Steven Shewchuk for YEG Mayor. I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for the mayor of the City of Edmonton. I was born and raised near Tofield, Alberta and have spent the majority of my adult life living and working in the Edmonton area. As a happily married man to a local professional and proud father of two young adults just beginning their steps towards an independent life, I want to live in a City that respects its citizens and their voices.
I have been a small business owner providing facilities services to commercial properties and their owners for over 10 years in the greater Edmonton area and before that worked for a couple large multinational transportation entities. Over the years I have listened to many of my friends, neighbours, colleagues and customers voice their concerns about the inefficiency and needless spending of our municipal bodies. We are concerned about the tax burden being imposed on all Edmontonians without receiving corresponding services needed and wanted by the majority of the citizens. I feel our tax dollars are being used in an irresponsible manner that does not respect the hard working citizens and taxpayers.
Edmonton needs a mayor and City council who will guide and work with the administration and senior officials to ensure our tax money is spent wisely and effectively.
The present mandate of our mayor appears to be to “pedal” his personal agenda without balancing the rights and needs of the majority of the citizens and without listening to the collective voice of the people of Edmonton.
I can’t fix all the past and present issues but I can do my part to ensure a mandate of Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability.
My main focus is on reducing waste and providing better value for our tax dollars. We already have sufficient tax monies coming in each year to provide the services necessary and many of those desired but they are not being provided in an efficient and effective way. The other problem is that money is being wasted by the existing mayor and council on priorities that are not in the best interests of the majority of the taxpayers and citizens.
Transportation Issues -
LRT - The existing and proposed LRT expansions are very expensive and those in place have created traffic congestion at major intersections and we can only expect the same with the expansions. With the number of engineers apparently working in the transportation department of the City the lights and trains should be synchronized better at all intersections - the wait times at southgate to make a left turn is often 9-11 minutes. Unacceptable for intersections that have been in place for years. The value we are getting is very poor for what we pay. There is no accountability for the time delays and mistakes made. The software debacle with the Metro Line is unacceptable - these issues should have been determined and worked on before a hole was dug. I think LRT has to be re-examined and see if BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) is a valid and less expensive option.
Bridge Construction - The existing issues seem to be a result of lack of planning and accountability. Anytime delays are measured in years for construction projects we have a serious problem. There appears to be very little detailed info on what is going on with these projects other than vague excuses such as the steel was late. Again, there is no reporting other than vague information - there needs to be more transparency and resulting accountability. The announcement that the Walterdale bridge is under budget (based on which budget?) due to the penalties paid by the builder does not take into consideration the costs and issues due to a two year delay and is not a "good news" announcement.
Bike Lanes - I am not in favor of the current bike lanes and believe they are slowing traffic, causing other safety issues and creating more problems than they will ever solve. The costs to build, including the new initial construction costs, new signaling and signage, education on use and costs of maintenance, including new equipment for snow removal for one, is far too expensive for the benefits that we have yet to see. Just try exiting a parkade on any of the existing routes and it will be clear that there are congestion and safety issues. In addition, no consideration has been taken as to the resulting issues for police and emergency vehicles. With the existing congestion on 100 Avenue, 102 Avenue, 103 Street and 107 Street and no good alternatives how are emergency vehicles going to get through. This is already an issue in the summer and will only get worse in the winter months. No consultation was even had with the downtown fire station before putting a bike lane in front of their exit. Is this good planning? Some solution may need to eventually be put into place to have the cyclists safely co-exist with vehicle traffic but not to have the cyclists rights override those of motorists. The majority of the traffic is and for the foreseeable future (we are a City that is very spread out and has winter weather at least 6 months of the year) will be vehicle traffic including cars and buses and the cost, traffic congestion, safety issues and frustrations for drivers caused by these bikes lanes is not acceptable.
Infills - Infills that don't take neighbours into consideration create a lot of frustrations. They are great for the builder and the City. The City gets nearly double the taxes for doing nothing. The City has not created low cost housing/starter homes like they said they would. The current direction is creating more problems than it is solving. While increased density is important, it cannot be at the expense of existing homeowners in regards to inadequate parking spaces, reduced sunlight and reduced privacy. Density should be focused and planned. The present view by council that any and all density is a good thing is not in the best interests of Edmontonians. The current infill construction needs to stop and be re-examined before more mistakes are made.
Arts Funding - The arts funding should be reviewed. I am against the current policy of the mandatory 1% to be spent on art after a City project is completed. There needs to be reasonableness involved - for example a cap on the amount spent, a restriction on where the artist resides (as in use local artists) and give the public some right to approve of the art. The overall amounts should be lowered substantially given the price tags on some of the projects and perhaps some private funded can be looked at as an alternative or addition to the spending by the City.
Conversion of parkland and other municipal reserve land to Housing - This hot topic issue in some neighbourhoods is due to the total lack of consultation with the existing area homeowners. It was determined in closed door meetings that the required public consultation should be waived. Making decisions on these housing projects without taking into consideration transportation services and other required services was simply irresponsible. Also, existing homeowners who bought in an area due to the existing parkland and potential new schools are now being told that this land is being used for high density housing without any consultation. Is the City planning to compensate these homeowners for their reduced land values, reduced parking spots and increased traffic flow. Again, it is irresponsible for a City administration to make these decisions behind closed doors and without taking into consideration the issues that can and will arise.
Tax Increases - I can't promise lower taxes but I will guarantee I will fight to prevent them from going up. I hope to find a great team of City employees that want to strive for excellence in delivering service at the same or a better level with no tax increase. I don't believe we are operating 100 percent so there are millions of dollars to be saved and perhaps redistributed. It is important to not confuse saving money as cutting back. Cutting back to me means getting rid of services - I plan to work to provide services at a better cost to the taxpayer allowing us to keep the present services and having money left over to fund other desired projects.
Efficiency - Transparency - Accountability .
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada