Shame On Us

There are heroes among us. Among our ranks are those who served as teachers, nurses, construction workers and military personnel. Others have raised families and have strengthened their communities through community leagues, sports, and religious organizations. They have raised funds and built playgrounds, community league buildings and have helped their neighbors. Today as they retire and get involved in our senior’s centers and organizations they support and encourage one another. They gather for fitness, education and to improve their health. They gather socially and host events that help others avoid isolation and improve their mental health.

We spend dollars to invest in preserving historical buildings but, what about the keepers of our history? How do we honour them? As a city what is our responsibility?

Today we have a mish mash of buildings that serve seniors. Some are brand new and very functional and others have poor accessibility and roofs. How do we provide an equity of service and access to seniors throughout our city? Is it up to the city or through partners? We need to answer the who and what in order to move forward.

The City is engaging seniors to help answer these questions as part of the Senior’s Centres of the Future. Please speak up! We need your input and we need to find the right way to serve our seniors.

Community Leaders Meeting

What do Community Leaders do on a Saturday morning?   They gathered under the shiny exterior of the Castledowns Pavilion last Saturday as faith, cultural and Community League leaders in Ward 2 met to discuss issues that impacted Ward 2, and other emerging city wide issues.   The conversation included everything from construction to infill and firehall’s to libraries.   We also chatted about something that is near and dear to my heart, gender based violence prevention and how we each play a role in changing the community conversation and actions to prevent more violence in our communities.   It can affect all of us regardless of social economic status, culture, faith and location.   We, as a City, have one of the highest rates in the country and we must say it is enough!   Education, awareness and community discussion are essential to change behavior and get those victimized the support and help they need.

I came away from the meeting encouraged that as leaders we can work together.   One participant commented after that it was great to hear what else was going on in the ward because it is easy to just focus on their own challenges.   Another wanted to find ways that we can advocate for change together in the City’s public engagement initiative. Others approached me and wanted to know what they needed to do to help prevent gender based violence.   All agreed that the meeting was valuable and would be happy to meet again!

It really reminded me of the quote by Margaret Mead that says “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Together we can make a difference!

My Thoughts on the Metro Line

“Gloom, despair and agony on me” from Hee Haw certainly reflects some folks thinking of the Metro Line.

The Metro line has received a lot of criticism since it finally started operations.   Motorists, pedestrians and businesses have been impacted by the building of the LRT, delays in operations, challenges with signaling, timing of lights and limited train speed.   It has been the source of many conversations, frustrations and jokes!   It certainly wasn’t what anyone planned or hoped for, yet here we are with even more riders than we anticipated.   City administration is working to get the safety certificate so we can run at full speed in the near future.   They have also been working hard to address the pedestrian and motorist concerns by changing traffic light timing to help address traffic congestion.

We haven’t got the Metro Line running at full speed and Kingsway Mall is already stepping up to partner with the City of Edmonton to look at alternate sites for a LRT station and continue to support the long term vision of Blatchford.   I, for one, appreciate their willingness to still partner and sit and the table to discuss what has in not doubt also frustrated them and affected their business.

In a recent letter to me, Kingsway has said that “instead of looking backwards at what could have been one differently, we are looking forward at how we can partner in a way that is beneficial to the City, the community and Kingsway Mall.”

That really speaks to me about what a great city we live in when citizens and business see the bigger vision of what we need to continue to build a great city!

The City of Edmonton Child-Care Policy

This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

It’s a small world after all! Today, the City of Edmonton took one small step to a promising future. Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer may be common interests for children, but one thing that is on almost every parent’s mind is access to quality, affordable child-care. They are interested in finding the best child-care option for their children. Some may choose to stay home, others may work part time or full time, and yet it seems there just isn’t enough space or options for some parents.

Today, Edmonton City Council passed a policy for Employee Child Care. The new policy will see the city exploring opportunities for child-care where more than 500 employees live or work within a five-kilometer radius of a city work site.

This all started with the availability of a day care for city staff in the new civic tower. City of Edmonton Staff were surveyed to determine if they were interested, and very quickly we realized that there is a need throughout the city.

The policy focuses on the provision of early learning and care with an understanding that it should be high quality, affordable and accessible to meet the diverse needs of children. It’s not just about employee retention, but also about employee attraction. It’s a milestone where we begin to give families and predominantly women who provide that majority of child-care responsibilities, choices to work for the city.

Will we have places tomorrow for our employee’s children? No, but we are beginning to take steps whenever we plan, build, retrofit or have leased space available to initiate early learning and care spaces for employees, and for the public if there is room.   Ultimately, this should help address the child-care shortage in the city.

My hope and my challenge is that other Employers will see the City of Edmonton as a leader and model to follow and look to providing quality child care options for their employees.