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...
"I’m an urban planner who
is passionate about building an equitable city that serves all residents. I was
born and raised in Edmonton and after high school had the opportunity to live,
work, and travel abroad for ten years. In 2012, I was thrilled to move home to
take a position with the City of Edmonton where I worked for seven years. After six years on the board of the Right at Home Housing Society, I joined
as a staff member in 2019 where I work directly in the delivery of affordable
and supportive homes to meet the needs of our community. I’m excited to have
this opportunity to share my thoughts with Edmontonians and more information
about my experience and priorities can be found at annestevenson.ca."
I♥E/ Why do you want to run for City Council?
Anne Stevenson/ I’m passionate about
building communities that are resilient, efficient, and inclusive. That’s why I
became a city planner and why I now work in affordable housing. I’m excited to
bring my knowledge and experience to Council to help us navigate a successful recovery
from the pandemic.
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?
AS/ I worked at the City of Edmonton from 2012-2019, which
has given me an in-depth understanding of how the organization works. This
means that as a Councillor, I’ll know the right questions to ask and the most
effective way to make change happen. My career in city planning has also given
me a strong understanding of the many systems that create a city, from sewers
to social services, and how each of these elements contribute to creating
successful communities. I also had the chance to live and visit cities around
the world which provided me with best practice examples of how we can creatively
take on the urban challenges we face.
My years of both voluntary and professional work in
affordable housing have given me insights on how to tackle homelessness in our
city, which will allow me to effectively respond to this pressing issue in our
community. I’ve also served on numerous Boards as both director and chair,
which has given me the skills to build consensus and work effectively as a
I♥E/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?
AS/ Housing and homelessness are top of mind for many
across O-day’min, and are a key priority of mine having spent the past eight
years volunteering and working in the affordable housing sector. While other
orders of government need to step up with both capital and operating dollars,
there’s a lot we can do as a City to help ensure every Edmontonian has a place
to call home.
Edmonton’s growth patterns are another major issue
facing our city. We have a great opportunity to rebalance our growth to ensure
more homes and businesses are coming to our core communities rather than
further suburban expansion. Building compact, mixed use communities with a
range of transportation options will also help us reduce our carbon footprint
and work towards our climate change goals.
Rebuilding our economy will be essential coming out of
the pandemic. We have a great opportunity to shift into a green energy economy
and build off our existing strength in health and life sciences, advanced
manufacturing, and agricultural processing. Regional cooperation will be
essential in attracting global business and helping all of our local businesses
Reconciliation and anti-racism are issues that are
important to all of us. It’s unacceptable that any Edmontonians faces violence,
harassment, or discrimination in our city, and it’s essential that we create
communities where everyone is safe. It’s also vital that we learn from the
perspectives and gifts of our whole community - this is what will enable us to
face the challenges ahead.
A final priority of mine and an important issue for
Edmonton is around civic engagement. Only about a third of eligible voters vote
in our municipal elections, despite the strong influence the city has on
everyone’s day to day life. I’d like to initiate a Council Initiative to dig
into why so few people vote and implement changes to reduce barriers to
participation, including exploring the idea of opening up voting opportunities
to permanent residents.
I♥E/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?
AS/ The lack of housing for everyone who needs it is
apparent across Ward O-day’min. Addressing homelessness is vital for everyone
in the ward, including ward residents currently without a home, those in
housing, and local businesses. I’m committed to using every tool we have as a
city to help functionally end homelessness and promote housing affordability
Downtown revitalization is also top of mind in our ward. The effects of the pandemic will remain for many years, particularly in
terms of new patterns of work that will see fewer people working downtown. I’m
keen to explore a range of opportunities to bring vibrancy back to our core,
including converting empty office buildings into residential units and
supporting events to activate and attract people to the area.
Derelict and problem properties are another issue in
many neighbourhoods across the ward. I’d like to explore different mechanisms to
protect neighbours from retribution for reporting concerns, and invest in the
resources to provide proactive enforcement from the City to take this burden
off of neighbours as much as possible.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?
AS/ I really appreciate the work that’s been done to
provide more transportation options in our communities like bike infrastructure
and LRT, including the great advocacy from community groups like Paths for People. The Vision Zero Street Lab interventions are also a
great way to build off of local knowledge to make our streets safer and more
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?
AS/ I feel that the move towards large regional recreation
centres is working against our goal of
creating a 15 minute city. This approach also takes away the opportunity for
neighbours to connect. I support keeping our local amenities open, including
hockey rinks and pools.
I also feel the work to address excessive vehicle
noise hasn’t been as effective as hoped. I’d like to increase these efforts by
installing permanent speed traps in key hotspots and by using our Peace
Officers to issue tickets for excessive noise, who Council can instruct more
directly than Edmonton Police Services.
I♥E/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?
AS/ Being accessible to
residents is the most important part of being an elected official. Blocking
someone with different views doesn’t serve our democracy. I think it is
appropriate to block online harassment as these types of comments don’t
contribute to public discourse.
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)?
AS/ I like to focus on the
things I could control as a Councillor so will speak specifically to the
actions of the City. I was pleased to see Edmonton step up and show leadership
in terms of implementing a mask bylaw, and I would have voted to keep the mask
bylaw in effect during the summer. I also appreciated the focus on addressing
the housing crisis in Edmonton during the pandemic. While recognizing the
immense complexity of the situation, I do think a faster move towards smaller,
more dispersed hotel sites to provide shelter and supports for those without
housing during the pandemic would have been more effective than the extended
use of the convention centre.
I♥E/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?
AS/ For me it’s perfectly
captured in the phrase “Some cities are finished, others you can change.” What
excites me most about Edmonton is knowing that I can make a difference and help
build up the incredible people and places in our community.
I♥E/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
AS/ Experienced changemaker
committed to community.
Thank you, Anne!
Follow along with the candidates on Twitter. See Anne's Platform/Priorities HERE. Visit Anne's website HERE.
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