The homeless guy runs for mayor

He’s known as the “homeless guy,” but Wayne Stewart is about more than the initiative that consumed him for many years. Now he’s about becoming mayor of Calgary.

He’s known as the “homeless guy,” but Wayne Stewart is about more than the initiative that consumed him for many years. Now he’s about becoming mayor of Calgary.

It’s a sunny afternoon and Wayne Stewart walks from his home in Marda Loop to a local cafe.

He’s tall, grey, handsome and wears an engineer’s ring on his pinky. Not as pretty as Barb Higgins. Sometimes gruff, but no Ric McIver.

His challenge? Get known, in the face of more high-profile candidates.

The former Shell manager is planning strategy. Billboards go up today, paired with TV advertising. He’s meeting as many Calgarians as he can.

Should you vote for him?

Stewart grew up on a farm in Goderich, Ont., as the first born of three kids. He married his high school sweetheart (yes, she’s Martha Stewart) in the Anglican Church and raised three kids here in Calgary.

At 50, he took a buyout and worked to build the Calgary Foundation, and the Homeless Foundation.

“I have business experience and not-for-profit experience,” he says. “I think we have enough plans in Calgary. Now we need to implement them,” he adds, with some impatience.

Litmus test: The Calatrava Bridge. He hesitates to criticize the $25-million albatross.

“We need a downtown that tourists will take pictures of,” he says. Stewart loves theatre and brightens at the mention of Manhattan.

There are farmboy sensibilities. He’s not for a $50-million reno for an aging library, but maybe a library in a different spot.

He’s just come from meetings in the northeast, and thinks the airport tunnel is merited. It’s cheaper to build now than wait until the runway is built.

Stewart’s campaign team is grooming him. He’s prone to winding answers. They want him more succinct. He’s for the big picture. “We’ve need to make Calgary good for everyone, get used to secondary suites, and more density,” he says.

So would my family’s life be better under Mayor Wayne Stewart?

I think he cares about the poor. He’s informed by religious convictions.

But would he share my concerns? Too high speed limits, cut through traffic, unenforced building bylaws, willy nilly density, community infrastructure in disrepair, rich communities with secondary suite exemptions.

Wayne Stewart’s major policy statement comes out this fall.

I commit to this: I will read it. He may be the homeless guy — and more.

 
 
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