Election 2013 questionnaire response: Harvey Panesar, Ward 11

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

Harvey Panesar, candidate for Ward 11
Harvey Panesar, candidate for Ward 11

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


I favor both infill and responsible growth and development to newer neighbourhoods. On City Council I will support development in mature communities with clear bylaws that protect the rights and properties of existing homeowners. There is a compromise to be reached between homeowners who have lived in their neighborhoods for many years and developers who would add to those communities by building newer homes. The conflict can be reduced if we open community engagement and listen to the concerns of those who have lived in those neighbourhoods for many years, which is a strong part of my platform (which you can read at www.voteharvey.ca).

The City should not outgrow itself, for example, building communities where it would stretch our infrastructure, transit and utility dollars to the maximum while downgrading services in existing communities is not responsible growth. Responsible growth such as outlined in the Municipal Development Plan is something that I support. Responsible growth sustains, provides jobs, and grows our local economy. Not all growth is bad as long as we have a vision and that vision does not unnecessarily burden existing communities. 

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


I am a local business owner, from real estate and consulting, to sports promotion I currently have a strong passion in promoting independent locally owned businesses in Edmonton. The fortunes of Edmonton are strongly tied to those of our local business owners. If policies are in place that hurt our small business owners we see a negative impact upon our local economy, job market and future prospects. 

On City Council I will work for a reduction of red tape that unnecessarily encumbers local businesses. With technology we can streamline the system to keep records, apply for permits, payments and to get answers to questions quicker and more efficiently. Business taxes are increasing at a rate that makes it difficult for some local businesses to survive. While we must stem this tide of pushing business taxes higher we should also be more transparent and give more advance notice to local business owners of any changes in their taxes so they may properly prepare for this burden. Again by increasing consultation and local businesses voice at City Hall we can find innovative solutions together.

In surveying local business owners I have come to understand that many feel Edmonton is a great City to own small businesses due to the support of the local customer base, but there is always room for growth to allow the creativity of these business owners to shine and further their prosperity. I personally love the idea of having roof-top patios in appropriate locations and congregation points near higher density buildings; both encourage socialization and community building.

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


I will support local food and urban agriculture and the “FRESH” policy outline. Growing local helps our environment, reduces food insecurity and provides choice.

On City Council I will support zoning and incentivize projects that will help our urban agricultural landscape. There are many lands that are prime locations to build farms or to have rooftop gardens. Edmonton is blessed to have lands within the City and just slightly outside that have great soil. While door knocking I have had a chance to discuss this with many residents who are in full support of these initiatives and I will support residents in Ward 11 whenever I can to make their local good growth possible. 

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


With compassion, an open heart and humility. All Canadians should understand the history and the great contributions of Indigenous people to this land we all love. Preserving the culture of the Indigenous must remain a priority for our City. I will encourage greater engagement with the Indigenous community so they feel connected with all of Edmonton and have the opportunities they deserve. I support Aboriginal Affairs Office and the work they are doing and on City Council I will ensure Indigenous people are heard and represented.

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


I envision a City with LRT stretching to each corner, fast efficient bus and shuttle service to main hubs with dedicated bus lanes, and more bike lanes where safe and possible. 

Completing the Southeast LRT is a top priority for residents of Ward 11 but we must do more than this. Park and ride is a good idea but we also need more bus service. Bus service should be faster and more often so residents see the value of taking transit over automobile to their desired destination. This will create more jobs, help our local economy, connect the City and help seniors.

Introducing bike lanes where safe and possible will be a goal at City Council. I agree we must study this issue more and open community consultation as every community has different concerns but overall the positive impact is tangible. Bike lanes reduce environmental impact and road usage and thereby reducing maintenance costs and will lead to more active and healthy lifestyles. 

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


I am supporter of groups such as TEC Edmonton and Start Up Edmonton and a top platform initiative is to retain our top talent here in Edmonton. TEC Edmonton has been actively encouraging students to create, develop and ultimately market new products in the field of technology and their reputation of success is well known. Incubators must receive the support of this City and Province, and we can certainly help.

In terms of how to engage students with the community, I believe that students have access to one of the most beautiful and vibrant neighborhoods in Edmonton and they are such a great part of this City. We must encourage them to stay in Edmonton after graduating and we can only do this by creating opportunities in the economic and social environment.

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


Ward 11 requires an affordable living solution. That means transit must be more accessible and efficient. Seniors must feel safe and have the support and easy accessibility to the community they need. We must create beautify existing neighborhoods so we can retain our younger generation. Also, I will continue to support affordable housing to ensure that Ward 11 is a place where people of all diverse backgrounds are welcome. I want to bring new technologies from elsewhere with similar climates to fix our roads, fund the drainage upgrade, and protect the environment. All of this while being a responsible steward of the budget and being mindful that property tax increases may at times be necessary but by no means is the only answer. In 4 years time I would like the residents of Ward 11 to be proud that their community is at the forefront of innovation, renewal and a beacon of hope and optimism in Edmonton. 

One of my platform points is to create affordable living solutions for all Edmontonians. This means from transit, seniors facilities to community support.

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


Website: www.voteharvey.ca Email: hello@voteharvey.ca 

Phone: 780-436-4075 Twitter: @harveypanesar