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Mayor Jyoti Gondek discusses issues surrounding Calgarians at U of C webinar

By Julieanne Acosta, January 27 2022—

On Jan. 18, Dr. Jyoti Gondek answered questions about her vision for the city in the University of Calgary’s first webinar of 2022. Gondek sat down for a conversation with Chancellor Deborah Yedlin about problems surrounding Calgarians today, including the economic decline of the city as a result of the pandemic, downtown vacancy rates and infrastructure developments.  

“Since the oil price crash in 2014, Calgarians have faced many challenges and COVID-19 made things worse,” said Yedlin. “Mayor Gondek believes solutions to these issues must be bold and rooted in economic, social and environmental resilience.” 

Gondek, a two-time alumna of the U of C, became the 37th Mayor of Calgary and the first woman to ever be elected into the role on Oct. 25, 2021. 

Gondek praised her council and showed her gratitude to them at the beginning of the webinar. 

“Public service is something that I’m absolutely committed to and I could not be more honoured to be serving this great city and its citizens,” said Gondek. “The greatest part of this work is the council that I get to work with. They’re very diverse in their thinking but they are all incredibly committed to the communities that they serve. The greatest victory has been coming together as a team and understanding how to work with each other.”

Within 11 days of being sworn in, Gondek quickly declared a climate emergency in Calgary. This ensured that Calgary was taking advantage of federal funds for electrification of fleet vehicles and provincial opportunities to do energy audits on buildings while being held accountable.

“We have to take action and actually demonstrate that we are achieving results,” said Gondek. “There’s things like the clean energy movement program that is accessible to Calgarians who wish to do their own part in terms of climate action and energy efficiency. It’s going to be important for our city to make sure we’re taking advantage of federal funds for electrification of our fleet vehicles and of provincial opportunities to do energy audits of our buildings. It’s important to make sure we are announcing to the world the number of great companies we have in the energy and tech sector that are leading the way in solutions that will end up with cleaner and more sustainable production methods.”

The downtown revitalization plan hopes to activate spaces downtown and create a vibrant downtown core. Gondek hopes to increase the presence of U of C students in downtown Calgary. 

“I see students and faculty and staff playing a big role in taking up some of the residential spaces that we’ll be creating,” said Gondek. “From a learning perspective, I think it’s really important to have that continued learning environment downtown, as well as on the the main campus.”

Gondek believes students have the ability to be the talent that Calgary is looking for to diversify and continue the pace of economic growth in the city.

“We’ve been more focused on attracting talent here rather than focusing on the talent that already exists here,” said Gondek. “I’m very interested in making sure that recruitment firms and human resource departments are well aware of the skillsets that our students possess.”

Gondek continued on to discuss the ways she plans to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians around the city by connecting people with mobility options outside of personal vehicles. 

“The pandemic has revealed something to people who may not have considered it before — and that’s how we have so many communities where people were out in throngs on the walking pathways and struggling to understand why we didn’t have more space for them,” said Gondek. “If we’re really committed to building complete communities where you can go about your daily routine, we’re going to have to make sure that the pathways exist to allow that to happen.”

Gondek concluded by delivering her Calgary sales pitch to Yedlin, while highlighting the beauty of the city. 

“The thing that I say the most often is Calgary is an incredibly welcoming place. It is not only beautiful, it’s affordable. There are many different types of businesses that are successful here. We are incredibly future focused. We are innovators. We are people that are passionate about making a difference in the world and this is a place you should choose to live.” 

To watch the full 45 minute webinar, visit the University of Calgary’s website

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