessions.  My advocacy costs taxpayers nothing.

Some promote a project that is hugely important for Ward 4. Sean Chu promotes himself. We’ll see what type of advocate Ward 4 voters prefer next October.


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