[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?
It’s difficult to say any one issue is the “biggest” – the important issues vary from voter to voter.
However, Ward 11 faces the not-very-unique challenge of being an aging Ward. Many of the communities were built post-war through to the eighties, and that leaves many communities in a transitional stage. Infrastructure – even the residents – are aging, but it’s vitally important that both our residents and our infrastructure can age-in-place and keep our communities vibrant.
Vision Zero and transit will be huge components of this revitalization. I’m a strong believer in 8-80 cities: cities that work just as well if you’re 8 years old as if you’re 80 years old. A network of cycling infrastructure that leads to destinations (and transit connections!) as well as safe, accessible walking options will be critical. At busy intersections our curbs shouldn’t push users with wheelchairs or strollers into traffic. Our traffic infrastructure shouldn’t put vehicles first in every instance, forcing users to wait for permission to cross a street in the blistering cold. And we need to leverage the Valley Line for maximum gain, with the best possible, and well-designed neighbourhood feeder routes, because spending $1.2 Billion on a train only to squander its potential is pure waste.
Just because we’re an aging ward, doesn’t mean we have to be an outdated one.
How will you help Edmonton become a greener / more environmentally friendly city?
Environmental friendliness, in my opinion, is often a cultural choice that starts with transportation. When people are walking and cycling to their destinations, they tend to view their city in a different way. Green spaces become more in-demand. Local choices become preferred, and parking becomes less desired.
While getting a car off the road can have instant benefits in terms of sustainability, most of these changes are long-term, and benefit when they happen in the aggregate. But it STARTS with making our city accessible to all modes of transportation. Only when we improve the usability of walking, cycling and transit in our city to the point where those choices are as-good or better than driving, will we finally receive the buy-in required from residents.
Sustainable living shouldn’t be a punitive choice, it should be a choice residents are excited to make.
How will you strengthen Edmonton’s local economy and support our city’s independent, locally-owned businesses?
There’s a couple of answers here: the first is something I’ve already touched on: when we get people out of their cars, local businesses naturally see an increase. This has been a well-observed phenomenon along corridors where cycling infrastructure has been installed. When one is moving more slowly and at human scale through a city, it’s much easier for one to stop for some baked goods, a coffee, or to pick up a couple groceries.
The other component to this is more broad: enabling Startup Edmonton and other tech-incubation-type services is critical. As a software developer, watching my peers move on and start their own technological businesses in Edmonton, I’ve seen first-hand the type of benefit this can provide. Many of those I went to school with have moved to California or Vancouver for work there – and that’s a shame. If we can avoid this brain drain and keep these individuals here in Edmonton, that will be a massive competitive economic advantage for the city moving forward.
How will you make this a more inclusive city and support Edmonton’s marginalized communities?
I don’t think it’s possible to support all marginalized communities in a blanket move – we have many communities that are marginalized for different reasons and lumping them all together could, in fact, marginalize them further. Often the solutions to these problems can be complex, and difficult to solve.
However, there is one instance where the solution is clear-cut.
First off, I think we need to realize that there is still discrimination in Edmonton. We’re not immune to it here and while that can be uncomfortable to accept, it’s a first step. Once we’ve accepted that, we need to end our practice of carding. We’ve seen that carding has disproportionately affected indigenous women the most and without a clear policy on information sharing this simple act of carding an individual can make them “known” to many policing organizations and further marginalize that individual. If police suspect someone of a crime, they should use that probable cause and their full rights as officers to investigate the crime. But stopping someone on the street to record their identification and enter it into police systems without basis must stop.
How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?
Visit my website: https://tpavlek.me for details about me and frequent updates with policy, news and other information. You can sign up for the email list on there as well. I’m also on twitter: https://twitter.com/troypavlek and facebook: https://facebook.com/troypavlek.