The municipal election has come and gone, but we still have the lingering issues identified during the campaign.
These issues are important to community members and come up during an election for good reasons. It’s important we don’t forget about these issues. After all, we have an opportunity to keep advocating for our concerns and ensure city council and public school trustees find solutions.
The election became personal for me when I ran for public school board trustee in Ward D. I became more aware of the issues affecting trustees, my ward, and the city. During the municipal election campaign, the issues I heard people mention most were infill housing, problem properties, LRT, bike lanes, and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) groups.
Concerns raised related to infill were regulations, more public consultations, and lot-splitting. Many residents told me infill housing has affected them negatively in Ward D. However, when campaigning in other areas, I saw some very suitable infill.
Problem properties are a big concern in Parkdale, and no matter whether that property is next door or down the street, it is difficult to ignore.
Transit, LRT and bike lanes came up repeatedly in the news, identifying issues such as rider cost, usage, inconvenience, and budget costs.
The GSA groups and policy became a hot issue with school board trustees and an even bigger issue when provincial politics and the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race politicized it.
Some issues get more news coverage and attention than others do. But if an issue is important to you, speak up. If we do not continue to voice our concerns about important issues, they will not get the kind of attention and strength in numbers they need to make change happen.
Here are some things you can do to ensure city councillors or school trustees hear your concerns .
Contact your councillor’s office and let them know what you think about the issues important to you. It’s a two-way street: your councillor may want to hear from you, so ask questions and solicit information. Be inquisitive about how city council is dealing with issues. For example, ask about how city processes work, how to speak to council, or what resources are available for dealing with problem properties. If they don’t know, ask them to find out and call you back. If you wish to approach things in a less personal way, email your city councillor or trustee with your concerns. Always ask for him or her to get back to you.
Become familiar with the City of Edmonton website, especially the city government page and council and committee meetings. Agendas, minutes and administrative reports are available. Attend a committee meeting and become a familiar face at council. All committee and council meetings are video recorded and you can even watch it online.
Regularly visit the public or Catholic school website. The public school website contains a lot of information on agendas, minutes, motions, policies, budgets, and the Alberta School Act. You can also watch board meetings online or attend a board meeting.
Talk to your community league and see if they have a civics committee to deal with issues affecting you. I belong to Parkdale Cromdale Community League and chair the Neighbourhood Development Committee (NDC). Our committee has become familiar with community issues such as problem properties, infill, and Area Redevelopment Plans (ARP).
Attend city-hosted meetings asking for citizen input on certain issues, or sign up to the city’s Edmonton Insight Community, an online panel where people can give feedback on a variety of issues every month.
Lastly, record the dates, times, and details of your calls and conversations. Take pictures and document it with the date. This evidence can be a valuable resource when following up later.
Let’s not wait for another election before we collectively tell city council or trustees what is important in our community. Let’s do it now.
Featured Image: Tamie ran for the public school trustee in Ward D. | Kate Wilson