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October 22, 2017
October 11, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We've got issues

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

You know, when we put together our “Everything about the Edmonton election post it felt like we weren’t going to need to do a Headlines with all kinds of election stories all at once.

It’s too much, I said. The election post will point people where they need to go, I thought.

But, here I am at midnight poring over story after story and deciding, yeah, it IS a good idea to try and capture the entire election in one Headlines post. We’re doing this thing, Edmonton!

The school boards have seemingly bookended the election with top stories, so let’s start there. They also don’t get a lot of coverage, if only because there aren’t forums for all of the candidates, so it’s good to see what’s happening there.

Protecting students seem to be the biggest issue of the school board races, especially on the public side. It’s sort of come out as the election continued that candidates who stand up for LGBTQ students and keeping schools from outing kids to their parents are being targeted by conservative groups

Obviously if these issues of human rights are important to you, you’ll need to figure out who to vote for. SOS Alberta has a pretty handy list with candidates who have pledged their support for LGBTQ2S+ students and GSAs.

Over in the Catholic School District, these issues are, of course, just as important. But things really started off with a bang in that election with a series of allegations and bombshells from outgoing trustee Patricia Grell. Her post raises a lot of questions you may want to consider if you’re voting for a Catholic school trustee.

Hey, why can’t we vote for both school boards? They’re both publicly funded!

Digging through stories from the last few weeks, transportation seems to be the issue that’s come up the most. Or, to be fair, the issue that’s been covered the most in Edmonton news. This one has hit on all forms of getting around. Driving. Transit. LRT. Bike lanes. Walking. Yup, it’s all in there.

Ohh, speed limits even snuck in at the last minute thanks to likely-mayor Don Iveson. (Remember that we called the election for him before all other media outlets.)

The biggest issues are, of course, Edmonton’s expanding LRT system and bike lanes. I mean, I don’t get why bike lanes are such a big issue since they cost just about nothing to build compared to roads and make traveling safer for everyone, but… well, you know how we feel about people hating on this stuff, so I digress.

But the LRT expansion planned for west Edmonton did become a bit of an issue for candidates in Ward 5 and 1, (more of the line will run through Ward 1). Candidates all around the city were questioning the LRT plans though, which makes for some nervous moments when we consider how close we are to actually building the line and how far back it would set us if plans were scrapped by a new council

Another big issue was down in Ward 9, which is struggling with booming growth that the City just hasn’t planned for properly. While we may soon see a northwest vs. southwest fight about future BRT or LRT, right now people are talking about more interchanges to help reduce traffic jams. I shall refrain from going on about induced demand too much here.

Housing is another city-wide issue, with a few issues coming up during the campaign. 

Infill!

Yes, infill, the much-needed densification of mature neighbourhoods by way of (mostly) multi-unit homes has been talked about across Edmonton this election. While some people, and possibly some candidates, would have all infill stop dead, a lot more of the discussion has been about the pace of redevelopment, what it could look like in different neighbourhoods and how to fix problems we’ve had with construction and consultation

Edmonton’s growth isn’t going to slow any time soon, so we have to keep filling in our older neighbourhoods. How the next city council does that is obviously going to be watched very closely. Oh, and also if they can make infill housing affordable for more people. 

Speaking of affordable housing… the last city council had to admit Edmonton’s 10-year-plan to end homelessness wasn’t going to happen and drew up a new one. It still needs a huge influx of cash from other levels of governments, but our growing affordability problems, and homelessness, are problems that aren’t going away and came up frequently in some wards. Another issue will be making sure affordable housing, and some supportive housing, is spread out around Edmonton.

All of this relates to land, of which we always seem to have some vacant and derelict stuff laying around. There should be some new tools from the Alberta government to help tax vacant land into something, and this is important for many parts of Edmonton.

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The core stuff

How could we have an election without talking about snow clearing, or potholes? We couldn’t, that’s how.

Also on the agenda for the next city council, a couple of major projects in the Blatchford neighbourhood that’s supposed to start moving people in next year (is that still right?) and the Northlands problem. It took two council terms (three?) to remember we had a second arena this whole time, and that’s a major redevelopment that’s got implications for decades to come

Somehow, taxes didn’t make big splashes this election. Sure, people complained about them, but that’s what you’re supposed to do about taxes. 

The economy did come up a little, mostly from Don Iveson’s campaign, but the question of how to diversify and grow Edmonton was put to each of the candidates

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Other stuff to note

For a city of reconciliation, our relationship with Indigenous people did not seem to come up very often in this election. Police carding did get into the debate at a couple of the forums, but it was not a big topic city-wide. Two candidates of colour had their campaigns targeted as well. Edmonton only had one councillor of colour last term, so perhaps these issues will get more attention if that changes October 16

A few other issues got some coverage, including Edmonton’s arts community trying to keep on the radar of candidates and public safety up in Ward 3. (And I’m sure I’m missing a few odds and ends too…) 

One of the things to watch on Monday will be if we can elect more than one woman to city council. That was embarrassing for four years, so let’s do better on Monday, OK?

The lack of a strong challenger for Don Iveson (UNDERSTATEMENT) had more than a few folks asking if we should we raise the bar to run for council and school board. I’m on board with this idea. More signatures but not more money to run, to encourage people with platforms and ideas (and some support) to get into the race. 

Interesting question from city hall reporter Elise Stolte to have candidates pick one thing they think they could actually get done in a council term. (Fighting with all the other councillors doesn’t count.)

You can vote right now, you know. Advance polls are open until Friday night. (Sorry, no drive-thru voting this election.) 

I’m going to point you at our “Everything about the Edmonton election” post again. All of those stories up there☝️ are going to be linked through that 👉 as are links for your candidates and their social media, and some of the surveys that many candidates have answered. If this post today is an attempt at covering everything in the election, that other one is truly everything.

And I’ll leave you with a bit of colour from this election and ask why, Don Koziak, why


Around the city

You know what? If you made it all the way through all those election stories, you deserve a break. Here’s a nice story about Route 99 becoming the diner from Riverdale on Friday. Go get a milkshake! 

photo: Netflix


Public engagement

This is pretty much it. Unless a candidate comes to your door before Monday, these are the last chances to hear from them outside of social media. 

Wednesday

We’ve had quite the mixed bag from the mayoral forums this election – ridiculous claims! threats! mystery candidates! So you know it’s worth tuning in for Mayoral Forum 3 tonight, which runs 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Centre. This is the last of the official forums, which are all recorded and uploaded

Also Wednesday night, there are forums in Ward 4, 7 p.m. at the McLeod Community League, and Ward 6 (which also includes school board candidates), at the North Glenora Community League.

Thursday

The Green Drinks crew is hosting a special election event this week. Yes, there will be beer! You can also hear from some real smart folks at this one. Green Drinks runs 7 – 10 p.m. at Yellowhead Brewery.

Ward 7 folks have one more chance to hear from their city council candidates, 7 – 9 p.m. at the Highlands Golf club.

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