When I launched my campaign to run for Mayor of Edmonton on the 13th of October, I committed myself to listening first. It’s now been six weeks and I am grateful for all the thoughtful conversations I’ve had and messages I’m receiving from Edmontonians who are as passionate and fired up about our city as I am.
Above all, I’ve heard an unwavering belief that we live in a great city with so much potential to be even better. Edmontonians have told me that they’re looking for a champion for our city, one that understands the core needs of its residents and their day-to-day lives. They’re in search of city leadership that brings a ‘yes, and’ mentality, who roots their decisions in a deep understanding of the lived experiences of Edmontonians from every corner of the city.
I’ve heard that current city leadership brings the burden and biases of the bureaucracy and how important it is for me to be meaningfully engaged with communities and committed to being curious and willing to learn.
Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve heard:
Chris expressed concern that his son doesn’t have access to a recreation centre in his neighborhood. He asked me how we’ll provide affordable community centres in more neighborhoods, suggesting we reduce design features and construction costs, so his son has a place to skate within walking distance.
Adam told me about the extreme cost difference between a commercial property in Edmonton versus in Acheson. He wanted to house his operations in Edmonton but wasn’t able to afford it.
Abby is excited about the concept of neighbourhoods that provide amenities and services within a 20 minute walkable vicinity but doesn’t currently see a commitment from the City to creating those environments in mature neighbourhoods.
When I look back on what I’ve heard over past few weeks a few major themes begin to emerge:
The economy is undeniably one of the top things on everyone’s mind. We’re all struggling to weather the storm and are making personal decisions about how to best prioritize our spending for financial stability. Most people I speak with are focused on the day-to-day, finding ways to reduce expenses in the short term as they attempt to prepare for an unpredictable future. But there is a sense that they aren’t seeing this same approach with our leadership. There are questions about what the City is doing to enable a strong recovery.
Finding our way again
I’ve heard time and again that the City isn’t focused on what is important. We have core infrastructure that is deteriorating, streets that are crumbling, snow removal that too often isn’t being handled effectively or efficiently, and parks that are being left to become overgrown. Those who raise these issues with me do so with sadness, because they are slowly losing their pride in the quality of our city.
We’re losing the conditions for success
While this goes hand-in-hand with our economic potential and recovery, it also feels like something different. I continue to hear about how Edmonton used to be a great place to build a business and find success, but there is a perception of increased restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles in recent years that business owners have struggled to overcome. For some, they feel their growth is being throttled and have even confided in me that if they were starting their business today, they wouldn’t choose Edmonton.
This is gut wrenching. Edmonton has always been a hub of creators, doers and risk takers. A great place to live and build your dreams. We need to find ways to rebuild that confidence and re-invigorate our collective spirit.
Of the many leaders I’ve served alongside over the years, the ones I admired the most—and who were widely regarded for their ability to drive impact—listened first. So, I’m extremely grateful to everyone who’s reached out and has been willing to talk to me online and at a distance in coffee shops, grocery stores and gas stations to share their insights on what we need to do. I ask you to continue offering up your perspectives, because I am committed to hearing you and understanding. This is the input that is shaping my platform and policies.
I love this city and I want to see it grow and prosper for many years to come. I want to stand up and help create opportunity for all Edmontonians. I’m here to listen, and then to do my part to lead the way to that positive future. Let’s do it, together!
Yours in partnership,