City of Calgary to take photos and video and post web profiles of all municipal election candidates

The City of Calgary plans to shoot photos and videos and post online profiles of all candidates in this October's municipal election, in a bid to level the playing field and to boost voter turnout.

New candidates hope the site will help level the playing field with well-financed incumbents

Greg Miller is running against incumbent Sean Chu and Blair Berdusco to be Ward 4 city councillor in the October municipal election. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

The City of Calgary plans to shoot photos and videos and post online profiles of all candidates in this October's municipal election, in a bid to level the playing field and to boost voter turnout.

City of Calgary videographers and photographers are in the process of collecting two-minute, unedited platform videos as well as accompanying photographs to create profiles of the roughly 100 candidates running for election on Oct. 16.

The cost of creating the profiles will be covered entirely by the city's elections budget. The pilot project is budgeted for $13,000, says Paul Denys, the chief returning officer. 
Paul Denys is the chief returning officer for the City of Calgary as it prepares for the municipal election in October. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

"In past elections we received a fair number of phone calls from individuals who had a hard time tracking down information about their candidates," Denys told CBC News.

"Because of that frustration, many of them chose not to participate, or they don't participate in an informed fashion."

Level playing field 

Since all candidates will have the same length of video and quality of images, some new candidates are excited about a more level playing field with their incumbent competition.

"The more that we can have opportunities and venues where money is not the deciding factor, where people aren't necessarily distracted by video quality ... I think we need to see more of it quite frankly," said Greg Miller, running in Ward 4 against incumbent Sean Chu. 

Ward 8 incumbent Evan Woolley said the competition is welcome.

Coun. Evan Woolley says it's important to level the playing field for candidates. (CBC)

"Particularly at the municipal level we've seen huge increases in spending," he said. 

"As a part of democracy, we want to have some equality of opportunity for people who are challenging incumbents or taking on other challengers, the opportunity to have a fair shake." 

Drive-thru voting

The website is intended to increase voter turnout, which dropped to 39 per cent in the 2013 municipal election, and is just one of several methods being pursued by Elections Calgary.

Other efforts include free transit on election day as well as drive-thru voter booths. 

The efforts are the result of a motion put forward this past spring by Woolley.

"If we don't work to continuously improve our democracy, what's the point of us being here," he said. 

The profile website will go live with the videos and more information on all candidates on September 19. In the meantime, more information on the election and the modified electoral boundaries can be found at calgary.ca/election