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November 20, 2017
October 20, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, October 20, 2017

More election!

Written by Jeff Samsonow

After taking a look at the municipal election here in the city, let’s take a quick spin away from Edmonton city hall to see what else might be changing after Monday’s votes. 

There are a few things which might shift at the provincial level, changing things for our next municipal votes in 2021. These include campaign donations and, a little less likely, the requirements to run for office.

After the Alberta government changed provincial election laws around campaign funding, the next logical step seemed to be municipal rules for donating to politicians. It just didn’t happen for 2017 though. 

Even though candidates could still accept money from corporations and unions, a few chose not to. Andrew Knack, Payman Parseyan, Troy Pavlek and Keren Tang were all open about the fact they only wanted donations from actual people. (Candidates could also do a self-funded campaign, up to $10,000.) 

Tang raised $20,000 this campaign, proving you don’t need corporate money to run for office. The interesting thing here for candidates like Tang is that she’ll be completely ready for a campaign in 2021 where corporate and union donations are banned. Other candidates with hefty donations from non-humans may find themselves running a very different race next time.

There are always other examples of why we don’t need big money in politics. You can almost always find a winner or two every election who was vastly outspent by an opponent, who might have even been the incumbent. That’s exactly what happened up in Ward 3, where it sounds like Dave Loken lost his seat after spending more than 10 times the amount of money as the new councillor.

The Alberta scene already has another fundraising problem to solve, but let’s hope this change also happens before the provincial term wraps in 2019.

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This might be more of an Edmonton problem, but people are definitely asking questions about raising the bar to run for office. Much like the changes to campaign funding, these rules are ultimately decided by the provincial government. 

This guy looks like he wants more serious candidates to run against.

Mayor Don Iveson doesn’t think we need to make any changes. But, then, we also have many interesting moments from the campaign to look back on when it looked like candidate Don Iveson might have been in favour of some higher hurdles for folks to file nomination papers. 

While I wouldn’t want to see the financial barrier to running increased, a larger number of signatures could make it less enticing for last-minute candidates, and those without any real interest in winning, from diluting the focus of voters. Let’s hope we at least change the rules to make candidates show up.

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While not as likely to see change, there will be increased pressure on a couple of school board issues. This year saw campaigns to both de-fund private schools and consider amalgamating our two public systems (public schools and Catholic schools). There’s an outside chance we see something happen on the private school funding before the next provincial election in 2019, but it’s doubtful we see an end to the publicly-funded Catholic system before then.

School boards are also going to see new, tougher rules around gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and other protections and accommodations for LGBTQ students. Too many school boards had weak policies in these areas, or struggled to get together any policies at all, and there are also conservative politicians talking about outing kids to their families


Regional results

I won’t go too in-depth on all of the election results from the Capital Region, but there are some things to watch for (and that other people were watching for Monday night). The Edmonton area has a whole bunch of new mayors, which can always shift regional relationships.

Before the election, Edmonton had an amicable annexation plan south of the city, and started work on a deal with St. Albert for regional transit, which could eventually set the stage for a transit system for the entire region (and might factor into the city-centric debate about where our LRT system goes next). 

There wasn’t any obvious worry about elections in Leduc changing things for Edmonton’s official annexation request to the provincial government.

There were some potential worries about the relationship with St. Albert, but the new mayor there is a great ally for regional co-operation. (Cathy Heron won a mayoral race that was more than a little acrimonious.)  

During the campaign, Don Iveson had to quash rumours from a Strathcona County mayoral candidate that Edmonton wasn’t looking to annex land from the county. It’s doubtful Iveson and the man who did become mayor in Strathcona County will start off on such a confrontational foot, but obviously there’s some fear east of Edmonton (Fort Saskatchewan is actually looking to annex county land). 

Proposed annexation land, image: City of Edmonton

While Edmonton’s annexation in Leduc appears to be moving ahead without much challenge, it will be in a fight with Beaumont, to the city’s southeast. The town annexed land from Leduc County between Beaumont and Edmonton, but the city also wants it. Edmonton used its veto at the Capital Region Board to keep Beaumont from developing on the land, and then put forward its own annexation application.

I can’t turn up anything from the new mayor of Beaumont on whether he’s going to want to fight Edmonton over the land, but The Beaumont News will likely be on top of this issue. (There are comments from some of the other candidates from election coverage, but not mayor-elect John Stewart. His election website only vaguely talks about developing the annexed land sustainably – but that could actually mean giving it up if it seems too expensive for the town to build.)

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The other thing we’ll see as the new council terms move ahead will be the actual formation of “Edmonton Global“, an economic development entity for the whole region

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If you’ve been reading Headlines here at EQ for the last month or two, you know I’m captivated by a story in St. Albert about a major fight to build a library. The city was going to build it, but people petitioned against that plan, then it ended up on the election ballot as a plebiscite question (along with similar questions of building a new ice sheet and aquatic centre). You know that people in St. Albert voted against the library. You just know they did!

The results of the plebiscite aren’t binding, so the new city council could still vote to build any, all or none of the three facilities. I suspect the library fight isn’t over. And I will be watching because HOW DO YOU NOT BUILD A LIBRARY?!


Around the city 

Good news, everyone! Edmonton is moving up and we’re getting closer to being in the middle of the pack for cities that are bad for women. One of the ways to improve the city for women, of course, is to elect more women

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Edmonton could pick up a new MLA in the 2019 election if the final report of the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission is accepted by the government. The report recommends using the province’s growing urban population to shift a few seats, but still keeping us at 87 MLAs. Edmonton would get an additional MLA, as would Calgary and the Airdrie-Cochrane area. That would mean a loss of three seats for the rest of Alberta.

Edmonton is getting four safe injection and drug consumption sites. The sites, to the north and east of downtown in the Boyle Street and McCauley neighbourhoods and the Royal Alexandra Hospital have been approved by Health Canada and announced by the Alberta government. The number of sites in fairly close proximity is something many in the neighbourhoods are pushing back against

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The next time you go to a city council meeting, you’ll be subject to new security measures. This was a decision the last city council didn’t want to actually make, pushing it back to administrative staff to decide whether or not city hall needed more security for meetings. Troy Pavlek was covering this debate pretty thoroughly back in the spring.

There’s also new security at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

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Edmonton’s Somali community is hurting after a massive bomb in Mogadishu killed hundreds of people

More government funding is being requested for LGBTQ refugees.

The new chief justice of Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench has one heck of an impressive resume. Justice Mary Moreau also has some ideas for family court that would remove it from the adversarial system, freeing up court rooms for criminal cases but also relieving some of the strife of family cases.

The Treaty 6 and Metis flags will fly permanently at MacEwan University.

The old Walterdale Bridge is starting to come down. The demolition, of course, is years overdue. 

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