Get to Know Who's Running: Derek Hlady (Ward sipiwiyiniwak)
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...
“I'm Derek Hlady and I'm running for Edmonton City Council because I believe we can make Edmonton better for everyone. Edmonton is a wonderful city and a great place to call home. The diverse and friendly population is welcoming and inclusive, but for far too long we have accepted a city council that seems out of touch with the everyday citizen. We can do better! We can clean up the fiscal mismanagement and waste. We can deliver practical infrastructure projects on time and on budget. We can listen to the needs of ALL Edmontonians. We can put and end to the relentless tax hikes by cutting waste not services. We can make Edmonton an easier place to do business. We can have better transportation solutions. We can say NO to industrial development in our river valley. We can grow a city that everyone wants to live in. I believe in this City and I want to be a part of the change! If you believe in this vision please sign up, volunteer and donate today. Together, let's make Edmonton better for Everyone!"
I♥E/ Why do you want to run for City Council?
DH/ I am running for Council because I have felt over the last while that many voices in Edmonton are not being heard. I dislike divisiveness and I believe that we can come up with better solutions by working together rather than fighting one another, by taking into account the needs and desires of all Edmontonians. There is no reason why we can’t plan and build for the future while treating everyone equally and with respect.*
I♥E/ 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?
DH/ I'm a regular guy, not a politician and I have no interest in pretending to be something I'm not just to win votes. I feel first and foremost the citizens have to trust the Council and know that they have their best interests at heart. I have owned businesses in construction as well as oil and gas so I understand fiscal responsibility and how to make things work by utilizing what you have rather than what you wish you had. I've always had a tremendous ability to understand what different parties want and found mutually beneficial solutions to issues that at first appeared unsolvable. I feel my creative problem solving ability, construction experience and financial literacy will be the most important tools I can bring to the job.
I♥E/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?
DH/ Financial strain and our provincial economy are going to have a tremendous impact on the growth of our City for years to come. Let’s face it the boom years are over and not coming back for the foreseeable future so it’s now more important than ever to be fiscally responsible. Increasing taxes every year to cover bad policy is unsustainable. Honestly righting the fiscal ship should be the biggest concern to all of us. Obviously we need to take care of problems like homelessness, crime, business closures, etc. so we all have a vested interest in getting the budget right.
I♥E/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?
DH/ People I talk with in my ward have largely the same issues as I have. They feel that the current Council is out of touch with their needs and that the current group isn’t voting in a way that represents them. Most are against the poorly planned and designed LRT projects that cost too much, cause massive traffic delays, are unreliable and unsafe. If we can’t do LRT properly then why are we wasting our money on it? Safe, reliable, comfortable and convenient LRT would be a great option for people who could choose to not buy cars and instead use public transit. However that’s not what we are building, so of course most people will still choose to drive if given the option. That’s why we’ve spent billions of dollars and not increased ridership.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?
DH/ One of the best decisions this council has made is to finally fix the Yellowhead. Edmonton has been plagued with bad road design for many years so it’s nice to see this one finally getting addressed. Let’s face it we live in northern Alberta and getting around by car is going to remain the preferred method of transportation for many years to come. So how about we accept that and do a better job of moving people around the city so that they are able to reduce their time driving. I have some other interesting ideas that I want to explore as far as city planning and reducing the amount of driving people do each year, but for now I'll just let people know quality infrastructure is very high on my priority list.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?
DH/ Well I've already mentioned the west LRT line and how it looks like a disaster in the making. I'm really not sure why we need the hub and spoke city design in Edmonton and would of rather seen a line that went from the south side straight to the west end. I don’t feel we get Infill right and I think there are better ways to achieve higher densification while still allowing affordable single family homes for those that want them. I feel that the current city plan has some flaws and doesn’t take into account that residents will just buy a house in one of the outlying communities if we make it unaffordable for them here. Causing a construction boom outside of the city does nothing for us in the long run so we need a better plan. Perhaps we would be better off having density based tax rates to cover the additional costs of single family homes rather than making them something only the wealthy can afford. In my opinion we need more 15 minute communities and a layout that is easier to move around rather than the scattered haphazard situation we have now. Net zero houses are possible but our current model makes them unaffordable so that needs to change and while I realize there are provincial regulations that affect that, we should be moving things in that direction. Moving around the city has to get better and needs to be a huge priority if we are going to remain sustainable. If Covid 19 has taught us anything it’s that a lot of office work can now be done at home but trades people, truck drivers, construction workers, retail staff, etc. are still going to have to leave the house every day in order to keep the wheels turning, so any future plan needs to accommodate this. I picture a future city where an average person could have a home office and not have to leave to go to work. One where there is fast easy access to an industrial corridor and public transit is an attractive option rather than something people are forced to take. I'm also very much opposed to industrial projects in the river valley. We have so many brownfield locations around the city that would be better candidates for a solar farm, so it boggles the mind as to why this site was chosen. EPCOR makes over 700M per year EBITDA, they could definitely afford to build this elsewhere.*
I♥E/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?
DH/ Let’s face it there are a lot of abusive trolls on social media. No one should have to put up with that regardless of their job.
I♥E/ 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)?
DH/ COVID sucks. It's been a trying time for everyone on many fronts. We are all experiencing this collective trauma because of it even though it is a different experience for every one of us. I am surprised that with all the best people around the world, we couldn't come up with ways to better protect the vulnerable without such a deep impact on everyone else. But, it is what it is, thankfully we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and with any luck life will return to normal before too long.
I♥E/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?
DH/ The number one thing about living in Edmonton has always been the people. I have friends and business associates from all backgrounds and it continually warms my heart to see the friendliness and generosity of this City. A close second is the River Valley. I'm there biking, running, hiking or taking the dogs for a walk every chance I get.
I♥E/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
DH/ Probably not. Sorry lol.
*These responses have been edited at the request of the candidate.
Thank you, Derek!
Follow along with the candidates on Twitter HERE! #yegvotes2021
See Derek's Platform/Priorities HERE.
Visit Derek's website HERE.Contact Derek HERE.