We take community involvement seriously. And as one of our communities, Edmonton, is currently going through the paces of its current municipal election, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the issues that are resonating with me at this early stage. My goal is awareness and my own feeble ploy to save some of you from municipal electile disfunction: that state where you can’t be bothered to get up and vote, or worse, voting without knowing who or what you’re supporting.
Double the Wards, double the fun
So first and foremost, what do you know about the Edmonton municipal election system? Do you know that up until the forthcoming election even though there are 12 councillors, you could only elect 2 of them? That’s because of a tidy system of Wards that have been setup across the city and you can only elect councillors running in the ward in which you live. This shouldn’t be all that strange as all our elections in Canada use a simlar system of representational electoral divisions: you can only vote for a candidate in your riding provincially and federally. “But wait a minute” I can hear you ask “I can elect 2 of them?” In the past, Edmonton has had a bit of a goofy bi-polar representation where you are represented by not one, but two councillors. So which do you approach when you have an issue? What happens if you talk to both? What if they give you different answers? All good questions, hopefuly most of which are being addressed by the changes this year. The ward are being divided this year into 12, one for each councillor. As such, you are now, like at every other level of politics, voting for your representative (singular) at city council. I’ve always struggled with not being able to support the councillors whose opinons align most closely with mine, but I think this is a change for the better in that it eliminates the contention within ward boundaries that can arise the other way.
Head in the clouds, or the #ecca
The Edmonton City Center Airport has raised its ugly head again. If you’ve been following the debate, its the on-again-off-again story of whether a city needs an airport in the central core. That airport supports many businesses, especially those with interests in the North, supports medical transports and many other functions. The fact is, for me, that after considered debate council made the decision to close the airport…in 1995. The issue was re-opened, and I thought, finally put to bed in July last year. And now here we are a year later, entering the election season and up it crops again. The issue this time spear headed by a somewhat clandestine group Envision Edmonton who are pushing for a public vote on the issue. Now, for the moment, I’ll keep my personal opinions about the value of the airport itself out of this. My issue on this topic is that we have representational government. We elect these officials to evaluate all the factors involved in the matter and to make a decision. Which they’ve done. Twice. Just because a minority don’t like the answer doesn’t give them the right to continually waste tax payer dollars rehashing the issue. Admittedly there are candidates running this time around on a platform almost entirely based on re-instating the airport’s use, and I’ll let the voters speak themselves on that one. But a time consuming and very expensive plebicite on a topic that’s already been considered and decided upon by two very differrnt groups of elected officials in the best interest of Edmontonians is a done deal.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Political manipulation aside, I also have some strong feelings on the ECCA purely because of the Edmonton sprawl issues. I laud the efforts of the current administration to minimize development on the outskirts (although more could be done there), to increase the capacity for higher density housing and for rehabilitation of the core neighborhoods, and for the investment in transit. The transit investment, in my mind, has been one of the singularly best thing any city council has done in this city and in my opinion any councillors not on that bandwagon should be seen to the door. ECCA represents a huge tract of land that could, and will, be turned into higher density housing in the core of the city. The idea of keeping that essentially empty rubs me the wrong way.
Take the blue pill
I consider myself lucky to be in the ward of one of the incumbents whose record on council I truly respect. It makes my vote for the councillor seat an easy one. Now to think about the Mayor and the school board trustees. Forgot about them did you? Maybe a post for another day. Of course, none of the candidates are official until they sign up on nomination day Sept. 20. Election day is Monday, October 18, 2010. Start your own journey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton_municipal_election,_2010