Mark Steffler has called Airdrie home for more than 20 years and says his more than 30 years of work as a municipal engineer will help him be an effective part of the process in seeing Airdrie continue to be a place where you can raise a family in a safe, diverse, and affordable community.
Steffler retired at the end of 2020 after working 17 years with MPE Engineering LTD. Where he was one of the partners and regional manager for the Municipal Engineering division.
- Why are you running for office?
I feel one of the greatest gifts we can give is to volunteer our time back to our community. My career has been supporting local governments, I have been a volunteer on the City Municipal Planning Commission for seven years and running for council is the next step in the progression of giving back to our community.
- How will you help to make Airdrie a better place to live, work and play?
I have seen the city grow from a population of 22,000 to now the fifth largest city in Alberta. I have witnessed some of the challenges that has come with that rapid growth. In the past three years, five new Area Structure Plans (ASP) have been approved, which are projected to increase Airdrie’s population to 110,000 people. We need to make sure that that the transportation, utility services, recreation facilities, schools, and environmental needs are addressed and keep pace as these areas develop.
- What is the most important issue in this election and how do you plan to address it?
I have two main issues. Family care, particularly senior care and the redevelopment of our downtown. I want Airdrie to be the place where a family can grow roots, where our children will want to stay in Airdrie, and where our seniors have their needs met, so they can stay in our community. With our increasing population and aging demographics, seniors’ housing and care options haven’t kept up with our growth. We need to develop strategies where seniors can transition in housing and care needs in our community.
Our downtown core needs a rebirth and once again become the heart of our community. I have a vision of a multiuse city centre similar to Kensington area of Calgary where people are living, working, dining, and gathering. With the growth we have and will see, it is pulling people away from the core. We need to bring people back into the core.
- How do you plan to be transparent and accountable to your constituents?
Transparency has become a bit of a buzz word. I believe it is more about integrity and trust. Transparency comes with trust and integrity. However, as with any business, council deals with items that need to be kept confidential. If residents have questions or concerns, I am always available to talk and will share what I can, while always upholding the values of confidentiality.
- Why should residents vote for you?
We have lived and raised our family in Airdrie for 20 years. I plan on staying here for the next 20. I want to see Airdrie grow in a way that will still have that small-town feel, with all the big city amenities. City council is about serving the people of the community. Finding the best solutions for the people of Airdrie. I feel, I will be that person, that people will be comfortable voicing their concerns to, knowing that they are listen to and respected.
We asked our readers/followers on social media what they wanted to know from City of Airdrie candidates and came up with three questions.
The answers for each candidate will be listed here and posted to airdrielife‘s social media channels on Sept 22 (question 1), Sept 29 (question 2) and Oct 6 (question 3).
Editor’s Note: The answers below are completely unedited and appear here exactly as they were sent to airdrielife via email.
1. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action published 94 “calls to action” urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. Whichof the Calls to Action do you believe the City of Airdrie council should focus on?
The majority of the Calls to Action are beyond municipal jurisdiction. We need to concentrate on what we have direct influence on, which is building respect, trust and relationships. We need to meet with members of our indigenous communities to understand the past and look at building future opportunities for partnerships. From my experience working with several First Nations, the long-term goal is to develop economic opportunities to ensure self sustainability for their future generations. As a municipality we can combine resources, expertise, and financial contributions that benefit both parties.
An example of this is the Tsuut’ina Nation Taza Development, which is currently the largest First nations land development project in North America. This involved partnerships with the Provincial Government for construction of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, water/sewer servicing agreement with the City of Calgary, and private developers to help finance, plan and develop the lands. This development has ensured the long-term sustainable revenue source, employment, and business opportunities for future generations.
2. How would you work to improve arts and culture infrastructure and opportunities in the city if you were elected?
We have a lot of talented people in Airdrie that lack opportunities to advertise and market their talents. I would like to see community operated public venues or festivals where artists and vendors can rent space at a reduced rate to display their projects. I do woodworking as a hobby, but other than for Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms, I find it challenging to find affordable places to display my projects. Establishing a community managed arts markets that utilize existing facilities during low demand period such as Town and Country, Genesis Place and arenas would be one option.
3. What is your vision to help progress Airdrie’s economic growth over the next 10 years?
The Downtown Revitalization is a major unrealized economic growth opportunity. I would like to have a mixed-use environment with street level commercial and two story residential above. This will help support our small businesses that rely on foot traffic, support the existing businesses in the core, and provide a sense of community.
I also see our Downtown as a place for our young professionals to establish businesses and gather. Currently we don’t have many opportunities or places for young adults to gather so they tend to go to Calgary to socialize and spend their money. We are in the advantageous position that we can create a community that has the technology, connectivity, and places that provide the amenities that future generations are looking for. I also think with our proximity to a major international airport is an added attraction that we can leverage for young professionals to call the Downtown home.