[We sent five questions concerning green living, local economy and inclusiveness to all of the Election 2017 council candidates. We are posting their unedited responses in the order that they’re received. – Ed.]
What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What policy solutions would you seek if elected?
The biggest challenge the Ward faces is the same challenges the city faces, trying to plan for continued growth. As part of my platform I have some suggestions as to how to best address this. Here is the section from my platform:
Edmonton continues to experience significant population increases yet the population across our mature communities continues to drop. That creates challenges for our local schools and business which require a population comparable to what it was 30-40 years ago to remain viable. As the average household size has also decreased considerably, providing a wider range of housing choice similar to what we have in new communities across Edmonton is necessary to bring in new families while allowing seniors the opportunity to stay within their existing community. For example, in the community of Lewis Estates there are single family homes, single family homes on narrow lots, semi-detached/duplex housing, row housing, townhomes, single storey semi-detached/duplex housing for seniors, apartments, condos, and seniors housing (independent living, supportive living). Allowing a variety of housing options will provide choice for those who want to move into or stay within their community. To make housing more affordable in mature communities we must expand the opportunities for the ‘invisible density’ (ex: garden suits, secondary suites).
If re-elected I will support new opportunities to expand affordable housing choices that will allow someone to age within their community while continuing to refine and improve how development occurs in our neighbourhoods. I will do this by supporting secondary suites and garden suites to be permitted uses in all low density dwelling types and row housing. This will help to address the issue of affordability in our mature communities while creating opportunities for additional accessible suites for those who would like a wider range of barrier-free housing in mature communities. It is not acceptable to have seniors leaving the community they have lived in because of a lack of accessible housing just as it is unacceptable to see mature schools and local businesses close due to a lack of population.
Also, if re-elected I will support the creation of the nodes and corridor plan which will focus higher density development along arterial and collector roads with strong transit service and by major community amenities. Addressing the ‘missing middle’ of housing is how we can ensure many of the mature communities, including my home of Jasper Park, are able to have the same variety of housing that residents of many newer communities have.
As the next Council will approve the next ten-year Municipal Development Plan, a new growth target will be developed. Instead of focusing on a set percentage of infill, the target must be creating vibrant communities that have a variety of housing choice, active school/community spaces, and successful local businesses that provide products and services that support the vibrancy of the neighbourhood.
How will you help Edmonton become a greener / more environmentally friendly city?
Along with working to address the issues above which will have a huge impact on our environment, I also believe that ensuring the new Transit Strategy is put into action will help to provide viable transportation choices for people in Edmonton.
Also, it is important for the next Council to take the unanimously approved Energy Transition Strategy and proceed with many of the actions outlined in that plan.
How will you strengthen Edmonton’s local economy and support our city’s independent, locally-owned businesses?
There are many process changes that can be made to help our local economy. For example, with the ‘maker’ businesses that operate at shows across our city, we can look at reducing or eliminating fees as has been done in other jurisdictions in the region. For those local businesses that do have storefronts, we have to continue and expand city support for different programs. The Edmonton Made initiative was a great example of one way the city can help promote our local economy. Having staff and Council sit down with those in the local economy would also help to make sure new ideas are being heard and considered for implementation.
How will you make this a more inclusive city and support Edmonton’s marginalized communities?
Here is an excerpt from my platform regarding supportive housing:
If we hope to accomplish the goal of ending homelessness and poverty, we need more supportive housing so people can access the necessary resources. I believe that most people understand the need to have appropriate housing as it reduces the need for emergency services to respond to calls since people will have the essential supports on site. We have seen the success of this model in locations like Ambrose Place. Therefore, it is time to make sure supportive housing is spread across the city. Concentrating social housing in the core will not help us end homelessness or poverty so people should start thinking about what locations in their community would work best.
If re-elected, I will support the construction of supportive housing across the city. If the best location is beside where I live, I will be happy to support that. We all must work together to accomplish these goals so it is better for us to be proactive and plan for housing rather than react once something has been proposed.
Along with building more housing across the city, we need to continue the EndPoverty Edmonton work which includes the voices of all Edmontonians including those from our marginalized communities. If we don’t have a place for people to share their stories and solutions, then it will continue to be hard for Council to help make Edmonton a more inclusive city.
How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
My entire platform is available at www.andrewknack.com and using that site people can also volunteer or ask additional questions. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this survey.