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 …
One of my favourite times of year is spring, it brings everyone out of their houses after a long winter. Neighbourhoods come alive again with outdoor events, children playing and neighbours chatting together. For some, it may be their first summer in Edmonton, something that we have all come to love, for others, it might be the first time spending summer in their new neighbourhood, but for everyone, it’s a time that we can celebrate community. Just as people come out of their houses, so plants begin to make their way out of the soil. In Edmonton, we are fortunate to have many wonderful community gardens that bring people together with a common goal of growing food and meeting others.
Community gardens and urban agriculture can provide many benefits, including family-friendly recreation opportunities, beautification of neighbourhoods, increased availability of healthy food, and community/relationship building. These connections help neighbours get to know one another, which increases the safety and wellbeing of the community by increasing awareness of your neighbourhood. And the reality is that gardening can be a fun activity that is family friendly and can help teach children the benefit of growing healthy and delicious food.
Community gardens are one way to help residents reduce the impact of neighbourhoods that have little-to-no access to stores and restaurants that provide healthy and affordable food options.
In Edmonton, we currently have 80 community garden sites that are led and operated by community groups and leagues. Some great Ward 2 options include:
I recognize that some neighbourhoods may not have an established community garden. Thankfully Sustainable Food Edmonton, a local non-profit, and the City of Edmonton, has resources for individuals and leagues to start their own garden.
As you plant your garden remember, the more you sow into your community the more you will reap the reward of friendships with neighbours that will last many seasons.
A few years ago we realized as a City that we needed to take action to ensure that no matter which way that individuals and families use the road, or interact with it, they know that they will be safe. We unanimously decided as a Council to implement Vision Zero. The Vision Zero program involves many areas working together to achieve the goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2032.
In 2018, the City installed pedestrian scrambles at busy intersections on Jasper Avenue, on Whyte Avenue, and around Ice District. We added 65 feedback signs informing drivers to stay within the speed limit, which now totals 215 across Edmonton. We invested in rapid flashing beacons, zebra crosswalks, reflective pole wraps, and no-left-turn signs for 27 schools areas. We improved signals at 19 pedestrians crossings and made existing traffic signals easier to see at 12 other intersections.
By The Numbers
Collision data over a three-year period, from 2015 before Vision Zero was launched to 2018, showed a 41% decline in traffic fatalities and a 17% decline in serious injuries, even though the number of vehicles on the road has increased. As well, we saw collisions involving vulnerable road users including pedestrians decline by 21%, cyclists by 27%, and motorcycles by 31%.
But Vision Zero is more than just flashing amber lights and speed limit signs. It is an attitude and a value system that guides the way we live in Edmonton. It is the belief that life and health should never be exchanged for convenience, that we need to put safety first. It is the belief that everyone deserves to leave and come home safely every day. It is belief every single Edmontonian can adapt and contribute. When you slow down at a playground zone, stop at the pedestrian crossing, encourage your peers to drive to conditions, ensure the road is safe before crossing, you contribute to Vision Zero.
Let’s continue succeeding together.
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.
Since I have been elected to Council one of my main areas of focus has been safety for everyone including the vulnerable, children and women. As part of the UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls we completed a scoping study that identified public transportation as an area that women felt the most vulnerable. Public transit, taxis and ride-sharing services are a site for risk of sexual violence.
Over the past few years we have been working on increasing security at public transit by utilizing good urban design principles, and earlier this year we began 24/7 security at many transit stations. I am happy with some of the progress we have made with public transit but will continue to push for even more safety.
I heard from women during the Uber debate that safety is one of the concerns they had. They felt it was important that Criminal record checks were in place before someone could be licensed and the same standard applies to all drivers including taxi cabs.
Currently the bylaws in place keep new applicants with convictions from getting their vehicle for hire license. However, already licensed individuals (with convictions that have occurred since they were first granted their licence) are successfully appealing their licence rejection because of the lack of clarity in the bylaw. As an unintended consequence this action has eroded public trust and safety. The idea that anyone that has been convicted of crime is allowed to drive the public concerns me, and as a City we have a responsibility to only license those who we feel confident will keep our citizens safe.
On March 6th this item is coming to Community and Public Services Committee for debate. My priority is public safety and will work to have clarity of rules and expectations. Let me know your thoughts or come and speak to this issue at Committee. You can register to speak at committee or public hearing here.
Often I am asked what making a child friendly City means, and why it’s important. Children and adults learn in completely different ways, and children often learn best through play. Unfortunately for many years play has been getting pushed further back in City building priorities. We are changing that! Child Friendly Edmonton has a clear vision: to create a vibrant, connected, safe, sustainable and welcoming city. When planning on how to build a vibrant downtown, City, or community, often children are the last individuals who are thought about because they don’t have a voice among City planners, developers and decision makers. A child-friendly city welcomes and involves children and youth and promotes their well-being and safety.
Edmonton Public Libraries are great examples of planners taking a child’s need to play into perspective when designing. A library is a place where families can all spend time in different areas and learn in many different ways. As the new Stanley Milner library is planned and built, Child Friendly principles have been used to help create spaces that ensure that children’s needs and desires are taken into account. The new library will have some exciting play elements for children and great resources for parents.
Last year the City launched a CHILD FRIENDLY BUSINESS RECOGNITION PROGRAM that aims to give parents ideas of restaurants and business’ that they will be able to bring their children to where they will be welcomed and feel comfortable. Each business will have amenities for families, and activities for children. Staff at these recognized business’ should be patient, friendly and understanding taking the time to greet and welcome their younger customers. Visit edmonton.ca/childfriendly to find one of the 144 business’ already recognized or nominate a Child Friendly business today!
We are also hard at work developing a guide to encourage “Play Streets” which has the goal of reactivating streets to be used for all people. Communities are encouraged to host a “play street” where the street is closed for a day allowing children and families to enjoy the space without having to worry about traffic.
As a City we are constantly looking for new ways to hear from Children and create spaces where they can learn, have fun and feel safe. A child friendly City doesn’t just benefit children, it allows families to feel at home no matter where they are in the City. Building strong and healthy children, families and individuals will make our City stronger in every area.
As the snow continues to fall, the days get shorter and the Christmas trees go up, it’s a reminder to me that winter is here, and it’s here to stay. For me the change of season brings with it a sense of excited anticipation; of spending time with family, having my grandchildren help me decorate and buying gifts for loved ones. It’s also the time of year that reminds me of all the changes that winter brings.
Edmonton is a winter City, the results of which affect many parts of our lives, one of the biggest being winter driving. As a Vision Zero City we have a goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero, it’s important to remember that no matter how good of a job our road crews do clearing our streets, areas still remain slippery. Giving yourself a few extra minutes to drive to wherever your day leads can eliminate many traffic problems, and help protect our vulnerable road users such as children and the elderly.
Winter also brings with it the Holiday season. It’s a time of giving gifts and celebrating the warmth of family and friends. However not all Edmontonians have the same experience over Christmas, there are many individuals and families who can’t make ends meet and will not be able to afford gifts or a Christmas meal. The food bank is a wonderful organisation in our City that aims to provide anyone in need with essentials. This year their goal is to raise 350,000 kilograms of food and $1.8 million between now and January 11, 2019.
We have a lot to be thankful for and as we get into the season of giving lets do all that we can to lend our neighbours a helping hand. Many longtime Edmontonians in our neighbourhoods may need help shoveling and clearing ice, but very few will ask for help. The best way to help is by asking if they need a hand. There are also some resources for those looking for help at edmonton.ca/snowangels
This time of the year may be cold outside, but the way that so many Edmontonians give makes our City such a warm place to be in the winter.