dave bronconnier to step down as mayor

After nine years at the helm, Dave Bronconnier decides not to run again

February 24, 2010
By Kim Guttormson, for the Calgary Herald

In an unexpected move that triggers a wide-open mayor’s race for the first time in a decade, Dave Bronconnier announced Tuesday he is stepping away from public life and will not seek a fourth term.

Bronconnier’s decision will see him spend his last months in office fighting to close the book on provincial infrastructure funding, while trying to keep aldermen — many now thinking about his job — focused on day-to-day business.

“Just because I’ve made an announcement today, I’m not going anywhere,” he said after delivering the news in his annual state of the city speech.

“There’s still many outstanding issues we’re going to keep working on.”

On a personal note, regardless of ones position on Bronconnier’s policies and approach to governance (the alignment of the West LRT and the pedestrian bridge are decisions, right or wrong, that will surely continue to crop up again and again over the coming years), his strong advocacy for the City at the scale of provincial resource allocation is undeniable. The departure of Bronconnier leaves many questions about the future direction of Calgary’s development, many which surely revolve around fiscal responsibility, but as Bronconnier’s experience shows, it will be vital for his successor to continue to engage upper echelons of governance in order to bridge the gulf between the City’s widening set of responsibilities and static sources of resource generation.
Of particular importance will be recent budget cuts made by the province which will impede the development of important local infrastructures and impair the ability of Calgary to sooner realize some of the objectives that City Council unanimously passed in the latest Municipal Develop Plan (Plan-It) in September of last year. Will Calgary’s next mayor be able to hold the province to account while sticking to the fiscally- and environmentally-responsible goals of the new MDP, or will he be overcome by the market-fundamentalist, growth-at-all-costs imperatives that are disproportionately (and sometimes unfairly) represented in Calgary’s planning and policy discourses? Stay tuned for more in the next municipal election this October.
Tom Howard
President, UrbanCSA


  1. Bob Corner · February 25, 2010

    Great … tax and spend Pave Bronconcrete hangs it up as mayor.
    I’m betting Bronconcrete ugly mug will show up in provincial politics.

  2. Tom Howard · February 25, 2010

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for your input. Do you recognize that property taxes in Calgary are among the lowest in the country, and that Calgarians regularly rank taxes as one of their lowest priorities for government policy? You might be surprised that more people are concerned with having better quality infrastructure and services (not to mention the increased functionality and more livable public realm they create) than having low taxes. The question that Calgary’s next mayor will have to face will be whether or not we will build a great city or whether we will build a cheap city.

    As a matter of housekeeping, please keep your comments clean: this comment was very close to being rejected. This site does act as a forum for debate and critical discussion, but not for invective and petty sniping.

  3. phbl · February 27, 2010

    um, tom, i know you’re an ubst major and all, but you really need a reality check if you honestly believe any level of government in canada is capable of using tax money responsibly. *cough*toronto*cough*

  4. Tom Howard · March 1, 2010

    Hi phbl,

    I would hope that the line about how the “government is so irresponsible/ineffective with money and we should just leave everything to the market” would have lost all currency in the wake of the subprime market, but then again…

    Yes, governments are in some cases ineffective with spending. They also may not be as agile as the market in responding to consumer preference. But they are accountable to citizens, less likely to be as recklessly speculative as actors in a deregulated marketplace, and able to prioritize citizen need over profitability (although I will concede that this relationship is not as always as balanced as I make it out to be, but that’s where the idea of democratic control kicks in).

    To say that no level of government in Canada is capable of using tax money responsibly is so grand statement as to make it pointless, and furthermore, beyond your vague allusion to Toronto (is the popular and effective GO Train network an example of “irresponsible” spending?), I’m not sure I see any bearing in reality. I would hope that the reality check you are offering could be a little more substantive and specific: unless, of course, this comment was made with tongue planted firmly in cheek, and you believe that state provision of emergency services, public transit, parkspaces and basic utilities are an irresponsible use of public monies, in which case I would glad to hear what you think a responsible use of said monies would be.

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