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October 22, 2017
October 6, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, October 6, 2017

Mystery solved?

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton’s election has many important questions for us to tackle, we do need to plan how our city will keep growing after all. But the mayor’s race is a bit of a dud with no strong candidate to challenge incumbent Don Iveson who is likely going to cruise to victory on October 16. So, it’s no surprise a pair of candidates doing things a bit differently have captured everyone’s attention this week.

There’s just one question everyone has now: Who is Henry Mak?

Mak is running for mayor. That much is factual. It’s also fair to say Mak has kept a VERY low profile during the campaign. Nobody could tell you what he looks like. He hasn’t done media interviews, his photo isn’t on his campaign website and he has skipped both mayoral forums.

When his “official agent” showed up in his place to the second mayoral forum Edmonton Twitter had a lot of questions. So did members of the media. And, yet, the closest we’ve got to answers is that Henry Mak is probably not the same person as the agent who showed up at the forum (George Lam, who is running for school board, actually), Mak is probably a real person, and he’s likely appeared in brief moments during various election events. But we still don’t know what he looks like.

I suspect until we see Lam and Mak in the same room at the same time, the strange case of Edmonton’s mysterious mayoral candidate remains open.

Update: Looks like this thing has been solved by Nancy Drew Paula Simons after all.

Since we’re talking about Edmonton’s mayoral race, CBC Edmonton has a screenshot that I think best captures Don Iveson’s feelings on the whole campaign.

It’ll be over soon, Don. image: CBC Edmonton

Outside of Edmonton, there are lots of good mayoral races to watch. Strathcona County has a powerhouse lineup with the current and a former mayor running, a former councillor/MLA in the mix, and a recent federal candidate on the ballot too. This one could have a big finish. Strathcona County’s election, obviously, has effects on Edmonton. But maybe more so if the former mayor I mentioned wins. She’s talking a lot about an annexation that doesn’t exist, but it could still whip up some fear and anxiety.

St. Albert also has quite the race for mayor, after incumbent Nolan Crouse stepped aside. Two current councillors and a former one are running, and it’s been a bit acrimonious.

Beaumont is also getting a new mayor, and that’s important because of land between Edmonton and the town that both municipalities want to annex from Leduc County.

image: Edmonton Elections

It’s too bad there’s not a little more official heft behind the school board races, since Edmonton’s two public boards have a lot of big decisions of their own to make. But there was a forum for candidates running in the Edmonton Catholic School District, and this recap should give you some idea of who’s who in that race and some of the issues.

Much like their Catholic counterparts, candidates running for trustee of the Edmonton Public School Board now have some short videos uploaded. Again, this might be your best chance to hear from the candidates in your ward (except if you’re in Ward B with acclaimed trustee Michelle Draper).

Let’s keep this forum ball rolling! The last four of Edmonton’s ward forums have all happened between the last Headlines post and today.

Ward 9 is an open race, with no incumbent councillor, so it’s one to watch. Uncontrolled growth of the ward is a big topic, especially as it relates to transportation. (The likely-mayor has already pledged to help build out some roads and connections.)

Ward 10 candidates got into a little bit of everything of interest to people in that southeast area. Same thing in Ward 11, where a half-dozen challengers are taking on the incumbent and there are a few more sparks flying.

I’m sure people in Ward 12 are just happy to have five candidates to hear from this election, after a record-setting byelection nearly two years ago when 32 people ran for councillor. (None of the challengers from that race returned to campaign against the incumbent this time.)

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It’s rare a councillor spends just one term at city hall without being knocked out in their second election. Our most recent one-termer is sharing some more of his thoughts before a new council is elected. Not too surprisingly, Michael Oshry is talking about his hopes for more business-like efficiency at the City and a more business-friendly Edmonton.

Edmonton Elections has been doing some outreach, trying to teach more people about our electoral system and drum up interest in the October vote. You can actually vote now, in advance polls that run through the long weekend and all of next week.

Look at all that election news up there! It’s too much to keep on top of for more than a day or two. That’s why we put together a lot of the most important links and places for you to get election information, stories and find out more about your candidates. We’re calling it “Everything about the Edmonton election.”


Around the city

Edmonton’s hockey porkchop, Rogers Arena. photo: EQ

CBC Edmonton is the latest to spend some time downtown and find a neighbourhood with clear divisions. It’s not a secret that Edmonton’s downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods are home to many homeless and vulnerable residents. What the new story gets into is the question about who the glitzy, expensive entertainment-driven downtown is for. It doesn’t sound like it’s for homeless and vulnerable Edmontonians with quotes like this:

So he doesn’t belong over here with these good people.”

The reference by an EPS office about “good people” reminds me of another take on the revitalized downtown. Graham Hicks at Postmedia Edmonton (the Journal, Sun, Examiner) talked about how great it was to see the arena and some of the new businesses finally bring “normal people” downtown.

The class divides of downtown are obvious.

A couple of weeks back, a pair of University of Alberta researchers talked to CBC Edmonton about what they’ve been seeing downtown as they study the effect of the arena district and gentrification (this was ahead of the new story linked above).

The MacDonald Lofts. Former affordable housing. photo: Martyshuk Housing

Downtown is a tale of two neighbourhoods. The new, growing entertainment district and condos are part one downtown. The other includes people who were already living downtown now being pushed out and pushed aside, whether we mean literally with some people in homeless communities or less obviously with people who can’t afford the new, exciting and shiny lifestyle (like those living in the MacDonald Lofts).

For businesses too it’s a tale of two neighbourhoods. New businesses are opening, many aimed at event nights, while others struggle to find their place as community businesses for people living downtown or adjusting to nightlife.

Edmonton’s downtown is still in the midst of new growth, so the story isn’t done yet (as the U of A researches say more eloquently than I do).  The next city council might need to get moving on new plans for homelessness and poverty though, because pushing people out of one neighbourhood does nothing to improve life for all Edmontonians.

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While there is plenty of praise for how Edmonton Police handled a man’s violent rampage on the weekend, there are also questions about whether or not a high-speed chase should have continued through the busy downtown. We probably won’t have anything near good answers to how things were handled until we get to a trial of the man accused in the attacks and we can see more of exactly what happened.

The Alberta government is ahead of the pack when it comes to potential rules for legal marijauna (it’s the second province to unveil a framework). One of the biggest questions will be where marijuana is sold. While Alberta is pondering selling in government stores, it could be too much work to get such a system in place without a public liquor system to leverage (like all other provinces have). You have the next couple of weeks to let the provincial government know your thoughts.

Does Edmonton need a mid-size stadium? We do have a pro soccer team that does pretty well, crowd-wise, at Clarke Park, but there is growing pressure to build something bigger.

Free concerts, lots of western Canadian musicians and bringing a little excitement to the post-summer festival season. Up+Dt is a pretty solid addition to Edmonton’s cultural scene (happening this long weekend).

If you need a place to grab turkey for Thanksgiving, you can check out the large, and free, dinner in Millbourne/Leefield. It’s an annual tradition that’s just getting bigger each year.

This post was updated Friday, October 6, 2017

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