Edmonton Election 2010: Ward 2 Forum Recap

Tonight I attended the Ward 2 candidates forum at Rosslyn School. There were over 200 people in attendance, and without question the City Centre Airport was one of the major reasons for that. Both Kim Krushell and Don Koziak had large cheering sections on hand, and there were a number of familiar faces in the crowd, such as mayoral candidate David Dorward (who left after the opening statements) and former city councillor Patricia McKenzie. All of the candidates were present, except for Michael Waddy.

I thought both Krushell and Thomas Hinderks did the best job of fielding questions tonight. Hinderks in particular sounded confident and knowledgeable. Roxie Malone-Richards was also confident, but couldn’t seem to answer a question without referencing her support for the City Centre Airport, or her catchphrase: “overhaul city hall this fall.” Shelley Tupper didn’t have much to say, and frequently she simply agreed with what Krushell had said.

Ward 2 Forum

Here are my notes. My commentary is in italics. First, the opening statements:

  • Hinderks said the biggest issue facing Ward 2 is the creation of new jobs.
  • Koziak started off by questioning Krushell’s record and saying “we can do better”. He talked about the airport and its relation to business, saying that “business depends on customers”. He also said that if anyone on council is going to support the airport, it should be the Ward 2 councillor. First of all, retiring Ward 2 councillor Ron Hayter was one of the more vocal supporters of the airport. And secondly, you shouldn’t have to support something simply because of where it is located.
  • Krushell started by thanking Ward 2 residents, and said it is important to have a voice with experience representing them on council. Her commitment going forward is on results. She mentioned being in favor of decommissioning the trolley buses (which earned her a few jeers from the audience) and that she wholly supports LRT expansion (which earned her loud applause). She closed by stating that any discussion on the airport must be “guided by facts, not rhetoric or emotion.”
  • Malone-Richards said the big issue facing Ward 2 is the airport, and she is firmly in favor of keeping it open. She felt that there was a lack of democracy in council’s decision. She also promised to donate her 5.5% salary increase to charity if elected, and said she would increase the snow removal budget and frequency.
  • Tupper talked about her community experience, and mentioned a couple times that she has been a resident of Kensington for more than 20 years.

Second, questions:

  • When asked about whether or not they would take direction from city administration, both Koziak and Hinderks agreed they would give direction instead. Tupper said she’d listen to constituents, administration, and others, and then make a decision.
  • In response to a question about where the funding for LRT expansion will come from, Koziak replied that he is “extremely concerned” with the city’s debt levels. He otherwise avoided the question, and asked the same thing in response, where are we going to get the money?
  • Hinderks said that while LRT is important, “I wish we’d start calling it transit.” I like his overall point, that LRT is just a part of the public transit system.
  • In response to a question about an overpass at 127 Street and Yellowhead Trail, Malone-Richards said that she’s in favor of removing the lights on Yellowhead. All the candidates agreed that the overpass is needed, and Koziak went so far as to say the overpass would be his key transportation issue.
  • Koziak then took the opportunity to ask the audience for a show of hands if they took the LRT to get to the event. No hands went up. I thought this was one of the funniest things of the evening. I’m sure the room was divided into two. Those who support Koziak’s skepticism on LRT expansion were probably quite satisfied with the lack of hands. Those of us who support LRT expansion were probably thinking, ‘what a silly question, there’s no LRT station even close to here’. The nearest station, Belvedere is still two buses or a one an a quarter hour walk away from Rosslyn School.
  • When asked how we can ensure the redevelopment of the City Centre Airport lands results in affordable housing, Malone-Richards said “I’m not ready to give it up yet.” Krushell said the lands need to have a mix of housing options, and noted that any development would still have to go through the zoning process.
  • When asked about the bicycle plan, Koziak said he learned as an engineer that “one big truck causes more damage to a roadway than a million bicycles.”
  • On redevelopment and curbing urban sprawl, Malone-Richards say she supports incentives or penalties to encourage land and building owners to redevelop empty lots or derelict buildings. Except when it comes to the airport, of course.
  • Hinderks said a few times that if he’s elected, he expects constituents to call him daily to ensure he is keeping is promises.
  • One of the best questions of the evening was how we can retain talent in Edmonton, and diversify our economy. Malone-Richards said she wasn’t sure how to answer. Hinderks said that to make Edmonton more than an oil town, we need to focus on the City Centre Airport. Krushell finally answered the question, citing Next Gen and open data as two successful examples of the right approach, and said that closing the City Centre Airport will result in NAIT expansion and lots of new jobs. Koziak disagreed.
  • Hinderks also talked a lot about focusing on “advanced technology” in relation to the City Centre Airport, but never elaborated on what he meant.
  • In response to a question about social housing throughout the city, Hinderks said it “is a load that must be shared by everyone” and then quickly clarified that social housing is not a load but is “our friends and neighbours”.
  • At this point in my Twitter stream, Tupper once again agreed with one of the candidates. Woman of few words? Also of few thoughts/opinions?
  • There were a couple of questions about EPCOR. Koziak said that he thinks the goal of creating Capital Power was simply to create a new highly-paid CEO in Edmonton. And I’m quite certain he wasn’t joking. Krushell stood up for the decision, saying that by creating two companies, city council was actually helping to grow EPCOR.
  • The final question asked candidates for their vision of Edmonton as a whole. Malone-Richards said EXPO 2017 is “a colossal waste of money”. Tupper said she sees a city in which people care for one another. Hinderks picked up on the EXPO 2017 reference and said “we’re already on the map” and also “we don’t need to be on anyone’s map”. Koziak said “we have it pretty good here” and listed a bunch of negative things we don’t have, such as earthquakes. The only vision he referred to was infrastructure. Krushell responded by citing the success of Next Gen and similar initiatives, by pointing out that we’ve had a net increase in migration and that we’re creating more jobs.

And finally, closing statements:

  • Tupper didn’t say much, but encouraged everyone to vote.
  • Malone-Richards said “I’m the gal that talks the talk, walks the walk, and gets things done.”
  • Krushell said she has delivered over the last six years, citing some key accomplishments, and asked for continued support.
  • Koziak used the first half of his one minute to talk about where he and Krushell first met. He eventually got around to saying that he hopes to stop talking about the airport and that he wants to bring fresh ideas to council. Yes, in the same sentence.
  • Hinderks lectured: “Don’t just vote!” and be done, but after the election is over, “start riding your selection’s butt.”

My hat is off to the Toastmasters who moderate these forums. Without fail, someone will get to the microphone and talk for an hour if you let them. And without fail, the person at the front of the question line complains once the time for questions is over. Tonight’s moderator handled both situations expertly.

Ward 2 ForumWard 2 Forum

You can learn more about Ward 2 at ShareEdmonton. Election day is Monday!

Edmonton Election 2010: Inner City Issues at The Learning Centre

It’s pretty clear that technology is playing a big role in this year’s election. Lots of candidates now have websites and a presence on social networking sites, and there are an increasing number of places you can look online for more information. We’re fortunate in Edmonton to have lots of opportunities to meet candidates in person too, such as at City or community organized forums, many of which are either streamed online or live-tweeted by those in attendance.

But what about Edmontonians that don’t have regular access to the web? Or Edmontonians whose reading skills are in need of improvement? Some people simply don’t feel comfortable attending a forum or talking to candidates in person, so how can they have a voice in this election? I was happy to discover that The Learning Centre (I am a board member) was making an effort to help people in the inner city get involved.

The Learning Centre

Daniel Johnson, a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, has been a volunteer at The Learning Centre since being introduced to it through the Humanities 101 program. Recently, he decided to try to get people that use The Learning Centre and Boyle Street Community Services (BSCS) thinking about the election. For the last few weeks, Daniel and other volunteers have been running an informal session called “Inner City Issues” in the Boyle Street drop-in. The goal was to get people talking about the issues they care about. Daniel would write down their questions and thoughts on the whiteboard, and then he’d ask other people what they thought. As you can see below, they’ve come up with not only questions, but also lots of ideas.

As the election draws near, the focus of the session will shift toward helping people be prepared to vote, ensuring they know where to go, what identification is required, etc. And everyone will continue to have the opportunity to voice their concerns.

The Learning Centre

Daniel also organized two candidate forums, held at The Learning Centre on September 30 and October 7. Mayoral candidate Daryl Bonar was joined by Ward 6 candidates Brian Kaptiza and Jane Batty at the first forum, and Mayor Stephen Mandel was on hand for yesterday’s forum. I wasn’t able to attend the first forum, but Daniel told me that there was a great turnout, with lots of questions and animated discussion.

I was able to check out yesterday’s forum, however. Mandel arrived late but stayed for quite a while to answer more than two dozen questions. There were about 25 people in attendance, a little less than at the first forum. There were a range of issues brought up, but homelessness and housing issues (bed bugs, basement suites, etc) dominated the discussion. Other issues that came up were policing, transit (not enough passes or tickets in the Donate-A-Ride program), helping those with mental illness, the amount of garbage downtown, school closures, safe injection sites, and the downtown arena. The airport and EXPO were mentioned once or twice, but were definitely not the focus!

I thought Mandel did a good job of answering questions for the most part, though he did get a little defensive on occasion. Most people in the room wanted to see more action on helping the homeless, though a few did explicitly thank Mandel for the work the city has been doing under his watch. What impressed me most was that people didn’t just have questions, they had ideas for possible solutions too. Things like using recently closed schools for transition housing, or offering a free downtown bus route. One person even suggested that Mayor Mandel go homeless for a night, to see what it’s really like. He replied: “I’ll think about it!”

I think it’s great that Mandel, Bonar, Kapitza, and Batty took the time to meet with people in the inner city. It’s a group that is often overlooked, even as we tout the statistics of the Housing First program and other service agencies. Kudos to Daniel and his fellow volunteers for making it happen!

The weekly inner city issues session will continue to run next Thursday at 1pm at the BSCS drop-in centre, and on October 18, there will be buses available throughout the day to bring people from BSCS to the polling station.

Recap: Edmonton Next Gen’s Candi{date} :: north of the river

Edmonton Next Gen held its second Candi{date} forum this evening, this time for candidates in Wards 1 through 7. Organized in conjunction with interVivos and the MacEwan Students’ Association, the event provided young people the opportunity to sit down with candidates for 20-minute mini-dates. The first Candi{date} event was poorly attended, but tonight’s event was much more lively. Most of the candidates were in attendance and their tables generally seemed busy throughout the evening.

I decided to focus on Ward 6 candidates, since that is the ward I live in. I managed to sit down with each of them, except for Jane Batty. Here are my thoughts on the candidates I talked to:

  • I started with Thomas Roberts. He seemed unprepared, both in terms of his campaign (he had some excuse about not having materials) and in terms of his knowledge. Thomas brought up the airport, as an example of the current city council not listening to citizens. He cited business as the core reason to keep it open, but could not express why and I don’t think he really knows anything about the airport. He thought all the businesses had already moved away from the ECCA. He also thought Port Alberta was called “Port Edmonton” and that it involved the ECCA. We talked about transit as well, and he expressed his belief that the U-Pass is too expensive and should be opt in. He couldn’t tell us how much the U-Pass costs, and he did not have a strategy for making the program viable if it were opt-in. I asked him why he wanted to run for council, and he said the airport was a big issue, and there was another one…that he read in the paper not long ago…that he couldn’t remember. Frankly, I couldn’t wait for our time to be up.
  • My next stop was with James Johnson, one of the younger candidates running for office. He seemed relaxed and did a good job of answering questions, even if he lacked enthusiasm. I asked him where he sees Edmonton in twenty years, and he said “with the same boundaries we have now.” He seems to understand that a more compact urban form could help our city run more efficiently, but unfortunately, his policies don’t align with that vision. He supports the ECCA, again claiming we’ll lose business without it. I asked him what he’d do to ensure we attract new business when it closes, and he didn’t have a strategy. James has concerns with the Stony Plain LRT and referred to transit in general as a “social service”. He did acknowledge that having everyone drive is not the solution. We also touched on EXPO, something James is opposed to due to cost. I thought James was a pretty personable guy, but I disagree with his ideas about how to move Edmonton forward, and I got the impression that he’d have a lot of learning to do.
  • My third stop was at Lee Permann’s table. He was very friendly, and actually, I’d say my conversation with him was the most enjoyable of the evening. I had to start by asking him about his lawn signs, which have councillor spelled “councelor”. He blamed it on the printer, but didn’t have a reason for why he didn’t print new signs. He had a sense of humor about it though, suggesting it might get people to notice him. He lives in Westmount, and talked a lot about increasing the number of people living in the ward. He thinks downtown (I’m assuming he means Downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods together) could support another 100,000 people in the next 20 years. I’m not sure that is realistic, but I do like that he views downtown revitalization as a function of the number of people living there. He also talked about the need for infrastructure. I asked him why he wanted to run for council and he said that he felt the current council was too closely aligned with big business, but did not elaborate. Lee seems like a good guy, but I don’t think city council is for him.
  • Next up for me was Brian Kapitza. He clearly knows a thing or two about how the city works, and seems to have spent some time learning about other places in the world too. Almost as soon as we sat down he launched into his two core issues: neighbourhood renewal & empowerment, and curbing urban sprawl through property tax reform. I think his idea for property tax reform (basically you pay based on the services your land can use, rather than the value of the land) makes a lot of sense but would be difficult to get consensus on. Likewise I think his plan to give community leagues the power to veto planning and development issues in their neighbourhoods would be difficult to implement. I guess someone needs to start these discussions, but I wonder what else he’d do if elected. I really felt as though I was being lectured to when Brian talked, but I am happy to see a candidate with some experience, a vision for Edmonton’s future, and some concrete strategies to start working toward that vision.
  • My last stop was at Cris Basualdo’s table. We spent our time talking about Cris’ two major issues: creating a vibrant downtown (she includes the surrounding neighbourhoods) with more residents, and dealing with community safety. It’s a little odd to talk about how unsafe the ward is in one breath and then to start talking about bringing in more families in the next, but that’s how it went. Like Lee Permann, Cris thinks the key to creating a vibrant downtown is to get more people living there. I think she exaggerates the crime problems facing ward six, and did not share any specifics on how she’d go about improving the situation. Cris wants to take a firm stance against undesirable activities such as needle use, but did not indicate where users would go (no mention of safe injection sites, etc). I thought Cris was really friendly, and she certainly has passion for what she believes, but I don’t think she’s ready for city council.


I tweeted earlier that the evening was both eye opening and depressing. The speed-dating format is a fantastic way to meet the candidates, and to find out more about them. It’s also a format that prevents candidates from hiding behind platform points or big issues. You can fairly quickly figure out which candidates know that they’re talking about, which candidates would likely be team players, and which candidates have a vision for Edmonton beyond fixing potholes. The depressing part is that I left most tables underwhelmed and unimpressed.

I’ve mentioned the learning curve a few times. I think it takes guts to throw your hat into the ring to run for office, but I also feel you should be prepared for it, and I want a councillor that can hit the ground running. Obviously there’s a learning curve for anyone new to council, but there is a whole ton of knowledge about how the city works that you can learn before getting into office. That doesn’t mean no new ideas, it just means being prepared to do the job well. I think we’ve got some momentum as a city, and I’d like to see us capitalize on that.


I thought NextGen did a great job with Candi{date} and I’d love to see them do it again. I can only imagine that candidates would want to do more of these events as well. Daryl Bonar told me about his experience at the first Candi{date} and said it was a great way to meet lots of people in a short amount of time, far more than you’re likely to have a meaningful conversation with door-knocking. It would be great to see similar events for school board candidates as well.

Thanks NextGen (and partners) for a unique way to meet my candidates! You can see a few more photos from the evening here.

Edmonton Election 2010: Nomination Day Statistics

Yesterday was nomination day, the day that all candidates in the upcoming municipal election needed to file their paperwork and pay their fees. Dave was at City Hall and has a nice overview of how things went.

Now that we know who’s running (though some may still drop out) let’s look at some stats. In total, there are 113 candidates vying for the role of mayor, councillor, public school trustee, or catholic school trustee. Here’s a breakdown of the various candidates:

I wondered about gender, since that is often a hot issue in politics. Here’s the gender breakdown for the candidates:

The web is going to play a very important role in this election. It’s the first place people turn to when they want to know more – they search. How many of the candidates could be found online as of last night? And which details did they make available?

As you can see, candidates have some work to do.

Quite a few people, myself included, followed along yesterday on Twitter. Kudos to Dave and John for live-tweeting and posting lots of photos! Here’s what yesterday’s #yegvote activity looked like:

Candidates could file their paperwork between 9am and noon, which explains the big spike in the morning.

I hope Edmontonians take the time to learn about their candidates, and to voice their concerns and thoughts on the issues facing our city. I have updated ShareEdmonton to (hopefully) help make that easier. Here’s what’s new at the Election 2010 site:

I’d love your feedback on how I can improve the Election 2010 site at ShareEdmonton. And if you find additional candidate information that I’m missing, let me know. I’ve got a few planned improvements on the way, so stay tuned!

Recap: Elect Michael Janz Campaign Benefit Brunch

This morning Sharon and I joined a few dozen other fans and supporters of Michael Janz at the City Arts Centre for a benefit brunch for Michael’s campaign. Michael is running for Public School Trustee in Ward F, which means he’s been working extremely hard since at least May to talk with as many people as possible. Voter turnout in the 2007 election was abysmal, and it was even worse for school trustees, so it’s important to get the word out.

There was lots of coffee, thankfully, and a tasty breakfast prepared by some very dedicated volunteers! The event was a good opportunity to chat with others who care about what Michael is doing. Michael did give a short presentation as well, updating us on how is campaign is going, highlighting key campaign points, thanking volunteers, and outlining the work ahead as we inch closer to October 18.

I really like Michael’s position that the school board has a greater impact on our communities than just on the schools within them. I think that was made abundantly clear earlier this year with the school closures that took place. I encourage you to check out Michael’s site for more information on his priorities, but here are the key bullet points to whet your appetite:

  • Work to keep schools open.
  • Transform schools into community spaces.
  • Support students with special needs.
  • Empower and engage citizens.
  • Ensure a well-funded education system.
  • Make the school board more accessible.

I’d also encourage you to check out this article that Michael wrote on the issue of special education.

Elect Michael Janz

You can see a few more photos from the event here. You can follow Michael on Twitter, on Facebook, or you can email him. Election day is October 18.

Envision Edmonton’s petition insufficient, City Centre Airport phased closure will continue

Yesterday the declaration of the City Clerk was released, stating that the petition put forward by Envision Edmonton was not sufficient, for two reasons:

  • There were no more than 73,657 valid signatures.
  • The petition was not brought within 60 days of Council’s decision to close the airport.

According to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) that means that City Council was not required to take any notice of the petition. They debated the issue in their final meeting before the election, and voted 10-3 against including a question on the ballot. The vote breakdown was exactly the same as it was in July 2009, when Council voted in favor of a phased closure of the City Centre Airport. Here are some of the quotes from the meeting:

  • “The decision to not put a question on the ballot is the right one for Edmonton.” – Mayor Mandel
  • “For some unknown reason it took 11 months to get a petition.” – Mayor Mandel
  • “This needs to end.” – Mayor Mandel
  • “This motion is the same year late as the petition. This needed to happen last year.” – Councillor Iveson
  • “I am not prepared to support something that could lead to 42 years of inefficient operation.” – Councillor Anderson
  • “Somebody has to have the guts to say enough is enough.” – Councillor Henderson
  • “I am prepared to stand up and say I did eight months of research on this issue.” – Councillor Krushell
  • “Is this the only big decision we’ve made in the last three years?” – Councillor Sohi

In both the meeting and a media briefing, we learned more about the petition verification process.

  • Roughly 80 staff worked for more than 3700 hours to verify the petition. About 60 of those staff were hired specifically for the verification process.
  • One of the first things the City had to do was photocopy every page of the petition. The copies and the originals are now stored in a vault, where they will remain for at least 5 years.
  • It turns out Envision Edmonton did not contact the City Clerk about its petition. If it had done so, it might have learned about the 60 day requirement.
  • Had the petition been valid and sufficient, the outcome of the question would have been binding for ten years. If Council had decided to put a question on the ballot anyway, its outcome would not have been binding.
  • The total cost for the verification is estimated at between $125,000 and $150,000.
  • Banister Research was hired to help complete the verification, which they did via telephone.
  • The petition signatories (addresses) were compared against both the Edmonton Elections database (current as of 2009) and SLIM (Spatial Land Inventory Management).
  • Since the July 2009 decision, the City has incurred costs of $12 million, while ERAA has incurred costs of more than $23 million.


Lots of people have written about this already. Here are some relevant links:


PDF Municipal Government Act (2.4 MB)

PDF Declaration of the City Clerk (689 KB)

PDF Report on the Petition (55 KB)

Final Thoughts

I don’t for a second think the battle over the City Centre Airport is finished. I’m sure we’ll see additional challenges and fights in the weeks and months ahead. Edmonton Airports seems to think so as well, launching Share The Facts today. I am confident that City Council made the right decision yesterday however, and I think they’ll be rewarded for it on October 18.

Closing the City Centre Airport is the right decision for Edmonton’s future. Yesterday was simply another step along the way to making that future a reality.