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100 Days of Summer

On Wednesday, Andy tagged me in a blog post about his summer bucket list. The concept is straightforward – a list of things you want to accomplish this summer.

In Edmonton, I consider Victoria Day weekend the official kickoff of summer, which extends to Labour Day weekend (just over 100 days, hence the title of this post). Never one to shy away from an invitation/challenge, and thinking it would be fun to brainstorm what I want to do in the next 3 1/2 months, I decided to write down my own list.

I enjoy summer, though it’s not my favourite season. I like spring best. You can feel a change in the air, the weather is getting warmer. Spring is, to me, fundamentally about optimism. Everything is new again; you can feel things getting better.

Summer is my second favourite season in Edmonton. Our fall is too short and erratic to truly enjoy, and winter is too dry and cold for me to embrace to the same extent as other seasons. My winter wheelhouse is +5 to -10 (celsius), with healthy doses of snow on a regular basis. We don’t get enough of those days.

But I digress. Summer in Edmonton (and elsewhere) is a great time of year, and I resolve to make the most of it. Here is a partial list, in no particular order, of things I want to do between now and Labour Day.

The 2010 Summer Bucket List

1. See a ballgame at a Major League Baseball park I’ve never been to before.
2. Visit a city I either haven’t been to before, or one I haven’t been to in a long time.
3. Have an awesome summer vacation.
4. Get reacquainted with my guitar.
5. Sit on the grass and play guitar.
6. Take a nap in the sun.
7. Play basketball on the outdoor courts.
8. Sit on the banks of the Bow River at Prince’s Island Park in Calgary and tune out the world.

Bow River at Dusk
#8 on the list.

9. Enjoy the view of Jasper National Park from up high in the mountains.
10. Go for a walk in the rain.
11. Drink gin and tonic on my balcony.
12. Publish two blog posts per week.
13. Live simply.
14. Play soccer with Yanick (my 4 year old nephew, who is just learning the game).
15. Break out my golf clubs for the first time in 2 1/2 years.
16. Enjoy the outdoors and great music at some of Alberta’s finest music festivals (Edmonton Folk Fest, Calgary Folk Fest, maybe Sled Island too).
17. Read two books per month.
18. Take lots of photos of Edmonton in the summer (so I can do another photo essay).
19. Ride the High Level Streetcar.
20. Take a trip by train between cities.
21. Eat breakfast at my kitchen table and watch the LRT go back and forth (okay, I do this almost every morning).
22. Scream along to “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” at the U2 concert on June 23rd.
23. Reclaim the Golden Tee crown from Duncan Taylor.
24. Visit the art vendors on the street in Quebec City.
25. Watch the first two seasons of The Wire.
26. Unveil my rebranded/retitled blog.
27. Enjoy my last birthday before I’m “almost 30”.
28. Play at least one game of croquet.
29. Wear my seersucker suit.
30. Re-read “The Great Gatsby” and “This Side of Paradise”.
31. Visit Transcend Coffee in its new Garneau location.
32. Try the gluten-free burgers at DeLux Burger Bar.
33. Spend a quiet summer evening listening to Vin Scully call a ballgame.
34. Ride the LRT all the way from Century Park to Clareview and back.
35. Stay awake for an entire #wirecamp.
36. Watch the sun rise.
37. Drinks, popcorn, and politics at Martini’s.
38. Write down my actual bucket list.

Alright, this ought to be enough to keep me busy for now. Post yours in the comments.


Back to the Future: A Vision for the Edmonton City Centre Airport Lands

Born in the right time and place, I might have been one of the most successful urban planners of the 20th century. That’s not to say I would have produced good work. Rather, I have a personality trait that seems to have also manifested itself in the most successful trends in urban planning: I overthink things.

I’ve realized this over the past few days, as the tendency to overthink has caused me all sorts of problems of late. Some things in life are simple, and best dealt with as such. Urban planning is one such thing.

It is instructive that Jane Jacobs, who we now recognize as having one of, if not the best mind for urban planning in the 20th century, had no formal training. She relied on observation and intuition about what made cities work. Some things are best dealt with that way.

This is not to disparage planning as a profession (though I considered calling this post “I Blame Le Corbusier”), which I have great respect for, and has produced many great ideas and works. A theoretical framework is needed, as communities will not always develop organically (and even if they do, they won’t always work out). The real problem has not been the theories themselves, rather the headlong rush to embrace them. The urban form is always malleable to a point, but often hard to reverse. Urban planning demands a conservative temperament, to be willing to experiment, but to do so cautiously. Today’s trend could easily be tomorrow’s punchline.

Brownstones at Port Imperial

Good redevelopment: infill row housing in Hoboken, New Jersey.

I’ve been thinking about this since the City of Edmonton officially kicked off the design competition to redevelop its City Centre Airport Lands.

At this time last year, I was deeply immersed in the airport debate. Towards the end, I wrote a paper (nicknamed “The Abboud Report” by Councillor Dave Thiele) summarizing my thoughts on the issue (close it), and my thoughts on a future use for the land (family-oriented, low-rise high-density housing). I’ve uploaded the paper here (the urban planning/future use stuff starts on page 13).

The redevelopment of this site is a huge opportunity for Edmonton. We could build a model community, one that adds great value to our city. Or we could blow it. If we do, it will probably be because we ignore the time-tested things that make communities successful, and rush headlong into something trendy, or futuristic. Good urban design should marry the proven best practices, with the best design that technology will allow.

There are five principles that I see as key:

1. A successful city/region offers a diversity of communities and housing options. Whatever we do with the ECCA lands should compliment what our existing and planned developments offer, not duplicate it.
2. There should be activity in an area throughout most of the day – this is a concept I’ll call 16 hour spaces, and will be elaborating on at a later date. In a nutshell, it means there is activity through all waking hours (6 or 7 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night).
3. Most people still want a family-friendly home (read: something with a bit of space, and a yard if possible).
4. Often, it’s best not to reinvent the wheel, but to look for exactly what makes communities (in Edmonton and elsewhere) popular.
5. Fundamentally, communities have to be interesting. You get this by having different uses, and a mix of people and amenities, and by offering things not found in most other areas.

How does this fit in with the ECCA lands? Here’s what I wrote in the report last year:

Density and Development: High­ Rise and Low­ Rise Density

Roberta Brandes Gratz, an award‐winning urban critic and journalist, has this to say on the subject:

High­rise or even low­rise density is not by definition, bad and, in fact, it is the only thing that makes feasible a cost­effective and efficient urban infrastructure. Cities must have sufficient density to function well. In fact, downtowns are at their most productive when density is high. The form of the density can vary. The high density of low­rise neighbourhoods, former streetcar suburbs, contributes significantly to their appeal.

– From Cities Back From the Edge: New Life for Downtown

There are two facets to this that must be addressed. The first is downtown living. Our downtown population has doubled in the past decade, and is now approaching 15,000 residents. Still, it has been demonstrated that we need another 40,000‐ 50,000 residents in the downtown to reach the critical mass that most truly successful downtowns have. We are committed to seeing our downtown succeed; removing the airport overlay and height restrictions by closing the ECCA benefits Edmonton on two counts: first, by removing the restrictions themselves, but second, by creating predictability for developers. No longer will they worry about accommodating height restrictions, or whether the rules might change a few years down the road. Edmonton will finally be able to maximize its high‐rise density growth.

Which brings us to low‐rise density. There is only so much demand for high‐rise density, and much of that can be met by undeveloped or underdeveloped land in Downtown, The Quarters, and Oliver, along with nodes such as Station Pointe, Stadium Lands, and Century Park, to name a few. Introducing minor high‐rise density into communities, such as the Vision for the Corner in Glenora and the Strathearn Heights redevelopment, is also likely to become more common, as is redevelopment that leads to high‐density (and likely mid to high‐rise nodes) around future LRT stations.

To complement the high‐rise density growth, the focus should be on creating low‐ rise density, especially the kind that can appeal to families. In‐fill communities such as Griesbach andTerwillegar Towne in Edmonton, along with Garrison Woods in Calgary give us a model that can work. This means smaller lots and narrower streets, along with a greater focus on row housing and other types of attached housing.

Many cities across North America boast mature, desirable neighbourhoods of this type. To name a few, Mont Royal in Montreal, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn, and Back Bay in Boston are all characterized by their brick or brownstone row housing, some fitted for singles and seniors, but much of it fitted for families.

This type of neighbourhood has demonstrated appeal It is also an efficient use of land density‐wise. Within Edmonton’s context, it compliments and offers an alternative to our biggest supply of housing stock – the suburban‐style single‐family detached home. A diversity of housing and neighbourhood types will enhance Edmonton’s desirability, as people look for different things in neighbourhoods and housing; it will thus help the city attract and retain a greater scope of residents.

I stand by this. There are two good examples of airport redevelopment Edmonton can follow: Stapleton in Denver, Colorado and Mueller in Austin, Texas. Both are family-oriented, and lean towards traditional design principles.

Brownstone / Greenstone

Park Slope in Brooklyn: we could build this on the ECCA lands.

If you were to ask me what the ECCA redevelopment should look like (in addition to the land offered for NAIT expansion), I would offer six points:

1. Low-rise density.
2. Preserves and incorporates the existing building stock.
3. Traditional look – brick and brownstone (row) housing.
4. Family-oriented housing.
5. Uses cutting-edge environmental technology (and often building smaller is the best thing for the environment).
6. Serious consideration should be given to form-based zoning in some, if not all areas.

Stapleton, CO

Mixed-use development in Stapleton Denver.

This would complement what Edmonton has to offer, and embrace the principles of communities popular throughout North America. To any design firms entering this competition: I’m willing to give up my evenings and weekends to help make this vision a reality.

The ECCA redevelopment is a tremendous opportunity for Edmonton; let’s avoid the temptation to embrace the next big thing, stick to what we know works, and make sure we do this right.

Pyramid Power: Ranking the 2010 Edmonton City Council Races

Following Sunday’s post about the announced and rumoured candidates for Edmonton City Council, I want to take a look at how each race is shaping up. I’ve ranked the 13 races from most to least competitive, putting them in four categories:

Toss-Ups: No clear favourite, and could go any of two or more ways at this point.
Competitive: A leading candidate/favourite at this point, but a race that should be a close vote and could go another way.
Leaning Safe: A safe seat for now, but could become competitive or a toss-up in the right circumstances.
Safe: A safe seat for the incumbent, which doesn’t figure to change without something dramatic happening.

The rankings will change as candidates announce their intentions, and as the campaign moves into full swing. It’s intended to be a snapshot of how the election is shaping up at this moment.

A few caveats:

1. I based the rankings primarily around a few criteria: incumbency (and strength thereof), strength of candidates, and 2007 results.
2. These are somewhat subjective, but I think most observers would agree with the ballpark ranking for each race. I’ve done my best to make the rankings as objective as possible.
3. These are by no means meant to discourage anyone from running. Things can change, and because a race is listed as ‘safe’ now doesn’t mean it will remain that way.

A point, and a couple of examples to keep in mind:
– City-wide turnout in 2007 was 26%, and the highest turnout a given ward saw was around 35% (Ward 5), meaning there are plenty of disengaged voters for a candidate to mobilize.
– In 2007, we would have probably ranked Ward 5 as “Safe” or “Leaning Safe” for the two incumbents (Bryan Anderson and Mike Nickel) as of May 17. There’s still 5 months of campaigning, and things can change, as they did in that race, where Don Iveson ended up beating Nickel.
– Similarly, in 2004, we might have ranked the Mayoral race as “Competitive” on this date, but talked about how incumbent Bill Smith and repeat challenger Robert Noce figured to be in a close race. Eventual winner Stephen Mandel would have been seen as a distant third, and a long shot at that point. So don’t get discouraged if you or someone you know is running or thinking about it. To use a sports analogy, there’s a lot of game left at this point.

Without further ado, here’s where the races sit as of May 17, ranked from most to least competitive. I intend to update them every month or so leading up to nomination day.

Finally, a big thank you to the handful of readers who have sent in or posted tips over the past couple of days.

City Hall at Night


1. Ward 11
Confirmed: Shane Bergdahl
Probable: Chinwe Okelu
Possible: Chuck McKenna

There will be no incumbent in this race, and nobody figures to start as an overwhelming favourite. Okelu did well here in ’07, finishing second behind Thiele. But this will also be his fifth run for Council, and he was lapped by Sohi last election, who he finished ahead of in ’04. Bergdahl has a strong community league background, but is untested as a candidate. McKenna finished just over 100 votes behind Okelu in these polls last election, and would be well-positioned if he ran here.

2. Ward 3
Confirmed: Dave Loken
Probable: Ron Hayter
Possible: Jabin Caouette, Kerry Hutton

Dave Loken, who finished a distant third in Ward 2 (behind Hayter and Krushell) in 2004 and 2007, has declared here. If Hayter runs again, this figures to be his Ward.

If Hayter declares here, I may eventually move this race to ‘Competitive’, but even with his presence, I see this being a toss-up. Hayter’s vote plateaued in 2007, and he was lapped by Krushell. More importantly, I get the impression that many voters, and some prominent voices in the media, believe it’s time for him to move on.

Loken starts the race in a good position, but his performance in ’04 and ’07 indicates that he’s not a shoo-in. He’ll be lucky if Caterina runs in 7, and Diotte in 6 – both of them would have a good chance at this seat. But either way, I expect other challengers to step up in the next month or two, which is why this remains a toss-up.


3. Ward 7
Confirmed: Tony Caterina, Brendan Van Alstine
Possible: Kyle Balombin, Chris Martin, Carrie Thuesen, Harvey Voogd

Caterina starts as the favourite, until we see how much traction Van Alstine (or another candidate) has in the community.

If Harvey Voogd is in the race, it moves to toss-up. Voogd finished ahead of Caterina in these polls by about 1% (roughly 200 votes) in ’07, and while most incumbents see a bump in their vote total from their first election to subsequent ones, Caterina has been polarizing, so I’m not convinced he’ll see one.

In any case, this race is eminently winnable for a challenger, but they should get out there right away, and will need to run a strong campaign. A greater number of challengers could also work to Caterina’s advantage, allowing him to win a split race with a lower vote share.

4. Ward 1
Confirmed: Andrew Knack, Jamie Post, Linda Sloan

Two community activists, Andrew Knack and Jamie Post, have declared, and insiders have indicated that incumbent Linda Sloan is running here.

I see Sloan starting as a strong favourite, but vulnerable in the right circumstances. She’s not the most universally popular councillor amongst media, and doesn’t live in this Ward, both of which could work against her. That said, it would take a really strong challenger and well-run campaign to knock her off.

5/6. Wards 6/8
Ward 6
Confirmed: Jane Batty/Ben Henderson
Probable: Kerry Diotte

Ward 8
Confirmed: Jane Batty/Ben Henderson, Lori Heaney, Hana Razga
Possible: Debbie Yeung

I will adjust these two once Jane Batty and Ben Henderson declare their intentions. I think Ben’s safe, and Jane is in trouble in the right circumstances.

Though Batty finished first in 2007, it was close. She hasn’t appreciably grown her vote share since first being elected in 2001, and on a preferential ballot, probably would have fallen behind Henderson and Lewis Cardinal in ’07. It’s a shame, because she is a very good Councillor, but she’s been unable to move her vote total. In 2007, she got the vote of 41% of voters in the Ward 6 polls, and 36.5% in Ward 8, the lowest vote share of any incumbent city-wide. Against a strong candidate (such as Cardinal head-to-head), I’d have her race as a toss-up. Unless he’s facing a strong challenger, I will move Ben’s race to “Leaning Safe” once he declares.

As for the challengers, I think Ward 6 might be a struggle for Diotte, I’m not sure it’s the most receptive area to a low taxes/tough on crime message (which I figure will be cornerstones of his campaign). I haven’t seen enough from Heaney and Razga to know how they’ll match up against the incumbent. Heaney did very well in the polls that carry over to Ward 8 (only 4 of them, in the area she lives), but we need to see what kind of broad appeal she has before drawing conclusions from those. Getting out and doorknocking now, as I’ve heard they are, will bolster both Razga’s and Heaney’s chances.

Leaning Safe

7. Ward 2
Confirmed: Kim Krushell
Probable: Ron Hayter
Possible: Jabin Caouette, Kerry Hutton, Don Koziak, Shelly Tupper
Kim Krushell starts as the favourite here, and figures to remain the favourite even if Ron Hayter runs here. But there’s enough to think that he’d keep the race competitive, or if there really is an organized campaign by ECCA supporters, she could be in for a tight race. I think this will move to safe as we get closer to the election, but for now there are a few outstanding questions.

8. Ward 9
Confirmed: Bryan Anderson
Possible: Lewis Cardinal, Donna Finucane, Brent Michalyk
Bryan Anderson is running here. He’s represented the area for 12 years, works hard in the community, and is well-liked. Yet, in the right circumstances, he could be in for a fight. For one, he lives in the new Ward 10, not in this Ward. Further, living in Ward 5 during the last election, I heard many people express that they felt that he’d been around long enough. I suspect his support has peaked. A strong candidate with roots in the community could give him a run for his money.

9. Ward 4
Confirmed: Dan Backs, Perry Chahal, Ed Gibbons, Scott Robb

Ed Gibbons is popular in the Ward, but has two interesting challengers. Backs retained a decent base of support, even after getting kicked out of the Liberal caucus, and Chahal, a former School Board candidate who is well-connected. I think this moves to the ‘safe’ category as we approach the election, but for now I’m waiting to see what Backs and Chahal put forward in their campaigns.


10. Ward 10
Confirmed: Don Iveson

Don Iveson is popular, and has performed well during his first term on Council. Though some of the more fiscally conservative citizens don’t like him, I suspect they figure it’s not worth the effort to challenge him this time around.

Many assume Iveson is going to run for Mayor in 2013, so the most serious contenders you might see here are people trying to position themselves for this seat three years from now, when they figure it will be open.

11. Ward 12
Confirmed: Amarjeet Sohi

Sohi did very well here in ’07. When you factor in the advanced polls, it’s likely that he outperformed Thiele in this area (despite earning less votes on election day). He’s popular, and has done will in his first term, and doesn’t figure to face a serious challenge. He’ll likely be a fixture here for the next few terms.

12. Ward 5
Confirmed: Karen Leibovici
Leibovici is well-liked in her ward, works hard, and earned the largest vote share of any candidate for Council in ’07. Sounds like a safe seat to me.

13. Mayor
Confirmed: Stephen Mandel, Daryl Bonar
Probable: Dave Dowling
Possible: Don Koziak
For the second consecutive election, Mayor Mandel figures to run without any serious competition (with all due respect to Daryl Bonar). As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, I could see a couple of people running to position themselves for Council or Mayoral bids in the future, but not seriously threatening the Mayor.

This ranks as the safest seat, however, for two reasons: first, I’m struggling to think of anyone who would be willing and able to challenge him, and could get the 45% of the vote or better that would likely be needed to win this race. Second, while I can envision someone being able to raise money and organize a ward-wide campaign against a ‘Safe’ incumbent, I’m not sure a challenger could raise the money city-wide at this point to mount a serious Mayoral bid. Mandel is safe, unless things dramatically change.

The Edmonton Civic Election, where the Mayor, City Council, and School Trustees will be elected to three year terms, will be held on Monday, October 18th.

Pursuit of the Pyramid: Edmonton’s 2010 City Council Candidates

City Hall at Night

Edmonton’s 2010 municipal election is just over five months away. This is the time of year where most incumbents announce their intentions, and challengers begin to come out of the woodwork.

I’ll be writing more about the election as part of another project that will be launched soon, but in the meantime, I thought that on the heels of yesterday’s post about Ward 11, many readers are probably curious about who’s running where.

I’ve put together a list of declared, likely, and possible candidates. I believe it’s the most comprehensive list available at the moment. It will be updated on an on-going basis; please send me an email, or post a comment, if you have names to add to it.

(Note: Update Sunday afternoon at 5pm MST, thanks to a City Hall insider).

Confirmed: Stephen Mandel
Probable: Dave Dowling
Possible: Don Koziak

Mayor Mandel announced his intentions to run for a third term, and there is unlikely to be serious opposition. He will compete against the usual slate of fringe candidates (such as Mr. Dowling). The most serious opposition he might see is from someone like Don Koziak, or another candidate looking to raise his/her profile for a future Council/Mayoral campaign.

Ward 1
Confirmed: Andrew Knack, Jamie Post
Probable: Linda Sloan
Possible: Karen Leibovici

Andrew Knack, who placed third in 2007, has announced his intentions to run again, as has first-time candidate Jamie Post, who is active with the Glenwood Community League in the ward.

Both Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan have expressed that they will run again. One will take this ward, and one will take Ward 5, the south half of their current ward. My guess is that Leibovici takes 5, where she lives, and Sloan runs here, but we’ll leave them both as ‘probable’ until they formally announce their intentions.

Update: A City Hall insider tells me that Sloan will run here and Leibovici in Ward 5

Ward 2
Confirmed: Kim Krushell
Probable: Ron Hayter
Possible: Jabin Caouette, Kerry Hutton, Don Koziak, Shelley Tupper

Incumbent Kim Krushell has announced her intentions to run here. Fellow incumbent Ron Hayter has yet to announce his, though as I noted yesterday, I believe he will retire. If he does run, it will be here or in Ward 3.

The list of possible candidates includes those who have run before, in most cases multiple times. Caouette and Hutton have run in the past two elections, and could run again here or in Ward 3. Tupper lives in Kensington, which is in the Ward, and in 2007, did about 5% better in the polls here than she did in the ones going to Ward 3. Koziak ran in Ward 2 before his 2007 Mayoral run, and owns a business on Kingsway Ave. If the City Centre Airport supporters were to front a candidate here, it would likely be him.

Ward 3
Confirmed: Dave Loken
Probable: Ron Hayter
Possible: Jabin Caouette, Kerry Diotte, Kerry Hutton

Dave Loken’s website indicates he is running in Ward 3, which is consistent with what I’ve been hearing for months. Hayter could also run here if he decides to seek re-election.

The usual suspects, Caouette and Hutton, show up, as does an interesting name: Kerry Diotte. I heard second hand that he was going to run in “the ward where Hayter’s running”, which I infer to mean Ward 3 (though I guess it could mean Ward 2 as well). I’ve heard elsewhere he was thinking about running in Ward 6 (downtown), but if he were to take the plunge, I think it’s most likely to be here. And to be honest, it’s a good place for him to run.

Ward 4
Confirmed: Ed Gibbons, Perry Chahal
Possible: Dan Backs, Chris Martin, Kyle Balombin

I can’t find any official confirmation that Ed Gibbons is running, but I have heard from several sources that he will in this ward, which is why current ward-mate and fellow Ward 4 resident Tony Caterina is looking at Ward 7. I haven’t heard any other names. Martin and Balombin were the 4th and 5th place finishers in ’07 (behind Gibbons, Caterina, and Harvey Voogd).

Update: A City Hall source tells me that Dan Backs, the one-term Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Manning who was kicked out of caucus, and lost his 2008 re-election bid as an independent, is looking to run here.

Update: Reader Marilyn Hooper notes Perry Chahal will be running here.

Ward 5
Probable: Karen Leibovici
Possible: Linda Sloan

As mentioned earlier, one of Leibovici or Sloan will run here. My money’s on Leibovici, and she won’t face much of a challenge.

Ward 6
Probable: Jane Batty or Ben Henderson
Possible: Kerry Diotte

My understanding is that Batty and Henderson won’t run against each other, but haven’t decided who will run in 6 and who will run in 8. As noted, I’ve heard Diotte’s name floated here too. There will be a number of fringe candidates as well.

I would not be surprised to see a candidate from Central McDougall/Boyle/McCauley area run, largely on the platform of concentrated poverty, which is a hot-button issue in those communities. I haven’t, however, heard a name yet.

Ward 7
Confirmed: Brendan Van Alstine
Probable: Tony Caterina
Possible: Carrie Thuesen, Harvey Voogd

Community activist Brendan Van Alstine has been out campaigning for several months. I’ve heard this is where Caterina is looking to run, though this isn’t confirmed. Thuesen, Ed Gibbons’ Executive Assistant at City Hall, has confirmed that she’s considering it, and 2007 runner-up Harvey Voogd remains a possibility as well.

Ward 8
Confirmed: Lori Heaney, Hana Razga
Probable: Jane Batty or Ben Henderson
Possible: Debbie Yeung

Razga, who ran in Ward 4 in 2007, has announced her intentions. As noted above, one of Batty or Henderson will run here. Debbie Yeung, who has run three times, and finished fourth in ’07, could also make another run here.

Update: Lori Heaney is confirmed.

Ward 9
Confirmed: Bryan Anderson
Possible: Lewis Cardinal, Donna Finucane, Brent Michalyk

Anderson, the four-term incumbent, will run in this southwest ward. He may or may not see serious competition. Donna Finucane finished third in Ward 5 in 2004 (behind Anderson and Mike Nickel), and three years ago, indicated that she had an eye on running again this election. I’m not sure if this is still the case, or if Anderson’s decision changes anything. Lewis Cardinal, the Ward 4 runner-up in ’07, and candidate of record for the NDP in the federal riding of Edmonton-Centre, lives in Ward 9, and may run here in the future. For what it’s worth, I think he’s much better suited for City Council than Parliament (and has a better chance of getting elected too). Michalyk ran in 2007, and lives in the Ward 9 community of Blackmud Creek. He could make another run.

Ward 10
Confirmed: Don Iveson

Iveson announced his intentions, and is unlikely to face serious competition.

Ward 11
Confirmed: Shane Bergdahl
Probable; Chinwe Okelu
Possible: Chuck McKenna
This site was the first to report Bergdahl’s candidacy in yesterday’s post. Since then, I’ve received an email from a reader stating that Okelu is running, though I’m waiting to here for certain that it’s in Ward 11, and that I can credit this reader with the news, before I move him to confirmed.

2007 candidates McKenna and Heaney are possibilities as well.

Ward 12
Confirmed: Amarjeet Sohi
Possible: Chuck McKenna

Sohi should coast to victory here, though I suspect he’ll face some nominal competition. McKenna or Heaney could run here, but if they’re going to run again, I think they’ll probably make a run at Ward 11.

As noted at the start, this list is a work in progress. Please send any tips you have this way. And once again, I encourage Edmontonians to start reading about their likely candidates. It’s also not too late to encourage your friends or neighbours to run, or to think about doing so yourself.

Coming tomorrow: I rank the 13 races from most to least competitive.

Edmonton’s Ward 11: A New Ward, A New Rep

Dave Thiele’s announcement that he won’t seek another term means that there will be at least one new face on Edmonton City Council this year. Thiele, as the story notes, is the first Councillor to announce his retirement. Council’s longest-serving member, Ron Hayter, has yet to formally announce his intentions. The Mayor and the remaining 10 Councillors have all announced their intentions to seek re-election, though not all Councillors have indicated which Ward they intend to run in (Edmonton is switching from 6 two-rep wards to 12 single-rep wards).

A personal digression: I enjoyed a very good working relationship with Councillor Thiele, both during my year as Vice President External of the University of Alberta Students’ Union (where we worked on the Universal Bus Pass issue), and during my time working at City Hall (his Executive Assistant, Marilyn, is also one of the sweetest people alive). In spite of the many criticisms that have been leveled at Councillor Thiele’s performance over the years, he should be recognized for a few things. First, for being committed to his community. Second, for being a long-term advocate for better public transit. Third, for being an early, active supporter of a Universal Bus Pass for post-secondary students. In 2004, he sponsored a motion during budget deliberations to fund the U-Pass as a pilot project for University of Alberta students. Though that motion failed, a subsequent motion for further study the issue and bring it back to Council was passed at the same meeting, an early and important step in moving the U-Pass forward (it was introduced in 2007). Councillor Thiele’s efforts helped keep it moving at a time when it could have easily stalled.

With Thiele’s retirement, and Sohi’s confirmation that he will run in Ward 12, Ward 11 will be an open seat this fall. For my money, I think it will be one of two – Councillor Hayter will retire, leaving Ward 3 as an open race as well. In September, I did an analysis of the poll-by-poll numbers from 2007, and what they indicated for the 2010 election. There were a few things of note about Ward 11.

1. It’s Almost All Mature Neighbourhoods
The ward, which runs from Gateway Boulevard to 50th St (West to East) and Whyte Avenue to 12th Avenue (North to South), with a few industrial areas east of 50th thrown in, is almost entirely post-war to 70s-80s oil boom-era communities. This means issues such as neighbourhood infrastructure and school closures could be important here. New infrastructure projects won’t be much of a consideration, with the exception of the Southeast LRT, which will run through the Ward.

2. The 2007 Vote Totals Make for Interesting Scenarios
Most of Ward 11 is part of current Ward 6, though it takes in 4 communities from current Ward 4 as well.

Here are the 2007 results from the polls that make up Ward 11. Individual candidates who earned less than 10% overall are counted under ‘other’.

Ward 6 Vote Share Ward 4 Vote Share
Dave Thiele 22.35% Other 23.51%
Chinwe Okelu 18.99% Debbie Yeung 18.39%
Chuck McKenna 18.47% Lewis Cardinal 17.97%
Amarjeet Sohi 15.34% Ben Henderson 16.51%
Lori Heaney 12.22% Jane Batty 15.70%
Other 2.40% Undervote 7.93%
Undervote 10.23%

Councillor Thiele did his best here, but so did eventual Ward 6 runners-up Chinwe Okelu and Chuck McKenna. Additionally, the four Ward 4 polls were good ones for fiscally conservative Debbie Yeung, which might bode well for a candidate pitching that message.

3. This Year’s Race Will Be Wide Open
It’s unknown whether Okelu, McKenna, or 5th place finisher Lori Heaney will run again, in Ward 11 or elsewhere (though Heaney’s website makes reference to running in 2010). Okelu would be making his 5th try at Council, and though he came close (0.5% behind Sohi, 3% behind Thiele), wouldn’t figure to be a shoo-in here, given his repeated failure to get elected. McKenna would also have his work cut out for him, after finishing 2.5% behind Sohi and 5% behind Thiele in his first try. If he were to get out campaigning early, and find a couple of messages that connected with voters, he could very well find himself on Council.

There is one confirmed candidate: Shane Bergdahl, a former president of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. I believe he’s a first time candidate, but he has deep roots in the Ward, and a strong community background – two qualities that most successful candidates have.

I expect there will be other candidates stepping forward in Ward 11, and this will be one of the most hard-fought races of the 2010 Edmonton Civic Election. I encourage you to start learning about your ward and candidates, and what you want to see out of your representatives.

The Edmonton Civic Election, where the Mayor, City Council, and School Trustees will be elected to three year terms, will be held on Monday, October 18th.

Photo Essay: Homeless Connect IV

In October, I volunteered at the third Homeless Connect event in Edmonton, and wrote about my thoughts.

The fourth Homeless Connect event was held today. Through my work, I was involved in the organizing of the event. I won’t rehash my thoughts in print, but will reiterate that it’s a tremendously rewarding event. Also, during the quieter moments of today, I took photos. Here are some highlights from Homeless Connect:

Service Providers
Volunteers and service providers set up before the event.

Jasper Place Mural
Hazel, one of the volunteers who contributed to this mural, with Scotti Coles, Executive Director of the Jasper Place Health and Wellness Centre.

Volunteers get an orientation at the start of the day.

Aboriginal Elders performed an honour song for the people who are homeless in Edmonton.

Sharol Penner of the House of Refuge made 600 broaches by hand for all the mothers who attended.

This couple moved to Edmonton from Vancouver in the fall, and are still getting settled.


The free haircuts was rivaled in popularity only by the foot care.

Foot Care

Getting a Lift
The volunteers work hard all day, but also like to have fun.

The next Homeless Connect Edmonton will be held on Sunday, October 17th. I encourage you to think about getting involved.

You can see all my photos from the event here.