Election 2013 candidate response: Bev Esslinger, Ward 2

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

Bev Esslinger, candidate for Ward 2
Bev Esslinger, candidate for Ward 2

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

Urban Sprawl is a complicated issue because Edmonton is part of a greater capital region. People want to purchase single family homes at an affordable price and if we don’t provide them in Edmonton they will seek out homes in the greater capital region. When you look at the environmental footprint of a new Edmonton suburban neighbourhood today you will see a much higher density mix then is presently in many of our inner core neighbourhoods. This is because of the smart growth principles incorporated in the Way We Grow. You also have inner city neighbourhoods that are need to rejuvenate so that they can be an attractive market alternative for people to consider when buying a property. So it is critical that this next City Council continue to commit to the Neighbourhood Renewal program which ensures that neighbourhoods in the inner core of Edmonton are fixed. Furthermore, Edmonton needs infill development that will excite and encourage people to consider other options then a single family home.  A great example of an infill project that will reflect these new sustainable practices is the Blatchford Development in Ward 2 which when built out fully will be the largest environmental build in Canada.   I see the Way we Grow and the Way We Move as critical documents to ensuring Edmonton integrates land use and transportation planning so that our city does not just grow out but grows within in a more sustainable way.

2. How will you support independent locally-owned businesses in Edmonton?

Edmonton is home to many independent locally-owned businesses of all kinds and their success is our success as a city.   I would want to work the business associations throughout the city to find ways to support these businesses perhaps by a mentorship program or area promotions.   We can all choose to support these businesses by choosing to use their services and purchase their products.      

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

I really like the FRESH strategy and its view to integrate it’s strategies into Edmonton life.    I see urban agriculture as valuable in Edmonton and FRESH is a great start to supporting a sustainable food strategy.    I look forward to the work of the new Food Council and am open to working on the FRESH initiatives.  In particular I support community gardens and recently attended the Communities in Bloom celebrations and saw some great examples of edible front yards.    I look forward to seeing more work in this regard throughout Edmonton.    

4. How will you address Indigenous Edmontonians’ history and needs?

Council has been working to acknowledge and honour our ancestors and traditions of the aboriginal people of Edmonton through a variety of measures including the Urban Aboriginal Accord.    I support continuing these positive relationships in a respectful manner and working together with the Indigenous people to celebrate their history and address their challenges. 

5. How do you envision the public transit system evolution?

Edmonton has been working hard to play catch up and develop a strong transit system.   Many folks can’t wait until we have developed all the proposed LRT lines.   I envision that the work with continue with the proposed LRT and the new council will need to ensure the lines are completed.  It will also be important to look at transit delivery as a whole in the city to ensure we are meeting the needs of Edmontonians which may result in changes as we move forward.   Public transportation will need to be a priority so that equitable access is available throughout the city.    We will also need to consider walking and cycling connections to our transit system so that active transportation can be used by all.   That may include bike racks on all buses and LRT trains and/or may include a public bike use system like the BIXI bikes in Montreal which are available for use by the public at transit locations.  Alternatively we may want to develop bike trails to link to transit stations to allow direct access to downtown.    

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

Education is very important and every year many come to Edmonton because of our education institutions.  As a former Edmonton Public School Trustee and Board Chair I would work with the various education institutions to find ways to support their work and ways we can work together to benefit our communities and engage their students so they will choose to work and stay in Edmonton.   A strong community includes strong education opportunities and I would work to find new and innovative ways to bring together business, education and research into our community.   

7. What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What solutions would you seek?

Infrastructure is the one consistent concern I have heard while I have talked to people throughout Ward 2.   Residents have voiced concerns about the need to prioritize core infrastructure and invest in the maintenance of our roads and neighborhood renewal.  I would work to ensure that the work of neighborhood revitalization of our neighborhoods through the Neighborhood renewal program which dedicates funds to fix neighborhood roads and sidewalks.    I believe we need to budget and plan effectively for road maintenance and snow removal.   I would work to build the LRT throughout the city and work with all levels of government to make this happen.  Specific to Ward 2, I would work to ensure the Northwest LRT line is built and reflects community input as we move forward.

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

I can be contacted through my website www.bevesslinger.ca or through email at bev@bevesslinger.ca