Taproot Edmonton has sent a wide ranging, 30 question survey to all council candidates in this election. See our answers (along with some expanded commentary) here.
When we talk about building an affordable city that works for all ages, stages, and wages, we cannot overlook the critical role that early learning and care plays, or, the role of municipalities as partners. This is why I have advocated and voted for wrap-around services, community schools, and voted for the inclusion of childcare facilities into new school construction (such as the replacement school in Ritchie, Escuela Mill Creek)....
From the mailbag: what has your experience serving as an elected public school trustee taught you, and how would you apply these lessons at city hall?
I’ve learned that there is no substitute for actual elected experience and navigating the tensions and pressures of elected office. (Read more about my experience here)
Serving for three terms and 11 years as elected trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board taught me valuable lessons that I will directly apply as your City Councillor. Of course, 11 years of leading a $1.3 Billion dollar organization brings enormous responsibility, along with public assurance and oversight of the budgets, buses, bylaws, and buildings that continue to steward and shepherd an organization into the future.
Governance is leadership and better process leads to better outcomes. With your support, I would bring these learnings, supplemented by experience gleaned from the University of Alberta Students' Union and Board of Governors (two years), the Edmonton Public Library Board (six years), and other non-profit and community leadership experiences.
From the Mailbag: Do you support lowering the municipal voting age to 16?
Yes I do, and in June 2017 as Public School Trustee, I voted in favour of lobbying Alberta’s municipal affairs minister to amend the Local Elections Authorities Act to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds.
At 16, you can get your drivers license, pilot a plane, or, as I did in 1999, join the army reserve, but not vote. Now more than ever, we need greater democratic participation, especially among our youngest neighbours who are inheriting the keys to the city. Around the world, when the voting age was lowered, turnout increased. Voting gives young people a greater sense of engagement and ownership of our community. Considering the low turnout in municipal elections, voting in your first election means you are more likely to vote for the rest of your life.
Scotland. Austria. Ecuador. Argentina. This is not a controversial idea in Edmonton, and City Council endorsed a recommendation from youth council five years ago in 2016 to lower the voting age, as did the Edmonton Public and Catholic School Boards. I believe in the future we will look back and see this disenfranchisement as discriminatory, and it is ripe for a challenge.
But voting is not enough. It's the bare minimum. It's one action on one day that only takes a few minutes. We need to continue to enable greater participatory democratic opportunities across the city that build power around the important issues that matter to all of us, especially young people. And it has to be meaningful.
Young people are leading in Edmonton, and we need to help move the barriers, such as arcane voting restrictions, out of their way. I've seen it first hand in my work, both as a Public School Trustee but also through my work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and youth mentoring. From climate leadership and anti-racism work to leadership in the non-profit, arts, and business sector, our future leaders are making a tremendous impact, today.
As your Councillor, as I did at the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, I would continue to strengthen greater engagement opportunities for young adults in our city, beyond the City of Edmonton Youth Council. I'm very proud of my support for City Hall School that helps generations of Grade 6 students get involved in civics in their community. I would work with my council colleagues to create new opportunities for meaningful engagement, mentorship, and community ownership.
The heat waves will only worsen with the climate emergency. We need serious adaptation and mitigation immediately and this must be a budget priority for all orders of government and organizations. Municipalities can be leaders in climate action, and that’s one reason I’m running. Join in and help us build a just, inclusive, and climate resilient Edmonton.
We need more paths for people! When I think about a #15minutecity and goals of #yegplan, I’ve always found it frustrating that the great CPR wall divides us. You have to go up to Whyte Ave or down to 63rd.
I’ll continue to fight for connections to walk/wheel safely. Many students in particular heading to Strathcona High have raised this with me as a barrier. I know it’s a frustration for west Ritchie folks too, and conversations have been taking place.
I’ve spoke with CL folks about this and because of the jurisdiction issues (CP Rail historically has dealt more with the Feds), I’ve also raised this our tenacious MP Heather McPherson. Keep up the pressure, everyone!
Unofficially... there already appear to be holes in the fence, but that’s not accessible, and the lasting solution is a safe crossing that works for children and neighbours of all ages!
#yegvote #yegcc #edmonton
We know that a dog-friendly city is a people-friendly city!
Dogs need outdoor places to run, play, and make new friends. So do their owners.
Dogs need safe streets that meet our vision zero commitment of zero fatalities or serious injuries. So do their owners.
We need to continue to get creative and reimagine flexible use of outdoor public spaces, including dog parks. We must move forward with the small and incremental improvements that dramatically increase community connection and livability, such as local parks and recreation opportunities. Many neighbourhood dog owners function as a "neighbourhood watch" and help keep an eye out for one another. The social return on investment considering the small cost is enormous.
From fenced, off leash dog parks such as Braithwaite Park in Garneau (8018 112 Street) to Charles Simmonds Park in Mckernan/Belgravia, we need to make it a priority that every neighbourhood has accessible green spaces, including dog parks. We need to continue to try new ideas such as the off leash areas in ice rinks being piloted in Greenfield and other neighbourhoods that bring neighbours together in safe, designated areas.
As your councillor, I would continue to champion public spaces that build safe, welcoming, inclusive spaces for all, including our four-legged friends.
PS: We ordered more dog bones, so reach out if you have a dog and would like a tasty treat!
When I think about exciting projects that will attract tourists, bring energy, and connect people, it's the @highlevelline: A multi-modal thread that connects Downtown and the Southside of Edmonton.
As an Edmonton Public School Trustee, I’ve been engaged in a number of conversations over the last several years about eliminating neighbourhood crime, something that I know keeps many of us up at night. I've tried to collate my best tips and tricks and welcome your suggestions that I can add to the list.
Reminder: During school hours if you ever see suspicious activity around a school, call 780-429-8000 and be connected to the EPSB Switchboard who can assist you.
Edmonton’s Chief of Police often says “the social determinants of crime are the same as the social determinants of health”. We know that when we have more poverty, folks living rough, untreated mental health challenges, and substance abuse in our city, we are going to see more crime. We know we need to address the root causes of crime and focus more on prevention. While we work as a community to make these shifts, there are plenty of things we can do to keep ourselves and our families safe from worry and build better community safety.
I want to share a few personal stories from my personal experience working with neighbours around the city. There are many quick steps we can take together to reduce neighbourhood crime.