The launch of the Mayor’s task force on Community Revitalization is a positive step in the right direction for our city, and on a personal note, has reinforced to me one of the reasons why I wanted to run for trustee in the first place. One of my biggest frustrations during the last round of school closures was the “siloization” of different jurisdictions and the lack of cooperation that might help prevent future school closures in future. Both school boards, the city, and the province have representation on this committee.
To have the city come forward in such a significant way is a major acknowledgement that we need to start treating school closures as a city-wide problem and not just a school board decision. As we know that the impacts of closure reach beyond just the parents of school age children, this is an encouraging moment to see such a diverse cross-section of representation on this Task Force.
During the election, I frequently said that we were asking the wrong question (which schools to close instead of how do we keep more schools open) It sounds like this group is working towards asking the right questions and taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach. We need to attract more families away from the new houses and back into the core where we already have existing services and amenities. Let’s be fiscally and environmentally sustainable and embrace the infrastructure we already have paid for.
Here is a link to the story: http://www.inews880.com/Channels/Reg/LocalNews/story.aspx?ID=1358953 (and photo credit too, by the way)
But how bold will this task force be able to be?
Small changes to programs or marketing won’t be enough to keep our schools open. We need transformative change when it comes to our future urban development. I hope that the committee presents comprehensive findings on revitalization that can be applied city-wide. Is the future planned sprawl of our city conducive to vibrant communities throughout the city? With the new city growth plan has Edmonton continuing to sprawl with a 3:1 ratio on new developments compared to infill in existing areas, how can we ever hope to stop school closures or revitalize mature neighbourhoods if our families are fleeing to the suburbs?
Where will our families live in 5 years? In 10 years? In 40 years?
The issues of family-friendly infill development, increasing the amount of families who live in our mature neighborhoods and initiatives designed to foster aging in the right place are just a few of the community-led pushes coming from Edmonton non-profits and community organizations. I hope this new task force consults the great work already being done in our city. I remain optimistic about the task force and look forward to the findings.