The last couple of weeks in Edmonton have been engaging, challenging and rewarding. I feel energized coming off the last month – here’s the rundown.
Baseball is life
Let’s start with baseball.
Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about baseball and the ballpark in Rossdale. This space needs something vibrant and accessible for our citizens, and it’s time we start digging a lot deeper about the future of baseball in Edmonton – we need to think bigger.
We lost the Trappers in 2004, and we’ve lived in grief in a way ever since. The Prospects have been trying to comfort us and they have, to some extent. The fan base is growing, and I’m looking forward to the 2019 season. But we’re not where we need to be – and the opportunity is in front of us to create a pathway to sustainability for baseball and our beautiful ballpark in Edmonton. As the owners of ReMax field and as our agreement with the Prospects in nearing an end, we have initiated a new bids process to invite some bigger thinking about baseball and the ballpark. Maybe we can even include a micro brewery. Or two. At least.
Baseball is a communal sport that brings us together and enlivens our city, and the Prospects have created an opportunity for an affordable and fun family outing in our beautiful ballpark. So this summer, I encourage us all to show up – let’s gather in support of the Prospects and the vibrancy that they bring to our city on those warm summer nights.
Election is over
Next, the thing on everyone’s mind this week: the election. First and foremost, I want to extend a sincere congratulations to the Premier-elect, Jason Kenney. It was a hard-fought battle and a tough campaign, and your new role will be no different – so congratulations, and best of luck leading the Province.
Ask About Edmonton allowed us to all ask the tough questions surrounding affordable housing, climate change, economic development, innovation, and more. These are questions that face every Edmontonian and I’m thankful we each had a chance to participate in this way. We will keep advocating and fighting for these issues and for the best future for Edmonton and Alberta and to make sure we become the established destination for talented, young, educated people. I did an interview about this, you can watch here.
Now is the time to work with the Province to make progress on our goals. Now is the time to find common beliefs and work toward common goals.
One common value I share with the new Premier is subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is a principle, asking us to organize with and for those most affected by whatever policy may come to be. We have to organize from the bottom up and this is exactly what the City of Edmonton did in collaboration with our civil society, not for profit housing providers. Shovel ready is a strategy for affordable housing designed with subsidiarity in mind.
It’s important that this spirit of common ground stay intact, because we have a lot of work to do over the next four years and beyond. We need to house people, prevent climate change, and strengthen and diversify our economy.
One of the important drivers of economic diversification and digitization is the provision of 5G infrastructure to create the next level of connectivity and buoy the next internet revolution. At our next council meeting, I will be making a motion that engages our economic development entities in helping us become a 5G leader in Canada for the purpose of meeting a variety of city goals including attracting more and more private sector tech investment to our city.
It’s actually about climate …
Candidly, I’m concerned about Alberta’s new government’s approach to climate change as it extends the life of coal plants and eliminates the Energy Efficiency Alberta programs among other misses. I’m concerned about our emissions and our Province’s role or lack of one in resilience and preventing climate change.
I don’t like to despair, so maybe it’s time for Edmonton to step up and do more here, if necessary – whatever that might look like. So maybe we form our own agency that fills the gaps left from the dissolution of the EEA, maybe we look more deeply into large-scale investments in renewable energy procurement for our city in partnership with other large energy users. We’re not giving up on this – but we need to dig deep and find solutions that work, and we have to do whatever it takes to build a healthier city and province – especially now. We must also understand the real financial costs to the taxpayer of not addressing climate challenges meaningfully.
Looking ahead to Priority-Based Budgeting
We approved our new City of Edmonton Strategic Plan at Council this week, ConnectEdmonton. On April 30th, the Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB) report will come to Council to begin to help us prioritize spending and budget decisions differently. PBB helps us use dollars earmarked for low-priority projects to fund high priority plans and projects, and assists in funding decisions by aligning spending more precisely with our corporate goals and vision.
This new plan helps with the PBB discussion coming our way, because it lays out exactly where Edmonton stands as a corporation and where we want to go. PBB helps us put our goals into action and fund only what needs to be funded, lessening the burden on taxpayers. I’m looking forward to discussing PBB and how it can benefit Council and the city we serve.
I’m thankful for the last few weeks, and looking forward to the next. While there have been some big changes, we can’t let anything slow down our efforts to build and better Edmonton, the Region, and the Province.