Each day, it is an honour and a privilege to be able to come to City Hall and represent you on Edmonton’s City Council. Being a part of the transformation that Edmonton has gone through in the last few years, as well as playing a leadership role in shaping Edmonton’s future, is an opportunity I am grateful to have.
Additionally, I am fortunate that in this role, I get to work with a number of talented community leaders whose vision and passion for our City fuels me on a daily basis. Specifically, I would like to make note, and thank all of the Community League Presidents, as well as their respective Boards, for the countless hours of leadership they have given to their communities. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know each one of them, and I look forward to continuing our work together.
COUNCIL’S CHALLENGES AND SUCCESSES
It is no secret that the City has seen its fair share of challenges. In particular, much has been said about the lack of oversight and mismanagement of some of our major capital projects, in particular, the big three - the Walterdale Bridge, the Metro Line and the 102 Avenue bridge.
As a City, we need to continuously ask ourselves where we can improve, how can we be more efficient, and how can we serve the citizens of Edmonton better. But even more important is ensuring we have a culture of transparency, good financial management and accountability. We need to ensure that all areas of business that the City is involved in, are scrutinized and given the proper oversight. We’ve hired a new City Manager and with council’s support she has rebuilt our Corporate leadership team in order to deliver the best results to our citizens.
While some projects have certainly been challenging, and have had their fair share of management issues, it is also important to note that of the 98 capital projects with a value of over $20 million that are currently under construction throughout Edmonton, 85% of these projects are on time or ahead of schedule, and 98% are within or under budget.
The City has also seen its fair share of good news stories: our downtown has come alive with the opening of Rogers Place and the subsequent development surrounding it; shovels are in the ground at Blatchford, which is a community that is set to be world leading in its environmental efforts; and we all await the results of our first deep City program and cost of service review since the 1990’s.
ISSUES IN OUR COMMUNITY
SAFER STREETS NEAR OUR SCHOOLS
The safety of our children going to and coming home from school has been a huge priority for me and for our Council. In 2014, I hosted a School Traffic Safety Summit for schools in the Ward, and have worked with many schools councils and parents to make traffic safety improvements around schools for our children and families. Council also adopted 30 Km/hr speed limits near schools and have prioritized windrow removal from roads adjacent to schools in the winter.
INVESTING IN DRAINAGE
Residential property flooding has been a big issue in Ward 10. I have been a loud advocate for increased investment in critical drainage system upgrades. This year alone, as part of our Drainage Capacity Implementation Program, $186 million has been invested in our drainage system. This investment will continue to increase on an annual basis, and by 2025, this investment will reach $288 million per year. In total, from 2016 to 2025, over $2 billion will be invested expanding and renewing this critical piece of infrastructure. Much of this investment has been, and will continue to be, used for upgrades and renewal to the drainage system throughout Ward 10.
Since being elected I have been championing a smarter bike lane strategy. As you may have noticed, the lanes along 40th Avenue and 106th Street have been removed. They will be replaced with safer multi use trails that do not mix with traffic. This was far and away the number one issue raised while door knocking last election. I have take this issue very seriously. We need to do better for cyclists and for communities. A new cycling network plan downtown represents a significant shift from our bike lanes of old, and represents an awareness on Council that if we, as a City, are to truly begin increasing ridership in Edmonton, we must focus on creating infrastructure that is of high quality, separated from traffic and starts in the Centre of the city where demand is greatest.
REPAIRING OUR ROADWAYS
Between 2015-2018, roughly $1 billion will be invested in renewing our roadways; $613 million of this investment is earmarked for for neighbourhood renewal projects throughout Edmonton. Since 2015, roughly $26.2 million has been invested in 23 roadway projects throughout Ward 10, and an additional $68 million is expected to be invested in 27 roadways projects by the end of 2018. Of this nearly $95 million investment, roughly half has, and will continue to be, invested in renewing arterial roadways like Gateway Boulevard, 51 Avenue, 119/122 Street, Whitemud Drive on/off ramps, while the other half will be invested directly into reconstructing a number of neighbourhoods throughout the Ward.
Neighbourhoods are selected for full reconstruction through our Risk-based Infrastructure Management System (RIMS), which is a tool that simulates asset deterioration over time by completing various renewal and rehabilitation scenarios that weighs the benefits and disadvantages of investing in one project against other potential renewal projects throughout Edmonton.
CENTURY PARK SOLUTIONS
One of the most challenging issues on my desk when I was elected was preparing for the end of the park & ride lease at Century Park. The Century Park- park and ride is the most sought after in the city and the lease with the owner expires at the end of 2019. I am working proactively working the developer there to resume building the Transit Oriented Community long planned for, as well as providing a parking solution to help meet the demand that exists. Additionally improving express bus service and building the Heritage Valley Park and Ride for people who live South of the Anthony Henday are other solutions actively being worked on.
A PLAN FOR ALLEYS
The majority of the neighbourhoods throughout Ward 10 have an extensive network of alleys. Many of these alleys have fallen into disrepair. In fact, 63.7% of the alleys in Ward 10 received a failing grade during the last city-wide inspection, which is almost double the city-wide average of 37.4% of alleys receiving a failing grade. In March of last year, Council asked Administration to provide options for a program to address alley renewal and rehabilitation, and in early November, Council approved a funding strategy and overall program design that will allow us to begin the major renewal and reconstruction of alleys city-wide. I can assure you that I will be advocating for Ward 10 to receive a significant portion of this investment as our alleys, on average, are some of the worst in the city.
SNOW CLEARING EFFICIENCIES
There can be up to 20% turnover in City snow plow operators annually. This creates inefficiencies and many routes are cleared multiple times- unnecessarily. This winter, Roadway Operations is starting a new pilot project for a GPS tracking system. GPS technology is being installed on five plows in the Southwest. The system will deliver live data on the which routes have been completed. The dispatch centre will then look at the routes taken and optimize those routes to reduce costs through less fuel consumption, staff time, and wear on equipment. This pilot is a result of a motion that I made in early 2015, where I asked how we, as a City, can find efficiencies in our snow clearing practices by focusing on innovation and reducing duplication.
PLANNING FOR SMARTER GROWTH
The City of Edmonton and its surrounding region remains one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, even in these less than favourable economic conditions. Since 2009, the City of Edmonton alone has grown by over 117 000. By 2044 we expect to be home to 1.5 million people. With this tremendous growth comes incredible opportunities. At the same time, with this level of growth that we have recently been experiencing, also comes some pretty serious challenges.
The City has shown leadership and is building a city that not only grows out but now grows up and in. We have continued to support significant new development downtown and have worked hard to attract new growth along transit lines and LRT stations. We have worked hard with communities and home builders to improve and increase residential infill in mature neighborhoods through smarter zoning regulations, better construction practices, a commitment to preservation of mature trees and a new and improved Mature Neighbourhood Overlay. Most importantly we have worked hard in the Edmonton Metro Region to create new rules committing all municipalities that surround us to smarter growth as well.
As your Councillor, I have been fortunate enough to represent the City of Edmonton on a variety of committees locally and regionally that aim to embrace smarter growth and financial sustainability for Edmonton through smarter long term planning.
MY VALUES - MY APPROACH
I come to work every day with a strong commitment to listening to community voices and ensuring I have strong relationships with community leaders and constituents. I am committed to open and transparent governance and work hard to ensure that when council is making decisions that affect you- you are informed and have every opportunity to provide your input.
I have made hundreds of decisions since being elected your Councillor and I have approached each decision with a keen sense of preparedness and I always seek out sound evidence to support my decisions.
I am passionate about a well run city, engaged citizens and creating vibrant neighborhoods. I am committed to working in partnership with other orders of government, the not for profit sector and the business community to make Edmonton a more prosperous place for all citizens and to ensure that we are collectively focused on leaving a stronger environmental legacy for future generations.