Why Am I Running?
As a dedicated and hardworking volunteer with many different community groups, I have spoken with many people who desire more from their City Council, and their Councillor. In fact, I was asked to run by many of the same people who spoke of a need for change and accountability in City Hall, better support for social issues, community support, improved transit, and the myriad of small, but important, issues that affect day to day life in the Ward - whether you live in Tamarack or in Summerside. In short - I want a better community for all of us, now and in the years to come.
Below are my specific platform commitments and ideas I will be working towards if I am elected as your Councillor for Ward 12.
Building Our Community
First and foremost, I am not taking Union or Corporate donations. This rule has been passed by the Provincial government, and it is time that we implement this rule at the Municipal government level.
The problem: Accountability is a concern I have heard about all over; on the doors, in the streets, and before I even thought about running for Council. Decisions are often being made in Council chambers with public consultation coming after the fact.
What I plan to do about it: Hold regular (monthly), public, informal town hall style meetings where anyone who wishes to attend can make their concerns known, about any topic. In my experience, the best solutions for a given problem come from those directly affected by it. Similarly, we all have blind spots and I want to bring the combined knowledge of the citizenry to bear in City Hall.
I will be forming two informal working citizens groups around social issues like homelessness, poverty reduction, drug use, etc, as well as around technology and innovation. If you are interested in being a part of either of these groups, send me an email at Logan.YEG@gmail.com, and watch this site for more information.
The problem: Transit is unreliable, takes a long time to get anywhere, or may not even run at the time you need it. Buses are running nearly empty with one or two passengers to save on costs, and the current Council has proposed replacing some of these local routes with ride-sharing services, already cutting back on some routes. Our current Councillor missed the vote on this.
The Southeast leg of the Valley Line LRT is due to be completed by 2020, with stops in places including Bonnie Doon Mall, Milbourne Mall, and Millwoods Town Centre. There are currently no plans for a park and ride system in place. Transit options in Ellerslie and Summerside are poor.
What I plan to do about it: The City cannot run keep losing money by running empty buses - however, there are other potential solutions. In the past, Edmonton had a Dial A Bus service; I propose a smart solution which will make service more efficient as well as more reliable. For a very reasonable cost (likely less than one bus), we can equip each bus in the fleet with GPS units, and implement an "Uber-style" bus-calling option within the ETS smartphone app. The service would operate much the same way as it does, except a bus will only come when called. This way, we can provide service late at night/early morning and on weekends, as well as use it as a measure of actual usage. A passenger would be able to see how far away the bus is before having to run out in inclement or cold weather.
Even if you drive a car, the fewer vehicles on the road mean a faster commute time for everyone, so it pays to improve transit. However, it may not be realistic for someone to give up their car for the whole journey. For those commuting by train, we must provide a park and ride option for vehicles at more than one location along the route.
Ride Sharing Services and Taxis
The problem: Ride sharing services such as Uber or TappCar do not operate under the same set of rules as taxis. There are different insurance requirements, different areas of operation, and ride sharing services are not required to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles. Many Uber drivers do not even make minimum wage when all is said and done.
What I plan to do about it: Level the playing field between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services.
The problem: While we have a great community as it is, I have seen first-hand at how much livelier Southeast Edmonton in Laurel/Meadows/Tamarack area became once the Meadows Recreation Centre and Library opened. This library is in fact the second busiest in the entire city.
There is also a lack of space and high demand for community group meetings, classes (e.g. art, language, dance, etc.), and small events. To book a room at the Meadows Recreation Centre can cost $51/hour and more. There is also demand for additional sports facilities including soccer fields and cricket pitches.
What I plan to do about it: Build a community recreation centre similar to Meadows in the Ellerslie/Summerside area, as well as an attached library. Soccer fields and cricket pitches can be attached to this centre, or can be provided elsewhere depending on land costs.
The community meeting space of rooms and offices could be attached to this facility in order to save costs. This could be funded partially by the City and Province in combination with interested community groups and sponsors. A similar model is followed by nonprofits through the Jerry Forbes Centre, and I believe this will help citizens come together to build our community.
Technology and Economic Diversification
The problem: Our City runs on Oil and Gas, and this industry puts food on the table for many. But it is also subject to economic fluctuation, with booms and busts alternately driving up costs, and causing people to lose jobs each time the price of oil changes. This doesn't just affect oil and gas workers, but many industries which service oil and gas.
What I plan to do about it: Develop a startup culture in Edmonton. Just as the City of Calgary brought in outside venture capital investment companies to help develop Calgary startups, I would promote a similar model here, encouraging the creation of high tech jobs.
Other industries can also be promoted. Edmonton could be a major cargo/supply chain hub for North America simply due to it's geographic location. It is closer by rail to the Pacific Ocean than Calgary is, and it sits under a major commercial flight path. I will work towards the annexation of Edmonton International Airport and help develop a warehousing district in south Edmonton. This will also help local manufacturers get their goods to market faster, which will create jobs.
Affordable Housing and Poverty Reduction
The problem: Home ownership is a very reliable path out of poverty into asset ownership, but due to the cost of housing and houses, home ownership is out of reach for many Edmontonians. Capital Region Housing has a waiting list over 500 long to gain access to their rental units.
Similarly, despite how well off we are as a City, homelessness is still an issue.
What I plan to do about it: I will work with the Province and Capital Region Housing to increase the supply of available rental homes, and work towards increasing supply of different types of housing that is cheaper. I would also expand initiatives with certain groups like Habitat for Humanity to give people an opportunity to earn their home through other means.
To end homelessness, I will work with experts in Homeward Trust and other groups to end chronic and short-term homelessness (see more information in the article here).
Crime, Safety, Photo Radar and Bike Lanes
The problem: In many neighbourhoods, speeding and distracted driving remains a problem, and a risk for children who may inadvertently run out into the street.
There are several problem intersections and roads for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicular traffic.
Photo radar is often used as a revenue generator instead of improving safety.
Certain people, particularly those in who are visible minorities or Indigenous are often subject to additional scrutiny by EPS.
What I plan to do about it: I plan to increase regular patrols as that is the only proven method to improve actual safety outcomes. While it is impossible to have a police presence at all hours of the day in all neighbourhoods, occasional spot checks in school and playground zones will increase safety immensely.
Bike lanes should generally be kept separate from main roads. The safety of the rider and the driver are both reduced if we force a cyclist out onto main roads, especially in snowy and icy conditions. Bike paths are a better solution for both.
Photo radar should only be used in cases where safety is a concern; it should not be used simply to generate revenue for the City. There are many places that are under-enforced, and many that are over-enforced - a balance is needed. If revenue is a problem we need to look at other ways to improve the situation.
I will work to end the practice of Carding in Edmonton - we must protect civil liberties for all.
Property Taxes, Public Ownership and Responsible Long Term Planning
The problem: Assessments have dropped, and property taxes have gone up for several years in a row, and yet we are still losing services. However, there is a common wisdom which says: Low Taxes, Low Density, Good Services - pick two.
What I plan to do about it: I will work to increase density in order to improve on our good services, while keeping costs reasonable for the average citizen. Ultimately it costs more to service a house in the far suburbs that constitute Ward 12. I will not reduce the services that provide the quality of suburban living which Edmontonians have come to enjoy. Instead, we must strategically increase density along transit hubs (e.g. along the Valley Line LRT) in order to increase the tax base, as well as reducing the number of vehicles on the road, lowering wear and tear, and ultimately costs.
The City of Edmonton has not had a realistic long-term development plan, and because of this we cannot lock in prices early, look for the best price (instead of going to the lowest bidder), or develop our neighbourhoods in a manner which works for everyone.
Similarly, we must keep as many assets as we can owned publicly. The government rarely gets market value for the assets it holds when they are privatized; I will keep Public Assets Public.
Stay in Touch!
If you have any questions or concerns about any of my platform considerations please send me an email at Logan.YEG@gmail.com. They were developed through thousands of conversations with Ward 12 residents, community groups, and experts in various fields. Above all, I aim to be accessible - please send me your thoughts, including other issues not identified here.
I am always willing to champion a great idea and will help you make it public to improve our Ward and City. After all, those who are directly affected are the most qualified to make real, lasting change.
Ward 12 Candidate