[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?
Tax and Zoning reform.
If you live in a condo, you are taxed at a higher rate than someone who lives in a house.
If you live in a house in Ward 6, you pay more in taxes than someone who lives in a distant suburb. And if you own a business, you are taxed at 3X the residential rate and must pay the business tax whether you make a profit or not.
This is the exact opposite of how we should be taxed.
Condo owners should pay less in tax because they share infrastructure with their neighbours. Home owners in mature neighbourhoods should pay less because their infrastructure already exists. Business owners should pay a progressive tax on profit otherwise they go out of business
Tax dollars should first be spent on maintaining and improving existing neighbourhoods.
Only afterwards should your taxes be directed towards paying for new infrastructure and services in newer, distant communities.
A city cannot prosper when its core is ignored.
Zoning reform would change how we build our city.
With Form Based Zoning we concentrate on how a development allows people to experience their environment. Sunlight, consistent building heights, wide boulevards that favor walking and biking, store fronts that draw people inside are the principal features of such a design approach. Such an approach make downtown areas much more livable. We get away from this mess of houses next to empty lots next to high rises and attract and retain people in our core.
Combine tax and zoning reform and urban sprawl stops.
2. How will you support independent locally-owned businesses in Edmonton?
Our current business tax is regressive. It is 3X the residential rate and must be paid it wether you make a profit or not.
I would replace it with a progressive tax on profit allowing small businesses the opportunity to grow.
I would also create a microfinancing corporation to help local entrepreneurs with good business ideas get started. This is particularly needed by our immigrant and first nations communities where individuals do not have established credit histories.
3. How will you support local food and urban agriculture in Edmonton?
I am big supporter of community gardens. Citizens should now that they can plant on city boulevards. I do. City green spaces should also have spaces for gardening.
Stopping urban sprawl, as detail above, will preserve our farm land and allow local farmers to produce their crops on good soil and low cost.
4. How will you address Indigenous Edmontonians’ history and needs?
I can’t. I am an outsider. What I can do is provide access for our Indigenous community to civic resources so that they can address the issues that are specific to them. This means hiring more first nations and metis individuals into positions of power within the civic administration and allowing them to work with groups outside of the administration to find ways forward.
5. How do you envision the public transit system evolution?
We still run our transit on a 19th century model. Time to enter the 21st century. LRT, BRZ between major hubs, and more frequent local bus service within communities. Active transit in the core with pedestrian only zones and bike lanes. Public transit over cars.
6. What will you do to better engage post-secondary research / students / faculty with the rest of the community?
This is not a priority for me.
7. What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What solutions would you seek?
Ward 6 is very diverse. The inner city needs employment and housing solutions.
Microfinancing, a civic apprenticeship and job training for youth, and affordable housing are what I offer.
Other areas need tax reform and attention paid to their infrastructure.
Once the tax burden if fairly distributed and revenue properly distributed the infrastructure in Ward 6 will gradually be repaired.
8. How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
Visit my website at www.transformedmonton.ca.