[We sent your questions to all the Election 2013 candidates. We are posting their unedited responses in the order that they’re received. – Ed.]
1. In the context of our City’s growth, how will you support the development of existing communities as opposed to new neighbourhoods?
Enhancing the vibrancy, resiliency and inclusivity of existing neighbourhoods is what my campaign is all about. It has also been one of my priorities as an elected Trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board over the past three years. I will work hard to ensure that we maintain and replace existing infrastructure in a timely and sustainable manner. I will strive to promote family-friendly infill that increases the density, diversity and livability of our city. I will advocate for greater local control over taxation so that we can link property tax to the cost of servicing a residence and by doing so create more incentives for people to live and thrive in existing communities.
2. How will you support independent locally-owned businesses in Edmonton?
I believe strongly in the importance of smart growth and mixed-use development. I believe that it benefits businesses and residents alike to have services in close proximity to customers/clients. In particular, I believe that independent, locally-owned businesses will benefit from the deeper connection that proximity to customers can afford. I am passionate about personally supporting independent locally-owned businesses and I believe that City Councillors and other civic leaders can set the tone and influence the culture of our city by frequenting and personally promoting such businesses. I see independent locally-owned businesses as core to the health of our Edmonton economy and culture. They have the capacity to be incredibly responsive to the needs and desires of residents.
3. How will you support local food and urban agriculture in Edmonton?
Increasing access to local healthy food is one of the priorities I have listed in my campaign vision. I have worked hard, and will continue to work hard to preserve and make viable the farm land in and around Edmonton. I will also continue to support other forms of local food production such as community gardens and guerilla gardening on unused city land. I believe that we should set a goal of eliminating community garden wait lists and put the resources in place to make this goal a reality. I also believe the City needs to listen carefully to the local farming community and ensure that our actions are enabling them to make a living by providing food to our residents. We need to enhance food security in our city in a variety of ways including eliminating food deserts and ensuring that low income residents have access to healthy local food as well.
4. How will you address Indigenous Edmontonians’ history and needs?
The rights of Indigenous Edmontonians is a topic that is close to my heart because of my ancestral connections to both Indigenous women and Scottish fur traders who resided in Fort Edmonton when it was first established. I am passionate about human rights and have worked hard on this front as an Edmonton Public School Board Trustee. I believe that City Council must honour and advocate for the rights established in Treaty 6, and must go beyond that to ensure that we achieve equality for all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Edmonton. We need to continue the important work of Racism Free Edmonton, recognize that our Indigenous people are currently discriminated against in many ways, and work hard to remedy this dilemma. We need to listen to the voices of our Indigenous residents, understand their histories, respect their intellect, and support their initiatives to meet the needs of Indigenous people in Edmonton.
5. How do you envision the public transit system evolution?
I will work hard to achieve a more robust public transit system in Edmonton. In my vision posted on my website I have responded to this question directly: I value publicly funded and operated transit, well integrated transit stations, and a wide variety of transit options. I believe we can improve our air quality, lessen traffic congestion, and foster independence for seniors and people of all ages and abilities by building streets to accommodate personal vehicles as well as pedestrians, cyclists, busses, streetcars and the LRT.
6. What will you do to better engage post-secondary research / students / faculty with the rest of the community?
Some of the most actively engaged residents I know are post-secondary researchers, students and faculty. I have seen them engage in a wide variety of activities that are connected to the community off-campus. I have marched with them to advocate for sexual and gender minority rights, I have fundraised with them for AIDS orphans in Zambia, I have learned from them about political advocacy, I have studied with them and grown in my understanding of humanity and the world in which we live. However, there is always room for improvement and I believe that post-secondary researchers, students and faculty could be encouraged to make more of their knowledge public by communicating in a wide variety of ways (not just through academic journals). For example, after completing my Master’s thesis on foreign involvement in community run schools in Zambia, I tried to share what I had learned through public speaking opportunities and with volunteers in my Management role for the Racecourse Community School Fundraising Initiative. City Council could promote innovative ideas like ‘Living Libraries’ to help post-secondary researchers, students and faculty connect better with the city as a whole.
7. What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What solutions would you seek?
I believe that Councillors excel when they are responsive to the ideas and concerns of their constituents. Ward 6 is a very diverse community as a whole, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity in attempting to be responsive to the needs of our neighbours. I believe that diversity is key to building healthy communities and in order to achieve this within Ward 6 neighbourhoods, we will need to tailor our solutions to the challenges each neighbourhood is facing. For example, in Glenora, we need more affordable housing for seniors, in Oliver and Downtown, we need more child-friendly housing, in Riverdale and Rossdale, we need more services and businesses, in Boyle and McCauley we need more stability. This is just to name a few of the unique challenges that neighbourhoods within Ward 6 are facing. I have heard these concerns at the doorsteps and I will work hard to promote and enhance the various initiatives that have already begun to address many of these challenges. I also will take a leadership role to initiate action to support a diverse array of needs and increase diversity whenever it would benefit the residents and communities in Ward 6.
8. How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
Office: Westmount Fitness Club, 12840 109 Ave (Launch Aug 24th)
Office Hours: Wednesdays 3-5:30pm, beginning Aug 28
D’electable dinner fundraiser on September 28th featuring Elm Café food – details found at www.heathermackenzie.org
There is a lot of information on my website including my entire vision statement, my bio, campaign videos, endorsements, and sign up forms for volunteering/lawn sign requests but I am always happy to correspond by e-mail or phone as well.
Respectfully submitted by,