Election 2013 questionnaire Response: Derrick Forsythe, Ward 6

[We sent your questions to all the Election 2013 candidates. We are posting their unedited responses in the order that they’re received. – Ed.] [6Sept13: Edited at the candidate’s request to correct a mistake in the 1st paragraph of the 1st answer. Original text is crossed out, replacement is in red. – Ed.]

Derrick Forsythe, candidate for Ward 6

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


Throughout Ward 6 we have significant parcels of underutilized brownfield sites. The North Edge Area from 105 – 107 Avenue between 101 and 120 Streets is a perfect example of where we can bring greater density to mature neighbourhoods. The communities of Queen Mary Park and Central McDougall did a great job of facilitating the re-zoning of the area to ensure future growth will integrate into the existing values of those communities. The vision for this area adds approximately 8,000 medium to high density residences many new medium to high density housing units that will add approximately 7-8,000 residents and supports the redevelopment of 105 Avenue into green and walkable street.

I will push to ensure that infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, public meeting places, parks) in existing communities is improved. As older communities, we’ve paid more in taxes over time. Those taxes have been used to build infrastructure in new communities, while infrastructure in many of our Ward 6 communities continues to crumble and our schools close. 

With basic infrastructure on par with new communities, our existing communities will be better able to attract new residents. 

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


My wife and I are big supporters of local, sustainable and organic and choose local businesses whenever possible.

As a city, the best way to support these locally-owned businesses is to create and maintain an economic climate that allows them to grow within a free market environment. In Ward 6 that means improving infrastructure – roadways and sidewalks – that will make getting to these businesses easier, particularly in areas that are still early in their revitalization efforts.

We also need to work with communities and the Edmonton Police Service to make those areas with higher than acceptable crime levels more secure so customers can feel comfortable walking, eating, and/or shopping in our neighbourhoods.

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


I’d work with Community Leagues and other interested groups to create community gardens on underutilized land in locations throughout the Ward. Community gardens are a great way to build relationships among people in the neighbourhood, especially new Canadians.

I am also not in favour of any proposal to sub-divide single-family homes on 50-foot lots. To do so would forever remove an important source of local food sustainability – the backyard garden.

I also admire the effort of Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton and Fruits of Sherbrooke to use food that would otherwise be wasted.

I am working with the 10 Mile Meal organizers to bring a farm-to-fork dinner to our community later this fall.

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


Canada’s Indigenous people are an important part of Edmonton’s history. That history needs to be recognized and celebrated. Improving awareness of Aboriginal culture and their contribution to Edmonton cannot be done without the guidance and leadership of our Aboriginal Elders. They hold the history of their people and are best equipped to act as the bridge that brings communities together.

I’ve been fortunate to seek advice and learn from Metis, Inuit and First Nation Elders as the Officer responsible for organizing Aboriginal Awareness Week celebrations at CFB Edmonton. I was pleased to be involved in establishing the first full-time Sweat Lodge on a Canadian military base in 2010.

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


Having an adequate public transit system is critical to Edmonton’s future growth. Extending the LRT to the edges of the city must continue within a sound fiscal framework. We also need to work with our neighbouring communities to encourage better integration to serve the needs of everyone in the Capital Region efficiently and effectively.


Many people will only take public transit if it’s convenient or if they don’t have an alternative. On this, one of the hottest days of summer, it seems distant, but we have to remember that we are a winter city. Our overall transportation strategy needs to keep that in mind while looking at how we support and integrate all types of transportation: cars, transit, cycling, walking through all seasons.

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


Unless I misunderstand what you’re getting at, I don’t really believe that this is an issue in Ward 6. We have Grant MacEwan, NorQuest, Reeves and UAlberta campuses downtown, UAlberta directly to the South and NAIT to the North. This makes Ward 6 a natural choice for students and faculty. I encourage everyone to get engaged and involved where they live.

During my time on the board of Queen Mary Park community league, we actively consulted Grant MacEwan to ensure that their long-term vision for both the university and the community were complementary. 

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


There is no “one biggest challenge” in Ward 6. The challenges are as diverse as the Ward itself. 

For communities like Boyle, McCauley and Central McDougall the challenge is the concentration of poverty via non-market housing and social agencies. This concentration is hindering the overall health, vitality and revitalization efforts in these neighbourhoods. The pause on non-market housing in these communities should remain in place. We also need better engagement with EPS to address safety and security issues identified by the communities.

The challenge for Downtown and Oliver is about building densely populated, walkable, pedestrian-friendly communities with a mix of housing options to attract a healthy, diverse community. The development of the arena district offers an opportunity to do something truly unique. However, we have to ensure that we get the mix right to foster the kind of growth we want as a city.

For those communities further west and south in the Ward, the major challenge is clearly development pressures. A new group of infill developers are seeking changes to the zoning of single family homes sitting on 50 foot lots. These changes, if allowed to go forward, will fundamentally alter the character of some of Edmonton’s most historic neighbourhoods. Until and unless communities directly affected agree to allow for the subdivision of these lots, I will not support any such changes.

Citywide, the biggest issue is community consultation. Meaningful consultation and engagement with communities at all stages of a project or initiative is vital to achieving outcomes that will be accepted and have the greatest chance for long-term success. My commitment is to change this. We need to do better.

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


I’m happy to speak to anyone who is interested in my vision for a great Ward 6 and a great city. Here’s where to learn more and how to reach me: