Get to Know Who's Running: Cody Bondarchuk (Ward tastawiyiniwak (ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ))

By Emil Tiedemann

There happens to be a Municipal Election coming up in Edmonton on October 18, 2021, and I think it's important for locals to get to know the City Council candidates running for their particular ward (as well as their Mayoral candidates, of course). I chose to get more involved in the election this year and so wanted to give each candidate a chance to tell us a little about themselves, their vision, and why you should vote for them. I have sent a 10-question questionnaire to each of the 2021 Edmonton Municipal Election candidates and will post their responses (100% as written) here as they come in. With that said, let's get to know...

Ward tastawiyiniwak (ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ)

Cody Bondarchuk

"Born and raised on the north side of Edmonton, Cody Bondarchuk (he/him) is an advocate, writer, and community leader. Cody is a former President of the Lorelei-Beaumaris Community League, where he led a significant overhaul of the league’s internal policies and bylaws, resulting in more effective operations. He also worked with stakeholders to advance issues related to traffic safety and community infrastructure. Cody holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Alberta. During his time in university, he managed the campus community safety program Safewalk from 2013 to 2015. In 2015, he was elected Vice President Operations and Finance of the Students’ Union, where he represented more than 30,000 students, oversaw eight food and retail businesses, and managed an $11 million operating budget. He also served one term on the University Senate. Cody is currently the Constituency Manager for a local MLA, where he addresses constituent concerns, assists residents in accessing government services, and works with communities to advance their priorities. He believes in the principles of progressive economics, solidarity with workers, and doing the right thing even when it’s difficult. Cody is running to be your representative on City Council."

The Questions:

IE/ Why do you want to run for City Council?

CBI’m running to be effective, to get things done, and to materially improve the city I love. 

I have been interested in politics and governance my entire life, and see this opportunity as a chance to improve things for Edmontonians. Too many people have felt jaded and disconnected from the political system in the last few years because they don’t see their lives improving – with some exceptions, politicians talk about the initiatives they want to champion and the policies they want to improve, but little action actually happens.

IE/ Can you tell us about your past or current experiences that you think could possibly benefit/ translate to your position as a member of City Council?

CBI am fortunate to have had opportunities throughout my career to work on many of the different parts that make up a system. Rather than diving deeply into any one subject area, I’ve developed skills across organizations and offices that make me qualified for the complex job of a councillor.

Specifically, I have led both a community league and a campus safety program, and have experience with everything from policy development to staff management to stakeholder relations to budget oversight. In university, I was elected the Vice President Operations & Finance for our Students’ Union, where I represented 30,000 undergraduate students, oversaw the operation of eight businesses, and managed an $11 million operating budget. Currently, I work as a constituency manager in Edmonton, where I speak directly with people every day, help address their concerns, and advocate for issues that matter to them.

IE/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?

CBThe management of the COVID-19 pandemic is the single largest issue facing our city – and the world – right now, and the eventually recovery will cast a shadow over everything else next term’s council does. In fact, pandemic recovery ties into many of the longstanding issues Edmonton has faced recently: developing our road and transit networks for the next generation, ending housing insecurity, and maintaining and improving Edmontonians’ quality of life. It is no longer possible to tackle any one issue independent of others – many of them overlap and need to be addressed head-on, without hesitation or delay.

IE/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?

CBHaving lived in north Edmonton my entire life, it’s a common complaint that City Hall doesn’t give the same support to our communities as they do to the rest of the city. When faced with resolving something like this, my approach is one of collaboration, not anger and division – rather than going on the defensive about the lack of supports and services on the north side, we need to proactively demonstrate to the rest of Edmonton everything that makes our communities great. By showing them the potential of the north side, we can secure more development, funding, and service delivery. I was raised in a fantastic north side community, and I know that we deserve support as much as any other part of the city and we can work with each other to secure that support.

IE/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?

CBEdmonton’s Neighbourhood Renewal program has largely been a success in the neighbourhoods that have already gone through it, and I am in support of expanding and accelerating this program as many communities are in need of infrastructure repairs. While I have some concerns about additional costs put onto residents when part of the renewal program is considered non-essential (which could lead to communities declining infrastructure work that is sorely needed), the program as a whole works well, and the consultation process is robust and detailed. I am also very supportive of the city’s new waste management program – some of my family lives on Prince Edward Island, and they have been using bins to sort waste from compostable items for decades without hassle. It helps divert garbage from landfills, saves money, and involves residents more directly in the waste management process. It is a fairly new program, so I am excited to see how the rollout continues this year and what feedback constituents have for the city about how it works for them.

IE/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?

CBI am continually frustrated by the lack of action of significant files like road and transit network management. Repeated reports coming to council for consideration add extra layers of bureaucracy that can slow down projects and cost us money. While Edmonton should not pursue projects hastily or without study, so much is unnecessarily delayed when action could be taken quickly to address urgent issues. If LRT projects are delayed, they end up costing more when they do go ahead (which they will need to, as our city continues to grow). Other issues like ending housing insecurity or banning street checks could be addressed almost immediately, and City Council must use its political mandate to address these issues without delay.

IE/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?

CBGenerally, I think it’s a bad idea for elected officials to block their constituents on social media, but I also have concerns about formalizing it as a rule.

As was brought up earlier this year when City Council debated and then rejected a proposed social media conduct guideline, formal rules about blocking would result in an immense amount of time being used to debate and legitimize hostile and abusive behaviour on social media. While social media has created a more direct line between constituents and elected representatives that can be beneficial, it is not reasonable to ask a councillor to continue to endure messages and posts that go beyond criticism and into inappropriate territory, especially when we know that public figures who are women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+ receive the bulk of online abuse. I trust that most elected officials know where the line is between criticism and hostility from the public, and that elected officials who block people without good reason will have that behaviour addressed at the ballot box.

IE/ When it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, what do you think we got wrong (if anything) as a city or province, and is there anything you would want to do differently (municipally OR provincially)?

CBIt is difficult to properly assess our government’s pandemic strategy while we are still living in it. That being said, there is ample evidence from the many different approaches governments around the world have taken to address it that while we have stumbled at times, our response has largely been effective in slowing the spread of the virus at the city level. I know many of us are upset and frustrated by the additional public health measures and the significant changes to our lives, and I have my share of complaints with the inconsistent measures and hypocritical approach of the provincial government, but I want to stress two things: first, we only need to look at jurisdictions like Los Angeles in the United States to see what could happen if we lift restrictions early. In periods when we have low active case counts, it is still important to be vigilant because the virus can spread rapidly when left unchecked, and a matter of days can mean the difference between 100 cases and 2,000. In Los Angeles, the city government lifted restrictions just as the active case numbers were beginning to decline. A few weeks later, 1 in 4 residents were sick. This overloaded public services and caused so much unnecessary death and prolonged illness, even for otherwise healthy people.

Second, this will end. I know people are worried about their health and their futures, and it seems like there is no end in sight, but this is not going to happen forever. We are responding to an urgent health and safety threat, and we will come out of this knowing our sacrifices and frustrations were worth it to prevent even more death and potentially lifelong sickness of our fellow Edmontonians. The approval of various vaccines has made it possible to map out how we return to a somewhat normal life, understanding that we may need to be patient a while longer before that happens. As a councillor, I would do everything in my power to ensure governments support people during challenging times, because that is what they are there for.

IE/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?

CBI love this city so much, and for so many reasons. To me, Edmonton feels like the biggest small town in the world – it is remarkable that we have been able to grow and expand over the years while still keeping our local spirit and caring for each other. Having lived here my entire life, I have gotten to experience cultures from around the world, enjoy the top-tier art and music we produce, and admire the compassion and resilience this city has shown me. We are not perfect, but something unique to Edmonton is our willingness to understand when we get it wrong, and work to make it right.

IE/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?

CBReady to get to work!

Thank you, Cody! 

Follow along with the candidates on Twitter HERE#yegvotes2021
Find Cody on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
See Cody's Platform/Priorities HERE.
Visit Cody's website HERE.
Contact Cody HERE.


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