Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT moves forward with commitment from the Province

It was the announcement Edmonton was hoping for last Thursday when the Province unveiled its Budget 2014: money for southeast LRT extension to Mill Woods.

Valley Line LRT Funding Announcement

Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT is moving forward after the Province today made a commitment to provide up to $600 million to help finance the project. In a prepared statement, Premier Alison Redford said:

“Alberta is preparing to welcome a million new residents over the next decade, many of whom will be choosing communities like Edmonton as their home. Our Building Alberta Plan is helping municipalities build public transit systems to accommodate growth and make it easier for Albertans of all ages and levels of mobility to get where they need to go.”

In stark contrast to his disappointment last Thursday, Mayor Don Iveson was understandably pleased with today’s result, calling it “a momentous occasion”:

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Today’s announcement was a bit over-the-top in my opinion, with Premier Redford, cabinet ministers, and MLAs arriving at Churchill Station via LRT. I think Mayor Iveson picked up on the pomp as well, joking that he hoped the ministers enjoyed their trip on the LRT.

Valley Line LRT Funding Announcement

It was a good opportunity for Edmontonians to show support for LRT expansion however, with students from City Hall School holding up #yeg4lrt signs at the top of the escalator. There was a sizable crowd gathered and lots and lots of media on hand to capture the event. If you’d like to watch the announcement, you can see the raw footage here.

What the Province has committed to is:

  • up to $250 million under GreenTRIP over three years beginning in 2016-17 upon approval under the second call for GreenTRIP projects,
  • up to $150 million in matching provincial funding if the federal government approves this project under the new Building Canada Fund beginning in 2016-17, and
  • up to $200 million in an interest-free loan to be repaid by the city over 10 years, fully backed by the Alberta Capital Finance Authority (ACFA).

As Mayor Iveson noted today, only $400 million of that is new money. The interest-free $200 million loan is simply a creative way to bridge the gap.

Valley Line LRT Funding Announcement

It is unusual though not unprecedented for the Province to offer interest-free loans to municipalities through the Alberta Capital Finance Authority (ACFA). For instance, a program known as “ME first!” launched in September 2003 and provided interest-free loans to encourage municipalities to achieve energy savings in their operations. It is common for the City to receive loans from ACFA for infrastructure projects, with typical interest rates ranging from 1.6% to 3.3%. Some projects that the City has previously borrowed for include the Whitemud Drive/Quesnell Bridge rehabilitation, the Walter Bridge replacement, and the NAIT LRT line. Any loans would be subject to the Municipal Government Act, which outlines debt limits and other restrictions. Edmonton is well within both the provincial debt limit and its own more strict limits.

Technically the money won’t start flowing until 2016, which perhaps not coincidentally happens to be the pre-election budget. It certainly did feel like a politically motivated announcement today. The Province received immense pressure from Edmontonians after last week’s budget and Mayor Iveson and his colleagues on Council did a good job of harnessing that to their advantage (the mayor even played along with the #SadDonIveson meme).

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As Dave noted today:

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Still, the assurance from the Province means that the City can keep the project moving forward, and that’s a win for Edmonton. We won’t lose a construction season, and the federal funding will likely be received without issue. Mayor Iveson confirmed:

“Knowing that we have a clear pathway to apply for those dollars allows City Council to consider moving ahead to the next step of this journey.”

The mayor thanked Council, our regional neighbours, and the ministers at the Province for working hard to get the deal done.

Valley Line LRT Funding Announcement

I know many people have been working on this for a long time, but I think Mayor Iveson deserves a lot of credit for making this happen. He expressed disappointment and frustration last week, but did not alienate the cabinet ministers he needed to work with to move things forward. He kept the lines of communication open, and clearly said the right things.

Today’s news, while positive for the Valley Line LRT, is not the long-term commitment that the mayor has been seeking, but it is another step in the right direction.

Valley Line LRT

Here’s a look at what the Valley Line LRT will look like from Mill Woods to 102 Avenue downtown (subject to change):

The City’s website has already been updated with details related to the funding:

“Thanks in part to timely commitments by our provincial and federal partners, the Valley Line will remain on schedule for a construction start of 2016, aiming to be open to the public by the end of 2020.”

The next step is a Request for Proposals to shortlist qualified consortia (groups of affiliated companies) that bid on the project. That stage is expected to take three months.

Keep up-to-date on the Valley Line LRT here or sign up for email updates.

Province to Edmonton’s City Council: “You’ll like the 2014 budget…just kidding!”

Things were looking up for LRT expansion in Edmonton. As recently as a few weeks ago, Mayor Iveson sounded optimistic that the Province was going to provide money for LRT. Other members of City Council had also received positive indications from the Province. But talk is cheap, and the Province didn’t follow through with today’s budget, as Mayor Iveson made clear:

“Not in a position to celebrate anything today at this point. Little bit of disappointment that yesterday’s message and really the message our Council has been consistent about since last year hasn’t quite gotten through yet.”

The Province unveiled its 2014 Budget this afternoon, saying it “delivers the core services Albertans expect, makes strategic investments in innovation to improve the lives of Albertans today and into the future, and strengthens new and existing infrastructure to address the demands of our growing province and economy.” Unfortunately, LRT was not deemed a priority as evidenced by the complete lack of commitment to funding its ongoing expansion in Edmonton and Calgary.

The original GreenTRIP fund of $2 billion, created by the Stelmach government in 2008, has not been increased. MSI funding increased slightly, but not nearly enough to fund the LRT expansion to Mill Woods. Besides, as Mayor Iveson again pointed out today, Edmonton has a need for LRT funding on top of all the things that MSI funding is used for in other municipalities – building libraries, recreation centres, etc. The lack of increase in GreenTRIP funding was especially disappointing to the mayor:

“My interpretation of long-term commitment to GreenTRIP isn’t just saying we’re going to roll out all the money we announced serveral years ago by 2019 and announce this year’s money like its new when its actually money that we’re putting into the NAIT line today because its money that was announced previously.”

He clarified yet again what a long-term commitment would look like:

“For me, a long-term commitment to transit would be an open-ended or ten year commitment to sustained levels of funding for rapid transit expansion in our province.”

The reaction from local leaders was disappointment, as expected. “There’s no new commitment to transit here,” Mayor Iveson said.

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There are two key risks the City faces by not receiving funding for LRT expansion from the Province. The first risk is that we miss yet another construction season, which could add around $65 million to the total cost of the project. The City has a deadline of April 30 to try to get all of the necessary funding in place. If that date isn’t met, then the completion of the Southeast LRT expansion by 2019 is in jeopardy.

The second risk is that the federal funding Edmonton has applied for under the P3 Canada program could be at risk if construction doesn’t begin by the end of 2015. “There is a timeline on the P3 grant,” Mayor Iveson said. “If we were to lose another year, then we would potentially begin to lose some of the federal funding, and then we’d really lose momentum.”

Mayor Don Iveson

But the biggest issue here is that the Province made noise about a long-term commitment to LRT, and simply hasn’t delivered. Mayor Iveson expressed his frustration with this:

“Frankly I received a lot of mixed messages from the Province over the last six to eight weeks, that we’d be happy, that we should manage our expectations, that we’d be satisfied, that we’re asking for too much, and often from the same people, so that is a frustration.”

Still he tried to remain optimistic, adding, “that just tells me that things are fluid still.”

You can listen to Mayor Iveson’s full remarks here:

If there wasn’t already a trust issue between City Council and the Province, there most certainly is now. Conversations can only be considered productive if they actually lead to an outcome that all sides are happy with. If the Province wasn’t prepared to make a commitment now, they should have made that clear to the mayor and the rest of Council.

Asked what he thought about his first provincial budget experience since taking office, Mayor Iveson sighed audibly. “That’s what I think,” he said. Ever the optimist, he said he remained dedicated to working with the Province to find a positive outcome for the city. “I think they’ve figured out in the last 24 hours that we really mean it, this is really important to us.”

You can read more about the Province’s Budget 2014 here.

Recap: Mayor Iveson’s 2014 State of the City Address

Mayor Don Iveson delivered his first State of the City address today in front of an absolutely packed crowd at the Shaw Conference Centre. Hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, the State of the City luncheon attracted more than 2200 people including Councillors, MLAs, MPs, as well as business and community leaders, all eager to hear what our new mayor would say. Would he make a statement like Mayor Mandel did (by declaring “no more crap”) in his first address? Would he dump on the Province like Mayor Mandel did (lamenting the treatment of post secondary education in Edmonton) in his last address? Or would he set a completely different tone?

State of the City 2014

Though Mayor Iveson’s speech today may have lacked a lightning rod comment like the infamous “no more crap”, it had its moments. Looking right at Premier Redford, our mayor called for the Province to come to the table on funding for LRT expansion:

“Madam Premier, never has the opportunity and timing to fully build out Edmonton’s LRT network been more worthy of your government’s leadership, commitment and support. Show that you understand the needs of this city in the same way that my Council does. Show Alberta’s capital city that we are worth investing in.”

It was a powerful moment, and the audience erupted into applause after he delivered the words. Without question that part of the speech is what we’ll be talking about years from now.

Mayor Iveson opened and closed his speech recognizing the important role that indigenous peoples have played in Edmonton’s history, and the important role they’ll play in our future.

“Ladies and gentleman, a new, more confident Edmonton has emerged – building upon our rich heritage, leveraging our advantages, and – most importantly – unafraid to challenge ourselves to do even better.”

He noted that Edmonton will host the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s national event later this month. “Without recognizing our shared history and learning from it, we have no hope of making change,” he said.

Though he touched on topics like public engagement, roadway maintenance, and the City Centre Airport, Mayor Iveson focused the bulk of his time on ending poverty, the global competitiveness of the region, LRT expansion, and the big city charter.

State of the City 2014

On poverty, Mayor Iveson looks set to keep an election promise, announcing that next week Council will consider his proposal to elevate the existing Poverty Elimination Committee (of which I have been a proud member) to a task force. “Simply managing poverty is not working,” he told the crowd. He called upon everyone in attendance to think about what they could do to “unleash the next generation of entrepreneurs from unlikely circumstances.” Mayor Iveson also recognized the importance of aligning with the Province’s commitment to eliminating child poverty in Alberta.

“Poverty is complex. Its causes are multi-facted, interlinked and anything but straightforward. Many are afraid to tackle it. But I am not.”

Using language that should by now seem familiar, Mayor Iveson next turned his attention to the Edmonton region. “If we want to continue to outperform other city regions in Canada, then we must work together much more effectively – and there can be no delay,” he said. Amalgamation isn’t on the horizon but he recognized that business leaders are frustrated. “For the region to achieve results, we must work together much more effectively on economic development,” he said. Again, the mayor issued a challenge, calling on his fellow mayors to consider the role they play:

“What will you do differently…how will you think differently…are you ready to look ahead and ensure that our region’s ability to compete globally for our mutual long-term benefit is always at the forefront of our deliberations?”

He briefly discussed annexation, saying that “boundary changes are a natural part of these discussions.” Mayor Iveson said that “Edmonton’s future growth must be balanced with a healthy mix of residential and employment areas.”

State of the City 2014

Though his pointed comments to Premier Reford were the most memorable part of Mayor Iveson’s remarks on LRT, he had much more to say. “To remove all doubt,” he told the audience firmly, “this Council unanimously declared LRT expansion as its priority for new infrastructure investment, beginning with the long-awaited Valley Line from Mill Woods to downtown.”

Most of City Council has been saying optimistic things about the Province providing funding for LRT, and Monday’s throne speech certainly sounded like a step in the right direction. We won’t know for sure until tomorrow if anything has changed however, when the budget is released.

The final major topic that Mayor Iveson addressed was the Big City Charter. “Big cities fuel a large part of the province’s economic dynamism,” he said. Citing work underway with the City of Calgary that has led to a closely aligned vision for such a charter, the mayor expressed his hope that discussions with the Province will be productive.

“We have reached the point where Alberta’s big cities have outgrown the one-size-fits-all Municipal Government Act and our collective efforts are better spent focused on a big city charter. What is needed is a real partnership between Alberta’s big cities and the provincial government.”

Unfortunately, I think Mayor Iveson again missed an opportunity to talk about what a big city charter might look like. I certainly applaud the ongoing effort to negotiate a better deal for big cities, but it would be much easier to ask the hundreds of Edmontonians in the room for support if they could understand and talk about it. The big city charter still seems nebulous.

State of the City 2014

Mayor Iveson spoke today with the same confidence and measured delivery that attracted Edmontonians to him during last fall’s election. Will it go down as his most memorable speech? Likely not. But I think he said the right things, in public, to the right people. Most of the folks in the room were already Iveson supporters, so winning them over wasn’t the goal. Instead, he delivered a clear message about what’s important to Edmonton and offered insight into how we should tackle key issues.

“My responsibility, and my Council colleague’s responsibility, is to steer us, focused on an ascendant Edmonton. Great cities emerge when conditions are ripe for unprecedented cooperation, creativity and disruptive change. The cities that embrace this will thrive while cities that are content with today will lag and whither. I will not stand for that in Edmonton. And, given what we hear from Edmontonians every day, neither will you.”

You can read the full text of Mayor Iveson’s remarks here in PDF. You can read my recap of last year’s State of the City here.

Another small step forward for Edmonton’s Southeast LRT extension

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today introduced the new Building Canada Plan, “the largest long-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history, providing stable funding for a 10-year period.” The highlight of the new plan is the $14 billion New Building Canada Fund, a potential source of funding for projects like Edmonton’s planned Southeast LRT extension.

valley line lrt

Known as the Valley Line, the Southeast to West LRT extension would run 27 km from Mill Woods to Lewis Farms. The City hopes to construct the expansion in phases, starting with a $1.8 billion leg from Mill Woods Town Centre to 102 Street downtown. The City has already committed $800 million to the project, and now needs the federal and provincial governments to contribute their share.

Despite some opposition, City Council approved the use of a public-private partnership to build the extension, enabling the City to access funding through P3 Canada. In March last year, P3 Canada awarded $250 million toward the project.

Mayor Don Iveson

Though many details about the new Building Canada Fund are still to come, Mayor Don Iveson held a press conference this afternoon to discuss how it might help the City with the LRT expansion. In the ideal case, the City would receive another $150 million for the project, taking the total federal contribution to $400 million. Mayor Iveson said:

“That shows the federal government is seriously committed to investing in transit, maybe to not the level that mayors across the country would like, but it’s an opening to further discussion about the importance of national investment in transit infrastructure.”

Though he praised the efforts of the federal government, he also shared his thoughts on what he’d like to see in the future:

“Long-term, I would like to see a dedicated federal investment in rapid transit, over and above these baseline Building Canada commitments.”

Here’s the audio from Mayor Iveson’s press conference today:

If the City were to receive the funding it hopes to from Building Canada, that would bring the funding gap down to $365 million (the City has $235 million left over from Stelmach’s fund for green transit that mostly went to the North LRT to NAIT). The Government of Alberta needs to come to the table, and Mayor Iveson sounded optimistic that could happen:

“We’ll keep on talking to ministers and MLAs and we’ve been having a lot of those conversations lately and they’re very receptive. They’re working within their own constraints, and their own competing priorities, but I believe they’re trying to find a way.”

I’m much less optimistic. Both Calgary and Edmonton have made it clear that rapid transit is their top priority, but Premier Alison Redford’s government has consistently avoided making any commitments. Sooner or later, the province is going to have to either come to the table on LRT funding, or as David Staples wrote last month, “we need to elect a government that can make it happen.”

If the funding were secured by the spring, construction on the Southeast LRT could begin as early as 2016 with the extension opening by 2020.

Building a globally competitive & innovative Edmonton Region

With our new mayor now officially in office, it’s time to learn some new vocabulary. Forget “world class”, “creative”, and “Capital Region”; start getting used to “globally competitive”, “innovative”, and “Edmonton Region”. All three featured prominently in Mayor Iveson’s swearing in address on Tuesday afternoon. The new words may not seem important on the surface, but I think they signal a shift in the way Iveson will lead Edmonton over the next four years.

City Council Swearing In 2013

When I interviewed EEDC CEO Brad Ferguson just over a year ago he was still settling into his new role but had already started using some consistent language in meetings and interviews. “We need to change to a culture of competitiveness,” Brad told me. “We need to have a hunger to compete.” He sees that culture of competitiveness as the best way to combat our biggest threat: complacency.

If his speech is any indication, Mayor Iveson is going to get along just fine with Brad. Iveson used the phrase “globally competitive” six times. You could probably have substituted the phase “world class” into each of those sentences, but that phrase carries baggage. Even Mayor Mandel generally stayed away from it (until he got upset about the arena, that is). But for all the distaste that many of us have with “world class” there hasn’t been a strong alternative. It would seem that “globally competitive” could be just that.

I like the approach that “globally competitive” suggests. Instead of just attaining a certain status and then potentially becoming complacent, you need to keep working hard to remain competitive. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think it also opens the door to greater collaboration with Calgary. We absolutely can be globally competitive together, but can we both be world class? Here’s what Iveson said about the relationship with Calgary:

We have a lot of work ahead of us with the provincial government on a big city charter that must recognize our special challenges, and that ensures we have the tools and resources we need to realize our full potential as globally competitive Alberta cities.

So “world class” is out, “globally competitive” is in.

One of Mayor Mandel’s favorite words was “creative”. He used it a lot in speeches and in response to questions. He was always talking about finding “creative solutions” to problems. There’s nothing wrong with the word creative, but Mayor Iveson seems to prefer the word “innovative”. He used it a lot during the election, and in his speech on Tuesday he used it at least half a dozen times.

Iveson likes to mention Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton when he talks about innovation, and he frequently highlights the role that post-secondary institutions play as well. Maybe a creative solution could save us some money, but Iveson seems to suggest that an innovative one could make us money. Here’s what he said in the innovation section of his speech:

As problem solvers, we can do our business cleaner, greener, cheaper, faster and safer – and sell those solutions to the world. This is how we will ensure that Edmonton will compete globally, and endure long into the future, no matter the price of oil.

So “creative” is out, “innovative” is in.

Mayoral Forum #3

Paula Simons wrote about the shift from “Capital Region” to “Edmonton Region” yesterday:

“I do not live in the capital region. You don’t either. There is no such place. It’s a bureaucratic invention, a mythical, mealy mouthed way of describing the cities, towns, villages and counties that surround Edmonton.”

She goes on to make some excellent points about the “weasel-word label” and includes some great quotes from both Mayor Iveson and St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse (“Atta boy!” he said in response to Iveson marketing Edmonton). I particularly like that Iveson understands the importance of using Edmonton when we talk about our city. That was one of the key points I tried to make at PKN7. “Capital Region” could be anywhere, but “Edmonton Region” is specific (yes I know there are two other much smaller towns named Edmonton). That’s another reason that Make Something Edmonton is compelling as a brand for our city.

The other interesting news this week related to the Capital Region Board (CRB) is new legislation introduced by the Province. The Modernizing Regional Governance Act would give the Province the ability to create “regional growth boards” much like the CRB itself. If the new legislation is adopted, it’ll make the CRB an official body under the Municipal Government Act. It would be great if we could rename the organization alongside those changes, something Mayor Iveson has indicated he’d like to pursue.

So “Capital Region” is out, “Edmonton Region” is in.

Wordsmithing, you say? I can see how one might reach that conclusion. But Mayor Iveson doesn’t choose his words lightly; he’s purposeful about what he says. I think he’s saying the right things, and that’s an important first step toward making change happen.

You can listen to this post here:

2013-2017 Edmonton City Council Swearing In Ceremony & Inaugural Meeting

Edmonton’s new City Council was officially sworn into office this afternoon at City Hall. Councillors have been busy since last week’s election of course, learning how everything works, getting their staff and offices in order, and I’m sure, stopping every now and then to take it all in. But now their positions are official, and the real work can begin.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

The event was emceed by John Dowds and opened with an invocation from Elder Francis Whiskeyjack. With the help of Justice D. M. Manderscheid, each new member of Council took the oath of office in front a packed crowd. It wasn’t all business though, as Sierra Jamerson performed a beautiful song right before Mayor Iveson took to the podium to deliver his remarks.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Mayor Iveson began with some tributes, acknowledging that Edmonton is on Treaty 6 territory, and praising the work of the previous Council. He highlighted the “vigorous pace” that outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel had set and confirmed that he too will lean on “the diversity of wisdom and perspective” that each member of City Council brings to the table.

Mayor Iveson talked about the importance of the Edmonton Region, the new relationship with Calgary, and the need to “firm up stable, predictable funding for key infrastructure, including LRT.” He talked about roads and pipes, fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency, homelessness and poverty, urban living, innovation, the environment, the arts, and diversity and inclusion. It was the same messaging Iveson has been delivering for months on the campaign trail, but asserted with the new confidence that comes from being mayor.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Mayor Don Iveson takes the oath

Before highlighting his colleagues on Council to close, Mayor Iveson addressed the so-called generational shift that has been talked about over the last week:

“Some have remarked that this election marked the passing of the torch to the next generation of leaders. But I and my fellow Council members are custodians of that leadership, doing the most good with it to make Edmonton an even greater place, in time to pass on the torch to our children and grandchildren. The leadership you see here represents all Edmontonians, regardless of age or interest. A united city we must be, in order to accomplish all on the path ahead in the next four years.”

Here’s a video of some of today’s highlights:

The inaugural meeting of the new City Council took place immediately after the ceremony. The first order of business was to adopt the agenda, and after the vote passed unanimously, Mayor Iveson let out a brief “whew!” that the much-larger-than-normal crowd enjoyed.

Here’s the seating order, from left to right:

  • Councillor Amarjeet Sohi
  • Councillor Michael Oshry
  • Councillor Ben Henderson
  • Councillor Andrew Knack
  • Councillor Tony Caterina
  • Councillor Scott McKeen
  • Mayor Don Iveson
  • Councillor Bev Esslinger
  • Councillor Dave Loken
  • Councillor Michael Walters
  • Councillor Bryan Anderson
  • Councillor Mike Nickel
  • Councillor Ed Gibbons

The mayor gets to select the seating order. I’m not sure how Mayor Iveson came up with the order, but Joveena noted that experienced and new Councillors alternate, which seems like a smart approach. The returning Councillors are more or less in the same spots as before too.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Unanimous, for now

The meeting was very short, though Councillor Sohi did give notice that he intends to bring forward a motion in November to provide WIN House with $50,000 in funding. He was sporting a bright blue shirt that said, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like”.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Mayor Don Iveson

Now that it’s official, City Council will get down to business, starting with Strategic Planning tomorrow and soon, the 2014 budget. You can see the upcoming schedule as well as agendas and minutes here.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
City Council gets down to business

Congratulations to our new City Council!

You can see my recap of the 2010 Swearing In Ceremony here. You can see more photos of today’s ceremony and meeting here.

Edmonton Election 2013: The Morning After

What a night! After a landslide victory, Edmonton’s mayor-elect is Don Iveson. He defeated Karen Leibovici by more than 90,000 votes, earning 62% of the vote. Kerry Diotte came third just over 8000 votes behind Karen.

Don received more than 132,000 votes, which is more than any mayor has ever received in Edmonton’s history. Former mayor Jan Reimer held the previous record at just over 113,000 votes in the 1992 election. That year, turnout was 51.7% and more than 215,000 votes were cast. Turnout this year was quite a bit lower at 34.5%, but with a larger population, just 2000 fewer votes were cast than that ’92 election.

mayoral results

I certainly didn’t expect the margin to be that wide, and I don’t think many others did either. It’s a clear mandate for the vision that Don has articulated and the positive, collaborative tone he has espoused from the outset. It’s a huge vote of confidence in a mayor that to many seemed unlikely six months ago. This was not a social media win – you don’t earn the largest number of votes in Edmonton election history without gaining the support of a diverse array of Edmontonians.

Now the work really begins. Don’s campaign team reached out to all the successful candidates last night, and I know Don spoke with many of them personally too. The next week will be a whirlwind of transition meetings, getting new Councillors up-to-speed, and preparing for the first Council meeting which will take place on Tuesday, October 29. It’s an exciting time, and I’m thrilled that Don is the man who will lead it.

I have new appreciation for how much work goes into an election campaign, so I want to say congratulations to all of the candidates and their teams who put the time and energy into running. Only a small number get elected, but the questions, discussions, and ideas that are surfaced during a campaign are incredibly important and contribute significantly to the civic discourse.

I thought Don said all the right things to his opponents last night in his victory speech. Both Karen and Kerry ran strong campaigns and should be commended for their effort and what they brought to the table during this election. I also want to thank them for their service on City Council, and I wish them all the best.

Here are the successful candidates (unofficial until finalized by Edmonton Elections):

successful candidates

Congratulations to all!

I’ll have much more on the election over the next couple weeks. Also, join us on Thursday at 8pm for another #yegvote Hangout at EdmontonPolitics.com! We’ll be analyzing what the results mean for Edmonton and will answer your questions.

You can see all the results of last night’s election here.

Why I am supporting Don Iveson for Mayor

Don Iveson is the person I want to lead Edmonton forward over at least the next four years. He’s thoughtful, intelligent, hard-working, and he truly cares about building Edmonton’s future. Don can imagine the great city we are working to build here in Edmonton. But he’s also practical, well-prepared and able to address the many complex challenges our growing city faces. I have no doubt that if Don is elected mayor on Monday night, Edmonton will be in good hands.

Don Iveson Rally

It should be no surprise that I’m supporting Don – I have been a member of his campaign team since early this summer. Many of the things I felt and thought I understood about Don then have only been reinforced through his actions and statements on the campaign trail. I consider myself fortunate to be part of the amazing team of people that have come together because they too like what they see in Don.

I have, of course, been a fairly consistent supporter of Mayor Stephen Mandel. While I haven’t always agreed with him, I do think that Edmonton has thrived under his leadership. I’m sad to see him go, but excited about the potential for someone to build atop the strong foundation he has laid. Edmonton has real confidence now that was sorely lacking before. Mayor Mandel was the leader we needed to find our path, and Don is the best candidate to lead us down it and beyond.

In my opinion, one of the biggest changes at the City over the last few years has been the professionalization of planning. It’s a much more strategic organization thanks in large part to Mayor Mandel’s efforts. We don’t need a new set of plans right now – indeed the lack of any major issues during this election is proof that most Edmontonians are happy with the course we’re on. What we need is someone who can ensure we actually implement those plans, while keeping an eye out for possibilities we haven’t yet recognized. Don has demonstrated repeatedly that he thoroughly understands the issues and can chart a course from here to there. His policy on renewing our roads and pipes is a good example of this.

One of the most important tasks facing any new mayor is to get Council working well together as a team. Councillors need to feel engaged, and the mayor must always remember that he or she is only one vote. At the same time, the mayor plays a unique role in building consensus. There will always be those who disagree, but unless the will of Council is generally aligned it’s difficult to make progress. The bar for accomplishing this task well was set pretty high by Mayor Mandel, but I think Don is more than capable of building an effective team.

If you ever watch or listen to Council meetings as I do, you’ll know that Don has a deep understanding of how the City works. He has been active in the Council chamber, making nearly twice as many motions during his last term as Karen Leibovici, and nearly eight times as many as Kerry Diotte. More importantly, I think his record shows that Don was able to earn a wider range of support from his colleagues on Council. While both Don and Karen have a similar failure rate for motions of about 2% (Kerry’s is a shocking 67%), more than 27% of all Karen’s motions were seconded by Jane Batty. Mayor Mandel accounts for another 14.5%. No two Councillors combined account for more than 30% of Don’s seconders. Stats like this can be interpreted in multiple ways however, so what about the contents of the motions?

Don’s activity on Council has not been limited to a particular issue. He’s made motions related to: funding for the Southeast LRT expansion, supporting the Edmonton Public Library, progressing smart transit fares, the operations of 311, streetlight rehabilitation, funding for arterial road renewal, reallocating funds for snow removal, the regulation of taxi and limousine services in the Capital Region, the downtown CRL, funding for Startup Edmonton, streamlining the rules for food trucks, and much more.

Don is not perfect; no candidate is. But Don’s age, perceived lack of experience, and apparent left-leaning slant are not his weaknesses. Age is just a number and any lack of experience can be mitigated by doing your homework and seeking the counsel of others. And I find the policies he has put forth fairly centrist. If there’s any weakness to note, it would be that Don has a tendency to care too much about what other people think. Fortunately that’s a weakness that’s easy to overcome. Anyone sitting in the mayor’s chair will naturally grow a thicker skin over time, and I know that like all great leaders, Don will surround himself with amazing people that can help him stay focused and motivated.

There are many issues I care about, but let me highlight a few. I have long been disappointed with the state of public involvement in Edmonton. As a councillor, Don has proven that he too would like to see things improve. He’s been highly accessible, both through traditional means and using new approaches like social media, and has led initiatives such as NextGen’s Engagement Strategy. I have no doubt he’ll continue to push for improvements as mayor. Like many Edmontonians, I want to see our LRT network built. Don has committed to working toward a full build-out of the network by 2030. I joined the Poverty Elimination Committee this year because I believe it’s an important problem that needs a new approach, similar to the success of our 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. Don has committed to elevating the poverty elimination effort to a Mayor’s Task Force. On these and many other issues, Don best represents the beliefs I have and the outcomes I desire.

I predict that the Capital Region will be one of the most important files our new mayor and City Council will need to address. The time is right for change, and Don is well-positioned to lead us in that effort. He recognizes that Edmonton is not an island and that we need to cooperate with our neighbours to maximize the opportunities before us. Don has a proven track record of working successfully with the Capital Region, and I think he’s the right person to bring about further, positive change for the region.

I also like Don’s position on Calgary. He has committed to working with the mayor of Calgary on a number of issues, to ensure that large municipalities in Alberta get the special attention they require and deserve. Whether its building out the LRT network or changing the way we fund our city, Don understands the issues and recognizes that Edmonton and Calgary have a greater chance of getting support from the Province when we speak with a united voice than when we work alone.

Mayoral Forum #3

The challenges our city will face over the next four years and beyond will be more complicated than those we have faced in the past. As Edmonton grows and our positive momentum builds, we need a leader who can ensure we stay the course while also taking calculated risks when opportunities arise. We need a leader who understands the issues and who can provide thoughtful, creative solutions. We need a leader who is passionate about and devoted to building the Edmonton of the future. Don Iveson is that leader.

That’s why I voted for Don today, and that’s why I hope you’ll consider supporting him on Monday. For some other perspectives, check out Dave’s post and Randy’s list of 50 reasons to support Don.

Don Iveson rallies his supporters to get out the vote

Last night I joined a few hundred volunteers, donors, and others supporters of the Don Iveson for Mayor campaign at a rally at the Matrix Hotel. It was an opportunity for Don to address his base, to thank his many volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the campaign thus far, but most importantly to remind everyone that Election Day is all that matters. There are still four hard days of work left to go, and now is not the time to get complacent!

Don Iveson Rally

After a lighthearted and witty introduction from his wife Sarah, Don took the stage to give his remarks. He recalled the seed which started the campaign, many months ago. “If you give people something to vote for instead of against, that will build a better city.” He talked about the many exciting things happening in Edmonton, channeling Make Something Edmonton as he touched on projects, businesses, and festivals. “If we build it together, it endures,” he declared.

Don Iveson Rally

He expressed a passionate desire to see all of that positive momentum continue, and even accelerate. “This can be the moment where Edmonton turns,” he said. “We can show people they were wrong to underestimate Edmonton.”

Don Iveson Rally

Don was not light on praise for his volunteers. “You’re the best political team in Canada,” he said. “Your support is what keeps me and the campaign going strong.” His remarks received, unsurprisingly, raucous applause. An already strong group of volunteers grew as people signed up to help on their way out.

Don Iveson Rally

With the room buzzing, Don implored everyone to help get out the vote over the next few days. We’re into the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean that any campaign should take it easy. Positive polls or not, all that matters is getting people out to vote on election day. That was, appropriately, the message that Don left his supporters with. I have no doubt we’ll rise to the challenge.

Disclosure: I’m actively volunteering for Don Iveson’s mayoral campaign.