“We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument” - Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War.
Potholes, pooling and poor conditions - these are words that I hear on a consistent basis when residents of Ward 10, and other Edmontonians, describe their alleys to me, and I am not surprised. While we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in repairing and reconstructing our arterial roadways and our neighbourhood streets, our alleys have been left behind.
In the face of lingering economic sluggishness, both nationally and provincially, coupled with the eventual completion of many economically stimulating downtown projects, we need to ask some basic questions about the health of Edmonton’s economy over the next few years. We also need to understand where we are vulnerable, what we control at the municipal level and what actions we can take to improve our economic situation in the coming years. Therefore, understanding how we stack up in terms of being an investment friendly city and how we compare to other competitor cities in terms of new business attraction would be useful analysis for us to undertake.
Today, cycling in our city took an important step forward as Council unanimously approved a minimum-grid cycling network for our downtown core. This 7km network represents an important shift from how we used to plan and develop cycling infrastructure in Edmonton, and can be seen as significant progress moving forward.
Earlier today, an audit was released by the City Auditor’s Office that examined the City of Edmonton’s Winter Street Sand Recycling and Mixing Program. In this report, which will be discussed at next Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting, it was found that from 2005 to 2015 the City of Edmonton did not receive full value-for-money in its $37 million investment, and the intended outcomes of the program were far from achieved.
To say that I am disappointed in the results of this audit is an understatement.
Fairness for mature neighbourhoods - this is something that I always consider always when making decisions on Council.
Over the last few years, as a City, we have recognized the importance and value of investing in our mature neighbourhoods, and have made the concerted effort to renew the infrastructure in these neighbourhoods. Through programs such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Program and Drainage Renewal Program, coupled with our Flood Mitigation Strategy, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in renewing the critical pieces of infrastructure in mature neighbourhoods throughout the City.
While these efforts are appreciated and certainly warranted, we haven’t been as focused on investing in one of the most critical aspects of any mature neighbourhoods - the people and their facilities. In South Central Edmonton where many neighbourhoods , like Queen Alex and Allendale, are densifying and adding new families this investment is more urgent.
In my recent “Beautiful Edmonton” blog, I outlined some of my concerns regarding kemptness in Edmonton. Something critical in maintaining an efficient and beautiful City is how we handle our roadways and sidewalks. In recent years, the City has taken up the practice of temporarily filling in concrete sidewalk cracks with asphalt instead of concrete.
This leads to unappealing sidewalks, and a host of other issues stemming from asphalt (like unevenness and environmental concerns).Temporary asphalt filling should not be standard practice, I have received a host of concerns about the temporary filling lasting much longer than anticipated. Additionally, I am concerned with the growth of plants in between the cracks, this breaks apart the sidewalk/roadway further and is unsafe. As a City we must do better in these areas to create a beautiful and welcoming environment for all residents. We strive for a more walkable Edmonton for health, safety, and enrichment but sidewalks with foliage growing out of them or asphalt don't exactly indicate this. The real question is how do we create a better strategy to upgrade crumbling portions of sidewalks while we wait for neighbourhoods renewal that maybe two or more capital cycles down the road.
Council swung back into action on Monday. There was no shortage of excitement this week, a few of the highlights are listed below:
THE NEXT SOCCER CENTRE
At Community and Public Services Committee a motion was passed to start looking into the development of two new soccer centres in the southwest, City staff will return with a business case on prices and locations for a new soccer centre. Edmonton Indoor Soccer Centres are currently strained due to high demand, and as a City we need to meet that demand to provide opportunities for recreation for kids and adults alike. The new complex would also accommodate other indoor sports. Here is the report for the new soccer centre.
My name is Sam Goertz, I’m the President of Greenfield Community League, I work as a Summer Research Assistant for Councillor Michael Walters, I advise Junior Achievement High School groups as well as teach some Junior High classes, I have written for the Alberta Street News, Green Business Canada, and the Green Medium, I have spent the last year working full-time while living with a roommate in our own house, and I am 19 years old.
Our weather is changing. The effect that climate change is having on the frequency of extreme weather events is being felt not just by people, but in the balance sheets of our public and private sector institutions. The Parliamentary Budget Office just produced a report detailing the financial risk and likely cost for to the federal government for disaster relief in the coming years. Basically, the feds are planning for 1-2 Calgary-esque floods per year in Canada.
I think we can all agree that beauty is an essential feature of a strong and vibrant city. In our own homes, most of us hang paintings, lay out furniture purposefully, and generally keep an aura of cleanliness and beauty. We like to keep our front lawns neat and tidy for the most part, and for the green-thumbs among us, we even plant flowers, vegetables, and trees in an effort to beautify our spaces.
So why should our City be any different? More specifically, what do you want to see from your City in terms of beautification?
Transparency is one of my core values. It’s my conviction that good governance does not happen without openness and because of this I am committed to clarity and forthrightness. I believe that transparency isn’t just about publicizing information (though that is crucial) but also about public engagement, reaching out to citizens and listening to their voices. Because of this, I have made it a habit of organizing and attending public discussions and conversing regularly with constituents on a range of issues. My office also has a strong culture of transparency, responding to constituents with diligence, thoughtfulness, and respect.
Over the last two and a half years, I, along with this Council, have dealt with the topic of Park & Ride at Century Park on a number of occasions. Over the course of these discussions, many key pieces have been put in place, or have been identified, to answer the following question: given that the park and ride lease has always been temporary, as a City, what proactive measures are we taking, and what is our strategy, for when the Park & Ride at Century Park no longer exists?
As many of you are aware, Council passed the development of the Jasper Ave Emerald Tower on week. I voted in favour of the development, but it was a difficult decision. I firstly voted for the project to be referred back a few months to attempt to increase the amount of affordable housing included in the project, where there is currently only 5% included. Ultimately however these types of ambitious projects are what we need as a City and Emerald Tower will be a huge boon for our downtown core.
Happy Canada Day! I always appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the gift that living in Canada is, and this year is no different. One of my favourite parts of the day is the fraternity amongst all people, everyone is a friend on Canada Day, whether you’ve known them for 25 years or just met them while watching the fireworks.