Get to Know Who's Running: Tim Cartmell (Ward pihêsiwin)

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 pihêsiwin

Tim Cartmell


"Tim was first elected to Edmonton City Council in 2017. He is a Professional Engineer and small business owner. His business is about designing and managing building projects, including past projects like the Expo Center for Northands and three seniors lodges for the Greater Edmonton Foundation. Prior to serving in public office, Tim also worked for Alberta’s Treasury Board and Edmonton Catholic Schools. Giving back to the community has always been very important to Tim. He has over three decades of community volunteer experience, including various community league roles, coaching minor hockey, and various roles on discipline and practice standards committees with his professional association (APEGA). In 2013, he received the APEGA Summit Award for Community Service and in 2014, he was received the Engineers Canada Meritorious Service Award." 


The Questions:

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

Tim Cartmell/ The next few years will be very challenging for Edmonton. As the Covid pandemic diminishes (and eventually it will), Edmontonians will develop a new set of ordinary personal habits.  We will go back to working from our workplace or attending classes in person - but maybe not every day. We will get back to daily exercise - but maybe not always inside a recreation centre. The City of Edmonton will have to be nimble and adaptive to that revised way of everyday living, and offer residents the services and amenities they will then need. Between my experience on Council and my previous education and experience in the private sector, I believe I have a lot to offer to the governance of the City of Edmonton as we move through this very challenging time.


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?

TCI have been a lifelong resident of Edmonton, as has my wife, and together we have raised our children in Ward 9 (soon to be Ward pihêsiwin). My professional experience includes the management and structural design of building projects, and I have owned and operated a consulting engineering firm for almost 25 years. Since graduating from the University of Alberta in 1988, I have served my profession and my community in a wide variety of volunteer roles. I believe each of these are strengths on their own - I have seen our City and our ward develop and evolve over many years. I have been involved at the community level in advocating for those amenities that our community desired, including the Terwillegar Recreation Centre, the Go Centre and the community theatre at Lillian Osborne High School to name just a few. My combination of education and experience provides the wisdom and perspective to effectively represent our community. I demonstrated during the past Council term that I was effective in leveraging those strengths to the benefit of Ward 9, resulting in the upgrading and expansion of Terwillegar Drive, the development of a new master plan of Bryan Anderson Athletic Grounds to include an artificial turf field and new Riverbend Library Branch, and the adoption of a new prioritized budgeting approach for the City as a few examples. I made it a point of emphasis to bring City Hall to Ward 9, and I have been as accessible and available as possible.


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

TC/ Our biggest challenge as a City will be our recovery from the Covid pandemic. As a City, we will need to work hard to restore public confidence to use transit, to come back to our recreation centres, to visit our public spaces. At the same time, the City faces very serious financial challenges. We will be recovering from extraordinary costs related to Covid while also recovering from significantly diminished revenues. We can expect that support from other levels of government to individuals and businesses will end. The health of our City depends not only on the ability of persons to pay property tax and utility bills but to participate in festivals, attend restaurants, go to the theatre - to return to the level of commerce activity that allowed our City to thrive.

Some, perhaps many, people in our City will struggle to cover everyday costs. They don't need increases to taxes and fees. Careful management of the City, setting priorities, making difficult decisions about what the City can do and what it can't will be a primary focus for the next four years, while at the same time keeping property taxes as low as possible. 

There are many other issues to consider.  

How do we begin to execute our City Plan? I have consistently said that a person's most important resource is their time. 15 minute communities as described in the City Plan starts to give people more of their time back.  

How do we pursue our Energy Transition Plan, not necessarily as a stand-alone separate plan that sits separate from our other work, but as a set of values that finds its way into ALL the work we do? Part of this strategy is a carbon budget evaluation of new growth projects, as a start. How will we integrate that budget approach into our decision making process?

How do we balance affordability, so that all of our residents can participate our pursuit of these goals, with the hefty cost of investment that most of these initiatives will require to achieve in a meaningful way? How do we ensure affordability - personal and commercial - is maintained, so that our economy recovers and grows?

How do we remain competitive with other large western North American cities? How do we ensure we continue to attract and retain young talent?

Without financial health, the City will be hard-pressed to take those other issues on in a meaningful way. It starts with fiscal responsibility.


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

TC/ The issues in the future Ward pehêsiwin vary by neighborhood. In the established communities to the north, in-fill, lot splitting and redevelopment projects are just beginning to be contemplated.  Long term residents are trying to adjust to the change those projects bring. The very new communities to the south are looking for those amenities that complete the community - recreation activities, particularly for adolescents is a particular concern.  Libraries. Splash pads.  Playgrounds.

A consistent theme across the ward is the need for traffic calming in a significant number of locations. We need to find a way to quickly and inexpensively fix that intersection, build that crosswalk, slow those speeding and noisy cars.  These are not traffic issues as much as they are livability issues. We need to significantly adjust City Administration's focus in this regard.


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

TC/ Three come to mind.  

1. Live Active. I want to reactivate and promote a focus recreation, particularly outdoor recreation. We know that physical activity and informed self care education is vital to physical and mental health. This is my personal experience and I want to continue to promote our Live Active initiative.

2.  Winter Cities. Edmonton is recognized as an international leader in winter cities living. Activating spaces with light. Encouraging our residents that with proper clothing, outdoor winter activities can be as fun as summer activities.

3. Active Transportation. I think there are a number of "missing links" that if filled, would result in a much more connected multi-use trail / bike lane network. One such link was a pedestrian bridge between Brookside and Bulyea Heights which I managed to get integrated into the Terwillegar Drive project, that will link so many Ward pihêsiwin communities to the trails along 122st to the University and to the river valley trails.


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

TC/ I think we should stick to initiatives with direct ties to the City's lines of business. If everything is a priority or a point of emphasis, then nothing is.


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

TC/ Yes. I have not blocked anyone, and I won't. I have no problem ignoring trolls or firing back at people that hurl insults or uninformed criticisms. However, I know some of my colleagues, particularly the women on Council, get particularly vile and disgusting messages. Councillors are persons too, they should be free to protect themselves from personal attacks. That said, blocking someone because they are critical of your vote or disagree with a policy or position you are putting forward, is offside in my view.


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)?

TC/ In the very early days of Covid, Council declared a State of Local Emergency and put all decision making in the hands of Administration. Adam Laughlin and his team did an admirable job, but Council's decision was an over-reaction. I think Council expected a situation similar to what we saw in Italy and New York at that time, and in that context, our actions were understandable. Hindsight is everything, but I think we could have been more nuanced.

The consequence of that action was that we set an expectation amongst our constituents that City Council should judge what the Province is doing or not doing, and then set further "law" over the Provincial reaction. Philosophically, that is bad governance - those decisions risk becoming political, and battling orders of government is not in any way good governance. The Province has an army of medical professionals, an entire Ministry to deal with and protect public health, whereas the City has no health or medical resources to draw upon.  And I am not talking about elected politicians, I am talking about the medical professionals employed by the Province as experts in their field. Nevertheless, each time Council contemplated taking further action, I voted in favor of that action, on the basis that the greater good trumps modest individual inconvenience.

In early July 2021, I felt we should put our trust in those medical professionals and return all health decisions to those professionals. Again I am not talking about the politicians. And to be clear, this conversation at Council was not if we should deactivate our mask bylaw, but when - July 1 or July 5. That context is important. Numbers were down and falling, vaccine uptake was rising. I thought we could expect further outbreaks, and that we would ultimately need vaccine boosters. I still do. I thought at the time that the Province was  - finally - drawing upon the experiences of other jurisdictions, that they had modeled the data and had a proper, balanced plan for the Province.  

But by the end of July, Dr. Hinshaw was talking about endemic versus pandemic, an end to contact tracing (how do you make data informed decisions when you stop collecting data?), and an end to all restrictions. At the same time, numbers were starting to rise. Every day I expected the Province to come out with mitigating actions.  Every day I was disappointed. By mid-August, Council was instructing City Administration to examine reactivation of the mask bylaw, a move Council ultimately made and that I voted in favor of.

I think Council has generally acted responsibly, even considering a misstep or two along the way. We have made the best decisions we could with the information available at the time. In contrast, the Province has been late with each wave, they have come out with confusing instructions that subsequently needed adjustment or clarification, and they have made decisions based on what they hoped would happen versus what was likely to happen.  

Council is now in a very difficult position going forward. Our first duty is to our city and to its residents. We can't trust Provincial advice - political or professional - and we don't have the resources at the City to inform our decisions.


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

TCEdmonton still has a small town vibe - it seems every person you meet already knows someone that knows you. It is the biggest small town in the world, and at the same time has anything and everything that big cities have - a constant stream of entertainment, festivals, four distinct seasons, a great airport that provides convenient connectivity to other places.


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

TC/ Dedicated, Disciplined, Determined, Compassionate and Passionate.


Thank you, Tim!


Follow along with the candidates on Twitter

Find Tim on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
Visit Tim's website HERE
Contact Tim HERE.

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