September 1, 2016

I support Northlands’ Vision 2020 plan

On Wednesday August 31 I was glad to put my support behind a plan that would benefit many neighbourhoods in our federal riding of Edmonton Griesbach.

As such, I appeared before Edmonton city council to deliver the remarks below.

I welcome any feedback on this plan to revitalize the Northlands site in our communities.

GOOD AFTERNOON. IT’S BEEN A COUPLE OF YEARS SINCE I WAS IN THIS COUNCIL CHAMBER. IT’S NICE TO BE BACK.

TODAY I’M HERE AS A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT. I’M HERE TO SPEAK ON BEHALF OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS IN OUR NORTH-SIDE RIDING CALLED EDMONTON GRIESBACH.

WE OWE IT TO THOSE GOOD PEOPLE TO ENSURE THE FULL, PROPER DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTHLANDS SITE AS OUTLINED IN THE VISION 2020 REPORT.

THE COMMUNITIES IN OUR RIDING ARE COUNTING ON THAT: ALBERTA AVENUE, BEACON HEIGHTS, BELLEVUE, BEVERLY HEIGHTS, BOYLE STREET, CROMDALE, EASTWOOD, HIGHLANDS, LAUDERDALE, MCCAULEY, MONTROSE, NEWTON, PARKDALE, RUNDLE HEIGHTS AND VIRGINIA PARK.

THIS IS A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL ON THE NORTH SIDE. ESPECIALLY TO ASSIST NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT HAVE HAD SOCIAL CHALLENGES OVER THE YEARS.

WE KNOW THE CITY OF EDMONTON HAS STEPPED UP TO SPARK DEVELOPMENT WORTH HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ELSEWHERE. THREE BIG ONES THAT COME TO MIND ARE THE DOWNTOWN ARENA DEVELOPMENT, BLATCHFORD AND THE QUARTERS.

COUNCIL’S RATIONALE FOR BUILDING A NEW ARENA WAS THAT WE NEEDED TO REVITALIZE OUR DOWNTOWN.

WELL, USING THAT RATIONAL. WHAT OTHER PART OF OUR CITY COULD BEST BENEFIT FROM A MAJOR REVITALIZATION?

YOU DON’T NEED A DEGREE IN URBAN PLANNING TO ANSWER THAT. OBVIOUSLY IT’S THE AREA SURROUNDING NORTHLANDS.

THIS CITY COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN OUT STRONGLY IN SUPPORT OF HELPING INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS, REFUGEES AND NEW CANADIANS.

WELL, SUPPORTING THE FULL REDEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTHLANDS SITE WOULD ESPECIALLY BENEFIT THESE POPULATIONS.

THE AREA AROUND NORTHLANDS LIKELY HAS THE HIGHEST POPULATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN EDMONTON. IT ALSO HAS A LARGE POPULATION OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS. THAT INCLUDES A STRONG SOMALI COMMUNITY.

AND LET’S NOT FORGET ALBERTA AVENUE HAS BECOME A SUCCESSFUL ARTS DISTRICT. 118 AVENUE LOOKS A WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT TODAY THAN IT DID EVEN 10 YEARS AGO.

THESE AREAS SURROUNDING NORTHLANDS DON’T HAVE BIG-BOX STORES OR LARGE CORPORATE OFFICES.

THESE NEIGHBOURHOODS ARE FILLED WITH MOM-AND-POP SHOPS WHERE OWNERS WORK HARD TO MAKE ENDS MEET.

AS WE KNOW, GIVEN OUR ECONOMY, IT’S ALREADY HARD FOR MANY SHOP OWNERS.

WE ALSO KNOW HOW MUCH WORSE THINGS COULD GET IN THIS AREA IF WE DON’T GET THIS REDEVELOPMENT RIGHT.

FAILURE TO DEVELOP THE SITE WOULD SEE PROPERTY VALUES SHRINK BY 10%. THE CITY COULD LOSE UP TO $125 MILLION FROM ITS RESIDENTIAL ASSESSMENT BASE.

IF YOU’VE SPENT YOUR LIFE SAVINGS TO BUY A HOME, YOU SHOULD BE REWARDED BY AN INCREASE IN ITS VALUE, NOT A DECREASE.

THAT’S ANOTHER REASON WHY THIS PROJECT IS SO VITAL.

THERE’S BEEN A DISCOURAGING AMOUNT OF NEGATIVE OPINIONS ABOUT NORTHLANDS’ VISION 2020.

SOME NAYSAYERS HAVE EVEN SAID NORTHLANDS IS BEING GREEDY.  OR THE NOT-FOR-PROFITE HAS OUTLIVED ITS USEFULNESS. SOME WANT IT TO JUST GO AWAY AND LET THE CITY DO WHAT IT WANTS WITH THE SITE.

THAT’S BLATANTLY UNFAIR. NORTHLANDS HAS BEEN A PILLAR OF OUR COMMUNITY FOR 137 YEARS. THAT’S EVEN LONGER THAN WE’VE BEEN A CITY.

THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION HAS DONE A WORLD-CLASS JOB OF RUNNING EVENTS AT REXALL AND OFF AND ON ITS OWN CAMPUS.

UNDER IT’S WATCH REXALL PLACE WAS THE 27TH BUSIEST EVENT FACILITY IN THE WORLD.

AMONG MANY OTHER FUNCTIONS NORTHLANDS HAS RUN K-DAYS, OUR LARGEST PAID FESTIVAL AND OUR K-DAYS PARADE.

IT HAS ALSO SUCCESSFULLY RUN THE EDMONTON EXPO CENTRE. CRITICS COMPLAIN THE TRADE SHOW FACILITY LOSES MONEY.

SO DOES JUST ABOUT EVERY CONFERENCE CENTRE IN NORTH AMERICA.

THEY’RE NOT DESIGNED TO BE MONEY MAKERS THEY’RE DESIGNED TO ATTRACT PEOPLE TO OUR CITY. THOSE PEOPLE IN TURN SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS HERE AND BENEFIT OUR ECONOMY.

NO PUN INTENDED BUT NORTHLANDS HAS A PROVEN TRACK RECORD.

IT HAS AN ARMY OF ABOUT 1,400 VOLUNTEERS YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT. MANY PEOPLE IN THIS CITY GOT THEIR START IN A WORK CAREER BY VOLUNTEERING FOR NORTHLANDS.

BESIDES ALL THAT THEY HAVE A BOARD OF SOME OF OUR CITYS BEST COMMUNITY LEADERS. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF BEING ON THAT BOARD FOR THREE YEARS AND I CAN TELL YOU FIRST-HAND HOW GOOD AND DEDICATED THOSE PEOPLE ARE.

BUT IN THE END IT DOESN’T COME DOWN TO THE CITY VERSUS NORTHLANDS OR NORTHLANDS VERSES THE CITY.

IT COMES DOWN TO PEOPLE. PEOPLE IN THE AREA. SENIORS. YOUNG FAMILIES. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. NEW IMMIGRANTS.

IT’S THESE PEOPLE WHO DESERVE TO SEE A WORLD-CLASS DEVELOPMENT AT NORTHLANDS.

AS THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT WHO REPRESENTS THESE FOLKS, I’M ASKING COUNCIL: PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING ON THIS ISSUE. ADOPT THE FULL VISION 2020 CONCEPT.

NORTH-SIDE RESIDENTS ARE COUNTING ON YOU TO DO THAT.

THANK YOU.

Northlands Vision 2020


Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,