Election 2013 questionnaire response: David Dodge, Ward 3

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

David Dodge, candidate for Ward 3

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

Smart, sensible, sustainable growth in the north end and the city as a whole is a priority for me. Through my work with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues we have worked a great deal on the idea of preserving mature neighbourhoods and avoiding the abandonment of billions of dollars worth of existing facilities such as schools, transportation, transit, playgrounds, parks, rinks, community halls and other facilities. In fact we call this our Living Local campaign. 

Kids are an indicator species of a great neighborhood and we need to build more housing that families can afford. We need creative and adaptive planning that ensures we don’t strip these neighbourhoods of their future potential. A smart strategy ensures that older communities remain viable and the new communities we’ve committed to are built more sustainably from the beginning.

Building out the LRT network is a critical piece of the puzzle and we need to continue to plan, design and develop mass transit systems that work for Edmonton. Alongside that we need to stick to our plan for high quality transit oriented design around our planned LRT routes.

The Blatchford Field development is an opportunity to showcase some of Edmonton’s amazing architects, planners and builders as well as a chance to build a livable, sustainable community that works in our northern climate.

The work of groups like the Infill Design Association of Edmonton should be commended as should developers, communities, builders and residents who are breaking new ground to build new urban forms that are progressive and desirable to live in.

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

By promoting them, working with them, shopping at them and helping them. From local coffee shops to homebuilders we have some serious over achievers in Edmonton and we must celebrate, support and encourage them in ways that make sense.

While at the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues we developed the overarching concept of living local to guide our goals and input on all sorts of urban development from recreation facilities to supporting local businesses and providing local options for living, buying and having fun.

To live local we must have the essentials built into every neighbourhood and that includes public facilities, businesses and safe and comfortable ways of walking and travelling to each. We can do more to work with community organizations and businesses to help citizens celebrate and embrace local businesses.

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

I am curious to watch the progress of the newly struck food council. Edmonton would seem to be behind most major municipalities in regards to policies that support local food. Other cities have figured out how to embrace urban beekeeping and other good ideas.

The demand for this policy change is there, head to any of the farmer’s markets that have sprung up all around the city. The Terwillegar community tested the idea of a farmer’s market and lo and behold it was a monster hit. If you subscribe to the concept of living local it soon becomes clear that we need more local opportunities to experience local food, buy local food and enjoy good community market experiences.

I will work towards a stronger local food system.

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

First off, I should point out that am not of First Nations descent and that the story of Edmonton’s indigenous community will be written by Edmonton’s indigenous people.

With that being said the Spirit of Edmonton project proposed by Lewis Cardinal and the Indigenous People’s Arts and Culture Coalition in Edmonton’s river valley looks very promising. 

Recognizing and including the indigenous presence that is within Edmonton and specifically the river valley is incredibly important to all of us. The Edmonton area has a rich human history and has been important to many peoples for a long, long time. It’s a sign of our maturity that we embrace and celebrate all of our stories.

Working with and listening to Edmonton many indigenous groups is important. By keeping my eye out for and not missing opportunities to support fantastic and creative ideas that work we can make a difference.

The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues cultural outreach program was immensely successful and supported by First Nations people and groups, but suffered from limited funding. What I learned is there is incredible potential for genuine engagement.

By connecting peoples good things will happen. And finding ways to support Lewis Cardinal’s Spirit of Edmonton project is a good place to start.

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

It’s a real shame Edmonton took such an extended break after the Commonwealth Games in 1978 from building out its mass transit system. Now, we’re playing catch up and the costs are much higher.

Building the LRT Valley line to Millwoods is a priority and the remaining money needs to be found as soon as possible. Ideally, the upcoming Big City Charter will help provide Edmonton and Calgary with more flexible financial tools to finance needed projects like public transit.

In Ward 3 we are anticipating the LRT Metro Line, but much work is required to secure a viable funding arrangement.

Edmonton’s future as a city that works is tied to the success of this next round of LRT construction. Public transit is not just about getting people from Point A to Point B, it’s about developing neighborhoods and building a stronger city.

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

By working to build a better, more livable city.

In the past I have found that the trick is to marry research that really needs to be done with the pragmatic, practical needs of the city and it’s communities. It can be done, but it requires a special effort on behalf of researchers to engage and a special effort from the city and or community to appreciate the value of the research. When researchers help people understand the significance of their work and apply it in ways that help solve everyday problems you have a win-win.

I am very open to the potential for creative engagement with post secondary students and researchers.

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

Ward 3 is frequently left behind when it comes to things like the LRT and arts, cultural or recreational facilities. We need to create innovative partnerships between the City, corporations, communities and other non-profits to build new and innovative vibrant projects and spaces.

North Edmonton is misunderstood and bursting with potential. We stand ready to work on new alliances and partnerships to celebrate innovation and lead.

I personally stand ready for this challenge. I was elected as the first district B representative for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (there are 156 community leagues in Edmonton) in a decade and as president we led the development of many city-wide programs including: a new modern licence to operate on parkland for community leagues, a new solar energy program for community leagues, a new city-wide Community League Day event that includes the participation of more than 100 leagues each fall.

In Ward 3 we want in, but rather than storming the corridors of City Hall with protest signs we will create a bigger vision for the northside and work on it with all Edmontonians.

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

Check out my website, it’s all there at DavidDodge.ca – you can check out my policies, read my blog and see what I’m up to on a regular basis.

I’d also recommend you like my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/electdaviddodge and follow my Twitter account http://twitter.com/daviddodgeyeg