Election 2013 questionnaire response: Andrew Knack, Ward 1

[We sent your questions to all the Election 2013 candidates. We are posting their unedited responses in the order that they’re received. – Ed.]

Andrew Knack, candidate for Ward 1

1. In the context of our City’s growth, how will you support the development of existing communities as opposed to new neighbourhoods?

 

In 2010, City Council approved our Municipal Development Plan to help direct Edmonton’s growth and development for the next ten years. This plan was established in conjunction with The Way We Move and resulted in the creation of four other major planning documents. These plans were a great first step in addressing some core issues that have been affecting our city but one crucial section – increasing density – still needs additional work and support. Edmonton continues to be one of the least dense cities in all of North America which creates challenges when trying to provide the essential services Edmontonians expect while keeping taxes low. Many of us already understand the need to reduce sprawl, but with some of the current policies in place it is difficult to create meaningful change that the majority will be able to support.

Two years ago, a committee chaired by former City Councillor Michael Phair released a report called Elevate. The following is the vision as listed in the report, 

“Edmonton is a city in which engaged and informed citizens work together to create strong and sustainable neighbourhoods and communities. Our community will embrace diversity, will provide a physical and social environment where we can live, learn, work, and play, and will meet the needs of current and future Edmontonians through their entire lifetime.”

The committee consisted of community league members, city staff, a former Councillor, current school board trustees and some members of the business community. The report was to expand on the work of The Way We Grow and was seen as an important next step to help increase density within our more mature neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, there has been limited movement on the nine recommendations put forward by the committee, but if we are serious about increasing our density we need to make these recommendations a greater priority in the future.

2. How will you support and promote independent locally-owned businesses in Edmonton?

 

There is not a single solution to this but it can be as simple as the city purchasing locally when providing food and refreshments for an open house. Also, featuring various local businesses on the City of Edmonton website will help increase awareness. On an individual level, a Councillor should promote locally-owned businesses through social media, newsletters, website, etc.

The other area we can review is the cost of starting a business in Edmonton. The city must keep start-up costs to a minimum so they are given the chance to thrive.

3. How will you support local food and urban agriculture in Edmonton?

 

There were many questions left unanswered in FRESH but thankfully many of those people asking the questions are now on the Edmonton Food Council. Council needs to offer their full support to the Food Council so we can address the specifics that were left out in the original discussion.

The demand for community gardens is growing but the current restrictions in place make it challenging for community leagues to start growing. Allowing community gardens to start across the city will increase the awareness of local food and urban agriculture and help people understand why we need to support the production of food within Edmonton. Within Ward 1, the city will also be taking over the MacEwan Centre for the Arts and after speaking with a member of the FRESH committee, it was suggested that some of that building could be used to teach people about how to grow food in your own garden as well as how to best prepare it since they have a commercial kitchen. It should also be used as the location of a new year-round Farmer’s Market.

On an individual level, my wife and I support Riverbend Gardens through our subscription of their CSA vegetables. We have their fresh produce delivered once a week to another great local business Careit Urban Deli in Crestwood.

4. How will you address Indigenous Edmontonians’ history and needs?

 

The city must continue to support the Aboriginal Relations Office in their mandate “to help the City of Edmonton continue on its journey of building good relations with Aboriginal people – in the spirit and intent of the Edmonton Urban Aboriginal Accord.” This support will only be successful if the city works to increase awareness and educate others about the history of Indigenous Edmontonians. The Spirit of Edmonton project will be instrumental in improving our education and should have the full support of our next Council.

5. How do you envision the public transit system evolution?

 

Although we have made progress over the last few years, especially with regards to LRT construction, the LRT network is far from complete. The Southeast portion is now approved but the city must still secure funding from the Provincial and Federal Government in order to begin work on the West LRT. This should be a key priority for the city as our largest tourist attraction and one of our largest employment hubs, West Edmonton Mall, is still without LRT service. I would like to see the West LRT completed in the next 10 years. I also believe that the LRT must be expanded to serve the Edmonton International Airport as well as our surrounding municipalities. This will require regional cooperation but we should start the discussion now so as to have a long-term plan in place.

With that said, a complete LRT network across Edmonton is not the only way to evolve our public transit system. There is great opportunity to make public transit more effective by implementing Smart Fare across all of Edmonton. Introduction a Smart Card for transit users will provide us with the necessary data to make our service more efficient to those who already use it as well as more effective for those who currently choose to use other methods of transit. The city could then use dynamic pricing depending on where you are traveling in order to entice people to leave their cars at home.

6. What will you do to better engage post-secondary research / students / faculty with the rest of the community?

 

When I attended the University of Alberta, I did not personally feel that there was a lack of engagement with the community and I do not get the impression from many of those that currently attend that this has become a major issue but I would be interested to learn about what has changed.

One area that I do believe that city/community can improve is to ensure we are providing the necessary services and opportunity for post-secondary students to stay in the City of Edmonton after they graduate. Another option for the city to explore is when it comes to how we deal with some of our consistent problems such as road maintenance. When the city is planning a pilot project, having the ability to partner with our post-secondary institutions to perform these tests would allow for new insight into existing problems.

7. Councillor candidates: What is the biggest challenge your Ward faces? What solutions would you seek?

 

Being that Ward 1 covers such a large area and has a diverse mix of new and older communities, there is not one single challenge that encompasses the entire Ward. The new neighbourhoods that are west of Anthony Henday are interested in the construction of services such as the LRT, a recreation centre and schools. Some of the more mature neighbourhoods are interested in understanding how increasing density will work within their community as well as knowing when long-term infrastructure repairs will take place.

With a range of challenges facing Ward 1 the solutions will range from working with the rest of Council to prioritize the construction of the West LRT to improved collaboration between the city and community leagues in order to create a plan that will allow for increased density in mature neighbourhoods that respect the Residential Infill Guidelines and ensure that no one community is required to house the majority of the increased density.

8. How can our readers learn more about your platform, contact you with questions or concerns, or get involved in your campaign?

 

Website: www.andrewknack.com

Phone: (780) 267-1442

Email: andrew@andrewknack.com

Twitter: @AndrewKnack

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AndrewKnack.yeg

If anyone has questions or would like further detail about any of my responses, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to this survey.

Sincerely,

Andrew Knack

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