Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Edmonton civic election 2010 thoughts

With the closure of the City Centre Airport supposedly off the campaign trail (nice to have that out of the way, eh, Mayor Mandel?), the usual list of non-contentious civic issues are what each candidate for mayor and councillor are bringing forward, although many are still clambering to keep the issue alive.

Now that council has voted on closing the airport, it's too bad this issue wasn't at the true forefront, because whether it went to referendum, I believe it would have invigorated a usual tuned-out electorate to bring voter turnout (26% last election?) to maybe above 35%.  (But will the new 12 ward system help increase voter turnout and have candidates focus on local community issues more?  I hope so.)

Also, does anyone find it odd that there are still pro-International Airport TV ads on the air?  I thought the issue was settled (by council)?

So the standard issues are LRT expansion, infrastructure, crime, downtown revitalization, affordable housing, community development, and others.  Of course, people are talking about the new hockey arena district but I don't get the sense there will be an exodus to the polls on this issue by any means.  Same with extended bar hours, one issue I've taken on in this blog.

But the vibe I am hearing and seeing more this election is Edmontonians are feeling like they do not have a voice on council, that they are not being heard.  Many candidates are trumpeting that they are "your voice".  Citizens are seeing potholes galore and reduced services, while taxes continue to climb.

I'll add more on my thoughts on downtown Edmonton in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, as far as who I'm supporting and considering, it looks a little like this, although I'm not fully convinced yet:


  • David Dorward -- David has lived here his whole life, has his whole family here, and has been strongly involved on the business and community side of the city.  He is the only serious contender to beat Mayor Mandel.  Despite what some believe, I know for a fact that the Envision Edmonton group is not sharing its list of petitioners with the campaign. They can't so they aren't.  Anyway, I agree with most of Dorward's policies.

Councillor Ward 6 (most of downtown):

  • Brian Kapitza -- His simple website also has a lot of well-thought out ideas on issues and on his top ten list, he makes a jab at Jane Batty which almost totally won me over.  His lawn signs are the most basic I have ever seen in my life but I remember them for that reason. Interestingly enough, he hasn't printed a huge lot of signs like many do, but placed the few he has in strategic locations. I'm thinking this guy is pretty smart and frugal and is somewhere between a Liberal and a Conservative.
  • James Johnson -- I can tell that his website looks a lot like federal Conservative candidates' so I know which team he's on.  He's still a student, so it's obvious he's taking a kick at the can and getting some campaign practice before he really gives it a go.  But I gotta tell ya, I agree with each of his policy points 100%, especially on no Stony Plain Road LRT.
  • Cris Basualdo -- She's definitely put a lot of time into trying to revitalize 118 (Alberta) Avenue, but she makes no mention of taxes on her website.  I think she's somewhere between a Liberal and a Dipper.
And if I was in Ward 11, I'd be going door-to-door with Kerry Diotte.  If anyone knows city council and how it doesn't work, it's Kerry.  City council DOES need some common sense.  This will be a tight race.

Public School Trustee:
  • I don't have a frickin' clue.

So there you have it... for now.  But before I publish this post, here are the issues I care about:
  • City Centre Airport -- I know, I know.  It's a dead issue right?  Many cities have multiple airports to serve different needs.  I think we need even more service to that airport.  While I don't think we should have large commercial jets landing, the passenger size for aircraft should be increased, so that Calgary-bound Dash 8's could run and allow private companies to haul more oil and gas workers to Ft. Mac.  There is too much infrastructure already in place and dependent businesses that it sickens me that city council makes a decision without listening to its citizens.
  • Property Taxes -- They will always go up unless council puts its foot down on the City Manger to look for efficiencies, savings, and preventing managers from empire building within (I've seen it firsthand).  Citizens want value for their tax dollar.
  • Infrastructure -- This past year seemed to be the biggest construction season yet and hopefully the Henday ring road will be done before 2017, so in the near future, we can also concentrate on having no stops to downtown from the International airport, which will involve building a tunnel from Gateway Blvd. at Sask. Drive toward replacing the Walterdale bridge.  Will the 23rd Avenue interchange ever get completed?  I also believe it's smart to go into debt to pay for these things as costs only go up years down the road, plus it literally helps move the economy through the city.
  • Bar Hours -- I don't think we should have any.  It's been proven that in cities with loose bar hours, that less incidences occur (see below cities).  Not only that, at 2:00am, currently it's difficult to get a cab and stretching the closing exodus will alleviate that. Which brings me to the next four items...
  • Cabs -- New York, Chicago, and Vegas cabbies are the best.  Even if they're recent immigrants, they know their city, and they know YOUR city too.  Not only that, but they're way cheaper.  We need more competition and to do that, we need to loosen the pricing regulation, allow way more cabs, but ensure cabbies are well qualified.
  • Policing -- The EPS are some of the finest in the world and we need more of them walking the beat.  I called for this many years ago after the Canada Day riot on Whyte Ave and the cameras there proved they don't work while actual beat cops have dramatically turned the tide. 
  • LRT -- I'm a proponent of trying to use existing abandoned rail corridors which exist throughout the city which saves on cost and doesn't tie up traffic.  One being the old line off 105 Ave to 125 Street, which could continue North as well as veer off to where there is actual room to put LRT, 107th Avenue.  To see my conceptual LRT design in Google Maps, click here.  It's really too bad we didn't expand many years ago. 
  • Downtown development -- It's coming along and I've seen the plans the city has, which are impressive.  People are moving here. It's affordable. 104 Street is a small sample of how the rest of downtown can be... accessible, small retail, funky, and fun.  Adding more park space, not just on a corner, but the park strip they plan along just north of 100th avenue are excellent.
I welcome my readers to a good debate on these issues.

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