Calgary

Protesters rally at council to demand low-income Calgarians don't carry burden of budget cuts

A group of Calgarians who wanted to speak to city council on Monday about proposed budget cuts was disappointed they weren’t allowed to give a presentation, but they said they'll be back.

'The ultimate goal was to be a voice for the voiceless'

Disappointed, but determined to continue their fight — that's what more than 100 people plan to do after not being allowed to speak at city council. (Mike Symington/CBC)

A group of Calgarians who wanted to speak to city council on Monday about proposed budget cuts is disappointed they weren't allowed to give a presentation.

They held a rally attended by more than 100 people and then filed into council chambers, but there were so many that they had to be seated in an overflow area in the atrium.

The group is urging council to reconsider any cuts to services that would impact low-income Calgarians.

The activists voiced their anger after city council denied them a chance to express their concerns.

Public hearings are allowed only during the fall budget debate, although council has made exceptions.

Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee, a spokesperson for the group Calgary Alliance for the Common Good, which represents unions, churches, school and community groups, said their aim is "to be a voice for the voiceless."

"And the ultimate goal was to say there are a lot of Calgarians concerned about the most vulnerable in the city and they should have a voice," she said.

About 100 people showed up Monday at Calgary City Hall to make it clear they don't want council to slash services for low-income people when the city cuts the budget by $60 million. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The group is concerned about the $60 million in budget cuts that council plans to make, even though it has not been decided where the cuts will be made.

Greenwood-Lee says her group wants to make sure mental health and addiction funding continues and that nothing happens to subsidized transit passes.

"We're pleased to hear that it sounds like the low-income transit pass is still in the budget but it doesn't particularly matter if you have a low-income transit pass if there's been huge cuts to transit and there's no bus to take anyway or there's no Access Calgary," she said.

City council plans to discuss its options on Tuesday afternoon. Coun. Jyoti Gondek says it's hard for people to weigh in when they don't have all the information.

"I would hate for people to be wasting their time expressing their concerns and their thoughts on information that is incomplete," she said.

The group plans to return on Tuesday for the debate.

With files from Colleen Underwood

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