I live in Ward 8 and serve as president of Beltline Communities. This civic election, my personal endorsement goes to re-electing John Mar as Ward 8 Councillor.

Even though we Beltline community organizers had been working on it for a nearly a decade, the district’s urban way of life hadn’t fully taken hold when John was first elected in 2007. Ideas and plans were in place, but it took John’s leadership to help move things at City Hall.

Where helpful, Alderman Mar sweeps aside entrenched policies and practices. His positive focus on outcomes helps unleash Beltline’s potential to flourish as a ‘for-real’ big city district. First, policing was made far more urban-appropriate, moved out of cars, and on to the streets. Then social service agencies got support for innovation that brought a better ‘fit’ with Beltline’s neighbourhoods. John works tirelessly for new parks, better infrastructure, and higher maintenance standards as well as for bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit routes in the community. Most of all, John doesn’t just talk about these things, he makes them happen.

John is key to ongoing City support of Beltline’s growth. John’s cleared the way for our community organization to continue attracting more private investment in condos, rental apartments, creative businesses, the arts and retail. We proceed with confidence, and John is there to improve and ‘shepherd’ the many projects through the ‘hoops and ladders’ of the bureaucracy.

That Thursday night, the flood came. With the Mayor out of town on City business, Alderman Mar was first with immediate emergency action. John stood firm, organized and brought support, both material and of spirit, to the many thousands of Beltline residents who were evacuated and whose buildings were left uninhabitable by inundation. It’s been a massive effort and a long time to recover. John was steadfast, and John made sure that the needs of oft overlooked high rise residents in Beltline were addressed.

John has proven character, experience, vision and understanding. He knows what it takes to make leading-edge urban work. And Alderman Mar has established the skills, abilities and networks that will make the next steps possible for us. If you care about Calgary’s urban future, if you want a representative who can and will make ‘better’ happen in Centre City, get out and vote. Vote for John Mar. I did.

Rob Taylor, President, Beltline Communities