Accountant, and mother, Sandy Johal-Watt had considered running for city council in 2017, but now is the right time for her.
“I didn’t want to give up another four years. This was the right time for me, I wanted to put my money where my mouth is and I decided to go for it,” Johal-Watt said.
As a mother, a former chair of the East Lake School Council and a current voting member, a significant concern for Johal-Watt is overcrowding in schools.
“Seeing the stalling tactics with the school site really got me concerned, my biggest priority is making sure we hold developers and the city accountable for the process of getting the school site ready,” Johal-Watt said.
Johal-Watt values accountability, and transparency as she is trained as a professional accountant.
“My concern is that the tax base isn’t diverse. Our commercial tax base is around four to six per cent, we need to diversify, we need more commercial development. Considering we’re in the high 90 per cent for residential tax rate, the burden of running the city is on Chestermere residents,” Johal-Watt said.
“Every home in Chestermere is doing their part when we could have the Chamber of Commerce and the city working with us to promote businesses in Chestermere and be more competitive and bring big-ticket business to Chestermere,” she said.
Johal-Watt does not support the rezoning of the Lakeside Golf Course, as she believes it would have negative impacts on the community.
“My reason for not supporting the rezoning of golf course land is because of the development, the state of our schools, there’s no reason that it would make sense to approve a high-density development right smack dab in the middle of city centre like that, with the lake of infrastructure in place,” Johal-Watt said.
Adding, “It would have negative detrimental impacts to property value for those residents that have bought on the golf course.”
Throughout her campaign, Johal-Watt has heard overlapping concerns from residents that there is a lack of transparency within the city governance.
“It’s difficult to get an answer from city hall, they are referred to the meeting minutes, and there are concerns of the civic centre. My concern for this jewel of a recreation centre that should be bringing people together, but it’s the exact opposite, where there are concerns and confusion,” Johal-Watt said.
To address residents’ concerns regarding the civic centre, Johal-Watt would pull contracts and the financial planning and look at the project from the foundation.
“Looking at the contracts to see if we can put the brakes on some of these things, go back to the drawing board without breaching contracts, tread lightly and see if we can hit pause game until we get resident engagement,” Johal-Watt said.
Adding, “This project has been in the making for quite some time, but there’s a lot of feedback that the civic centre is negative and filled with confusion.”
If elected, Johal-Watt wants to see a balanced community that is diverse, inclusive, has responsible development that takes into account residents’ desires and neighbouring municipalities while still keeping the small-town feel.
“I’d love to see a community that has a golf course, has recreation, and an open playing field for all residents,” Johal-Watt said.
“Being an accountant, I’m trained to be skeptical, I’m taught to be a steward for funds, and too look at all the documentation, and find ways that we can work together and address things such as recreation and development,” she said.