Get to Know Who's Running: Joshua Wolchansky (Ward O-day'min)

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 O-day'min

Joshua Wolchansky

"O-day’min is the heart of our city. With the highest population density, four post-secondary institutions, and the majority of our arts and culture, hospitality, and labour activity. It generates millions of dollars in economic activity for Edmontonians. The heart of our city is in danger. Our economy is stalled, the housing and poverty crises need urgent attention, people have less opportunity, and we are losing our sense of community. On October 18, we will decide who is elected to be our next representative – our voice on Council. We need to elect a Councillor who will fight for the heart of the City. I want to honour our ward’s heritage as a gathering place – a place of building new opportunities. We can make it through these challenges by working together and embracing what ties us together. As your Councillor, I promise to fight for progress and inclusion, and lead with empathy. I will be a strong voice for workers and our local economy, for the hospitality sector, and for bold social progress. We will leverage our unique strengths to address the challenges we face."

The Questions:

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

Joshua WolchanskyI’m a passionate Edmontonian who was raised to take care of my community. I grew up in Capilano, and went to school at Victoria School of the Arts from grades six to twelve. I now work downtown, teach in Queen Mary Park, and live in (soon-to-be-renamed) Oliver. You can usually spot me either riding my bike, on a patio with a beer in hand, or taking in a local show or festival.

I’m running to be the next O’day-min Councillor because I love this city. I will invest in our city’s future and put people first as we recover from the pandemic. 

I have learned valuable skills through my experience in public service, in being a part of our arts and live entertainment community, and my volunteer service. I look forward to putting those skills to use as a Councillor. I will step up to take care of the social and housing crisis, reignite the downtown core, address climate change, and invest in our neighbourhoods.

Let’s get to work. Our communities can’t wait.

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?

JWOver the last decade, I’ve been working as a public servant for our province, in economic development, international relations, and environmental protection. I volunteer on the board of the Fruit Loop Society of Alberta, raising funds in our community for local nonprofits as an events and festival producer. We’ve supported organizations like HIV Edmonton, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, and the Edmonton Two Spirit Society, to name a few.

I am a performing artist by trade, a ballet and contemporary dancer, and now teach adults at a local studio. I also produce and consult various events and festivals with local performance-based groups. Edmonton’s arts and culture scene is world-class, and I’m committed to investing in our artists and arts organizations.

I’m passionate about building connections. I bring people together, to collaborate and build a better tomorrow. I’m asking for your support in using my skills as your next Councillor for O-day’min, the heart of our city. 

Aftering working alongside Edmonton City-Centre MLA David Shepherd on a number of different issues, I am proud to have his endorsement and support in this campaign. I am inspired by David’s style of collaboration, community presence, and support for local organizations in building a better tomorrow.

Through my work in the community, I have developed strong relationships with local leaders and am proud to have their support. A full list of endorsements can be viewed on my website HERE.

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

JWI’m proud of our robust plan and platform posted here on my website, which outlines my priorities, including how I’ll get the work done and put people first. If I had to pick my top four, I would say:

  1. Address our social crisis - we need to invest in supportive and affordable housing that have wraparound social services, along with programs like financial literacy programs, jobs and skills training. We also need to make sure that our city’s policies, programs, and partners are actively anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and inclusive of the diversity of our communities.

  2. Reignite the downtown core – downtown represents a full ten percent of the city’s tax base, even though it only takes up one percent of our city’s land! A strong downtown makes a strong Edmonton. I have developed a plan to activate our spaces to attract people back downtown, address vacancy issues in the core, support our arts and culture scene, and develop supports for businesses impacted by Capital infrastructure projects.

  3. Address Climate Change – I will tackle climate change, and build our city to weather the surprises of tomorrow’s storms. I will introduce programs to understand, appreciate, and enjoy our River Valley. I will leverage Federal dollars to advance electrification of our transit fleet. Let’s do the work to be a leader in climate resiliency, and keep our city’s heart beating strong for generations to come.

Stop the sprawl, invest in our neighbourhoods – You deserve to live in an amazing community. I will protect our green spaces, and build places where we can gather and connect with each other. I will make sure neighbourhoods have the resources they need so that you can focus on living your life to the fullest.

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

JWO-day’min is the heart of our city. Generating millions of dollars in economic activity for Edmontonians each year, our ward has the highest population density, four post-secondary institutions, and the majority of our arts, culture, hospitality, and labour activity in the city. A strong O-day’min is a strong Edmonton. 

The heart of our city is in danger. Our economy is stalled, the housing and poverty crises need urgent attention, people have less opportunity, and we are losing our sense of community. As we emerge from the pandemic, I will ensure that O-day’min will lead the economy, and that Council invests in the ward with students, families, seniors, artists, and workers in mind.

As your Councillor, I will fight for progress and inclusion, and lead with empathy. I will be a strong voice for workers, our local economy, the hospitality sector, and for bold social progress. I believe that every Edmontonian has a right to feel safe, supported, and welcomed. I will focus on getting the work done and putting people first.

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

JWOne of the programs I want to build on is Capital City Cleanup - when we keep our spaces clean and well-maintained, we take pride in those spaces. I will expand that program by introducing sidewalk cleaning along major pedestrian routes. 

Edmonton is limited by our relationship with the province. A big piece of work that was done a while ago is to redefine that through a Big City Charter. Edmonton has unique challenges, and we need the power and flexibility to make better local decisions so that you can focus on living your life to the fullest. A Big City Charter would provide better local services, and give Council the ability to explore ways to raise money other than raising your property taxes or user fees.

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

JWI believe in investing in services and putting people first. The Reimagined Services proposal is a report, which cost taxpayers a million dollars with the intent to advocate areas where the city could save costs or make more money. The report suggests privatizing public services and facilities, and introducing new fees for Edmontonians like parking fees at city parks. I spoke to Council on June 22 against this report, advocating for Council should invest in the city -- not sell it off piece by piece. 

As a Councillor, I will invest in city services, and keep public facilities operated by the City.

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

JWElected officials should be accessible and responsive to their communities. They also have a right to serve their communities without experiencing discrimination, threats, or sexual harassment. I believe elected officials should have a right to block hatred on the grounds of personal safety.

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)?

JWYour governments should have  provided consistent messaging and been more agile in responding to the need for support. Direction was always shifting, and that hurt our economy, our people, and resolve in fighting this pandemic together.

As an Edmontonian, I was proud to see how some of the local community responded to the pandemic by protecting our most vulnerable. Incredible community initiatives and teams like Water Warriors and Bear Clan Patrol were out supporting our most vulnerable. They delivered water, food, and community care to our unhoused and neighbours who are living rough.

I was also happy to see that as Edmontonians, we focused our energy to support local. We brought groceries and food to community members who were self-isolating. We opted to call ahead and order directly from our restaurants when we learned about the predatory markups services like UberEats and Skip the Dishes charge.

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

JWEdmonton is the world’s biggest small town. We celebrate each other’s successes, we show up for each other. No one lives up to the concept of support local quite like the good ol’ YEG. We are fiercely passionate about our city, and it’s City Council’s job to focus on providing services so our residents can enjoy everything our biggest little down has to offer.

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

JWReady to work for O-day’min.

Thank you, Joshua! 

Follow along with the candidates on Twitter HERE#yegvote2021

Find Joshua on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
See Joshua's Platform/Priorities HERE.
Visit Joshua's website HERE
Contact Joshua HERE.


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