A year ago today I was elected to Edmonton city council. I was thrilled after working so hard for so many months to be elected with a very strong mandate from the good people of Ward 10. This mandate was built out of many years of community work, both professionally and as a volunteer, in Ward 10 and across Edmonton. This mandate was also built out of my proven track record of using and building community leadership to solve problems and to make our neighbourhoods and our city more vibrant, sustainable and fair.
This work was meaningful, for me and for those involved, and I've been committed to continuing it as City Councillor for Ward 10. We need to hear from those most affected by any issue to know what action to take on that issue.
That’s why over the last year I have consistently worked to keep listening to and working with the citizens of Ward 10 on the issues important to them.
Committed to improving infrastructure and building Edmonton
I have been proud to be part of a team at city hall that is committed to the basic infrastructure needs of our city. This ranges from much needed road rehabilitation, neighbourhood renewal, drainage upgrades and continued expansion of LRT.
I have been very grateful to work alongside Mayor Iveson and Councillor Ed Gibbons on our Capital Region Board team. We are working to build a more collaborative and forward thinking region in which Edmonton is at the centre. I have been relentlessly committed to achieving reinvestment in mature neighbourhoods through initiatives like Elevate, improvements to standards for derelict commercial buildings, and engaging in a very important discussion about residential densification and infill.
Leadership is built on good public engagement
Nothing has received more of my attention than my focus on public engagement in my Ward.
In my second month of office I hosted a promised bike lanes public meeting, where over 350 people came out. Three months later I hosted a bike lanes focus group between Administration and Ward 10 residents, providing another avenue for them to be heard and determine solutions. This spring I also invited residents to join me for a bike ride to experience the lanes together and continue to understand how they’ve affected people.
The bike lanes have been and continue to be a major issue for Ward 10 residents but it’s not the only one. In Allendale I hosted a town hall to deal with their urgent need for neighbourhood renewal and the effects of redevelopment. When the City asked for feedback on changes to infill policy, I jumped at the chance to facilitate a conversation and get a sense of how Ward 10 residents are thinking about the topic.
I've worked with the South Campus Neighbourhood Coalition and the University of Alberta to organize a full day workshop to bridge an at times icy relationship. I’ve worked with the residents of Skyrattler, over many months, to save a small neighbourhood park. We have worked with many residents in Ermineskin and the owners of Century Park to get that development back on track.
The work with the communities around Petrolia mall is also still very much alive, and I brought together the Principals and parents at Westbrook and Vernon Barford to help reduce the traffic chaos they face each school day.
I also was intentional about attending the Ward 10 community league AGMs that took place in the spring and this fall I am also hosting community dialogues in 11 neighbourhoods about our evolving infill policies. We’ve also supported the long struggle of a great group of leaders in Pleasantview to develop a traffic calming strategy and worked with communities in Blue Quill and Yellowbird to ensure a strong community voice in the development of their surplus school sites.
An engaged city is an ambitious city
Ward 10 is made up of many active and engaged communities, groups, and organizations. I’ve always thought that the strength of a City is in its voluntary sector and in our many every day political citizens. This is the sector where people are choosing to spend their time, energy, and talent – on top of all the other pulls of daily life. This is where people work on what they are most passionate about. It is strengthening and understanding this sector that drew me to lead, along with Councillor Ben Henderson, the council initiative on Public Engagement.
Council initiatives are a useful way to fast-track important issues, and public engagement is something we need to get right. We can’t keep making big decisions about our city’s future if Edmontonians don’t feel like they have a real voice in those decisions. We also can’t just reach out to one group or organization and say that we’ve heard from the community.
The initiative on Public Engagement will try to get at needed internal policy improvements, so that they are aligned with the expectations of the public and council. This is vital. My focus and energy, however, will go toward the role and leadership development of our community and over all civil society. The energy and investment a city makes toward increasing the vitality of this sector will return tangible value. When citizens and organizations have a sense of power and efficacy, their role as city builders and collaborators increase, and our city will become more vibrant, sustainable and fair as a result.
I'd like to thank all the community leaders, and constituents of Ward 10 for their engagement, and encouragement this year. Thank you also to administration, for their hard work and support.