May 10, 2017 12:39 pm
Updated: May 10, 2017 12:40 pm

Chabot’s ‘tax room’ plebiscite and cellphone motions defeated at Calgary city council

City of Calgary Ward 10 councillor Andre Chabot at City Hall.

Global News
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Two motions put forth by Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot on Tuesday, including one which would limit cellphone usage by city councillors, were defeated.

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Chabot, a mayoral candidate in Calgary’s upcoming municipal election, wanted to restrict council members’ cellphone usage during public presentations, but his motion failed in a 9-5 vote.

Chabot said he’s received complaints from members of the public that councillors don’t always seem to be listening and are instead looking at their phones.

READ MORE: Calgary mayoral candidate Andre Chabot wants councillors to put their phones away during public presentations

While recognizing that councillors have a duty to show respect during public presentations, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi pointed out many councillors actually have electronic versions of meeting agendas and minutes on their phones.

“I do have an electronic version. In fact, I hardly every tweet during meetings. Ninety per cent of the time I’m either looking at the agenda, finding a person’s letter – seeing if they’re reading their letter out loud, doing Google Earth, or dealing with my colleagues around the table on amendments.”

Chabot also put forth a motion asking for a plebiscite so citizens could vote on how to use $23.7 million in revenue left over from the provincial budget.

Last week, Chabot called the issue the most misunderstood in municipal politics in Calgary.

The motion was defeated in a tie vote.

READ MORE: Calgary council to debate how to use $23.7M in ‘tax room’ from province

Nenshi said a plebiscite a bad idea.

“We’re doing half a million bucks to ask people their opinion on something that’s non-binding, that will have no impact on what council actually decides,” he said. “It doesn’t seem very fiscally conservative to me to do that.”

In recent years, the city voted to take the so-called “tax room” and use it to pay for the new Green Line of the LRT over a period of 30 years.

“I think what we really need to do is understand that councillors make the decision. And if you lose the vote around this council table, don’t go to a plebiscite to solve it. Convince your fellow councillors around the table that you’re right,” Nenshi added.

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