In my first term, I argued strongly that the city needed a long term vision. Six years later, I am proud to say we have a 40-year vision for the City. We have ten-year plans in municipal development, transportation, environmental sustainability, economic diversity, and quality of life, and we have implemented a new city financing master plan.
I am proud of the work that Council has accomplished in the last six years to create a long term vision for this City. However, much of the real work still needs to be done to make that vision a reality. This is why I chose to run for re-election.
In particular, I believe we need to focus on the following issues:
The City must find ways to halt urban sprawl and encourage growth within existing neighbourhoods. This includes ensuring that the growth of our mature neighbourhoods is done in a way that preserves their existence as desirable and healthy communities.
We must ensure that as our mature communities change they do so in a way that respects their character and enhances what makes them special. We must ensure that new transportation plans through existing neighbourhoods respect and serve the needs of their residents, recognizing that our communities will change, and these changes must increase the health of our communities.
The current state of our mature communities is not acceptable. We must continue to fight to speed up the repair of our streets and sidewalks and continue our commitment to funding the neighbourhood renewal program so that all community infrastructure is brought up to standard as soon as possible. We must continue to fight for up-to-date Area Redevelopment Plans in communities under pressure for redevelopment, to ensure that communities have a meaningful voice in how they change and that development does not happen in an ad hoc manner.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, BIKES AND WALKWAYS
Continued expansion of the LRT is a priority for our city. Our commitment to public transit must also include a bus system that is efficient, affordable and convenient for the whole city.
We must facilitate and encourage active transit, including cycling and walking. Following through on the goals of the Active Transportation Plan will help us grow into a city where bicycles are a convenient and safe mode of commuting, and our neighbourhoods should be designed with walkability in mind.
QUALITY OF LIFE
We must support and strengthen those things that make Edmonton a vibrant and modern city in all seasons: affordable housing, volunteerism, arts, festivals, libraries, parks, sports and recreation. We must take pride in and support our diversity: differences of culture, sexual orientation, generation and ability. It is these very elements that make our city a place where individuals and families want to live, a city that attracts and retains people and business.
LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
This city has the chance and the responsibility to be at the forefront of environmental sustainability. We can reduce our environmental footprint by building a more compact city and limiting urban sprawl. We must enhance environmental sustainability in the areas of water, solid waste, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, protection of natural areas, preserving our city's trees and limiting the use of herbicides and pesticides.
We can encourage public responsibility. Every citizen is entitled to, and responsible for, clean air, clean water, and proper land use planning.
We must continue our commitment to preventative community safety. We must also push forward on the recommendations of the REACH Report that recognize that real changes in crime and safety can only be brought about by an investment in support of struggling families and youth.
HOUSING AND POVERTY REDUCTION
The City must maintain its commitment to both its ten-year plan to end homelessness and, in particular, the housing first strategy that has proven so effective in other municipalities. As Chair of the city's poverty elimination committee, I am committed to bringing Edmonton to the table to develop a long term poverty elimination strategy for our city.
Please visit my website at www.benhenderson.net for more information. In particular, you can read my blog http://benhenderson.net/blog/ for more detailed discussion of the issues facing Edmonton, including my thoughts on the Arena and Bike Lanes. You can also email me at email@example.com if you have a question.