Edmonton mayoral contenders give the final push to voters with last-minute platform proposals

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Less than a week until a new Edmonton council is elected and a new mayor takes office, the top contenders are giving potential voters a final push.

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The mayoral candidates have been laying out the top priorities they would pursue, if elected, in the final weeks of the campaign as Edmontons prepare to go to the polls. Early voting is already taking place in the city with polling stations open through Wednesday.

Candidate Cheryll Watson led the charge to post a last-minute platform pledge to call for a hiatus from the $ 2.6 billion Valley Line West LRT project, which is already in progress. If elected, Watson said she would ask the council to reevaluate the LRT extension from downtown to Lewis Farms and see if it is the best use of the city’s finances.

But with the contract for the project signed in December 2020 and funds already in place, any impact on the project could result in “significant financial consequences” for the city and lengthy legal battles. There are also hundreds of active design and build jobs tied to the six-year project. The relocation of public services is already underway, the city has acquired land and private companies are carrying out transit-oriented development projects along the future line.

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Watson did not have an estimate of the costs to the city if the project is canceled, but argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the city should invest in transit with more people working from home. A Statistics Canada survey from April 2021 estimated that a transition to full remote work could reduce the number of commutes in Edmonton by 43.6%.

“If Edmonton’s use of public transportation falls by even a third of that number, it dramatically impacts the financial model that the City of Edmonton has used to justify its transportation investments,” Watson said. “As a city government, our first job is to serve the people of Edmonton in the best possible way, and the uncertainty of life after a pandemic calls into question all the investment decisions we have made in the past. We should not depend on yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems. “

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Regional police

Shortly after Watson’s announcement, Kim Krushell unveiled her plan for community safety, focusing on efforts to create a regional police service. Krushell said there is no limit to crime and a united police service would allow for a faster response and cost savings, but he did not have an estimate of how much the city would save.

“Concern about the current state of security in our community is one of the main issues I have heard during the campaign,” he said. “Not everyone in Edmonton feels safe in our city right now and that needs to change. We need a collaborative leader that brings regional partners, law enforcement, and our own nonprofit sector together at the table with the city council and city administration to find the right course of action. “

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Krushell said he spoke with Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee directly about the plan and received support to follow a regional model with surrounding municipalities.

“The Edmonton Police Service believes that as the Edmonton metropolitan region continues to grow, we must seek a new form of policing and we support a regional policing model,” said police spokeswoman Landis Reichle in an email to Postmedia. .

Whyte Avenue without cars

Last Monday, Michael Oshry unveiled his plan to open Whyte Avenue to pedestrians and ban vehicle access every Sunday. With specific times yet to be worked out, Oshry said he would ask the city to give people the opportunity to meet on the strip and support local businesses.

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Additionally, Oshry said he would plan to work with the Old Strathcona Business Association to organize year-round activities such as holiday vendors or summer Sundays with patios and street music.

“My vision for Whyte Avenue is a main street filled with local businesses that encourage people and encourage connection throughout the year,” Oshry said in a statement. “We have so many creative people here, local businesses, chefs, artists, artisans, let’s give them this place and space that is truly theirs to transform.”

City audits

Mike Nickel did not disclose any specific political commitments last week, but released 600 pages of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Requests in which he highlighted changes to the city’s draft audits to which he ultimately they made themselves known publicly. At a media event last week, Nickel pointed to discrepancies in the financial values ​​published in the city’s audit on consulting services.

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“This does not appear to be in accordance with international standards for internal auditing professional practice,” Nickel said. “This is not just the language change, the numbers have been changed. Recommendations have been removed. “

In response, the city’s new auditor, Hoa Quach, who would not have conducted the audits Nickel refers to, said auditors often check with clients to ensure accuracy before publishing reports.

“It is common practice consistent with international accounting standards for auditors to share draft reports with those we audit to obtain context and ensure accuracy,” he said in a statement to Postmedia.

Unveiled platform

Amarjeet Sohi did not disclose a specific political commitment in the past two weeks, but was the latest candidate to launch a full online platform in late September. Sohi’s platform covers six different pillars and he said a primary focus will be to implement a plan to address hate-based violence in Edmonton within the first 100 days after taking office.

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The plan would include promoting anti-racist and anti-violence initiatives at the highest levels of government and working more collaboratively with community-based cultural organizations to address racism.

“When our communities experience incidents based on hate, the city must not only respond with empathy, but also reach out to the communities to help them gather the necessary supports to cry and heal,” Sohi said on his platform. “Action is important. But we must ensure that we are measuring our performance and implementing a framework that holds the city administration and city agencies directly accountable to the communities they serve. “

Edmontons will elect a new mayor and council on October 18.

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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