Election 2013 questionnaire response: Amarjeet Sohi, Ward 12

[We sent your questions to all the Election 2013 candidates. We are posting their unedited responses in the order that they’re received. – Ed.] 

Amarjeet Sohi, incumbent candidate for Ward 12
Amarjeet Sohi, incumbent candidate for Ward 12

In the context of our City’s growth, how will you support the development of existing communities as opposed to new neighbourhoods?


I am a strong proponent of infill development, along with balanced, more dense and contiguous development in the suburban neigbhourhoods. I supported the Municipal Development Plan that calls for 25% of new housing units to be built in mature neighbourhoods.

I have supported the amendments to the Zoning Bylaw to implement residential infill guidelines and to allow subdivision of 50-foot lots. I believe these changes are a step in the right direction to encourage building low-scale, single-family housing and a smart way to increase population density while respecting the historic character of mature neighbourhoods. 

I want us to build a compact and sustainable city, revitalizing mature neighbourhoods, optimizing the use of existing infrastructure, amenities, and services, and providing diverse and affordable housing options.

I fully support the Blatchford development at City Centre Airport lands. It will be a model of how a city can tap into infill opportunities and create a world-class, cutting edge, net-zero, environmentally sustainable, mixed-use community. 

Unfortunately, some residents in mature neighborhoods resist these changes. We need to engage communities in a more effective way to increase understanding of the benefits of infill. 

The Neighborhood Renewal Program is proving itself as a way to fix deteriorating roads, streetlights, sewers and water pipes to make mature neighbourhoods more livable. 

How will you support and promote independent locally-owned businesses in Edmonton?


Locally owned businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create jobs and economic prosperity. The vast majority of the city’s work is done by local businesses, but provincial and federal trade laws create challenges we need to work to change. I advocated for Sustainable and Ethical Purchasing policies and will continue to push the City’s Material Management department to engage local businesses making them aware of opportunities to do business with the City. I promote local purchasing for City meetings and events. 

I believe BRZs and facade improvement programs are valuable. For example, improvements along 118 Avenue and Stony Plain Road are helping to revitalize those areas, creating opportunities for local businesses to grow.

I support Start-Up Edmonton and TEC Edmonton, which act as incubators for new, innovative ideas and technologies and provide support to emerging entrepreneurs, and Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council, that works with employers to ensure fuller use of the education and skills of immigrants, with all the economic benefits that flow from that. 

How will you support local food and urban agriculture in Edmonton?


Community gardens and farmers markets build the success of local food enterprises. I supported opening City Hall for the downtown farmers market during winter. We need to increase awareness though education of the value of local food production in relation to health, and reducing expensive pollution-causing transportation. We should look at zoning issues that discourage the use of empty lots for growing food and encourage more backyard gardens. 

I support “Fresh” City’s food strategy. We need to maintain good communications with those in Edmonton who are active in making good agricultural use of rich soil in the area and to be engaged regionally so that with surrounding municipalities we are making the best possible decisions to support meeting the food needs of Edmonton as nearby as possible, through production, processing, and marketing.

How will you address Indigenous Edmontonians’ history and needs?


I always acknowledge this history in my speeches. We need to be creating ways to make this history more visible and recognized in the city. But the current realities with Edmonton rapidly becoming the municipality with the greatest percentage of Indigenous people in the country means we must be working to ensure the success of this part of our community in every way, including housing, community services, educational opportunities, employment opportunities and health services. It has been a priority for me over the last six years to engage with and learn from this community. I have a collaborative relationship with our Aboriginal community leaders and support the Aboriginal Affairs Office and Accord. The new Spirit of Edmonton project is laying the groundwork for some exciting and potentially important new developments in Edmonton that will honour and celebrate our Indigenous history and provide a place where Indigenous Edmontonians will be able to move forward making significant contributions that benefit all of us. Racism is everyday reality for many members of Aboriginal community. I have been providing leadership through Racism Free Edmonton to deal with this issue for the past six years.

How do you envision the public transit system evolution?


Accessible and affordable transportation is essential if we are to ensure people have the ability to make choices to live where they want in Edmonton and participate in the life of their chosen communities. In putting this goal into action, the top priority is to secure the balance of the funding needed to see the SE LRT built as soon as possible. This project is ready to go now if the needed funding would come from other orders of government.

There needs to be a continuing development of further LRT expansion so we do not let the planning and design work stop and lose momentum. Other aspects of public transportation that use new technologies and equipment, and understanding of how to provide public transportation to all parts of the city at the times it is needed requires attention too.

Public transportation issues need to be fully integrated with all planning and development work from the beginning, rather than added on in a catch-up way later. 

What will you do to better engage post-secondary research / students / faculty with the rest of the community?


Education is a tremendous resource in the world today. Edmonton has a diversity of post-secondary institutions offering a wide range of world-class and innovative programs. City Council needs to advocate to province to ensure that adequate funding of this aspect of our city is a critical investment in the future. We need to be active in looking for opportunities to collaborate and cooperate in new ways that benefit the institutions and the larger city. There are many areas in which Edmonton can be an international leader in research and education, including natural resource development and new green technologies. And we need to support Edmonton continuing to be the important centre for many aspects of health care that it has become.

Councillor candidates: What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What solutions would you seek?


The completion of the South East LRT expansion is essential for the future of Ward 12 and southeast Edmonton. The remainder of the necessary funding must be secured from other orders of government and construction started as quickly as possible. 

Ward 12 is a mix of older and brand new neighbourhoods. We need to ensure good integration of transportation and land-use planning so new communities are environmentally green and sustainable and at the same time new life is injected into mature neighbourhoods. 

Ward 12 reflects the growing diversity of the city and there is much to do to ensure we have welcoming and inclusive communities, with recreational and cultural facilities and opportunities available for everyone, created and developed with the participation of those who will be using them. 

We must develop a long term, sustainable funding strategy to repair and maintain our arterial roads. Local communities are not livable when people have to deal with deteriorating roads but in the past few years we have been trying to catch up after these needs were neglected too long.

How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?


Issue sheets on a number of key issues, as well as my regular blogs as a City Councillor over recent months, are available at my website atwww.amarjeetsohi.com. Questions or concerns are welcome by either emailing amarjeetsohi2013@gmail.com or calling 780-271-3000. And people are welcome to visit the campaign office at 115-9303-34 Avenue. I also welcome people to stay in contact and communicate with the campaign at our Facebook sits (www.facebook.com/amarjeet.sohi) or on Twitter at @VoteSohi or @SohiAmarjeet. We welcome people who would like to get involved with canvas work to meet voters, or with a range of jobs in the campaign office.

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  1. Pingback: Edmonton Election 2013: Update #7 - MasterMaq's Blog

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