Opin­ion

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Edmonton -

Down­town Ed­mon­ton has a lot rid­ing on this mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

As Oc­to­ber 16 draws near, re­mem­ber that we’re ap­proach­ing the moment when we’ll choose a voice for the core. Even for peo­ple who don’t live in Ward 6, a strong vi­sion for down­town has never been more im­por­tant.

Four men have their sights set on Ed­mon­ton’s Ward 6, think­ing long­ingly of what could be if they win.

But I worry some can­di­dates don’t see the for­est for the trees.

My mail­box is full of lit­er­a­ture boast­ing of can­di­dates who are “Hum­ble Phi­lan­thropists,” like B&B De­mo­li­tion Founder Bill Knight. Or Tish Prouse, the for­mer pres­i­dent of the East­wood com­mu­nity league, who de­scribes him­self as “well ed­u­cated,” which, he ar­gues, “al­lows (him) to an­tic­i­pate prob­lems be­fore they oc­cur.”

OK great, but what does this mean for down­town?

Knight, ac­cord­ing to his cam­paign lit­er­a­ture, en­vi­sions a city where the coun­cil­lor is out door knock­ing con­stantly, while Prouse is fo­cused on the preser­va­tion of his­tor­i­cal build­ings down­town.

Ev­ery­one has thoughts on infill, of course, and men­tions devel­op­ment and ur­ban sprawl.

But for the most part promises are vague, push­ing for “re­spect­ful infill,” and point­ing the fin­ger at de­vel­op­ers for caus­ing prop­erty dam­age or build­ing places no one wants to live.

Ac­coun­tant Ab­dil Pirb­hai has an in­ter­est­ing pro­posal to link con­struc­tion in the sub­urbs to re­de­vel­op­ment in the down­town core, and wants one dol­lar of every ten spent on new build­ings to be di­rected to revitalization.

Mc­K­een shines strong­est on his re­flec­tion of infill and his clear de­sire to re­ju­ve­nate com­mu­ni­ties and help bring fam­i­lies into the core.

He ar­gues, cor­rectly, that one of the best ways to deal with ur­ban sprawl is to cre­ate af­ford­able high and mid­dle den­sity. Fam­i­lies need to live in places that they can af­ford, and right now that’s the sub­urbs.

Not to men­tion our taxes go up when ur­ban sprawl goes unchecked.

The can­di­dates are a bit stronger on their plans for so­cial ser­vices.

Ed­mon­ton has an es­ti­mated 1,752 peo­ple liv­ing on the streets, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 count by Home­ward Trust.

Knight, who has ex­pe­ri­enced home­less­ness him­self, is ad­vo­cat­ing for com­pre­hen­sive well­ness cen­tres, in­clud­ing, ac­cord­ing to his web­site “safe in­jec­tion sites” sim­i­lar to those cur­rently be­ing de­bated in McCauley.

Prouse clucks his tongue at Coun­cil’s ten­dency to pro­vide “je­june quodli­bets in­stead of pro­gres­sive mea­sures.” (That is a pre­ten­tious way of say­ing they chew the fat on the same top­ics a lot.)

He does of­fer a very long plan on his web­site, the crux of which is that Ed­mon­ton shouldn’t have said they were go­ing to end home­less­ness in 10 years, and he will get the prov­ince to com­mit to fund­ing to hire 400 sup­port work­ers.

One area where can­di­dates are lack­ing is rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Mc­K­een does ar­gue that Ed­mon­ton must be­come, “Canada’s great indige­nous city, through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, prom­ise-keep­ing and part­ner­ships,” but oth­er­wise the is­sue doesn’t seem to be on the radar.

Now is the time when we get to choose the per­son who will be a ma­jor player in the devel­op­ment of down­town over the next four years.

Get out on Mon­day and vote for your vi­sion of down­town.

Kevin Tuong/for MeTro

The down­town Ed­mon­ton sky­line.

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