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I believe that collective and sustainable transformation does not happen in isolation and it cannot be driven by one person. Meaningful and impactful policy takes time, collaboration and should reflect the views and experiences of those it will affect most.

I truly believe in Edmonton. This city has the potential to be a place that people from all walks of life enthusiastically choose, just as I did years ago, to plant roots and grow — lives, families, careers, and businesses — for years to come. I believe that my collaborative and optimistic “yes and…” mindset will keep our city moving forward and that momentum will give us the courage and conviction to challenge the status quo. Together, we can make Edmonton A City That Works for all of us.

A City That Works has a number of different meanings, from the basics like being able to tap a phone or a card to ride transit, to the aspirational, a smart-city leading in innovation and technology. 

A city can work for you, like easy commutes and 15-minute communities.

A city can work with you, like enabling our local small businesses to sell to our municipality.

A city can work functionally, like integrating our transportation systems and regionalizing our transit.

A city can work for all of us, like coming from a place of “yes”.

I want to learn more about what “A City That Works” means to you?  

Let’s co-create our future. Let’s meet for door-knocking and conversation on your terms — connect with me virtually.

Core Beliefs

I’m running to be the kind of mayor that asks important questions and never stops listening to Edmontonians like you. My core values of collaboration and accountability will guide our path forward.

From my own viewpoint, these are some of my beliefs about our city’s current state that have guided my decision to run for office:

  • We need a city that’s safe for all Edmontonians 
  • We need a proactive municipal government that responds quickly and gets things done
  • We need a better - more equitable - experience for all citizens, no matter who you are or where in the city you live
  • We need responsible financial management and stability for today and tomorrow
  • We need a city that champions made-in-Edmonton businesses and ideas, to create a thriving economy that helps everyone
  • We need to do everything within our power and means as a city, to enable a life of safety and dignity for our most vulnerable Edmontonians
  • We need to get creative about solving our greatest challenges, and that means fostering mutually beneficial relationships with private industry, non-profit agencies, and other orders of government 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to do all of these things while firmly holding ourselves to a commitment of kindness, curiosity, and to the golden rule

Create a Chief Accountability Officer

Too much time and taxpayer money are spent exploring ideas that other cities have already researched and implemented.  As Mayor, I will hold Council and City Administration accountable to our defined goals and objectives, to maintaining focus, and to ensuring our debates, motions, and inquiries are based on the principles of our own planning. 

Effectively leading A City That Works starts with a Council that works. Both during my time at Innovate Edmonton when I would participate in Committee and Council meetings to today, I continually notice that far too much time, energy, and taxpayer money is wasted exploring ideas that other cities have already researched and implemented. We need to embrace their learnings. 

The feeling that we spin our wheels wasting time on unnecessary pilot projects or chasing ideas that lack common sense is something I have heard time and again from the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with Edmontonians since I announced my Mayoral intentions last year.

On top of this, members of Council have directed work that isn’t aligned with where we, as Edmontonians, have said we want to go. Sometimes it goes against the interests of our community partners, be they local businesses, hardworking non-profits, or other orders of government.

Finally, it’s important that we recognize that institutional knowledge is one of our city’s most important assets.  We have a new City Manager and are about to welcome a number of brand new Council members.  In order for them to be effective will require historical knowledge of things we’ve tried before or are already doing. 

The bottom line is that we’re wasting time, and other cities are outpacing us.

The Policy

As Mayor, I will lead a collaborative, aligned council. I commit to ensuring our debates, motions, and inquiries are based on the principles of our own planning. The City Plan is our guiding document. We’ve gotten off course on too many occasions and lost the thread on what to care about and spend time on. While individual councillors can vote as they like, as Mayor I will hold Council and City Administration accountable to our defined goals and objectives.

When elected, I will establish an ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICER, independent of City Administration, who will rapidly vet and inform any motions or work directed by City Council upfront of the work beginning. 

This experienced City Builder will advise Council of previous explorations of the topic, how other cities have tackled the problem, whether it aligns with Edmonton's vision and values, and whether it serves to strengthen our partnerships. They will keep us focused on the bold action we need to take to recover from COVID-19, to align with our city plan, address our biggest challenges such as houselessness, and continue building a City that retains and attracts the best talent in the world. 

Specifically, this independent role would:

  • Be responsible for advising Council and Mayor if the motion/inquiry or line of work has been explored before, advising of the results of past exploration and an assessment of whether conditions/context has changed sufficiently to warrant another examination. They would also complete a preliminary jurisdictional scan and advise how other Cities have answered the question or tackled the issue.
  • This position would sit outside of Administration (similar to the Office of the City Auditor or the Office of the Integrity Commissioner) and provide non-binding advice to members of Council.
  • Advise how motions/inquiries/work aligns with stated values, visions, and plans as well as considerations for partnerships with other orders of government/regional partners/post secondaries/non-profits/business and first nations communities. 
  • Suggest changes or amendments to the motion/inquiry/approach to mitigate and align.
  • Be responsible for tracking the full-time and money cost of reports and council directed work to ensure the focused and disciplined expenditure of energy and resources. 

The Outcome

The work Council directs is focused and aligned with the vision and goals of the City Plan and ConnectEdmonton. It strengthens our partnerships with other orders of government, the region, non-profit/post-secondary sector, first nations, and our business communities. We no longer spend time reopening and examining things we have already done in the past unless the context has changed enough to warrant it. We stop trying to “reinvent the wheel” and can take the lessons from other cities on the front end. 

All Council directed work is clearly costed out, so we know exactly how much time and money was spent on preparing reports and doing work that diverged from approved work plans. This rigor and accountability will reduce the amount of unnecessary motions/reports and allow Council and Admin to apply limited taxpayer resources more effectively

This is an innovative solution that drives real results and maximizes the City’s use of your tax dollar and the valuable time of city staff and community partners. Having a council that is focused and aligned will set the tone at the top. This is a specific and impactful action that the mayor can actually do.

Central Business Neighbourhood

The saying “as goes your downtown, so goes your city” came from the awareness that downtowns are the economic engines of a city. As we rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of our downtown economy will be critical. 

Twenty years ago it was said that, “Our region’s portal to the world is downtown Edmonton, whether we live or work in Ottewell, Glenora, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan or even Leduc or Nisku — it is by our downtown that our entire region will be judged and measured.

So many of the people I talk to tell me that our downtown is in rough shape. With the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of office employees and post-secondary students are working and studying in their homes. Every day we see downtown businesses closing their doors and there are temporary restrictions on the things that make Downtown so special—nightlife, events, dining, and gathering for experiences. While vaccines are in sight, it’s going to be a long time before we see the kind of vibrancy and commerce that is key to the success of not only downtown but to Edmonton as a whole. 

Without a thriving downtown, and its enormous impact on the entire region and province, we are in for years of economic hardship and we risk losing the incredible gains we’ve had evolving and developing our core. 

The Policy

Designate 109 Street to 97 Street and 104 Ave to 100 Ave as Edmonton’s Central Business Neighbourhood (CBN) and enable the following to catalyze business, support an innovation ecosystem, simplify and accelerate market-driven development, and encourage more people to visit and stay downtown. 

  • Business Made Simple
  1. Business licencing and development processes have service level agreements that include: 
    • A commitment to two-week response turnarounds  
    • Expedited approvals within two months
    • An escalation process for complex issues
  2. Removal of the barriers preventing alleyway and unconventional space uses, winter patios, and outdoor retail and hospitality 
  3. A one-year moratorium on business license fees for small and medium enterprises
  • Enabling Technology
  1. Work with partners to provide high-speed internet fibre throughout the CBN 
  2. Free Wi-Fi and public charging stations in designated public spaces
  3. Downtown designated as a new technology and innovation test area
  • Pathways that Work to Connect
  1. 365 year-round cleanup/snow removal for the main street, sidewalks, and active transportation pathways 
  2. Deliberate and accelerated construction planning and implementation to reduce the impact on surrounding businesses
  3. Completed connections and integration of the multi-use pathway network 
  4. User designed wayfinding, detour planning, communications, and signage 
  • Transportation Serves the Core   
  1. Free LRT/bus within the CBN
  2. Discounted LRT/bus travel during evenings and weekends from suburban areas to downtown *upon completion of the Smart Fare program
  3. Free 1-hour street parking - 7 days a week *excludes event dates and egress boundaries 
  4. Standardized ‘Parking’ signage for all parking lots designed to be visible to the driver
  5. Improved user experience and upgraded EPark platform encompassing all parking within the CBN
  • Integrated Partnerships for Impact
  1. Dedicated - 7 day a week / 8 am to midnight - crisis and safety supports – Peace Officers & social worker units dedicated to CBN and area
  2. Bolster the DBA to enable them to 
    • Work with CBN businesses, partners, and the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) to facilitate and create community solutions to downtown vibrancy, nighttime experience, and social disorder issues 
    • Lead a dedicated stakeholder team of downtown business owners and residents to expedite concerns and complaints to City Administration
  3. Accessible and safe public washrooms
  4. Dedicated public space cleanup: Pocket Parks, LRT Stairwells, Bus Stops  
  5. A shared commitment to improved lighting and safety of public and private parking lots 

The Outcome

A vibrant, thriving business district in the heart of our city, one that Edmontonians are proud of. More residents see downtown as an appealing and exciting place to spend time in. Our city’s streamlined permitting and licensing services enable entrepreneurs to set up and grow their businesses in our city’s core. Our engaged technology and innovation community feels the value of the community connections and collisions, which result in new ideas and partnerships. The events, nightlife, restaurants, arts, and culture breathe life into our hearts and demonstrate the DNA of our city. The central neighbourhood of Edmonton looks better, is safer, and more welcoming to visitors from across our city, the region, and around the world. 

Change can’t be driven by one person...

Together we can build a future we can be proud of - a city that works for every Edmontonian!

Thank you for your investing in Cheryll Watson’s vision of Edmonton. Your financial contributions not only help support our efforts to connect with voters but spur on our local economy. Our campaign is committed to working with local creators whenever possible, harnessing made-in-Edmonton solutions. You can feel confident that your donation to Watson for Mayor is assisting small businesses in our community.

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