Sunday, 11 January 2015

Reflection Upon The Election

Hey everyone,

Its been over an entire year since the municipal election in Red Deer and I have been doing some reflecting about it all.

Last night I was watching some of the videos I made during my campaign and videos made by other candidates and concerned citizens. Although I hoped to get elected I celebrate this council. I am excited to do my part as a citizen to engage with our leaders and to participate in the process as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee. 

I have been closely following the Capital and Operating budget talks and I believe the city is moving in a positive direction. When Ken Johnston describes the work being done in the Riverlands as "building a World Class Development" which "we will soon take great pride in", or when Diane Wyntjes advocates the priority of brownfield site redevelopment, I see that there is visionary leadership on council.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with former mayor Morris Flewwelling. He described to me the two questions he asks when deciding on policy.

Is it liveable? Is it sustainable? 

In other words:

Does it improve quality of life? Will it continue to improve quality of life? 

He explained that it is important to take the long view. He even asks "will Red Deer be liveable and sustainable in 200 years?"

Whatever your stance on the issues, it is undeniable that there is wisdom in those words.

The city is moving in a positive direction. I am pleased that there is a strong focus on evidence based policy.  For example the evidence is in that a more walkable downtown is good for business. Likewise the evidence is in that quality of life has a direct correlation to quality of public space. The strategic direction of the city is leading to policies that have been strengthening our downtown and it is easily demonstrated that a thriving downtown has huge tax benefits.

This is referred to as the virtuous cycle. Investments made in quality of life lead to growth which, leads to a strengthened tax base which enables more investments into quality of life.

Yes there have been and will be more failures, but lets not fail for lack of creativity. We must not be paralyzed from fear of making mistakes. Doing something is better than doing nothing. It is all to easy to become overwhelmed by the colossal task of solving all the problems. But I am not here to change everything, just something.

Listening to budged deliberations thus far there are some things that I am excited about for 2015.

  • The curb-side organics collection pilot project. 
  • The city is looking for a solution to capture landfill gas. 
These are some great ideas which will move us in the right direction but, I cant help but wonder what our budget would look like if we were to take immediate and sufficient action to curtail climate change. To me this seems like one of those insurmountable tasks that can easily overwhelm.

What is sufficient? How will we ever know if we have taken sufficient action? The conclusion that I arrive at is that we must keep the conversation going. The status quo wont work for us and we need all the creative ideas and all the innovative technology, and we need to start doing something!

I was asked many quesitons at the farmers market and found myself often saying "I dont know." From that experience I learned that I must become more informed. To do that I must get involved. The thing is getting involved is FUN and REWARDING! You can do it too! (see: Volunteer Central) Everyday I meet amazing people in our community. 

People are the greatest asset we have. I had the privilege to volunteer at the soup kitchen recently and I asked one of the regular volunteers what was needed to "level-up", to improve our system. I was expecting to hear, we need more moneyin social programs, more money for crime prevention, more money for housing. Rather I heard "we need more people who care". Then everything came back into focus. People are the greatest asset we have in Red Deer.


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Special thanks to Roger Bakes and NAYR Productions for their public service interviewing candidates during the election and making their videos available online.