Election 2013 questionnaire response: Nita Jalkanen, 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.][14Sept13: Edited at the candidate’s request to correct a typo in the 1st paragraph of the 1st answer. Original text is crossed out, replacement is in red. – Ed.]

Nita Jalkanen, 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?

I have been researching this issue, and continue to do so.  I personally live in a mature, core neighbourhood and walk/cycle/LRT to work in the downtown core.  At the end of 2011 (latest figures I have found), we had 57 planned or developing neighbourhoods, and our absorbtion rate between 2002 and 2011 was 3,748 low-density lots per year. Our current investment assessment ratio is $5 billion in non-residential development to $20 billion in residential.  I ask, is that appropriate?  While I understand the need to build communities for continued inmigration, it also needs to make sense (be financially viable) and not place a drain on what I believe are our abilities to service our existing footprint.  I really am a “numbers” girl, and I do believe in balance.

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

I personally shop local wherever possible.  For example, I support Audrey’s Books, I shop at The Italian Centre, I am a very conscious consumer.  I can’t see that my public (elected) belief system would vary from my personal one.  How we can better support locally owned business, I need to find out.  To be honest, I have been focusing my efforts on talking to citizens on their doorsteps (every spare minute after work, on weekends), but I am just as equally committed to our vibrant, local business community — just have not had time to really connect there quite yet to learn more about their concerns and how best to serve them.


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

If we are going to talk about “vision,” then why is Edmonton not talking about securing local food and clean water supplies for the longterm future (as opposed to funding hockey arenas, for example), especially in the face of global warming?   I am a farm girl, born-and-raised, so while I am not familiar with all community or Edmonton initiatives in this specific regard, I hope it will suffice to say that this issue has my principled support.


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

I am a huge supporter of our Indigenous people.  I recently read about an approved building project which will take the place of the Terrace Building in the Edmonton River Valley, and I was excited.  In my twenties, I was going to volunteer my services to land title claims work being undertaken by the Indigenous people at that time, but I thought they would think me silly (me, blue-eyed and blond-haired), and I lacked the confidence to pursue it at that time.  Complete supporter; they were the original keepers of our land and are owed our honour and respect.

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

I am a huge believer (and user) of the LRT; it should have been built 20 years ago.  However, we must also be sensitive to vehicular traffic flow (and businesses, and residences) while doing so.  I have yet to study the City of Edmonton’s long-term plans in this regard (and their rationale for LRT vs. BRT, although my first `uneducated` thoughts do support LRT vs. BRT because it is not weather-impacted).  I would personally rather spend the money to do it right, than do it cheap or fast, as it will be with us for a long time.  We also need to catch up on this issue, as quickly as possible. 


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

Interesting question; ARE they disconnected?  I didn’t realize this was an issue.  I think I meet many of them on the doorstep, and I get the sense that they are well-engaged in Edmonton, and Edmonton’s issues.  Please tell me more.

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

At the time of writing, I have been out meeting folks in Ward 2 for almost two months now, with two months yet to go.  The primary issues I hear are:  Roads, Arena Funding Model, and City Debt (in that order).  The people in Ward 2 could have written my brochure!  There are also community-specific issues (e.g., the Charles Camsell redevelopment, concerns about the city centre airport redevelopment and how that may affect some neighbourhoods, school closures, lack of LRT).  I continue to listen and learn, absorb.  I am committed to representing Ward 2, and representing it well — and that includes pressing their issues forward.

8. How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
My website is at www.nitajalkanen.com  My email is nitaj@telus.net  My phone number is 780-909-2855 
All support is appreciated.