Election 2017 questionnaire response: Ben Henderson, Ward 8

[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.]

Ben Henderson, candidate for Ward 8
Ben Henderson, candidate for Ward 8

What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What policy solutions would you seek if re-elected?

The largest stress on Ward 8 is the change that is coming from the desire to see more growth and development in the existing part of the city. In the long run this is vital to help deal with the growth of the city in a sustainable way and limit the amount of continued urban sprawl into current agricultural areas. But to do this we must do it in a careful way that makes sure as our communities increase in density they do so in a way that will leave us with strong healthy communities. Careless densification is just as problematic as careless sprawl. The challenge for Ward 8 is making sure we get densification right.

How will you help Edmonton become a greener / more environmentally friendly city?

The most important opportunity for us is through our new energy transition strategy which is designed to meet our green house gas reduction commitments as a city. The strategy is in place and the goals have been set, the real challenge now is in the implementation of that strategy, making the bold decisions necessary to actually allow us to meet those goals.

How will you strengthen Edmonton’s local economy and support our city’s independent, locally-owned businesses?

I believe far more stress through economic development needs to go into local business and local innovation. It is always far too attractive to imagine that our economic future depends on scoring the big play from elsewhere, but the real history of Edmonton’s success has been in getting behind local ideas and helping them grow. I have long argued that is where our economic development focus should be. It is particularly important in the current climate where the crutch of the oil and gas economy may not ever fully recover. Diversification of our economy is critical. Edmonton has a long history of innovation, risk taking, and growing our businesses locally. We must take advantage of that opportunity to ensure that our economy continues to thrive even without a full return of the oil and gas industries.

How will you make this a more inclusive city and support Edmonton’s marginalized communities?

The key issue here is to continue to push forward with our anti racism initiatives. This was one of the key recommendations of our End Poverty Edmonton strategy recently adopted and funded by Council. This is particularly important for our urban indigenous population who are significantly over represented in those living in poverty. We also need to ensure that those who are moving to our city from other countries have the support they need to make sure that they can fully and healthily participate in our City.

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