electioneering with the edmontonian: kicking in doors

I figured, if I was going to write something about campaign

Janz, Janz, he's our man.

door-knocking, I should do some campaign door-knocking.

I convinced Ward F trustee candidate Michael Janz (a product of fine, public schools no matter what his opponent says) that I would be a worthwhile addition to his street team this past weekend.

Campaigning on Thanksgiving weekend? I guess there’s always time for turkey once the votes are counted.

If you’ve never been door-knocking with a candidate, let me tell you how it went down.


Ghost Mayors …on City Services

A historical satire by actors who did little research, from the team.

From garbage collection to policing, recreation to power generation, the City of Edmonton provides a lot to its residents. Our city’s former mayors sure have some thoughts on what could be done better. And what they’d rather just take care of without you sticking your nose into it.

In this forum:

Mayor Matthew (Mat) “Warden” McCauley – Edmonton’s first mayor

Mayor William J. McNamara – First mayor to defeat a sitting incumbent, in the city’s closest race (still the closest race to date)

Mayor William “Wild Bill” Hawrelak – 3 time mayor, twice had to leave office because of land deals, eventually died in office

After the jump you’ll find out what they think. Hopefully Fightin’ Joe Clarke doesn’t show up to settle the score with Mayor McNamara… (more…)

Ghost Mayors …on taxes, spending…and fighting

A historical satire by actors who did very little research, from the team.

You can’t keep a good mayor down. And if you’ve got a handful of former Edmonton mayors they are going to have opinions on just what we should be doing with our taxes, city spending, and schools. Even if they have no idea how things work in 2010.

The debate could get heated. It might even spark a new run for the mayor’s office.

In this forum:

Mayor Joseph Clarke – Fightin’ Joe. Mayor, councillor, constant candidate, brawler.

Mayor David Duggan – Pro-business and pro-radio. Also Alberta Conservative leader.

Mayor Matthew (Mat) “Warden” McCauley – Edmonton’s first mayor

Find out who’s going to run for mayor, again, after the jump. (more…)

Ghost Mayors …on Planning

Who better to weigh in on the Edmonton election, and the issues facing our city in 2010, then the men who made Alberta’s capital what it is today?

So what if they’re dead? Doesn’t mean they don’t have opinions. Edmonton’s mayors are back from beyond and they have something to say about this city’s future.

In this forum:

Mayor Matthew (Mat) “Warden” McCauley – Edmonton’s first mayor

Mayor William Thomas Henry – The dean of Edmonton’s furniture trade

Mayor William “Wild Bill” Hawrelak – 3 time mayor, twice had to leave office because of land deals, eventually died in office

Playable, downloadable forum after the jump. (more…)

2009 Urban Design Awards Launch

City Market Affordable Housing, 2007 Urban Design Award Winner for Urban Architecture

City Market Affordable Housing, 2007 Urban Design Award Winner for Urban Architecture

Guess what, Edmonton – we’ve managed to fool a couple of different organizations into believing that we’re a real news outlet. Yes, that’s right, we’re starting to get added to people’s press release lists.  This is great news, as it helps a bit with news gathering; but because most press conferences occur during the day, it means we can’t attend, what with our REAL JOBS.  Enjoy your free coffee, jerks.

Anyway, I am going somewhere with this; today at 10:30 a.m., the City is going to hold a press conference launching their 3rd biennial Urban Design Awards.  I know this because I got a press release for it.  Thanks, City of Edmonton!

Today’s “launch” is actually fancy-talk for the first day of the City’s call for submissions.  There are awards in six categories;

  • Unimplemented urban design plans
  • Implemented urban design plans
  • Urban architecture
  • Civic design projects
  • Urban fragments
  • Community improvement projects

Since I have no idea what any of those things actually mean, I went back to the 2007 site.  The submission form from 2007 explains the categories in a bit more detail; though maybe don’t spend your morning poring over it (I know how you kids love architecture) because I assume that there will be a 2009 version of the form put up after the press conference.

Welcome to Edmonton! Home of your sci-fi nightmares since 2008.

Welcome to Edmonton! Home of your sci-fi wasteland nightmares since 2008.

Maybe instead, we can just check out some award winners from 2007.  It kind of makes me laugh that the controversial-and-wicked-expensive-and-also-deeply-terrifying-welcoming pyramid won an award  for unimplemented urban design plan (though in the interest of full-disclosure, it must be said that back in 2008, I lobbied hard to make this Edmonton’s new entrance sign).

Other award winners in 2007 included Enterprise Square, Bergstrom Block and the Terwilligar Drive Pederstrian Overpass.

The call for submissions will remain open until October 8.   Tell your architect friends.

(You guys have no idea how hard I tried to work a “Ted Mosby: Sex Architect” joke in here somewhere.)

Pt. 4: Better Late than Never, or Plan Municipal Development Even Harder

Full House

Do you guys remember all this jazz? When I went to City Hall for the first time to try and wrap my brain around the Municipal Development Plan?

Part of my efforts to do so included sending an e-mail to all the City Councillors, in search of answers to some of my questions. In the end, I talked to a few folks, far more than I ever expected would return my calls – but about two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the the City’s planning and development department, letting me know that Councillor Bryan Anderson had passed my questions on to them.

They asked for clarification on some of my concerns, because, y’know, I’m barely literate – and then last week I received this incredibly thorough answer sheet from Councillor Anderson’s assistant, Erin Poulsen (no relation).

Wow, you should totally read it, because it’s written in PLAIN ENGLISH, which meant Jeff didn’t have to play English-to-Sally interpreter for me, as he usually does. The first page is filled with my questions, and the next two are all the answers.

If you aren’t so inclined, or if you don’t have the time, here’s the Coles notes of the things I found important. It’s mostly the MDP backstory that I didn’t know.

-The Municipal Development Plan (MDP), because it has not yet been approved by Council, is still in the draft stage.The Way We Grow

-The very first draft of the MDP was presented to Council in November of 2008. A multitude of folks came out to throw their two cents in, and the MDP project team took their concerns and looked into them. Based on this research, some changes were proposed to the document- and those changes were discussed at the hearing I went to back in June.

In September, Council is going to discuss and vote on these proposed changes. After that, the new, amended version of the MDP will be reviewed again at another Public Hearing in November.

(To see copies of the draft MDP, the draft Transportation Master Plan and the City’s 10 Year Strategic Plan, go here. Minutes from the Council meeting that I went to are available here.

The rest of the answers pertain specifically to food security, and are largely a retread of ground we covered here. But it’s still totally worth reading, if only to marvel at the fact that people with real jobs took time out of their day to answer me.

Seriously, team, we are going to be so g.d. informed when September rolls around. This is going to be the first City Council issue ever where I actually know wtf is going on. Thanks City of Edmonton!

Do something about your airport

ECCA-scared cloud

The fight for City Centre is on!

This WAS going to be a long, drawn out story about the history of the Edmonton City Centre Airport (ECCA) and the debate around its closure.

But instead, I’m just going to point you in the direction of a couple of websites that have all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision. Granted, it’s the decision of Edmonton City Council – but it’s your council and you tell them what to do.

So…poke around the “Save Our Airport” website to find out who wants to keep the municipal airport open, and why…then check out “Not My Airport” for more information, including opinions from those who want the land developed into a medium to high-density neighbourhood.

You can also follow (or participate) in a live debate on the City Centre Airport on Twitter. Jump into conversations with people using the #ecca hashtag, or search #ecca to find out what people are saying.

On July 8 Edmonton City Council meets to decide the fate of the City Centre Airport. It could be their final vote on the matter, ever.

Pt. 2: Loud-whispering, sonic candy and a soap opera about land.

Crowd at City HallAlright. When we left off, I was having a very special feelings moment about just what it means to be at a City Council meeting: they’re just people, it’s just a process, we’re all free to be you and me, top notch, good times. But now it’s time for me to put away the Kleenex and the Eskimo kisses and get into the actual details of what happened.

GEA's Michael Walters addresses the crowd

GEA's Michael Walters addresses the crowd

First off, there were A LOT of people there. Hundreds. So many, in fact, that the Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA) held a pre-meeting debriefing to explain the details of what was going on, and how to behave in Council Chambers (which was nice, because as I’ve already established, I was pants-wettingly nervous about being there in the first place). The rules were basically just to be quiet. You can’t applaud, cheer, boo, hiss, argue or “rabble rabble rabble” in any way.

"...and the race for the best seat at Folkfest begins!"

"...and the race for the best seat at Folkfest begins!"

We were also instructed that the group was obviously over capacity for council chambers, and that any overflow of people could sit in the lobby or in an adjoining room and watch the whole affair on CCTV(on some pretty pimp TVs, I might add).

And then they let us inside. CHAOS! And by CHAOS!, I mean hundreds of people politely heading up the stairs, and then waiting patiently to get inside.GEDC0466

Once inside, it was standing room only. The council welcomed everyone, made a few jokes about how we’re welcome all the time if we’d like to come back and then they called the first of many speakers for the evening. (more…)

Pt. 1:”…so it’s like Footloose, but with vegetables?”

Full House(Two things before we delve into my experience at last night’s public consultation meeting at City Hall:

1) This is the first of a series of posts targeted at people who don’t understand or care about civic politics. If you don’t fall into that category and are looking for a point-by-point account of what happened, check out the article in this morning’s Edmonton Journal.

2) My account of last night’s meeting is going to be posted in several parts throughout the next few days, so if you’re interested check back regularly or follow us on Twitter.)

Okay. This is more than a little embarrassing to admit, but at 29 years old, I don’t know or understand anything about City Council.

Maybe it’s because I went to technical school instead of university, or maybe it’s because I’ve done my best to emotionally repress most of junior high and high school, but when it comes to the specifics of how government operates (at any level) I’m pretty much Simple Jack over here. My attempts to understand politics, whether through hearsay, the media, or even political science books all end the same way – with me wanting to beat my head against a wall, because I sort of understand what people are talking about, but then I also sort of don’t.

It’s like I’ve missed some pivotal plot point that everyone else around me caught; think of seeing “The Sixth Sense” and not getting that (uh oh, 1999 spoiler alert!) Bruce Willis was a ghost. The credits roll, and you’re looking around, and everybody else is nodding excitedly and talking about what just happened, and you’re totally lost. And I, personally, hate it. I want to be informed, and it has long been my opinion that more people would be engaged in civic politics if it didn’t just make them feel so incredibly stupid.

So what can I do about this? I consulted my thinktank: (more…)

Edmonton’s Food Economy

There's not enough room for the food security crowd.

Not enough room for the food security crowd.

It’s a packed house at City Hall tonight. So packed they’ve had to set up overflow seating outside council chambers and broadcast the Municipal Development Plan hearing to those who couldn’t find a seat.

What’s all the fuss, you might ask?

Even if you didn’t ask I’ll tell you. The Greater Edmonton Alliance, a citizen’s group, is looking to make sure food economics are written into the 10-year vision of Edmonton. The group doesn’t agree with the administrative report which pins our local food hopes on you getting into the garden. They also want a larger say in the planning centred around farming. (more…)

Public Involvement Events Calendar

searchable calendar

Just because I dig this, and was not aware that all this info was in one location: a searchable calendar of public City Council meetings, information sessions, open houses, and anything else citizens at large may be interested in. Handy!

That’s it. The more you know.

I can use the Internets to do what?!

virtualedmontonI’m probably miles behind the curve on this, but did you know that the City has a website that offers a VIRTUAL TOUR of CITY HALL? This really knocked my socks off!

Admittedly, I’m at a bit of a loss as to who the intended audience is, because it seems unlikely to me that anyone who would be interested would be beyond visiting distance of the real deal. But what do I know? I’m still trying to understand how they got that big building in my tiny computer. From the website: