Calgary Mayoral Candidates Weigh In About Energy Issues That Affect Calgary
Since the energy industry is so important to many Calgarians (and Albertans), EnergyNow put together a series of energy related questions and presented them to leading contenders in the City of Calgary’s 2021 Mayoral race. All candidates were asked the same questions.
EnergyNow will be publishing the answers from the candidates that participated to let readers know where candidates stand on key energy issues that affect Calgary and in many ways, Alberta and the rest of Canada. For information purposes, only one candidate asked declined the invitation to participate.
The following candidates for the Mayor of Calgary were asked to participate (in no particular order)
- Brad Field Coming October 13
- Jeromy Farkas Coming October 8
- Jeff Davison Coming October 15
- Grace Yan Coming October 11
- Jan Damery See Jan’s answers from October 4th
- Zane Novak – Featured Candidate
- Jyoti Gondek – (Declined Participation)
EnergyNow is Pleased to Present City of Calgary Mayor Candidate
EnergyNow (EN): Do you believe fossil fuels are a sunset industry and that Alberta’s massive reserves of coal, oil and natural gas will become one giant stranded asset because of the “energy transition”?
Zane Novak (ZN): As the world transitions to other energy choices, hydrocarbons will still play a significant role. This transition will not take time, and I firmly believe that we are decades away from peak global consumption of hydrocarbon-based fuel. My main concern is that once again we are missing the boat on development and export. Our governments municipal, provincial, and federal have failed to carry the proper narrative regarding our resource sector. We need to showcase it and export it.
If we were able to export our natural gas as LNP to nations such as China and India, we would be helping to reduce emissions. Our LNG is a far cleaner energy source than the coal they are currently using.
EN: It is well known that Houston is the epicenter of the oil and gas industry in the United States. Houston makes no apologies for this distinction. The same can be said for Calgary. It is the energy capital of Canada. Given Calgary’s current status as an energy hub, how important do you feel is the energy sector to Calgary on a go forward basis?
ZN: Only part of that can be said for Calgary. We are Canada’s energy hub, but we are continually apologizing for it. We have apologized so much that our youth are leaving Calgary in droves. We must change that. We are now a stigmatized industry, and that narrative is not correct, but due to our leaders not championing for us, we as an industry and now as a city are paying the price.
While I believe that it is crucial for Calgary to continue to attract new opportunities to our city to fill our downtown core, our fabrication facilities and employ our citizens, our energy sector will remain crucial to us for decades. We as a city should be aggressively promoting the world leading ESG rating the industry has, along with helping to market to the world the advancements made by our industry. Advancements that reduce GHG, carbon emissions, and protect our environment.
EN: A significant portion of Calgary’s downtown current empty office space was primarily occupied by the oil and gas industry. While the oil and gas industry may recover somewhat, technological changes like Artificial Intelligence (AI) have permanently reduced the head office administrative head count. What is your plan for these empty offices, and it’s associated underutilized talent? Can a city be a driver of reversing this trend?
ZN: I will fill those vacant spaces with new business, and or unique workspace, art, creative spaces. I am not a huge supporter of turning our downtown into low-cost housing that is paid for with taxpayer dollars. The current city plan to spend over one billion in the core, with much of it going to converting old towers into low-cost housing does not pass the math test or the sustainability test in my opinion.
And as we attempt to attract new business to the downtown, I feel it will be a hard sell to entice startups and tech companies to locate next to low-cost or subsidized housing. Most of the employees they would be recruiting would probably pick other places to work like Vancouver or Toronto.
That coupled with the fact that the city is spending a billion dollars means higher overall taxes, once again creating a roadblock to new business.
One of the greatest assets that our city hall has always overlooked is our downtown. We have the most connected downtown in the world and that downtown has many of the world’s most successful individuals. I want to work with them to create a work/think tank that will support, mentor, and even invest in new upstarts to help turn Calgary into the entrepreneurial hub of Canada and North America.
EN: While Calgary itself does not have a lot of influence on energy policy at the federal level, the incoming Mayor can play a role promoting Calgary, both with other mayors within Canada and internationally at conferences and events. What stance will you take in promoting Calgary as an energy hub for Canada, including oil and gas?
ZN: I have had countless conversations with our leaders in the energy sector chastising them for their lack of involvement in municipal politics and their disengagement with city hall and the mayor’s office. I understand that city hall is unable to grant a pipeline right-of-way or change royalties etc., however there is lots that a strong city hall and mayor’s office can do for our industry.
This has caused intrinsic harm to our energy sector. Imagine if we would have had a city hall that respected and appreciated the industry that has paid the lion’s share of the bills in this city for the last 50 years.
Currently we have a city hall and a mayor’s office that would push any energy worker off a cliff in their rush to get a selfie taken with David Suzuki, Al Gore, Justin Trudeau, Greta, or the members of the Pembina Institute. In fact, our municipal government has given thousands of our taxpayer dollars to the Pembina Institute, the sworn enemy of our industry.
One of my goals in being mayor of the 4th largest city in Canada, and the city that is usually the economic driving force of the entire country, is to champion our energy industry. Pick up the phone and have those calls with the Premier, the Prime Minister, potential investors, make those meetings happen, move the needle forward. City hall and the mayor need to be talking about our ESG and our opportunities. Carry the narrative of the technological advancements our industry has made that sets us apart and how we should be marketing this to the rest of the producing areas in the world.
EN: Canada is the fifth largest oil and gas producing country in the world behind only the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Within Canada, Calgary is internationally recognized as one of the major oil capitals of the world and will host the World Petroleum Congress in 2023. None of the major oil producing countries in the world are being as aggressive as Canada about getting out of the oil and business, an initiative by certain politicians at the federal level. As Mayor of Calgary, what message would you like to convey to those politicians?
ZN: Not only are other producing countries slow to phase out of the oil and gas industry, but many are also accelerating their drilling program.
We absolutely must stop this negative narrative surrounding Canada’s single largest resource. We need to work with industry to continue to improve our environmental impact while producing and exporting our oil and gas. I for one have been part of a group who is leading the way. As a founding member and VP of the SAEN group we have brought forward an industry created plan, the RStar environmental program that will clean up our orphaned and abandoned wells while creating 366,000 full time jobs, 76.7 billion in GDP, over 20 billion in investment into reclamation and over 10 billion in direct tax generation. This program is not taxpayer funded and is not attached to the federal government. It is an Alberta solution that keeps the money, jobs, and opportunities here.
We need to show to the world that we have energy, we can produce it, export it, create wealth for all Canadians and protect our environment in the process.
EN: As Mayor, what message would you like to send anti-oil & gas activists? Especially those that do not live in Canada or groups that are foreign funded to interfere with oil and gas development in Canada, directly affecting Calgary?
ZN: This is a difficult problem that our leaders have allowed to grow unchallenged for decades. A lot of this occurs due lack of accurate information that is presented in our educational system. With over 661 billion dollars in transfer payments coming from Alberta to Canada, most of that from our energy industry, many of the schools that our youth learn in have been built and operated by revenue from our resource sector, and at these same institutes of learning they are often taught to hate this same industry.
We need leaders who, on an informed basis, champion for our industry. It is an education narrative that will take time and proper messaging to change attitudes. Not an easy task, and maybe that’s why no other mayor in recent history has tackled it.
That addresses Albertans and Canadians. When it comes to foreign interference, I will work to shut that down. It is not their call; it is not their resource, and it is not their future. This is our land, our resource and our wealth that helps us have the standard of life that we have. If managed properly, we will have a secure, environmentally sound future for generations.
EN: What do you think about the Federal government’s recently announced plan for a “Just Transition” for Canada’s oil and gas workers? A plan that could potentially further eliminate many Calgary jobs and displace Calgary taxpayers and their families to other cities or provinces. A summary of the federal government’s “Just Transition” plan is here: https://www.rncanengagenrcan.ca/en/collections/just-transition
ZN: Unsurprisingly, I found the website to have minimal information as to the actual plan and implementation.
It is my experience that initiatives such as this run through a governmental program consume cash and rarely generate tangible outcomes. Industry tends to sort its own matters out.
Given the information that I have been able to research, I would not be able to state a firm, informed position, but I have a feeling that it would not be beneficial to Calgary, Alberta, or our industry.
EN: Have you ever been involved or associated with an anti-oil & gas campaign or group?
Contrary to that, I am a member of SAEN, the Sustaining the Alberta Energy Network. I am a founding member and a VP. This is a not-for-profit volunteer group that works with industry to find solutions that support both oil and gas and protect the environment for future generations.
I have never received any payments, fees, wages, or revenue in any form from SAEN.
EN: How do you think Calgary should plug into the province’s hydrogen strategy?
ZN: I have had lengthy discussions with the Hydrogen Transition Team. There are some very interesting opportunities for hydrogen in Calgary, particularly the northern corridor out of the city and possible utilization of hydrogen with the municipal vehicles.
EN: Finally, reducing energy use and emissions is not only a priority in today’s changing world but it is also welcomed by many working in Canada’s oil & gas sector. What key items do you support to help “green” Calgary’s future? Is this something the city and its taxpayers should invest in for Calgary alone? Or should the city support the energy industry in the development of technologies that have global applications?
ZN: I have already been working with local engineers and corporations to promote projects such as Waste to Energy. I feel that non-carbon pollution is often overlooked due to the passion surrounding climate change. Pollution is a serious concern for me. I am also working with local entrepreneurs on waste to biofuel opportunities.
With this technology we can properly recycle our Class 7 plastics. Currently Calgary lacks this ability and recently several hundred Sea Cans of plastic were recategorized as waste, dumped in the landfill and buried to be the problem of future generations. We need to change this practice.
By working with industry, we can reduce the cost and the footprint of our landfills, and we can find cleaner and more efficient ways to fuel our municipal vehicle fleets.
I have always been very conscientious of our industry, its impact on our prosperity and our environment. For almost 20 years I have been working on introducing cutting edge products to reduce our GHG and carbon footprint. Products such as reduced emission chemical injection pumps, vent-gas gathering systems, in-pipe turbine generators. All of these protect the environment and have a positive impact on the industries ESG.
EnergyNow would like to thank Zane Novak for his participation.
For More Information on Zane Novak please visit: Zane For Mayor