Last election, Calgary-Falconridge was the closest race in he province, with Devinder Toor of the UCP beating Parmeet Boparai by only 91 votes.
Both candidates are running again in the May 29 election, though the political landscape is different this time around following the riding’s terrible 2020 hail storm and controversial comments from former Premier Jason Kenney about COVID vaccination rates in the area.
In addition, a pair of shootings last year — on July 4 and another on Nov. 12 — have brought crime and safety back to forefront of residents’ concerns.
This story is part of an editorial partnership between the Calgary Journal and MacEwan University journalism.
The NDP’s Boparai says security, drugs, and violence are big concerns in the riding.
“The community feels that there is nothing being done in Calgary-Falconridge for the last four years. And they feel they are being neglected,” he said in an interview.
Boparai added that his team is building a strong policy to address these problems and are “working with the Calgary police on that issue.”
A city survey from 2017 shows that participants in Falconridge and Castleridge regions desire a neighbourhood where they are “safe from illegal criminal activities.”
They want to “feel comfortable being out in the neighbourhood without risk of encountering a crime.”
According to Ahmed Hassan, a resident and candidate for the Green Party, the train lines running through the neighbourhood significantly contribute to its high crime rate.
“I feel we should be addressing some of the issues around that,” he said.
Adding that he felt unheard by Toor, Hassan stated: “I reached out to my MLA in the past regarding issues, and unfortunately, I never got a response from him.”
Toor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said there’s a feeling in the riding that they did not get sufficient help following the 2020 hailstorm that caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damage, one of the largest disasters in Canadian history.
“The UCP government never really helped them out on that hailstorm like they did with the Calgary flood and the Fort McMurray fires,” Bratt sad. “They felt abandoned.”
After Kenney’s comments about COVID vaccines, northeast Calgary went on to achieve the highest vaccination rates in the province. But Bratt credits those rates to hard work by the community and the efforts of nearby NDP MLA Irfan Sabir and Liberal MP George Chahal.