[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.]
Keren Tang, candidate for Ward 11
What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What policy solutions would you seek if elected?
I’ve hosted a series of listening parties with local residents to understand people’s concerns and ideas for improving our communities (see the results on my campaign blog: http://www.kerentang.ca/what_we_heard_ward_11_listening_parties) and I continue to ask residents for their perspectives. The major issues that emerge are often very polarizing. We want to maintain the charm of our neighbourhoods and affordable city growth with sustainable tax rates. Yet, we do not want to see the sprawl continue so dramatically. We want a resilient and diversified economy with good jobs that attract talents to our city; yet we are divided on how we feel about critical infrastructure, such as the LRT, that may make our city more attractive to retain these talents. Trying to meet all of these needs in an ever-growing city is challenging, if not nearly impossible. And this, I believe, is the biggest challenge facing our Ward and the rest of the city.
Resolving these competing interests requires: engaged citizens who can articulate the kind of city we want, a greater understanding of our changing demographics, and a stronger relationship and trust between communities and the City. I will bring experience and understanding of community engagement to City Council in order to shift our approach in city building from “public consultation” to “community partnership” and facilitate a stronger culture of collaboration.
How will you help Edmonton become a greener / more environmentally friendly city?
Healthy environment is one of five pillars supporting my platform (http://www.kerentang.ca/platform). Edmonton is a green city, quite literally. The North Saskatchewan River Valley system, including Ward 11’s Mill Creek Ravine, is the largest urban park in Canada. It’s essential to the character and health of our city, and we have a responsibility to maintain and protect it.
Edmonton is increasingly a green city in the figurative sense, too. We’re a leader in waste management, water treatment, and conservation. In 2016, Edmonton City Council signed on to join the international Biophilic Cities Network with other players such as Singapore, Austin, and Portland. To keep up the title, there’s still room for improvement. I’m committed to: supporting access to healthy green spaces, ensuring balanced development that does not come at the expense of green and natural areas, improving transit and active transportation options in Ward 11, and reducing the city’s energy consumption.
How will you strengthen Edmonton’s local economy and support our city’s independent, locally-owned businesses?
We’re lucky to live in a city with a strong, growing local economy. It’s what has attracted so many of us here in the first place. For generations, people have been moving to Edmonton for the jobs, and putting down roots because they’ve fallen in love with the city. To ensure the continuing economic health of our city, we need to keep attracting new Edmontonians and giving them reasons to stay.
To do so, we need to maintain and upgrade our aging infrastructure, create affordable housing options, encourage entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, offer quality services, and make responsible spending decisions. Specifically, I look to to streamline City permit processes so that they empower entrepreneurs and cultivate new job opportunities. If we encourage businesses to develop and thrive in Ward 11, people will have more opportunities to work close to home, promoting sustainability in the long run. These solutions are part of the Local Economy pillar of my platform (http://www.kerentang.ca/platform).
How will you make this a more inclusive city and support Edmonton’s marginalized communities?
My experiences working with ethno-cultural and Indigenous communities in Edmonton and more widely in North America have shaped my approach to promoting diversity and inclusion, and supporting and engaging with our most marginalized communities. Both of these are reflected in the Diversity and Inclusion, and Engagement and Transparency pillars of my platform (http://www.kerentang.ca/platform). As President of the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition, and a recent immigrant myself, I know that safe, healthy communities benefit everyone.
Located on Treaty Six land, Edmonton has the second largest urban Indigenous population in Canada. Our communities have been shaped by our combined history and the unique experiences of our neighbours from around the world. I believe we should celebrate our broad ethnic and cultural diversity. However, our multicultural history comes with a legacy of discrimination and the City needs to take a leadership role against racism. I want to see greater diversity of representation in civic committees and an intentional effort to reach out to those who face barriers to participation.
Moreover, I am aware of the challenges faced by women and the LGBTQ community. Edmonton is ranked one of the worst cities in Canada for women’s equality, and while there have been some recent improvements, significant work remains to be done. I am committed to fighting discrimination.
How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
I welcome anyone with an interest to contact me and my campaign team. I have taken a position of not accepting corporate or union donation in this election, so my campaign relies heavily upon volunteers and grassroots promotion.
To get in touch:
Check out my website www.kerentang.ca to learn more about the campaign