Election 2017 questionnaire response: Matthew Kleywegt, Ward 7

[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.]

Matthew Kleywegt, Ward 7 Candidate
Matthew Kleywegt, candidate for Ward 7

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

The biggest challenge facing Ward 7 is development. The system currently in place makes it cheaper, easier and faster to build on the fields surrounding Edmonton than in the Mature City. In the green fields the city works to vet contractors. These “Class A” contractors can get a permit in as little as 48 hours. In ward 7 getting a permit will take even the finest contractor 80 to 120 days. That lost time costs a lot of money. In addition to this in-city developers are often saddled with the cost of installing new water mains, fire hydrants, paving back alleys and pouring new side walks. These are significant disincentives to building in Ward 7 and this is why so many lots remain vacant. Unless you build a monster skinny home it’s hard to make any money. If we are serious about in-fill and re-fill in our city we need to work with developers to make this possible. We need a process to vet good in-city developers like we do in the country. We need to work with contractors to help them get their permits. Finally we should pay for the water mains and the back alley paving. The increased property tax revenue will more than cover the cost of this.

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

The largest environmental impact of Edmonton is its built form. We need to halt our urban sprawl. We continue to expropriate prime farm land to produce developments that cannot be reasonably serviced by public transit. These car dependant developments are ever more wasteful the farther from the core they get. They are also not economically viable as the services they require cost the city much more than the city will receive in property tax. A car is a very convenient thing but the city shouldn’t require you to own one to function. We need to provide other options. We need better public transit, a better network for bicycle traffic and finally more vibrant walkable local neighbourhoods.

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

I will work to improve the service provided by the city to small business. I want to see the city getting permits cleared faster and activity working to help small business get on their feet. Opening a business is quite a risk, the least the city can do is help a new business with the red tape. The new city charter will soon allow the city to charge increased property taxes to buildings that are left vacant. I will strongly support this to encourage landlords to give a new business a place to set up shop.

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

I will listen. I will to work to acknowledge the mistakes we have made in the past and move forward from a place of respect. I will support Edmonton’s marginalised communities by actively seeking their input in how Edmonton can improve its services and environments to better serve everyone. I will work to remove the barriers in the names or designs or workings of this city that prevent some from enjoying the full benefits of citizenship in our city.

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