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Guest Columnist
Daryl_bonar

Bonar announces his candidacy for mayor of the City of Edmonton
Friday July 30, 2010
Daryl Bonar

Bio Intro: Daryl Patrick Bonar, 31, lives in northeast Edmonton and works as a Community Relations Officer with the Canadian Forces. He has been a member of the Canadian Forces since 1998. Bonar is a founding member of “Da Bom Squad”, which is a program for at-risk youth. The program is a combined effort between the Edmonton Police Service, Boys and Girls Club of Edmonton, The Family Centre, The United Way of the Capital Region and the Neighbourhood Empowerment Teams. He is married with two young children.

On May 17, 2010, Bonar announced his candidacy for mayor of the City of Edmonton in the Oct. 18 municipal election. In this column, Daryl Bonar explains why he is a candidate and what he would do if elected as mayor.

When I announced my candidacy for the mayor of Edmonton in the upcoming October municipal election, I anticipated that people would ask, ‘Isn’t he too young and inexperienced for this office?’

I can tell you that one of the city’s earliest mayors, William Griesbach, was elected to office in 1906 at the age of 28. In fact, he still holds the record of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history. We both share similar backgrounds. We started from humble beginnings, served Canada through the armed forces, and are linked by being actively involved in our communities. I believe that we both share the same attitude of being good public servants.

Which raises another issue: why am I not running as a city councilor? The unfortunate fact is many Edmontonians are unsure which ward they live in and which city councilor represents them. It’s hard to lead when no one really knows you’re there. I believe this is one of the causes for low voter turnout in previous municipal elections. At the same time, I feel there is a lack of accessibility to these elected offices and it is hindering good public discussion and debate. I believe democracy cannot only be served at the ballot box during an election year. Edmonton’s citizens should have impact on a daily basis with how this city operates. I believe the mayor’s position should set the standard in making city government more accessible, and therefore more transparent and accountable to its constituents.

Much of my platform is focused on creating a higher level of community involvement. One of the ways I hope to achieve this is to open up offices in all 12 wards across the city. They would be operated by volunteer community representatives from all 150 plus neighbourhoods. These community representatives would engage concerned citizens, and meet with the mayor and city council every month to give feedback.

This type of organization can also be applied to the business community and ethnic communities. For example, there can be representatives from each business zone who would speak with council bi-monthly, and there can be representatives from various ethnic communities who would host quarterly forums with city government. I consider this design “community leadership from the front” because elected leaders would actively seek and accept advice directly from constituents at guaranteed regular intervals.
As a father of two young children, I want my neighbourhood to be a safe place for them to grow up. That’s why crime prevention and safety is an important focus in my platform. I propose that the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) budget be increased by $40 million over a three-to-four year period. I pledge to recruit 250 more constables – which would be over and above the current strength of our force. As well, I support initiatives with the provincial government to increase the number of community peace officers. I would lobby to expand the Sheriff’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) program because I believe it would be an effective way to achieve a more community-focused police service.

With extra members, the EPS can assign special community constables for each of the 150-plus neighbourhoods in our city. These constables would meet people every day, listen to their concerns, and build the type of relationships that help create healthy communities.

As a Community Relations Officer with the military, I have found that people connect with those in uniform more when they are actively involved with the community. Not only do neighbourhood constables maintain constant vigilance, they also build trusting relationships with residents. That’s because people see them as a neighbour who also happens to be an officer of the law.

Having grown up in a social housing project in Vancouver, I am very aware of how tougher circumstance and environment can influence thinking among youth, causing many to make rationalizations and compromises that lead to high risk life styles. However, there are programs that can help young adults make the right decisions early so they can escape from a path of self-destruction. This is why I became involved in the Da Bom Squad program. Since 2007, it has demonstrated measurable success in helping at-risk youth. And yet we could so much more.

Therefore, I propose that the City of Edmonton support a multi-tiered youth intervention program based on models like the Da Bom Squad program. My proposed new program would be integrated with the Edmonton school systems as well as through user pay programs, after-school programs, and the provincial youth court system. Through early intervention, we can reduce not just the future financial cost of crime, but also the human cost.

Another area of concern for me is homelessness. I applaud the city government’s recognition of the problem. However, I feel the current 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness is unrealistic – especially because it’s investing in infrastructure that does not anticipate the increased number of homeless persons over the next few years. I grew up in a low-income project in Vancouver, and I can tell you that building new housing projects, even with the best of intentions, is flawed. Housing projects that concentrate many struggling individuals in one place would quickly see that infrastructure deteriorate.

Instead, I propose to support landlord-based initiatives that use existing housing. This approach will save millions of dollars in construction costs. Landlords could provide a four or five bedroom home to the city as a transitional house and in return they would have the security of partnering with a reliable tenant, the City of Edmonton itself. This is where people can live and receive the necessary counseling, social and healthcare services they need to regain their independence and dignity. By implementing my proposal, we would spend less money on dealing with homelessness and still effectively meet their needs. That’s because we would help people who want to get off the streets, as opposed to segregating them in low-income housing projects. This is an idea I have put into practice using my own properties and I have seen many successes with it.

There are many other issues and policies that I stand for and believe in. I encourage people to phone or e-mail me. That way we can discuss or debate these issues with me and other community leaders.

To find out how my 20 Platform Resolutions can help you and your neighbourhood, visit www.darylformayor.ca and be sure to check out my campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I look forward to earning your vote on Oct. 18.

Daryl Bonar
Candidate for Mayor Edmonton
www.DarylforMayor.ca
ItsTime@DarylforMayor.ca
P: 780.758.9393
Twitter: Daryl4Mayor
Facebook: Daryl for Mayor
You Tube: Daryl Bonar

Column ID#: 135

**Opinions expressed by guest columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Connect2Edmonton members, partners or sponsors.**

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