Election 2013 questionnaire response: Dave Colburn, Ward 7

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

Dave Colburn, candidate for Ward 7

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


Sprawl has become a reality in Edmonton. One simply has to visit the extremities of our City to understand how explosive growth has been in recent years. This “sprawl” has dramatically increased our reliance on the automobile, created more congestion, more pollution and, something I am acutely aware of, increased pressures on School Boards to close inner city schools suffering from declining enrolments. The pace of growth has also resulted in school districts not being able to meet the needs of new communities for schools. Recently opened new schools in the suburbs are already full to capacity. 

It is time to change how the City manages growth. As a Councilor I will deliver persistent and reasoned arguments about the need to revitalize mature communities, not build new ones. It is time to take advantage of significant undeveloped space within the City and prioritize development of existing communities. It is time to leverage existing infrastructure, not build new infrastructure. We need Councilors who have the courage to say no to new development. We need more balanced growth. We have not seen this from the current Council.

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


Business Revitalization Zones (BRZs) have been a positive promotion of local businesses. The city should do more to support BRZs. Matching dollars or increased financial incentives would result in expansion of BRZs. City supported “Buy Local” promotions would be a good way of exposing people to the value of buying local. As a Councilor I will meet regularly with local business associations to understand their issues and determine how I, as an individual Councilor, and City Council, can best support their needs. I would be supportive of creating tax incentives to encourage the establishment of local businesses. 

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


Demand for locally grown produce at Farmers Markets and community garden space is increasing. Community Gardens are an excellent way to connect people and local food production. I support expansion of this program. Farmers markets are wonderful opportunities to support local food production. The City must encourage expansion of this initiative. As a means of exposing children to the process of growing food, I would encourage the City to reach out to School Boards and engage students in discussions about food production and the value of establishing family gardens. I will support, as a Councilor, access to space and land for growing food and new urban growing methods. I will work to engage our Public and post secondary institutions in these discussions.

While the Fresh report was a good start in identifying the importance of food and agriculture in the development of a prosperous and healthy food economy, it ignored repeated requests by the public to prioritize protecting prime agricultural land. This omission was particularly evident in Council’s recent decision to approve development of the Horse Hills sector of land. This decision failed to protect prime agricultural land. 

Our fertile, local farmlands are not simply an important link in local food production, they are a legacy for future generations and a resource too valuable to squander. We must have a Council that will reflect public values and protect prime agricultural land. We must be tireless in finding solutions that will respect individual property rights and commit to preserving our agricultural heritage. We must commit to recognizing and preserving agricultural land as an irreplaceable natural resource for future generations. 

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


The relationship between this country and our Indigenous Peoples has been the most shameful chapter of Canadian history. Mistrust, broken promises and marginalization of First Nations Peoples have characterized this relationship. The Aboriginal nation is the founding nation of this country. We have much to learn from traditional Aboriginal values. In the words of John Ralston Saul, we will never be a complete nation until we address our Aboriginal heritage. 

As a Trustee, I have shared these views often and will continue to speak to the importance of honoring Indigenous Peoples. The Aboriginal community must have ownership of solutions to improve quality of life. The City must regularly engage Elders and continually respect the traditions and protocols of First Nations Peoples. As a Councilor, I will meet regularly with Aboriginal citizens and leaders to hear their stories and encourage their voice in determining how we can best support the growing numbers of Indigenous Peoples residing in Edmonton. 

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


I am a very strong supporter of bikeable and walkable communities. While I support additional bike lanes throughout the City, recent experience has told me that the City must do a better job of engaging communities to determine the best routes for bike lane expansion.

LRT expansion is the cornerstone of future transportation initiatives. Operating and maintaining the LRT must be under local control, not a P3 partnership. Given the current level of City debt ($2.7 billion), the pace of expanding the LRT must reflect what the City can afford. It is unfortunate that past Councils have not been more active in systematically expanding LRT service. Four new LRT routes in the next 25 years is a costly undertaking. LRT stations must be accessible. I support express rapid transit busses that will move people efficiently from central locations to LRT stations. I support Transit Oriented Development in the vicinity of LRT stations that will increase use and efficiency of rapid transit in Edmonton. 

A thorough analysis of transportation in the City should be undertaken. This must involve authentic public engagement asking questions like “where are we at today” and “where do we want to go” with transportation in Edmonton. We must lessen our dependence on the automobile. Solutions must be found that respect the use of cars but recognize the impact of automobiles on road integrity and the environment. 

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


As someone who has worked in the field of education, as an elected official for nine years, I recognize the importance of research. Research creates data; data informs policy and decision making. Better policy and better decisions will create a better world.

The University of Alberta is a center of research. I have worked with the School of Public Health, a center for health research, and the Community University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Families, both within the University of Alberta. The latter organization clearly does research in areas that directly impact the well being of families and children in Edmonton. In addition to principal investigators leading research projects, post graduate students play a vital role in supporting research. My experience and current working relationships with these organizations will yield extensive opportunities for research; opportunities that I look forward to pursuing as a Councilor. 

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


Having represented much of Ward 7 as a School Board Trustee over the past 9 years, and done much door knocking over the past few months, I have heard many, many views about the issues of Ward 7. It’s hard to pinpoint one issue above all others but after much reflection I would say the greatest challenge is a crisis in confidence in City Council. Constituents have talked to me repeatedly about increased taxes, long ignored infrastructure needs, out of control spending at City Hall, an arena deal that an overwhelming number of Ward 7 residents do not support, a Council that supports sprawl, not development of mature communities, and a Council that seems more focused on big picture ideas not ordinary citizens living in mature neighborhoods. Ward 7 is looking for significant change at City Hall.

I intend to be a Councilor that will bring different values to the table. These values will respect the views and issues of Ward 7. I intend to bring persistent arguments that taxpayers and residents of mature communities have concerns that are not being addressed. We need to change our growth management strategy, protect agricultural land, control debt in Edmonton and prioritize revitalization of mature communities. 

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


I have been populating, over time, my web site with issues. There will be more to come in the next few weeks. In addition, this web site includes extensive information about my work as a Trustee, personal background information, my values and many references. Please visit: www.davecolburn.ca I can be contacted via email @ info@davecolburn.ca or phone @780-474-0243. 

I welcome supporters and volunteers and look forward to conversations about how we can create a better Edmonton and address the needs of Ward 7 residents. Being accessible and responsive to constituents is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an elected official.