My thoughts on Residential Speed Limits

There has been all kinds of discussion surrounding what to do with residential speed limits, its coming back to Council on May 14th.  Making our City safe is a priority, but I recognize and have heard from many that whatever we do it needs to be simple, consistent, cost effective and that we need to …

Waste Management Changes

Do you ever think of waste? As individuals it’s important that we do all that we can to reduce the waste that we create, and as a municipality it’s important that we keep pushing for a better waste management system. This is why we are rethinking the way we approach how household waste is sorted and managed. Since January of 2018 the City has been hosting public engagement throughout the City and what we have heard time and again is that people want to do their part in reducing waste. Many feel that participation is the right thing to do to bring change however, we have also heard that the less complicated the system, the better.

We are heading into our next round of engagement and we would like to have your thoughts and perspectives on specific topics such as cart sizes, recycling, waste reduction and more, even if this is your first time participating in discussions. For in person engagement head to the Telus World of Science on April 6 11am-2pm, or go to edmonton.ca/futureofwaste to fill out the survey online and to get more information.

Part of our goal as a City is to try things out on a smaller scale to work out kinks before making final decisions on big changes. That’s why on April 15, 8,000 homes across 13 neighbourhoods will begin testing out various garbage cart options as a pilot program. In Ward 2 Kensington has been selected as the pilot community.

The Edmonton Cart Rollout will help inform the 25-year waste strategy for Edmonton and ensure that we get user feedback so that the system can be refined and implemented well. If you live in Kensington or are interested in how the pilot will work there will be a drop in session hosted on April 4 from 4-7pm at Kensington Community Hall.

If you’re looking for a way that you can help reduce waste before we switch to a new system, composting is a great option. Composting is the most effective way the average household can reduce their waste. It is a great soil conditioner that can help your gardens, grass and trees grow. If you’re not sure where to start the City puts on some workshops throughout the summer called Compost ‘S cool, you can register here.

Crosswalk Safety

Today the City Auditor presented the results of the crosswalk audit to City Council, and I am pleased to see that the report recognizes the crosswalk program is effectively managed.

The Traffic Safety Office, under Parks and Roads, is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of an effective pedestrian crosswalk program. The objective for this audit was to ensure that the pedestrian crosswalk program is managed effectively, and the City Auditor concluded that the pedestrian crosswalk program is being effectively managed and improving pedestrian safety.

While the City Auditor confirmed the program is well-managed and improving pedestrian safety, it offered four recommendations to improve the program’s overall effectiveness.

The City has already made steps to implement the auditors’ suggestions and recommendations including:

  • As of May 26, the City started increasing the width of all parallel (standard) pedestrian crosswalk lines to 20 cm in width from the previous standard of 10 cm.  The wider line will be used at:
    • new crosswalk installations
    • regular scheduled maintenance of existing crosswalks
    • and replacement of existing crosswalks after repaving and rehabilitation
  • 20 cm white lines have already been painted along decorative brick crosswalks at three intersections on 118 Ave ( 81 St., 88 St., and 95A St.) and more are in the works.

In addition, based on data, the City created a pedestrian-crossing signals priority list for 2017 and 2018 based on evaluating hundreds of pedestrian crossings.

These crosswalk upgrades are about making crossings safer for pedestrians. However, it is also important to note that crosswalks do not protect pedestrians from careless drivers, so it is important for drivers to watch for pedestrians and pedestrians to watch for careless drivers.

More information on pedestrian crossings can be found here.

Ultimately, it is going to take all of us. Engineering improvements, pedestrian awareness, and driver behavior… each element is important. Our goal is Vision Zero, but it is going to everybody.

Northwest LRT Expansion – The Time Is Now!

This past week Councillor Dave Loken and I brought forward a notice of motion. This motion should come forward this next week and I am passionate about seeing our communities served well, with access to fast and efficient public transportation.

Here’s what our notice of motion is:

That Administration:

1) amend the scope of the NW LRT design study to include developing a

scenario where a precursor express bus service could run north

from Blatchford on a bridge over the Yellowhead and CN Calder Rail

Yard, with the bridge future-proofed for upgrade to rail for LRT;

2) take this scenario into account as part of the continuing Transit

Strategy and report back on the opportunity to align the Strategy to

this precursor express bus scenario; and,

3) include this precursor scenario in the continuing public

engagement on NW LRT planning.

So what are we trying to accomplish? City Administration is currently preparing a Transit Strategy, so the time is right to include this concept for consideration. We would like to gather all of the information possible to consider building a bridge across the CN Rail Yards to provide Express Bus Service from the north side of Edmonton to the downtown.

This may seem like a secondary level of service or a downgrade, you might even be wondering if this would short circuit the NW LRT Expansion. This is not settling for secondary service, but proactively accelerating access to LRT service, and potentially creating infrastructure to aid in the development of the NW LRT Expansion.

With the Yellowhead Trail Upgrade just around the corner, this is about being fiscally responsible, by aligning with this work and looking at the possibility of infrastructure that can be incorporated into the NW LRT Expansion plan that will open up the north first with Express buses connecting to existing LRT, and finally, by opening up the north with the LRT through the NW Expansion. The time is right to address the needs of our communities with meaningful engagement around thoughtful pieces of important infrastructure.

As always, you can connect with me at City Hall by phone: 780-496-8136 or by email:

Vision Zero 2016: Creating Safer School Neighbourhoods

When our City Council approved Vision Zero, with the long-term goal of having zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, we knew it would require a multidimensional approach from the City and Edmontonians and I am happy to report we are making progress, particularly when it comes to school safety.

2016 results

Keeping students and their families safe as they travel to and from school is so important and in 2016 the City undertook a number of improvements at Edmonton schools:

  • Traffic safety assessments were conducted at 13 elementary schools to observe road user behavior and new countermeasures were installed in September 2016. Countermeasures included new zebra crosswalks, new stop signs with retro-reflective poles, reflective strips on pedestrian signs, and upgrading from yield signs to stop signs.
  • Starting in 2016, a pickup/drop-off zone will be implemented at one school every year. In 2016, St. Justin School received a pickup/drop-off zone.
  • Prohibiting left turns from school parking lots was implemented at two schools.
  • In October, City Council approved the expansion of 30 km/hr school zones to include Edmonton’s 43 junior high schools. This new speed limit will be in place for all junior high schools by September 2017, when students return to class.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of school zones

In 2014, 30 km/hr school zones were implemented for Edmonton’s elementary schools. Our evaluation of these 30 km/hr school zones showed significant safety improvements, including:

  • 43 percent reduction in injury collisions
  • 71 percent reduction in injury collisions involving vulnerable road users
  • 12 km/hr reduction in vehicle speeds

Many great improvements have been made and we will continue this work throughout 2017 to make Edmonton’s streets safe for all road users, especially close to schools. For more information on Vision Zero, visit edmonton.ca/visionzero and follow @VisionZeroYEG on Twitter.

LRT, Road Construction & Fires!

It has been an interesting week in Edmonton! This week City Council determined the next phase of LRT Construction adding the new Valley Line from downtown to Lewis Farms and extending the Metro Line from NAIT to Blatchford including potential upgrades near Kingsway Mall. We also prioritized areas for LRT design including the Metro Line, North Blatchford to Campbell Road for preliminary engineering. I was very pleased we were able to come together and ensure that work is going forward in all quadrants of our city. I hope that funding will allow us to build the Metro Line completely sooner than later.

ARGH! I have been hearing and seeing many frustrated motorists along 127 Street. In the north part between 167 Avenue and 137 Avenue, the installation of a new Atco gas line has seen traffic reduced to one lane each way and limited access for turning left into neighborhoods and services. In the south, the reconstruction of 127 St between Yellowhead and 118 Avenue has seen the total closure of southbound lanes and only one lane north. This too has limited access into and out of neighborhoods. Like many of you, it has extended my commute and daily activities and has frustrated me. I don’t like sitting in traffic.

Then I heard the shocking news about the evacuations in Fort McMurray. In one instant the lives of 80 000 people were changed. The are calling this the largest evacuation in the history of Alberta and with an estimated $9 Billion in damage this is shaping up to be the single largest insurance event in the history of Canada. But it wasn’t the facts or the numbers that got me. It was the story of family after family fleeing their homes, heading in any direction that was safe. It was the video of cars fighting bottlenecked traffic as ash and ember flew through the smoke-stained skies. Some reported travelling for as many as 10 or 11 hours just to get to Edmonton…

So now when I sit in my car in traffic for an extra 5 or 10 minutes in just doesn’t seem so bad… not much as changed… only my perspective. I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of Edmontonians, Albertans, and Canadians. It is in these moments that we truly pull together as a community, whether it’s a pancake breakfast, donation drive, or the volunteers tirelessly working at the Edmonton Evacuation Centre at Northlands caring for these families, it’s these moments that remind what makes Edmonton great…

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 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.