City officials and UCP MLAs hold rare meeting in Calgary

A rare meeting was held Monday at the McDougall Centre between elected officials with the City of Calgary and the city’s UCP caucus.

There were 13 members of city council, including Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and 13 government MLAs around the table, talking about common issues affecting Calgarians.

Premier Danielle Smith, who represents the riding of Brooks-Medicine Hat, also took part in the session.

The idea for the meeting came from Coun. Jasmine Mian, who was first elected in October 2021.

She suggested to her colleagues last year organizing such a session could open up and improve communications between the two groups of politicians.

“At the time, some of the more seasoned councillors laughed and said, ‘Oh, they would never take the meeting.’ One of the benefits of being a political newcomer is you say, ‘Oh, let’s try,'” said Mian.

During the session, she said, the politicians got to know one another better and discussed issues like downtown revitalization, addictions and mental health, transit and affordability.

It took a few months to arrange the meeting. Coun. Sonya Sharp came out of the 90-minute session saying it was well worth the time.

“We serve the same people and … we’re able to share not only the great things that we’re doing for our city but the opportunities there are to work together,” said Sharp.

A woman smiles at the camera.
Monday’s joint-meeting was an idea first proposed by Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian. (Submitted by Jasmine Mian)

One of her colleagues, Coun. Andre Chabot, agreed there are benefits to having a better working relationship with their provincial counterparts.

The veteran councillor said there are many newcomers to both council and to provincial politics, so this session was perhaps overdue.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to at least put on the table many of our goals and objectives and our needs and how we can collaborate together as different orders of government,” said Chabot.

“Maybe we can leverage some of that participation into getting more federal involvement as well, trying to connect the dots between all three orders of government.”

No one from the provincial UCP caucus provided comment to reporters after the session. Mayor Gondek also declined to comment.

Several of the councillors said they hope similar sessions are held in the future, but there was no discussion on the timing of a future gathering.

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