Elizabeth Ossowska, Staff writer
With growing instability in the Middle East since the Kurdish referendum, the rocky situation between Spain and Catalonia, and the debacle that has shaken the United States and North Korea, it doesn’t take huge insight to notice that something’s up. Some people have gone to the extent of predicting the advent of WWIII at this point. Through all of this, it can seem quite trivial to be talking about our municipal elections. Even the federal government has faded from the spotlight – Trudeau himself has slipped somewhat behind the scenes as we busy ourselves with international happenings. Yet the Edmonton elections may affect you more than you think, not to mention our school community at large. So, here’s a quick debrief on what the election outcomes mean and how they could be relevant to you.
Unsurprisingly, Don Iveson will keep his mayoral post, and in fact there are many reasons for Mac students to like him. For instance, he’s a huge fan of Star Trek (!!) and a self-described nerd. On more serious topics, such as the diversification of the economy, he has pulled through in keeping Edmonton quite stable despite a largely fluctuating provincial budget. To fully appreciate this, just think about the irony – that Edmonton is the “oil capital” and yet Calgary is actually experiencing the worst effects of the oil crisis. Our city has actually been dubbed one of the best entrepreneurial centres in Canada and has fostered a huge artistic boom in recent years. Among many things, Iveson advocates for more affordable housing, increased activity among Edmonton’s LGBT community, and a diligently respectful handling of the refugee influx. But Iveson’s biggest accomplishments lie in infrastructure – which had been one of his main campaign promises in 2013 – by increasing investment, and many old buildings such as our much-loved public libraries have been replaced in his time. Hundreds of kilometers worth of roads have been repaved, bike lanes and sidewalks have been widened, potholes have been reduced and snow clearing has been rendered more effective. Since he is committed to making Edmonton a greener city, Iveson has focused on improving our transit system and encouraging other modes of transport like biking. The Valley Line LRT happened thanks to him, and future plans await with the expansion of the West Line. For those of us who live in the north west or far south (both under huge developments), good news lies ahead with the unfurling of transit plans there as well.
Evidently Mac has an enormous catchment area and people live on opposite ends of the city, but it is worth mentioning the Ward six councillor Scott McKeen, a former journalist who just got reelected for his second term. Like Don Iveson he cares a good deal about making smart investments in infrastructure, being specifically concerned with the growth of bike lanes around the downtown area. McKeen also supports the growth of local businesses, both industrial and in the arts, especially in music as he himself is an amateur musician. He aims to lower fees for city services in order to better accommodate students, seniors and vulnerable populations. Other topics he cares about include energy efficiency and the expansion of green space (meaning more forested areas and stuff like that), streamlining the city’s permitting process, indigenous
reconciliation, the preservation of Heritage homes, and incrementing concrete mental health initiatives.
Last but not least, we have the Ward 71 Catholic School Board Trustee Terry Harris. A graduate of AOB and later of a BComm at the U of A, he’s got tons of experience under his belt both as a parent of children who attended Catholic schools and having volunteered and worked for ECSD. Harris has the background of a businessman, specifically having worked in HR and in labour relations, yet he also has the perspective of a philanthropist; among organizations he has worked for are Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Social Services. His vision for Catholic schools is to celebrate diversity and to improve the student learning experience, creating inclusive school environments regardless of race, sexuality, etc. Championing smaller class sizes, professional development for teachers, parent engagement and special needs accommodation, Harris aims to reform the board governance in order to function more effectively and with increased accountability and fiscal responsibility. In the ensuing months it may be easy to forget about our little Edmonton, but the municipal government will always be there in the background, working hard to make this city of nearly a million a great one to live in. As conflict continues to plague the world, be careful not to forget how lucky we really are to live here.