My name is Jacob McGregor. For twenty-seven years–that is to say my entire life–I have called Calgary my home. To me, this city is one of the best places in the world to live. Ever since I can remember, my family and I have been a vibrant part of our community. I grew up on softball fields every Sunday in the summer and at Max Bell Arena every Christmas billeting young hockey players for the Mac’s Tournament. Every year I get swept up watching our beloved Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen and Roughnecks fight to become champions and love nothing more than getting back to the Western roots that built our city every summer at the Stampede grounds.
Calgary is full of great memories for me but it is also where I have grown as a person and met with challenges as a person born with a disability. I was born with cerebral palsy and this meant that even from an early age life could be difficult. It was also a blessing in many ways and led me on the path of advocacy that brought me here today. Community is everything to a disabled Calgarian. It is where help and equipment come from, where you make your friends at school or in community programs. This would not exist without cooperation of the municipal government (although you only learn that later) and as you get older you see that your life only improves through hard work, persistent effort and advocating for what you need.
For the last 13 years of my life have lived in Ward 1. In that time, I have been a youth ambassador for Easter Seals, got my high school diploma from St. Francis, earned my political science degree from U of C while fighting to make campus more accessible, been a community leader through volunteer work with my local MP’s Electoral District Association as well as community advocacy groups like Calgary Ability Network. Most recently, I have served on two volunteer boards at the City of Calgary, namely the Advisory Committee on Accessibility and the Calgary Transit Access Eligibility Appeal Board. I did all of this while still making my fair share of Flames games and being at those softball fields with my family every summer.
Whenever you do something like run for City Council, the first question so many people ask is “Why are you running?” or “Why NOW?” My answer to that has two parts. First, the hardships our city has experienced over the past few years–and especially in 2020–show me very clearly that we can do better than we are. As stated previously, my life is taught me that when you believe you can make things better, you don’t just fret over the way things are. Instead, you put in the hard work and do everything in your power to improve the situation. Second, over the past few years, I have identified several problems about the way City Council makes decisions. This strange environment has emerged where Council is both extremely deliberate in taking forever to finalize decisions while simultaneously becoming more and more disconnected from Calgarians. I believe Council members believe they are smarter than everybody around them.
Part of Council’s paralysis seems to come from an inability or lack of desire to work together on issues. When you spend a large portion of your life involved in community advocacy, you get a sense of what is effective and what is not. I learned quickly that things do not get done without other people and grandstanding and point-scoring does not improve the lives of those around you. If you asked my parents around the kitchen table or other Calgarians, odds are they would not be able to tell you something Council has done recently that helped them due to “squabbling.” This is why Council needs fresh faces: people that are still connected with what people in their neighbourhood want to see, and people who still remember that getting things done requires working together. This is why I want to represent you on City Council and that is why I am building my campaign around “Our Vision for Ward 1.”
This will be an all-out, effort to connect with the communities and people in Ward 1. To get a better sense of the issues that matter to you, projects that would improve your life, and to get a sense of where you want your community to be in the future. In talking to my friends and neighbours I have heard many times that they feel disconnected from the process and the decision makers in Calgary. Our vision will give you a voice at the table; in addition to fiscal accountability, the streamlining of city processes, the full funding and employment of city services; especially as it relates to first responders, an easily accessible city curated database of local mental health services, investment in suburban infrastructure improvement , and a reinvigoration of arts, culture, and amateur sport in the city.
Your voice as a Calgarian can no longer be minimized. You know what you want the future to look like! That is why my campaign will be about you, and why I am asking you to lend your voice to this grassroots movement and to Our Vision because together with hard work we can make that vision for Ward 1 a reality!