I believe Edmontonians want their Mayor and Council to continue to invest in important and bold things. I also believe that they want a Mayor and Council that is committed to fiscal discipline and using tax money wisely.
How we spend is an important discussion in any campaign. Some of my opponents have labelled any attempt at spending restraint and cost control as austerity and the return to the 1990’s era of poor asset management and no new infrastructure.
This is just bluster.
We have been and I will continue to be committed to making important and smart investments in the infrastructure that helps grow our economy and shores up our quality of life. I’ve committed to doing so with my proposed infrastructure plan.
Now what we need is to focus on fiscal discipline in order to take the pressure off our residents who have been hammered by the pandemic and off of our local business community where so many entrepreneurs are struggling to stay afloat.
We have a $3.1 billion budget to work with. We simply cannot ask people to add to that right now. We need to hold the line in 2022. I am committed to this.
This will mean hard choices.
- We need to hold the line on salaries for our employees.
- We need to review our capital plan and determine what can be done less expensively, differently or put on hold.
- We need to reduce the size of our workforce to be more in line with other big cities across Canada who deliver almost identical services with far fewer employees. This means scaling back middle management and staffing in lower priority areas.
- We need to get out of land development and shift all of those administrative costs to the private sector immediately - this will also help us realize the value of land quicker, and get areas like Blatchford on line to being net tax generators, not just cost centres.
- We need to rely more on community partners and cost sharing for projects. City Hall does not need to do everything.
- We need to hard scrub duplication of services and reignite the Program and Service Review that I started in 2015 to find the efficiencies I know are there.
- We need to fully implement a Priority Based Budgeting approach to determine which services are most important to our citizens and to Council. When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We need to focus.
These are important steps that I am committed to uniting our new city council around.
Additionally there is so much important work that we need to do in terms of regional collaboration, reducing the size of our development footprint, diversifying our economy and improving our relationship with the provincial government that will ultimately improve our financial situation over the long run.
But fiscal wellbeing begins with smart spending. There are important steps we can take. I am committed to taking them.
For decades we’ve looked at West Rossdale, at the centre of our city, and wondered about the unfulfilled potential of the space. This is a site that should be the jewel of our city and deserves to be treated as a priority. Nestled in the river valley with a rich history as a meeting place for our Indigenous communities, West Rossdale has incredible potential to be a signature Edmonton district.
Developing West Rossdale, itself previously developed but currently dormant, would give Edmontonians prime access to the river valley without cutting into existing natural space. Imagine what it would be like as a bustling commercial and meeting space where people can meet for dinner and a river valley walk or discuss business over coffee. If elected Mayor, I will ensure we finally activate West Rossdale.
I am proud to have the endorsement of Chief William (Billy) Morin of the Enoch Cree Nation for my West Rossdale plan. We cannot develop West Rossdale without our Indigenous partners:
- “Michael’s development vision for Rossdale is characterized in reconcili-Action; it speaks towards honoring the historic Indigenous relationship with the land, creating early wins for residences and businesses today, and setting the stage for years to come with a world class legacy project. I thank him for his proactive engagement.”
- Chief Billy Morin
If I am elected Mayor, we will develop Rossdale. We need to change our mindset from doubt to confidence, and our behaviour from dithering and talking to action and investment attraction. This is Edmonton’s next big move: West Rossdale will become one the most attractive and exciting communities to live in and visit anywhere in Canada.
As the owner of an Edmonton-based company, I understand how important it is to support local businesses. I’m incredibly proud to have run all of my business ventures from this city. Edmonton’s business community is innovative, energetic, and resilient. As Mayor, I would make sure that businesses and entrepreneurs in our city have all the support they need at City Hall.
When I started the “Edmonton Made” campaign as a City Councillor I had two main goals. First, to promote the fantastic businesses we have in Edmonton and second, to encourage local buying and local procurement.
As Mayor, I would reignite the spirit of the Edmonton Made campaign at City Hall by:
- Promoting our local companies and entrepreneurs both in Edmonton and outside of it.
- Regularly connecting with the local business community and fostering connections between entrepreneurs in our city.
- Making it easier than ever to start a business in Edmonton or expand an existing one.
- Rallying the broader business community to get more involved in all aspects of the city and to partner with nonprofits and other agencies to help with the challenges ahead.
- Hiring locally and sourcing locally to boost skilled jobs and local supply chains.
- I will also expand upon two initiatives I started as a City Councillor: the Open Window Program which offers one-on-one support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the Large Investor Concierge Service which allows the City to connect directly with potential investors to help sell them on Edmonton and make the decision to invest here as easy as possible.
Edmonton needs to deliver some wins - by being a better partner that helps our business community succeed, and by ensuring investors see Edmonton as a city that will help them succeed.
Doing business in Edmonton needs to be easier and faster, whether you’re just starting out or you’re from a large company choosing whether or not to invest in our city.
If elected Mayor, I would ensure that permit and business licence applications that are ready to go and not deficient will be approved within 30 days. If not challenged by City Administration, they will be deemed automatically approved. No exceptions.
As Mayor, I would also implement an automatic permit scheme for downtown developments to make our downtown more vibrant, more successful, and more liveable. We need our downtown to be the heart of the city both literally and figuratively. That starts with more development and smarter construction that doesn’t compromise accessibility.
I am confident that my plan to make permits and licenses easier, faster, and less uncertain will improve life for everyone wanting to do business here. I will work to make Edmonton the easiest city in the country to do business in.
Not every project we build needs to cost $200 million. Smaller neighbourhood projects often add more to the quality of life and vibrancy in our city than big projects do. I will work with councillors to ensure that the priorities of local neighbourhoods and districts are addressed and that the perspectives of communities are sought first. This won’t come at the cost of ensuring that the most important infrastructure needs of the entire city are met. We can build great things and still live within our means.
Money is going to be tight, but there is still room to advance many of the items on the unfunded project list in addition to critical infrastructure investments. By moving forward with small, high-value projects, we can have a big impact on Edmontonians’ quality of life with a relatively small level of investment.
This includes projects such as the construction of the bike park in Queen Elizabeth Park, new off-leash parks in Southeast and West Edmonton, the Castle Downs District Park, countless playgrounds, spray parks and community gardens that require more direct funding and way less red tape for communities, and many more listed here.