Election 2013 questionnaire response: Brian Deacon, Ward 8

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

Brian Deacon, candidate for Ward 8

Brian Deacon, candidate for Ward 8

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

 

Ward 8 contains many of the communities that have been overlooked due to plans to build downtown and in new neighbourhoods. People know of Ward 8 as the road system taking you from downtown to the suburbs after a day of work. Revitalization and making our Ward 8 community a destination point is vital. We are more than just Whyte Avenue. Too many final decisions for this area are being done by people who do not live and work in this Ward. We must be represented with a strong voice.

The Strathcona Area Development Plan must be more than a piece of paper that is amended every few years. The elected Council person for Ward 8 must champion the ideas contained within the document and the voice must be strong. The previous City Council has announced great plans for the City of Edmonton . . . none of which helps to directly revitalize my Ward 8. Perhaps we will get an offshoot from the development here or there, but that is a guess at this point. We have had 6 years of inaction and we can not afford an additional 4 years of ‘maybe’. 

There will likely be a tightening of the financial belt in the next 4 years as City Council ensures previous announced development stays on budget. New proposals for development will not be easy to achieve. The next 4 years are crucial for my Ward. I would ensure that my voice is heard on Council and our area will not be bypassed. 

I pride myself on having a combination of active listening and ‘go get it doggedness’. I believe all true and lasting ideas come from the grassroots and must be promoted repeatedly and transparently. I would need to build relationships with my fellow council and stress the advantages to having Ward 8 be a destination point for Edmonton. If need be, saying ‘no’ to a project that does not directly support Ward 8 is fine. 

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

 

As City Council, we need to look at furthering tax benefits for businesses who sell locally produced product. We need to work with business and community groups to identify individuals and businesses who are going their own way to create a ‘Made in Edmonton’ product or solution.

I am heartened to see the number of markets available in the city for locally made products and would work diligently with community leagues in Ward 8 to create the infrastructure needed for us to develop individual brands.

What Edmonton needs to do is provide development and opportunity that will allow independent businesses to attract new and existing customers to their base. Customers shop at larger national chains due to convenience much more so then for the product. As City Council, we need to eliminate certain red tape that does not allow local businesses to expand or head into areas of shopping convenience for customers.

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

 

I believe firmly in our city’s need to pull back on the amount of outward expansion we are currently seeing. When there is not enough money to fix basic problems like filling in potholes on city streets, there is not enough money to properly grow our city outward. 

Expanding the city boundaries and taking up viable agriculture lands is not a good idea at this time. Edmonton is fortunate to have Class 1, 2, and 3 agricultural soils within the city limits, but so far we have not done a very good job of keeping this land in tact. I have read that since the early 1980s, Edmonton has lost 74% of its Class 1 soils. This number does not include the percentage we will lose due to previous Council’s decision to create further urban sprawl.

The agricultural land on the edge of Edmonton is some of the best land in the province. We have enough capacity to support our population growth and for no reason should we relinquish this asset. I am disappointed in the previous Council’s decision to not preserve this valuable land space. 

I am heartened to see a new group has been created to look at Food and Urban agriculture in Edmonton. I look forward to working with them on their ideas on how to keep the land that we have and allow for this to be a ‘Made in Edmonton’ solution. We also have to be creative in our ways when it comes to produce created in our backyards.

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

 

We must be respectful of the fact that we are living on Treaty 6 land. Our past was cultivated from our Indigenous history and we must be respectful and mindful of this. 

I believe that all workplaces in Edmonton take part in professional development when it comes to Cultural Awareness training. This goes for not only our newcomers to Canada, but also for training in understanding Indigenous culture especially when played out at the work site.

We need to actively work towards straying away stereotypes and work towards understanding Observable Tendencies. By understanding observable tendencies, we can begin to break down walls that have been erected due to false information. 

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

 

As a regular transit user, I am aware of the need for an LRT system that works and am committed to getting it in place sooner as opposed to later. We need federal, provincial and city funding to accomplish this and I am as aware as anyone of the concerns over privatization. 

I do support a private-public partnership to fund the new LRT lines, but only if the city controls the schedule and the cost of the fares. I feel making it partly private could be fine, as long as people don’t have to deal with issues such as having to pay more than one fare, or wait long periods of time or deal with a lack of frequent service. 

I am like a lot of citizens in that I use public transit every day and have to journey for an hour when my place of work is a mere 15 minute drive. Elect me to council and I will push hard for a smoothly efficient LRT system that eliminates such wait times.

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

 

Post-secondary schools have the reputation of being disconnected with the workplace. We need to change this perception and show how post-secondary institutions can work with businesses s to directly add value to businesses through education.

Workplace literacy programs are the way of the future. I am familiar with programs created by Literacy Alberta and NorQuest College when it comes to literacy and culture. In fact, I know of a few businesses who run programs that allows for businesses in Alberta to set up and deliver an English in the Workplace program at their work site. 

The City of Edmonton must work to promote these types of materials when they are created and ensure knowledge and use of the products is out there. It would be nice for City Council to work with the Edmonton Literacy Coalition in setting up a ‘Best Practices’ website or booklet for businesses. To the best of my knowledge, I do not believe we have this at this point OR if we do have this . . . it is not widely known. The challenge of literacy for all cannot be undertaken by teachers and facilitators alone. 

Businesses must see Literacy Workplace programs as having a Return on Investment. City council must ensure we support the programming your coalition creates and brings business to the table. Literacy must be invested in and the return on investment is high. 

I just received the Piaac slide presentation a few days ago and I look forward to seeing how Canada compares with the world at large. It worries me how we are achieving below the OECD average for numeracy. 

What can we do as a City Council? We can actively listen and follow through with our promises. We can foster the environment that connects educators and business . . . then get out of your way and eliminate the red tape that stands in the way when momentum arises. We have outstanding services in the city. We can do a better job bringing people to the table. Not lip service, but active engagement.

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

 

The biggest challenge in Ward 8 is that we have been overlooked when it comes to plans for the city. The Downtown area and the outlying areas have received the attention; however, Ward 8 has not had the attention. We have been put at the back of the list when it comes to road renewal and we are experiencing a lack of infill in our mature neighbourhoods. In forums and other interviews, our incumbent says that he would like to do more on this. It has been 6 years and it is still the same. The ‘would likes’ must turn into ‘yes’ right away. Too many decisions about this area are being made by people who do not live and work in this area.

We have the challenge that the next 4 years will be spent completing previously announced projects and newer proposals and their budgets will be more difficult to follow through on. We need a strong voice who is willing to fight for the Ward and put the Ward first.

I seek multiple solutions for our area. We need to build projects from the ground floor and generate support from the ground floor. We have a Bonnie Doon Twin arena project that has slowly worked through the system to get the go ahead for building. A project like this makes the area a potential destination point and can help our area build. A project created by the people and for the people has to given attention and must have have strong stewardship from our sitting Councilperson. 

The downtown is receiving an arena . . . we want a piece of the pie as well . . . a piece much much smaller in comparison; however, one that will directly benefit the area greatly.

I also seek creating opportunities for small business owners to build or expand on their ideas. We also must turn our existing underused spots into gathering areas that will enrich our community and bring people home to our Ward. Key point . . . Home. A destination point . . . not an area of roads that bring commuters to the new development areas only.

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

 

We welcome everyone to join us on my Facebook page. On the page, I provide further information on what I stand for as well as volunteering for the last days of the campaign. https://www.facebook.com/brian.a.deacon.Ward8

It has been fantastic door knocking and being able to talk to people directly. Everyone has been friendly and responsive and are excited to be listened to. That is what I have heard the most at the door . . . there has been a lack of transparency with decisions made and people feel they are overlooked. 

We have a group of volunteers who will be in various areas of Ward 8 during the last few days of the campaign and we would love to have you join us! Please contact me at brian.a.deacon@gmail.com or 587.983.0278 if you have any questions, ideas or if you would like to help us during the last few days.

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