Good decisions are rooted in good policy and good policy is built on a foundation of meaningful public engagement. In my first term on council nothing has received more of my attention than my focus on improving public engagement in Ward 10.
As some of you may already know, Edmonton’s bus routes will be going through city-wide changes next week. After many months of research and route studies, the City will be paring back certain bus routes and reallocating “bus hours” from low ridership routes to high ridership ones.
I ran for City Council because I wanted to be a part of a team committed to building a great city. Because of this, I was a big supporter of an ambitious 2015-2018 Capital Budget. However, it is no secret that the City has seen its fair share of construction challenges. In particular, there have been concerns over a perceived lack of oversight and mismanagement of some of our major capital projects, in particular, the Walterdale Bridge, Metro Line, and 102nd Avenue bridge. There are also local examples too; drainage project gone awry in Greenfield lead to repeated attempts to fix a road properly. This is not okay.
We have been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ this year for dandelions. This is due to a combination of stretched City resources trying to cover a rapidly growing city with more developed land, ample sunshine, and generous rain, which is doubly potent as it helps dandelion growth and hinders mowing. As a result, dandelions have grown at a rate of ½ inch per day versus the standard of ⅛ inch per day.
Historic and Huge
Yesterday Council unanimously approved the Century Park redevelopment plans that would see the now largely unused site and parking lot transformed into a vibrant, dense, urban village. The President of Ermineskin Community League called the plan "historic and huge". After years of hard work on the Century Park file I am proud of the community league, the plan and the opportunities it will provide our city and residents.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am a passionate backer of the Petrolia strip mall in Greenfield. In 2012, before I earned my spot on council, I started the Fix Petrolia Mall Committee with some neighbours. I remain just as committed today as I was then to ensuring the mall’s growth into a vibrant community hub. While development hasn’t always been as quick as I would have hoped, we have come a long way since 2012 and that is cause for celebration.
I was so sick I couldn’t go to school the next day. How could Steve Smith have done that? How did Fuhr not see it in time to lift his pad? I laid home in my bed. I was 14 years old. I was devastated. I played the goal over and over in my head. It was a terrible day for me and for the city I so badly wanted to live in.
I grew up in Drayton Valley, a smallish oilfield town, with my eyes and my future aimed squarely at Edmonton. My first glimpse of love for the city was as a fan of their football team. I still remember the great CBC montages of the five Eskimo Grey Cups spanning the late 70’s and early 80’s, with Waddell Smith, the great wide receiver, running away from the defense waving behind him as Kenny Loggins’ emotionally charged song Key Largo played over the images of dominance.
In 2009, Edmonton became, and still is today, the only city in Canada that has a program geared towards developing a long-term, cost-effective approach to fixing neighbourhood roads, sidewalks, and lights. At today’s Council meeting, we further solidified this commitment by approving a policy that protects the dedicated funds in the Neighbourhood Renewal Reserve, ensuring that this program can continue to build on its success.
Garden suites can help to increase the vitality of mature neighbourhoods by preserving original and heritage homes and attracting new people. It is a sensitive way to add another layer to the fabric of existing neighbourhoods. But there's more to garden suites than just adding residential density and using existing land more wisely in a growing city. There are many positive benefits to this form of housing, such as; supporting flexible living options, providing affordable options for renters and helping homeowners offset mortgage costs. For those who wish to live near extended family, garden suites can be custom built for elderly with accessibility in mind while ensuring everyone has their own space. These smaller living spaces support social, economic and environmental diversity in mature neighbourhoods, with minimal impact on the existing streetscape or house.
At Council this week, Council voted in favour of spending $20 million over the next 25 years on the Alley Renewal Program. This aggressive approach will allow for a faster pace when repaving alleys that have earned a failing grade of "F." Property owners would see an increase by 0.1 percent over four years, which for the average homeowner amounts to adding about $4 more to the tax bill each year. To learn more, the report can be found here.
The title of this post was carefully chosen to reflect my strong disapproval of the Alldritt tower proposal. Quite frankly, I feel that it is out of scale with the river valley and out of sync with the Quarters' ARP. Additionally, I felt that the decision-making process was out of line with, what I consider to be, good governance. To further clarify my stance on the proposal, I've included my closing comments from yesterday's Public Hearing, below:
Capital Infrastructure Management Framework
At yesterday’s Council, Council passed a new policy - Capital Infrastructure Management Framework. The report outlines a draft policy approach to governing the management of capital projects. This approach relies on the implementation of the Project Development and Delivery Model to provide better information to make investment decisions and to provide improved information on project schedule and budget.
I supported the transfer of our city drainage system to EPCOR today. The motion to transfer passed 7- 6.
I also stated very clearly that now is the time for City Council to become a more engaged representative of the shareholders of EPCOR. The citizens of Edmonton are the shareholder. City Council as the shareholders representative must expect more engagement with citizens, a deeper commitment to innovation and renewable energy and leadership on environmental stewardship and climate change adaptation (read more about that topic here).
I’ve provided the facts and details behind the proposal from EPCOR in a previous blog, which can you can read here.
On April 4, City Council approved a new Public Engagement Policy, which marks an important step forward on public engagement for Edmontonians. Its goal is to re-define the relationship citizens have with their municipal government.
This policy and strategy raises the bar on transparency, accountability and leadership in our city for our citizens.
For many seniors, the question of housing can be a difficult one. It can be hard to contemplate giving up independence, but living independently can lead to social isolation. The answers to these questions have to be decided by seniors and their families on a case by case basis. For between 4,700 - 12,000 Edmonton seniors, their sexuality adds another layer of complexity to housing decisions.