Category Archives: Don Iveson

alberta politics notes 3/09/2010

– Jokes about politicians ducking responsibility usually aren’t literal. Premier Ed Stelmach first denied seeing the widely covered photos of the now infamous oil-covered Syncrude ducks. His communications armada then changed the story, claiming that the Premier misunderstood the question and has seen the photos. Next question: How do you feel?
– Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson shot back at Minister Luke Ouellette over the neutered Green Trip Fund. Premier Stelmach originally promised $2 billion for the fund in 2008, but it was later cut back to $520 million over three years. Since 2007, the City of Edmonton has made major investments into improving and expanding the capital city’s transportation infrastructure.
– The United Nurses of Alberta have opened negotiations with Alberta Health Services. UNA entered negotiations with a reasonable short list of proposals addressing key issues for nursing in Alberta. Alberta Health Services responded with a full proposal document that included an unprecedented number and scale of rollbacks (Transparency Alert! I am employed by UNA).
– AHS CEO Stephen Duckett versus Minister Gene Zwozdesky and Premier Stelmach on “pay for performance” and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre? Is Dr. Duckett trying to get fired? Who is steering the ship? It has certainly put Don Braid in a tizzy.
– With Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier on his way out of the Mayor’s Office, can Calgarians expect a Ric McIverNaheed Nenshi showdown? Will former Calgary-Nose Creek MLA Gary Mar return from Washington DC to take a run for the job?
 – Liberal MLA Kent Hehr running for Mayor might be an inside joke, but how about his counterpart Dave Taylor? Word on the street is that the Calgary-Currie MLA and former radio star is growing tired of playing second fiddle to Liberal leader David Swann. Taylor was thrown a bone when he was tapped to launch the new Liberal energy policy in January, but rumor has it that Taylor’s organization has been constantly challenging Swann and that the situations is tense inside the Liberal caucus. Confrontation may come to a head at the May 2010 Liberal Party convention.
– A battle is shaping up for the federal Conservative Party nomination in Lethbridge. Nomination candidates include Jim Hillyer and Mark Switzer are seeking their party’s nod. Conservative MP Rick Casson has represented the riding since 1997 and was re-elected in 2008 with 67% of the vote.
 – Former Edmonton-Strathcona MP Rahim Jaffer
pleaded guilty to careless driving in an Ontario court, but charges of cocaine possession magically disappeared. Mr. Jaffer was sentenced to a $500 fine.
 – I was interviewed by Edmonton Journal editor
Sheila Pratt for a feature article that was published this part weekend on Reboot Alberta. The article also features comments from Ken Chapman, Shannon Sortland, David Maclean, NDP MLA Brian Mason, and Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald – who accused to the group’s participants of being “elitist.” Andrew McIntyre rebutted Archie McLean‘s suggestions that Reboot Alberta could become a debate society. I ask: would a real debate society be a bad thing?

does downtown edmonton need a katz arena district?

The Katz Group launched a new website last week reframing their campaign for a new downtown arena as the centrepiece of a new “Arena District” north of Edmonton’s downtown core. The new website features a video interview with Katz Group President Daryl Katz. In the video, billionaire businessman Mr. Katz spoke emotionally about the potential for downtown Edmonton and the need for a conversation about the future of a revitalized downtown Edmonton. The website provides different types of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to start this conversation.

I expect that this website is the beginning of a larger political campaign that will unfold before the 2010 Edmonton City Council elections. In October 2009, the Katz Group retained the services of Peter Elzinga, former MP, MLA, and Chief of Staff to Premier Ralph Klein from 1998 to 2004, for activities related to a “downtown Edmonton redevelopment project.” Until December 2009, the Katz Group had also acquired the services of lobbyist Joan Forge, who served as Premier Ed Stelmach‘s communications shop during the 2006 PC leadership race.

While I liked the video, Mr. Katz avoided the most important question of the exercise: money. It is no secret that the Katz Group would like the City of Edmonton to loan upwards of $400 million towards a new downtown arena, likely making it the largest non-transportation-related one-time investment that our municipality will have ever made (Councillor Don Iveson recently explained the funding request issue more articulately than I ever could here and here).

Aside from the political spin, I welcome a wider public conversation and am excited about the potential for a real debate about downtown. There are those people who are stuck in the 1980s and 1990s mentality that downtown Edmonton is a barren wasteland of warehouses and closed down rail yards, and then there are those Edmontonians who have moved on and seen the evolving character of our downtown core. The Katz Group campaign could generate competing ideas and a real discussion about what kind of face Edmontonians want our downtown to wear.

Downtown Edmonton (what I describe as the area between 100 Street and 124 Street) is a drastically different place than it was ten years ago. From the time when I first lived downtown in 2003 to when I moved back in 2009, I am excited by the changes that I have witnessed. New condo developments in the Oliver and Grandin have created a new identity in those neighbourhoods. People are moving into the core of the city and enhancing its diversity. Walk down Jasper Avenue west of 109th Street on a summer night and you will bump into many people coming in from the restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. The 104th Street Farmers’ Market is a perfect example of the vibrant new identity of Edmonton’s downtown core.

The business district of downtown Edmonton is like many other commercial business districts: employees leave work and it closes down at 6pm. This is the purpose of a commercial district dominated by office towers. An arena is not going to change this. An arena district north of downtown developed on clear urban development concepts could help revitalize a rougher part of the downtown core.

I have heard many arguments about how a downtown arena could revitalize the area, but I have not been convinced that our current arena, Rexall Place, is as bad as its detractors would characterize it. Admittedly, I have only been inside Rexall Place about a dozen times over the past ten years (mostly during the Canadian Finals Rodeo). While this is the case, I don’t fully understand why it needs to be replaced so badly. As a friend pointed out to me yesterday, ‘because it is old’ isn’t a very good argument.

Although the idea of a downtown “arena district” intrigues me, any new development must be based in solid urban development concepts, and not in emotional appeals from politically and financially motivated individuals.

I welcome a real conservation about downtown Edmonton. Let’s start it!

alberta politics notes 2/24/2010

– As Bill 1, the Alberta Competitiveness Act is this sessions flagship piece of government legislation. With all the focus on “competitiveness,” has anyone wondered what happened to the Premier’s Economic Strategy Committee that was announced last summer? (their website has not been updated since July 2009) The committee included former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, former MP David Emerson, and former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.
– Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking re-election in October. Bronconnier was first elected as Mayor in 2001. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has yet to make his electoral intentions public.
– Alberta could hold its fourth Senate election since 1989 along-side the municipal elections this October.
– Edmonton City Council approved the Municipal Development Plan this week. Councillor Don Iveson has posted some remarks on his blog.
– Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor scored a win for the Liberal Opposition this week when the Assembly approved her motion to “…urge the Government to establish an independent Commission to review the current salaries and benefits for Members of the Legislative Assembly…” It is important to note that as this was a Private Member’s Motion, it is non-binding.
– Facing charges of cocaine-possession and drunk-driving, former Edmonton-Strathcona Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer is expected to plea-bargain when his case reconvenes in March.
– In my previous post, I mentioned the low-voter turnout in the 2008 provincial election. Here is a map showing voter turnout in ridings across the province (only 4 out of 83 ridings had a turnout larger than 50%).

#yegcc #lrt & #asked

Kudos to Edmonton City Council for voting for the Stony Plain Road and Mill Woods LRT By-Law today, setting the stage for public transit expansion that has been 20 years in the making. Four Councillors voted against the motion, Jane Batty, Karen Leibovici, Linda Sloan, and Tony Caterina. Defending his decision to oppose LRT expansion, Caterina accused his fellow Councillors of:

…imposing their ideology on the city. Caterina also raised concerns that online bloggers had too much influence on the decision. “A number of bloggers — who knows where they come from — are treated as gospel,” he said.

Putting aside that functionally, writing a blog is not much different than writing a letter to the editor or telephoning a City Councillor’s office, I have heard suggestions that Councillor Caterina was taking a shot at Councillor Don Iveson (who writes a blog). Iveson has been a strong advocate for public transit since being elected to City Council in 2007. There are are a number of Edmontonians who publish blogs that focus on urban issues in our City and they should take Councillor Caterina’s complaint as a compliment.

I am told that Councillor Caterina is still a little miffed that his fellow Councillors voted for the phased closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport earlier this year. During that debate a strong online campaign was launched by a group of passionate Edmontonians (which included notmyairport.ca). I have met Councillor Caterina a number of times and found him to be a fairly nice person, but a string of bizarre comments like this one has left me questioning his critical thinking abilities.

#AskEd

Three “AskEd” YouTube videos have been released with Premier Ed Stelmach responding to questions submitted to his office via email and Twitter. When it was announced I really like the idea, as it has the potential to allow for  Albertans to have some real interaction with Premier Stelmach, and it also allows the Premier to answer questions in an environment that he is comfortable in. Affording Premier Stelmach the ability to avoid the awkwardness of having to answer questions in front of the media or a public audience, the videos appear closer to ‘father figure’ Stelmach responding to questions of his choice than an authentic conversation.

Stelmach spokesperson Tom Olsen said the video responses are a lot like having a conversation with Stelmach in a coffee shop.

The videos are exactly like having a conversation in a coffee shop, especially if the coffee shop is an exact replica of the Premier’s Office and includes a large wooden desk, gavel, and Premier Stelmach reading off a laptop while talking straight into a video camera. Sounds like a typical small-town main street coffee shop to me!

Mastermaq has some good observations on the AskEd videos and DJ Kelly has offered some suggestions on how to fix the Premier’s communications problems.

what would an empowered alberta look like?

One of my favourite bloggers, David Eaves, has recently published a twopart series addressing a question raised by the Australian Government’s Web 2.0 Taskforce:

“…imagine for a moment it was your job to create the guidelines that will help public servants engage online. Although you have the examples from other organisations, you are given the rare luxury to start with a blank sheet of paper (at least for this exercise). What would you write? What issues would you include? Where would you start? Who would you talk to?”

This question made me think about many of the issues facing Albertans and the challenges facing our provincial government in engaging and interacting with citizens. The Government of Alberta holds frequent traditional style consultations on many issues, but are they generating the kind of discussions that our system of governance needs in order to create value for citizen participation? I would encourage all the readers of this blog who work in Alberta’s public service to take a look at some of the innovative ideas for citizen engagement that are being implemented in other jurisdictions. I believe that creating value in citizen participation is key to re-engaging the millions of Albertans who have disengaged from our democratic institutions and the process governing them.

In 2007, the Government of New Zealand took an innovative step to engage citizens by creating a wiki to allow public input in the redrafting of their Police Act. More recently, the Government of New Zealand has launched a website to host government datasets. Similar decisions to open data to citizens have happened in Toronto and Vancouver. Open data was a hot topic at ChangeCamp Edmonton and Councillor Don Iveson has submitted a formal inquiry to the City Administration on the topic.

I have had conversations with many friends, family, and associates who have expressed a general feeling of disempowerment and distance from their elected officials and the decisions they make on our behalf. We elect our fellow Albertans to represent us in our democratic institutions, but as our society has changed in monumental ways, we have seen very little change in our democratic institutions.

Premier Peter Lougheed understood the need for our democratic institutions to evolve with mainstream society when in the early 1970s he created Alberta’s Hansard and allowed for the televised recording of Assembly debates. Both Hansard and Video of the Assembly are now available online, but nearly forty years later, do our provincial democratic institutions reflect the needs our society? Is it important to preserve the current form of parliamentary democracy where the Executive Branch (the Premier and Cabinet) holds sway over the Legislative Branch (the elected Assembly) or is it time to rethink how we allow ourselves to be governed? Why? Is it possible bring the backrooms of the political establishment to the living rooms of Albertans?

With the New Zealand example in mind, I wonder what the outcomes would have been had citizens been empowered to play a real role in shaping legislation like Bill 44, Bill 19, or Bill 50. How different would our province be in twenty or fifty years if regular Albertans were allowed to play a sincere role in helping shape the future of our resource royalty structure, our health care system, or how our abundance of natural resources are developed?

round up: podcasts, post-partisanism, open data, and new polls.

– In the spirit of transparent & innovative government (and just in time for ChangeCamp Edmonton), Edmonton Councillor Don Iveson submitted an Open Data inquiry to the City Administration. This is a really positive step for our city.

Duncan Wojtaszek and I were guests on the latest podcast from The Unknown Studio. Topic? Two former PC and Liberal activists talk Post-Partisanism and the Perils of Politics. Take a listen and let me know what you think of the podcast!

– The Unknown Studio podcast co-host Adam Rozenhart has a great new post on partisanship and what a real statesman looks like: ‘Dave? I’d take a bullet for ya’.

– It’s a busy week in Alberta politics and common sense conservative Chris Labossiere has offered his thoughts on the Wildrose Alliance, Premier Ed Stelmach, and the upcoming PC convention.

– Via David Climenhaga, I’ve discovered a link to a new polling company: Return on Insight. The company was set up by Bruce Cameron, who is known to many political watchers as a supporter of former Finance Minister Lyle Oberg. Cameron is less known as the man who got a nasty reaction out of former Calgary-Egmont PC candidate nominee Craig Chandler in 2007. Poll results released by Cameron’s new company were reported in today’s Edmonton Journal:

A telephone survey of 802 people conducted last week by Cameron’s firm show 22 per cent of Albertans strongly disapprove of Stelmach’s performance, compared with 16 per cent who did so in a January 2008 poll.

The Government of Alberta will be airing an 18-minute pre-taped and edited television address by Stelmach this evening.

the you’re fired grab bag.

1) You’re fired. At least that is what supporters of Calgary philanthropist Brett Wilson may want delegates to November’s PC leadership review to tell Premier Ed Stelmach.

While Stelmach attempts to deal with his predecessor’s solid track-record of short-sighted fiscal planning, Wilson was spotted in the company of American billionaire Donald Trump while participating in the Eastern Ontario Economic Showcase.

2) Duncan Wojtaszek and I were the two lucky guests on the 9th episode of the Unknown Studio, set to be released around the second week of October. The topic? Politics, post-partisanship, and changing the game! If you aren’t familiar with Adam and Scott’s podcast, take a listen to my two personal favorites (episode two and episode four) that include interviews with Don Iveson and Scott Lilwall.

3) Friend of Daveberta, the Enlightened Savage has launched a series of blog posts titled Perfecting Alberta. Take a read and contribute in his posts on Health Care, Primary & Secondary Education, and Economics & Industry.

4) Both Enmax and Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier have waded into the debate over Bill 50. I believe that this is a more complex issue than some proponents may have the public believe and I am working on an expanded blog post with some thoughts.

5) The Alberta NDP have begun hosting a series of meetings on the always hot topic of Health Care. Last week, nursing students from the University of Alberta rallied at the Legislature, expressing their frustrations about future job prospects in Alberta.

6) Premier Stelmach has recently denied rumours that 10 PC MLAs would cross to the Wildrose Alliance if Danielle Smith wins that party’s leadership on October 17. Calgary Rants has some thoughts on the speculation.

global youth assembly 2009 ignites edmonton.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for north central Edmonton. City Council voted for the phased closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport twenty days ago, the Edmonton Indy was held last weekend, and starting tomorrow morning on the NAIT campus over 500 delegates will converge at the Global Youth Assembly 2009 presented by the John Humphrey Centre.

I’m not able to attend the entire conference, but I will be there to hear former Foreign Affairs Minister and current President of the University of Winnipeg Lloyd Axworthy speak tomorrow morning on the topic of ‘Global Community & Citizenship: Building Responsibility.’ I’m very interested to hear what he has to say, especially in regards to the Canadian Armed Forces current involvement in Afghanistan.

In an event open to the public, Governor General Michaëlle Jean will be hosting a Friday evening ‘hip hop’ dialogue with conference delegates. Also on Friday, a panel discussion on apathy and political engagement will include local notables Councillor Don Iveson and federal election candidate Lewis Cardinal.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by the conference organizers to write a guest post on their blog and it’s now been posted, so feel free to to peruse over and check it out. I’m not sure how often their blog will be updated during the conference, but you can follow #gya09 on twitter for instant updates from delegates.

transparency and epcor privatization.

Edmonton City Council’s vote to privatize the power production portions of EPCOR was held as a private shareholders meeting (the City of Edmonton owns 100% of the shares), but no rules were broken. What’s the real issue? The privatization or how the decision was made?

– While I thought the Edmonton Journal’s ‘MAJOR ABUSE OF POWER’ headline was a tad bit sensationalist considering that Council conducted itself within the rules laid out before them, I do think the transparency issue needs to be addressed for future decisions. Councillor Don Iveson has already said that he plans on introducing a motion that would require councillors to make decisions about significant Epcor asset sales or restructuring at council rather than shareholder meetings.

“There are a number of fair reasons why the recent Capital Power decision was made that way, but I don’t want to be asked to make any further decisions that way.”

“Our accountability is clearer when we are meeting as councillors than if we’re meeting as shareholders.”

Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft has written an op-ed on the EPCOR issue, arguing that Council should put entire process on hold to allow public scrutiny.

– The Our Power Citizens Group is trying to start a larger debate on the EPCOR issue, but who is behind this group? The address listed on their website is the same as Public Interest Alberta. The group will be hosting a meeting on Wednesday, July 8th at 7:30 PM at the Central Lions Seniors Centre 11113 — 113 Street.

photo post: edmonton pride parade 2009.


City Councillors Don Iveson and Ben Henderson show off their tricycle-made-for-two.

Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft.

Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and MLA Rachel Notley.

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk were the first PC MLAs to ever participate in Edmonton’s Pride Parade. Klimchuk was given a unique initiation at the Pride festivities:

Edmonton Pride Parade revellers waved rainbow flags Saturday afternoon as they booed and yelled “shame” at Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk, the first government minister to participate in the annual celebration.

As the Service Alberta minister spoke to a crowd of thousands at Sir Winston Churchill Square, the shouts were louder than she was.

The boos were in response to the provincial government’s passage of Bill 44 nearly two weeks ago. The bill made controversial changes to Alberta’s Human Rights Act by giving parents the right to take their children out of classes dealing with sexual orientation, human sexuality and religion.

Critics argued the new law put teachers in danger of facing human rights complaints and created a second tier of rights.

edmonton transitcamp.

A great event is happening this weekend in Edmonton. On the afternoon of Saturday May 30, a group of engaged Edmontonians will meet to talk about new ideas and the future of public transit in Edmonton at TransitCamp.

Edmonton TransitCamp
30 May 2009
12:00 – 16:30
World Trade Centre
9990 Jasper Avenue

TransitCamp is independent from the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Transit Services, and will use a pseudo-format similar to BarCamp and DemoCamp which means that the afternoon’s discussion will be shaped by those who show up, rather than a pre-decided discussion schedule. Don’t worry if you’re not a transit expert, this event is geared towards citizen engagement and participation through discussion that includes a diverse group of Edmontonians.

Mastermaq and Councillor Don Iveson have posted about the event on their blogs and Brendan Van Alstine wrote about it in his Metro Edmonton column earlier this month. You will also be able to follow Edmonton TransitCamp on twitter at #yegtransit.

who will run for mayor of edmonton in 2010?

With Edmonton’s next municipal election less than a year and a half away (and new Ward Boundaries up for debate) one of the big questions looming is whether Stephen Mandel will seek a third term as Mayor. Mandel has hinted in the past that he would only serve two terms in the Mayor’s office, but if his two immediate predecessors are any indication, it is likely that he might seek a third term. Although I’m not sure if Mandel would face a serious challenger if he does run for re-election, his absence from the 2010 race could draw some interesting candidates into the contest. While no one has yet to declare their candidacy, here are some of the names that I’ve heard mentioned:

Karen Leibovici: A seasoned political veteran after serving three-terms on as a Councillor for Ward 1 (2001-present) and two-terms as the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark (1993-2001), Leibovici is well positioned to compete for the Mayor’s chair. While her background in social work and time as a Liberal MLA solidified her centre-left credentials, Leibovici has played the role of Council fiscal hawk on more than one occasion (including joining with former right-wing Councillor Mike Nickel to vote against the Universal Bus Pass in 2007). Her credentials in Edmonton’s established political community also put her in a strong position to gain the support of many of Mandel’s organizers, which means her candidacy many depend on whether the current Mayor decides to seek a third term.

Linda Sloan: Also a Councillor for Ward 1 and former Edmonton-Riverview MLA (1997-2001), Sloan could be a strong candidate for Mayor. Her background as a nurse and former President of the Staff Nurses Association would likely ensure her campaign strong support from the City’s public sector unions. While her passion for seniors and emergency services issues has gained her notoriety, Sloan’s passion can sometimes be the source of tension between herself and fellow Councillors. During last year’s budget debates, Ward 5 Councillor Bryan Anderson infamously muttered the words “Jesus, Linda. Shut up, please” during one of those tense moments. Her seat at the head table with Michael Ignatieff at his recent Edmonton fundraising dinner have fueled rumours of a potential candidacy for the Federal Liberals in Edmonton-Centre.

Kim Krushell: After working as Executive Assistant to Councillor Larry Langley, Krushell was elected to her first term on Council in 2004. Since then she has been closely identified with Edmonton’s Next Gen committee and was Council’s point-person on the Universal Bus Pass (media-savvy Krushell could also be counted as the Councillor most likely to get media exposure on a weekly basis). While it may be easy to dismiss Krushell’s chances, it would be a mistake to confuse her enthusiasm for a lack of political savvy. A long-time PC Party member, Krushell endorsed Jim Dinning for the PC leadership in 2006 and could potentially call on her partisan connections to help her campaign in a potential contest against two former Liberal MLAs.

Wild Cards:

The ‘Airport’ candidate: As I wrote in an earlier blog post, with the City Centre Airport (ECCA) issue coming to a head around the time of the next municipal election, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) use this as a springboard to front a candidate for Mayor. Who would take this mantle? The AEG originated from the organization created to provide financial backing to Mark Norris’ unsuccessful campaign for the PC leadership in 2006, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see this group support an attempted political comeback by the former Edmonton-McClung PC MLA. Another potential ‘Airport’ candidate could be current Ward 3 Councillor and staunch defender of the ECCA, Tony Caterina.

Robert Noce: After trying twice for Mayor in 2001 and 2004, a vacancy in the Mayor’s chair could convince Noce that third time’s a charm. While the former Ward 3 Councillor (1995-2001) has stayed away from official politics, Noce has represented local developers in a number of cases, including the controversial high rise condo development in Glenora in 2008. Noce was rumoured to be interested in the Edmonton-East Liberal candidacy before the 2004 federal election, and more recently I have heard (questionable) chatter that he is interested in seeking the Conservative nomination when five-term Conservative MP Peter Goldring retires.

Don Koziak: After placing a distant second with 25% of the vote in 2007s thoroughly uncompetitive Mayoral race, I would imagine that the Team Koziak will be unlikely to re-start their engines if the contest attracts a stronger field of candidates in 2010. Koziak, the owner of the Chateau Louis Hotel was an unsuccessful Ward 2 candidate in 1995, 1998, and 2004. In 2000, Koziak was the PC candidate in Edmonton-Calder before withdrawing his candidacy for personal reasons.

Mike Nickel: Where in the world is former Councillor Mike Nickel? Gone into self-imposed political exile after being unseated by Don Iveson in 2007, the former Stickman, one-term Councillor, and two-time Mayoral candidate (1998 and 2001) has dropped off the political radar. Three years may be too soon for Nickel to mount a political comeback, but the new proposed Ward boundary changes could make a City Hall comeback much easier for Nickel.

Brian Mason: Ok, I’ll admit that this is an unlikely scenario. Though the leader of Alberta’s NDP probably won’t run for Mayor, with the name recognition earned after two decades as a Councillor (1989-2000) and MLA (2000-present), Mason would make an interesting entry into the race. His victory would be long-shot, but his departure from the Legislature would open a door in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood for some new blood for Alberta’s third-place party (Deron Bilous or Janice Melnychuk could make convincing candidates) and would allow for heir-apparent and well-spoken co-caucus mate Rachel Notely to take the helm of the tiny Alberta NDP caucus.

toronto mayor david miller talks tower renewal in edmonton.

This afternoon, I was lucky to attend a presentation by Toronto Mayor David Miller as part of the Sustainable Buildings Consortium’s Summit on Tower Renewal. Mayor Miller’s presentation focused on Toronto’s Mayor’s Tower Renewal program currently being implemented in the City of Toronto.

Introduced by Deputy Mayor and Councillor Don Iveson, and attended by Councillors Jane Batty, Ed Gibbons, and Dave Thiele, Miller’s presentation focused on the challenges facing many of Toronto’s large apartment neighborhoods.

One of the most interesting points that Miller talked about during his presentation was the poor energy efficiency of many of the large concrete apartment blocks in Toronto. This lack of energy efficiency has contributed to an urgency to re-skin the apartment towers to prevent any further energy loss. I was also interested to learn about the community rejuvenation strategies that are being used to green the apartment neighbourhoods (including better use of green space and zoning commercial business space in dense residential communities). Other interesting points that Miller touched on included:

Agenda for Prosperity – Toronto’s economic development strategy.
Deep Lake Water Cooling – Reducing energy usage by piping water from Lake Ontario to cool downtown towers in the summer.
Live Green Toronto – Innovative ways that Torontonians can individually contribute to the sustainability of their City.
TTC Transit City Light Rail Plan – The construction of 120km of Light Rail Transit to link Toronto’s apartment neighbourhoods to the mass transit system (part of the Ontario Government’s recently announced $9 Billion investment in Public Transit).

While Toronto is facing different urban density challenges than Edmonton (Toronto currently has 2,047 concrete residential apartment tower blocks, whereas the majority of Edmonton’s towers are commercial buildings), Miller’s presentation provided a number of interesting strategies that other cities can learn from. Overall, Miller gave a very interesting presentation, and it was refreshing to learn that Canada’s municipalities are leading the way when it comes to innovative growth and finding solutions for sustainability communities.