My Thoughts on the Recent Blatchford Discussions

I am dizzy from spinning and spinning! Discussions about Blatchford are like sitting on a merry go round.   At first it’s fun, but the repetitious circling creates nausea.   Council has been committed to the Master Plan Principles to make Blatchford a carbon neutral community.   Over the last two days we were supposed to be debating a District Energy Sharing System and determine where to go with this aspect of Blatchford.   To date, we have been on time and under budget. The runways are gone and recycled, buildings have been taken down and removed and even sold when possible. Remediation is complete.

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We are ready to go on a District Energy system and were set to look at two options brought to council.   Meanwhile both the Provincial and Federal governments are interested in supporting such initiatives.   We unanimously agreed as a Council to reach out and advocate to the different levels of governments to see if indeed funding might be available to help us with this work.   To me, that is being a responsible steward of the project and not compromising our principles.

 

We also heard for the first time from EPCOR who are interested in working with us on this project. We agreed that it was in our best interest to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a renewable energy utility model for Blatchford.   They presented Council with very high level options of wind and solar to us and we are going to need more than a high level look at these options before we can responsibly make any decision.

 

Unfortunately, these decisions do mean a delay of up to one year for development on Blatchford.   District Energy is proven technology but it must be complemented with other energy sources to meet our vision for Blatchford.

 

Throughout the process we have engaged experts at various points to ensure we had good understanding of what is needed.   We have a Business Advisory Group, which includes developers and environmental specialists.   We also have a Community Stakeholder group, consisting of representatives from the surrounding communities and businesses.

 

Some have used the opportunity to discuss District Energy as the opportunity to question whether we as a City should be pursing the development of Blatchford at all.

 

I remain true to the vision, but feel we need to be responsible stewards of the development.   I also believe we must continue to work towards this and trust we can be nimble and develop the site according to the principles as funds are available.

My Pledge for Parity

International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, 2016 and at numerous

other events this week. It has been an exciting week and I have been fortunate

to attend a few events. This year’s theme was gender parity and I have been

inspired to keep working towards this goal. I was horrified to see the World

Economic Forum estimate that on our current path we will not reach gender

parity until 2133! That seems absurd to me but, just reminds me that we can

speed this up by working together on this issue.

 

At the City Hall event, I was challenged by our keynote Dr. Christina Stasia

talked about it is time we stopping telling everyone about the issue and starting

showing how it can be done. At the Famous Five luncheon, Sally Armstrong

inspired me that young people are now being more and more engaged to speak

out about what is acceptable. Her thoughts on political will changing policies,

public will and its activities and how today it is personal will that is driving the

conversation and it is showing up on twitter and facebook challenging the status

quo and inspiring action.

 

I really excited about some of the work I’m involved in within the City of

Edmonton and we just announced a new initiative, Diverse Voices for Change.

Edmonton will be one of five municipalities across Canada who will be working to

increase the number of women from diverse communities to be actively engaged

in local government and in particular, increased participation on agencies,

boards and committees.

 

My pledge … to speak out and support women to be involved in our city and take

a leadership role. What is your pledge or what are you going to do to inspire

change and create gender equity?

Community Safety Conversation

I recently hosted a ‘Community Safety Conversation’; a partnership between City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Police Service and the Tri-Community Council (which includes the Sherbrooke, Inglewood and Prince Charles Community Leagues and the Inglewood Business Association).

This was an opportunity to review the previous year and reflect on community assets and areas for improvement. Our goal for the evening was to conclude with a community vision for 2016 and a concrete plan on how we, by working together, could achieve it.

Even in the face of freezing rain well over 100 people attended. I know that the residents of Sherbrooke, Inglewood and Prince Charles take their safety seriously, so this came as no surprise.

After some brief remarks from myself and the other partners, attendees went to work with a focus on what’s working, what can be improved, and how the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Police Service can lend a hand.

What emerged from our time together was a clearly articulated set of priorities – a plan.

Community Safety Conversations can sometimes turn into ‘roasts’ – venues where the city and police are accused of not doing enough and where the public is told that they need to take more responsibility.

In this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a feeling of shared responsibility in the room and a commitment to do what it takes to achieve the future that was clearly articulated during our time together.

So… what’s next?

City staff pulled together the feedback we received and reviewed it with the team that was tasked with organizing the Community Safety Conversation.

Over the next short while members of the team will be tapping various residents and partners from the Sherbrooke, Inglewood and Prince Charles neighbourhoods on the shoulder for their thoughts and support in working together toward a safer community.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the Community Safety Conversation. Your feedback is a true gift and I look forward to working with our partners to put it in motion.