A vision for Edmonton
My vision for Edmonton has a city that moves forward while respecting our past and retains its small town feel. Regardless of whom you are, your background, your education, your job etc. you should feel welcome here. We should all have the opportunity to succeed and live a life that we want to live. So what can City Hall do to promote that?
Firstly we need to be open, accessible and accountable. That’s why first and foremost I have committed to responding to all calls and emails. I will also set up a quick reference overview on everything we voted on, how I voted and what the result was. As well I will be sending out a monthly email blast with quick overview of everything we discussed that month and what is coming up, giving everyone the opportunity to be heard.
Beyond openness and accountability my second priority is fiscally responsible spending. I feel that if we go through the budget, implement a cost saving incentive plan for employees, and revisit our spending priorities we can achieve better value for dollar and have more to spend on programs and services without increases to taxation and fees.
I pledge to work with the community leagues and citizens to solve issues collaboratively. I believe the days of heavy handed “progress” need to come to an end. There are 1 million people in Edmonton and we are not always going to agree but allowing people to be a part of the decision making process is way better than what we have now. The significant difference I am going to push for is consultation at the early stages of planning. No more of presenting an idea that is already a forgone conclusion, listening to you tell us you don’t want it, then doing it anyway and calling that process “public engagement”.
We need to create an open environment for doing business in this city. Clear and common sense regulations, stable taxation, expedient permitting and licensing, are just some of the many ways we can move the bureaucracy out of the way and allow everyone the opportunity to start and run their own business if they choose to.
I will prioritize providing top notch parks and natural areas. For the environment as well as our physical and mental health we need to encourage people to get outside and be active. From access to the River Valley, properly maintained parks, multi-use paths, sports fields, single track hiking and biking, etc. we need to expand on all of those things both in the river valley and throughout the city so that everyone can participate in their outdoor activity of choice.
Public transit options should be safe, reliable and convenient. While I recognize that we need to get people into the downtown core, we also have many people who are left out of the hyper downtown focused plans of today. We need practical efficient solutions for getting people between home, work, shopping and recreation that takes into account the layout and diversity of our city. If we look towards the future of mass transit and some the really exciting things being built and developed in other parts of the world like sky pods, driverless BRT, Hyperloop, etc. We should be asking ourselves if it makes sense to be spending so much on old tech when new and better systems are just around the corner. A future city needs to be changeable and adaptable or we will just run into the same issues we have today 20 years from now.
Environmental sustainability should be a real concern to everyone. I believe we have a responsibly to the environment and future generations of Edmontonians to modernize and develop in a responsible manner that’s why I am focused on actual net outcomes rather than some of the photo op projects of today. I believe that city council and city planners should have to show actual hard data on the projects they are planning that allow people to see the actual net gain and what else was considered instead. We don’t have an endless supply of money so why are we choosing this project over that one are the types of answers people should expect from city council regarding environmental decision making.
I commit to ramping up our efforts on road repair and maintenance. Combined with my commitment to lowering barriers to entry for local contractors I believe we can secure better value for dollar than we are currently getting thereby increasing our capacity without the need to increase our budget in many cases. This is true for not only roads but for construction in general. If we expand eligibility requirements we can support small and mid-sized businesses while securing lower contracts.
I believe we need to work with the Edmonton Police Service to improve the safety and security for all if we are to achieve a welcoming, happy and livable city. We need to address crime hot spots like transit stations and do everything we can to ensure that people feel safe. We need to work collaboratively with EPS to modernize and address flaws in the current system. This needs to be a healthy partnership rather than a contentious relationship.
We have to do a meaningful job of addressing mental health. This is a momentous task and I will be the first to tell you that I do not have all the answers, but I can tell you that the societal costs of ignoring it are huge. Addiction, homelessness, suicide, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and so many more issues are taking such a massive and increasing toll on society today. We need a collaborative effort between all levels of government, social agencies, and others to take this seriously. Many of these issues are systemic and intergenerational and we need to work on the root causes simultaneously with treating symptoms. I am in no way promising that there is some magic bullet solution to these things and that they can be solved overnight. However I can promise you that these discussions will happen when considering where our priorities lie.
I want to close by thanking everyone who took the time to read this and I welcome your feedback and concerns. Likely I have missed or overlooked many things that some of you feel are important and I want to hear about those things. I want to have a conversation with you whether we agree on an issue or not. Our best opportunities for learning come from respectful dialog between people with different life experience and perspectives.