[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 issue the Ward 8 faces is the lack of Council’s and administration’s accountability to the residents. We currently have a disconnect between the community’s vision for Ward 8 and both Council’s and administration’s vision. For example, the number one topic of interest I have heard from residents in my ward is the City’s development of mature neighbourhoods. Ward 8 has several mature communities that possess character and historical significance that is at risk of being lost through infill and large-scale densification development. While I believe we need to prevent urban sprawl as Edmonton grows by providing various housing options for young families in older mature neighbourhoods like the ones in Ward 8, I believe that this cannot happen at the cost of losing the rich and vibrant character that makes these neighbourhoods so appealing. As a councillor, I would seek, for example, to develop better policies that identify areas in Ward 8 that can support development while at the same time ensure new development is rooted in my Ward’s character and heritage. I would do this through engagement and discussions with developers, residents, businesses and non-profit organizations. I furthermore would seek to develop policies that ensure the public is adequately consulted prior to developments or infrastructure projects being approved so their feedback influences decisions made at the City by both Council and administration. Through my campaign, I have already demonstrated my commitment to public engagement and using public feedback to inform my decisions. I have developed a combined approach to engaging residents on key issues in Ward 8 so I can represent their interests. I have met with residents in person through door-to-door canvassing to listen to their ideas and I have taken their feedback and incorporated it into an innovative online tool, which I am using to be transparent about residents’ top priorities in Ward 8 so I can be held accountable to their vision for Ward 8. People can see their top issues in my ward by visiting electeli.ca.
How will you help Edmonton become a greener / more environmentally friendly city?
The very reason I chose to live in Ward 8 is for its beautiful environment along the river valley. Protecting and improving Edmonton’s environment is a topic with layers of complexity that will require research on best practices and discussion with citizens. Ultimately, we want to be implement an environmentally-friendly plan that meets residents’ needs and protects Edmonton’s environment for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.
Through conversations with residents in my ward, I have heard that people are concerned about the maintenance and preservation of public green spaces while Edmonton continues to grow. I’ve also heard concerns about bike lanes and public transportation and the considerable effects they will have on how we interact with our environment. I believe that we need to make sure residents are adequately informed about and consulted with on these topics as soon as possible before City administration and Council makes decisions and we need to do this in ways that move beyond the traditional open house approach for engagement. I support City administration to continue its work in improving its public engagement and, as a councillor, I will be using my own engagement tools to listen to and capture residents’ feedback on making our City greener.
How will you strengthen Edmonton’s local economy and support our city’s independent, locally-owned businesses?
The City needs to engage with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) and all networks of business leaders and stakeholders to come up with ideas to support Edmonton’s local economy and to help Edmonton grow and thrive. Based on that feedback, we need to create effective programs and initiatives that have the buy-in of the business community and that benefit both business and the local community. I think we need to encourage innovative small business owners and startups to help create new jobs and opportunities while supporting growing industries. I support start-up funding for local business but I think we could do more to help support business leaders who are busy launching their businesses. This is a topic I am passionate about as I have invested in my own small business and I am committed to strengthening Edmonton’s independent local businesses.
How will you make this a more inclusive city and support Edmonton’s marginalized communities?
I have spent years working with marginalized populations and I understand the importance of inclusion with diverse populations when making effective decisions. I believe that we need to make sure that marginalized people are effectively included as early as possible in any community engagement processs that affects them. I believe that more resources should be dedicated to ensure marginalized people are engaged in ways that work for them. We all have a part to play in creating an inclusive community. This includes engaging with marginalized people, community organizations that assist those residents, post-secondary institutions and businesses, as well finding innovative solutions to support marginalized populations.
How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
I encourage residents of Ward 8 to visit electeli.ca and let me know what they are most passionate about or appreciate in their community and city. Several thousand people have joined the conversation and I encourage others to do the same.