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  • Mayor's second set of responses

    Jeremy Q. I think it's safe to say that Edmonton sits at a crossroads, one direction leading to a city that is, in all meanings of the term, "World Class," the other, to the same old results as before. In your mind, what is the "one big change" that needs to occur to ensure we pick the former? Is it a change in priorities, attitudes, or a combination? Finally, since I don't think anyone has asked, what would you, as the mayor, ask the citizens of Edmonton to do, in playing our part, to make the city all it has the potential to be?

    If I could change one thing about Edmonton, it would be to have the City believe a little more in itself, it’s merits and its potential. I think we worry too much about things like whether or not we’re on track to be ‘world class’. I think we need a plan to have a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable city, and then we need to stick to it.

    I think all of the elements of this are coming together in Edmonton – from a growing commitment to building more vibrant, walkable neighbourhoods, to a commitment to tackle social challenges through our new homelessness commission and other initiatives, to our Port Alberta and Northeast Industrial strategies to our growing facilities and events that are making Edmonton a more welcoming, attractive and vibrant place. These things are all taking shape and they need support from all Edmontonians because we all stand to benefit so much from their success.


    KCantor Q. If we can’t afford/shouldn’t be doing things when things are going well and we can’t afford/shouldn’t be doing things when they are not, when will we ever do those things that need to be done? How do you convince people that it is always the right time- and never the wrong time - to do the right things?
    My second question would be “When can we re-order signs for your third term re-election campaign?”

    I think similar to my answer above, that a downturn is not an excuse to abandon strategy. It might mean we have to spend a little slower or pace ourselves over the longer term, but the overall strategy and commitment cannot change. What I really don’t want to see happen now is for us to make reactionary decisions or get knocked off course.

    As for another campaign? It’s really premature. I will make a decision about another term when I’m closer to being done the one I’m in right now. Thanks for the good wishes though.

    The_Cat Q. With the significant drop in oil prices over the past year, what initiatives are the City of Edmonton taking to diversify the economy for the future?

    Well, I think we need to understand that our resource base will be a long-term and important part of our economy, though transitioning for global conditions is a constant challenge. We are also focused on ways we can diversify, which is why the work we are doing with Port Alberta is so important, and why our region, despite its resource wealth, needs to be mindful of the fact that so many future opportunities will be grounded in the knowledge economy. So investments in initiatives like TEC Edmonton or our research park also need to be boosted. This is why we are fortunate to have such strong post-secondary assets in this region, as so much of our future wealth is current percolating in these institutions.

    Fred Garvin Q: What is your desired outcome of the current regionalization exercise? What do you think is achievable and when?

    The desired – actually the required – outcome is a new planning structure for the region. This must be in place by March 31 and all municipalities in the region have been working hard to see this in place.

    The need for this to come together is more important and urgent than ever. Given our recent downturn, the quicker municipalities can start to formally begin to streamline and integrate our planning activities, as well as knowledge management, housing and transit, and the sooner we can start to move on to better manage industry attraction, the sooner and better positioned we will be to aggressively work to pull our region out of a downturn, and onward toward our mutual success. It is essential that the region realize that we must compete globally, not locally – this is still a big problem.


    Green Grovenor Q: what can council do to support new housing that attracts families to mature communities, so they don't keep fleeing to the suburbs? Do you think there is a market for residential redevelopment that is green, intensive and kid-friendly, and what could Grovenor do to attract such a project?

    I think the best thing we can do is support the types of high quality, high density developments we have seen over the past few years. I think these developments, in Strathern, in our downtown, have shown there is a market for this type of option.


    Highlander Q: 1. An excellent redevelopment proposal from Westcorp at the Highlands Safeway site failed to win approval from council due to lower than permitted numbers of parking stalls. The proposal was located on a very frequent bus route and several services are located within easy walking distance of the site. Do you think that Parking minimums are reasonable in locations served by transit?

    I think we need to be reasonable in cases like this and maybe be more flexible. I thought it was a good development and I strongly supported it. I think if people want to see a more compact, more transit-focused city, these are some of the issues that communities need to better understand.


    2. Our suburbs are generally more car oriented, more use segregated, less walkable and less efficient for transit than our old inner neighbourhoods. While continued suburban growth will continue to happen as long as our population is growing, what can we do to improve the suburbs that are built?

    I think you are right that people will continue to seek options. But I also think economic, social and environmental trends will be increasingly toward density.
    And we have to support this trend through our revitalization efforts, and promoting Transit-Oriented Development near select LRT/BRT stations.

    In truth, we will also have to make some hard choices. We can’t, for example, offer the same level of transit service to every part of the city if the city and region continue to expand over a larger and larger land mass. We will have to choose to focus on growth nodes, and transit oriented communities and use hub and spoke systems to best deploy our limited resources. We also need to get away from the current suburban design and layout and look to something far more innovative.


    3. Would you support Streetcars or trams as an upgraded transit option for areas that do not require the speed and longer distance travel that LRT is best suited for and where streetcars can better integrate into existing neighbourhoods?

    A more cost effective option is BRT - Bus Rapid Transit and improved bus service.


    4. The recent LRT plans have indicated that St Albert is the preferred destination for NLRT once it is extended past NAIT, at the expense of Northgate and Castledowns. Do you agree with there plans, in light of the fact that there are more existing transit riders from North Edmonton than from St Albert, and that St Albert has borne none of the costs for the existing LRT?

    LRT can’t get to St. Albert except through North Edmonton and Castledowns, and of course, stopping in our communities would be a priority. Our commitment is always to Edmontonians first.


    5. How would you make the river valley more accessible? Are there any additional attractions that you would like to see added to our river valley?

    We have an outstanding park system, but I think our concentration for improvement should be focused on ways to better integrate our top of bank activities with our parks – such as with a funicular at Louise McKinney Park, or looking at ways to integrate our Legislature grounds (and possible future improvements) to the park system. I am also a big believer that small enhancements can make a big difference, like easier docking of small watercraft, like water taxis, alongside of City attractions, such as Louise McKinney Park, the Valley Zoo or Fort Edmonton would also be an asset.

    Trail upgrades and pedestrian and cycling path system is an ongoing priority – as part of our regional river valley park system.

    We also need to look at creating small, but very tasteful places to stop and enjoy the river valley similar to other cities have done with their pristine areas. – Look at Stanley Park and Central Park.




    Sweetcrude Q: It seems that much of our potential growth is contingent upon greater access to additional markets (Port Alberta, new pipelines, etc).
    • Does this put Edmonton at greater risk for long-term sustainability if our base economy is too reliant upon international trade?
    • Do you believe we are self-sufficient enough?
    • If not, what measures has the City of Edmonton undertaken to increase our level of self-sufficiency?

    Well, as I said in a previous question, I think we need to understand that our resource base will be a long-term and important part of our economy, though transitioning for global conditions is a constant challenge. We also still have so much potential to look at doing more with the resources we have, thus our northeast and the heartland strategies are so important.

    We are also focused on ways we can diversify, which is why the work we are doing with Port Alberta is so important, and why our region, despite its resource wealth, needs to be mindful of the fact that so many future opportunities will be grounded in the knowledge economy. So investments in initiatives like TEC Edmonton or our research park also need to be boosted. This is why we are fortunate to have such strong post-secondary assets in this region, as so much of our future wealth is current percolating in these institutions.

    We are also far too dependant on the USA and we need to create other potential markets for our products.


    Newfangled Q: There has been much debate surrounding the WLRT route. One item that never seems to be questioned however is the line's terminus at Lewis Estates. This was originally proposed for WBRT, has carried over into WLRT, and it seems that whichever route is chosen Lewis Estates will be the eventual destination.

    How does Lewis Estates play into the City's frequently mentioned goals of increased densification, transit use, walkability, etc.? And why is it given priority over the already existing development in the Callingwood area - an entire neighbourhood of multi-family housing, a high-school, YMCA, Arena, Library, large commercial development - that would already seem to be an ideal suburban example of increased densification, increased transit use, walkability, etc., and that will likely develop further in that vein.

    First of all, you have a very good point. Your suggestion needs to be looked at in the context of an area transit plan, this has not been done, but I will push for it to happen.

    I think Lewis Estates is seen as a collector hub in its own right, especially if you look at a long-term regional view. People who come into our city from Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County, would use this destination – ideally as part of a broader regional system.

    I would caution us all on two points:

    1) The long-term vision for LRT must include transit-oriented development along its entire route. Which means that high population centres like Callingwood, or Stony Plain Road should be along the route, and routing LRT – (or possibly BRT in the nearer term) should be focused on planner more compact neighbourhoods hand in hand with our extensive transit investments.



    MAurelius Q #2: When will someone in Edmonton seize the moment, take a leadership role and shut down ECCA for all times? No more vacillation, no more pandering. Shut down. Period.


    We are moving through a process and whichever way it finishes, I believe we should all accept as a final position. Council will receive some preliminary reports back in early March and, following a more extensive community input process, will receive final reports and make a decision before our summer break.

    I think it is important for our entire community that we make this decision and move forward. It’s important in terms of our downtown and core neighbourhoods – and it is an important discussion in terms of our external relationships. I have no doubt that Council will consider all points carefully and make a decision that best serves the interest of our City and our long-term vision.
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