Residents Speak on Election Issues

With a provincial election around the corner, we asked long-term community residents what they think the major issues affecting the area are. Here is what those who responded had to say.

Joseph Simons
Now that our distant federal government seems to intend to solve the homeless crisis by jailing more people rather than solving systemic problems, the job of looking after the locals returns to the locals. The province must do much more to get people off the street, whether they are there because of drug abuse, mental conditions, bad luck, or mismanagement of their lives. We need a strong push to have everyone looked after, to give options about whatever part of the city they might choose to live, not just in Boyle Street and McCauley. I believe those benefiting from such vigorous publicly mandated social action will be able to return the favour eventually, when their lives are placed on a stable footing.

We also need a serious discussion about taxes. First, the Alberta flat tax penalizes most the working poor, and benefits particularly those who can exploit our healthy, educated work force. Higher earners benefit most from our society, but they are sheltered from the true expenses. Also, we cannot continue to fund provincial programs out of those up and down oil revenues. Oil revenues ought to be allowed to pile up to create an endowment style funding mechanism for future generations who will inherit the huge costs of cleaning up after the current lot of us pass on. Anything less is blatantly irresponsible. We need a provincial tax.

I’d also like to see a concerted effort to reduce our reliance on cars and in doing so to reduce the myriad expenses on public health and safety and the predations on green space that are associated with car usage. Less road expansion and more LRT expansion. This cannot happen fast enough.

John Gee
There is supposed to be a review of the Municipal Government Act coming up. I think there is a need for modernization and simplification of the planning process so that the rules are understood by all parties and acrimonious situations like those we have seen in McCauley are avoided. Municipalities also need more powers to deal with things like derelict buildings. A private member’s bill on that topic was introduced in the recent session.

It is important that the homelessness funding be left intact now that it is starting to show some benefit. In the longer term, we need adequate social assistance rates so that people can afford market housing.

The result of the Insite case from Vancouver raises the possibility of a safe injection site for Edmonton. Of course, the location of any such site would be a potentially divisive issue. One suggestion is a mobile unit that could go wherever it is needed.

Addictions and mental illness have a huge impact in our neighbourhood. Provincial programs in these areas are a mess and need to be made a higher priority.

It would be nice to see more primary health care initiatives in the inner city. The area is short of some services such as family physicians and walk-in clinics.

Capital funding for education needs to be more flexible so that it does not force unnecessary closure of inner city schools. Our school boards are quite responsive to community concerns, but their hands are tied by the province.

It is important that the homelessness funding be left intact now that it is starting to show some benefit. In the longer term, we need adequate social assistance rates so that people can afford market housing.

Colleen Chapman
Close the wide disparity between the rich and poor. Better health care choices. No institutionalization of seniors. Down with cronyism!

John Kolkman
Two issues immediately come to mind that impact the McCauley neighbourhood.

One, fully fund and open all the services the East Edmonton Health Centre was designed to provide. This includes the primary care (family practice) services and urgent care services.

Second, make a renewed commitment to ending chronic homelessness in 10 years through a Housing First approach. Ensure permanent affordable housing is located throughout the city. Close emergency shelter beds and related services as more permanent housing is developed.

More in this issue

Janis Irwin MLA
TONYS PIZZA PALACE

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Volume 40, Issue 6 will be published September 15. Articles and photos concerning community news, events, and opinions are welcome. We also accept submissions of poetry and cartoons. Deadline: August 22, 2019. Send submissions to: editor@bmcnews.org. Articles should be 400 words or less and accompanied by photographs (JPG, in high resolution) when possible.