ActivatED!

Progressive: Defined

The term ‘Progressive’ can take on a variety of meanings for different individuals and groups. The ActivatED team has, instead of getting too caught up in ideological debates, decided to define progressive by focusing on six key election issues. We have ensured that all candidates we are endorsing are committed to our position on each of these issues – this being said, we do not regard any candidate as ‘perfectly’ fitting into our criteria.

Our Six Areas of Focus: (Please see below for further explanations on each criteria)

1. A Commitment to Sustainable Transportation

2. Prioritization of an Urban Agriculture Strategy

3.  A Commitment to Sustainable and Responsible Development – Putting a Stop to Urban Sprawl

4.  Responsible Funding of Infrastructure Projects – Cautious Use of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3s)

5.  Prioritization of Equity and Proven Ability for Community Consultation

6.  A Commitment to Campaign Finance Reform and Disclosure of Funders Prior to E-Day

References:

(2013, July 9). Civic election campaign funding rules. Edmonton Journal. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Civic+election+campaign+funding+rules/8562731/story.html

City of Edmonton. (2012). Living. Retrieved from http://www.edmonton.ca/living.asp

Gary, L & Fraser, A. (2006). The cost of car on society. Retrieved from Ecopolitics website http://www.ecopolitics.ca/transport/pt/infrastructure_economics.php

Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for People. Washington, DC: Island Press.

MacLeod, M, & Scott, J. (2009, April). Food Miles Project: Preliminary Results. Retrieved from http://www.ecologyaction.ca/files/images/file/Food/PreliminaryFoodMiles-April2009.pdf

Male, M.D. (2013, February 23). Horse Hill ASP: More proof that Edmonton is addicted to sprawl. [Web blog]. Retrieved from http://blog.mastermaq.ca/2013/02/23/horse-hill-asp-more-proof-that-edmonton-is-addicted-to-sprawl/

Male, M.D. (2012, July 14). Food, agriculture, and the battle over Edmonton’s future growth. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://blog.mastermaq.ca/2012/07/14/food-agriculture-and-the-battle-over-edmontons-future-growth/

McKenna, Barrie. (2012, October 14). The hidden price of public-private partnerships. The Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/the-hidden-price-of-public-private-partnerships/article4611798/

Mims, C. (2012). One mile on a bike is a $.42 economic gain to society, one mile driving is a $.20 loss. Retrieved from Grist website http://grist.org/list/one-mile-on-a-bike-is-a-42-economic-gain-to-society-one-mile-driving-is-a-20-loss/

Murray, Stuart. (2006, July 12). Time to pull the plug on costly P3s. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/time-pull-plug-costly-p3s

Nenshi, Naheed. (2010, April). Bad Optics: Alberta confronts its wild west municipal election campaign funding rules the laxest in the country. Alberta Views. http://www.albertaviews.ab.ca/2013/04/24/bad-optics/

Nenshi, Naheed. (2011, September 26). Politics should be about the best ideas, not the most money. The City of Calgary. http://blog.calgarymayor.ca/2011/09/politics-should-be-about-best-ideas-not.html

Neptis. (2003). Smart Development for Smart Growth. Toronto, ON: Blais, P.M.

Newman, P. & Kenworthy, J. (1989). Cities and Automobile Dependence: An International Sourcebook. Aldershot, UK: Gower.

NYCDOT (2011). New York City Department of Transportation. Bike Lanes:Memorandum. Retrieved from www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/bike_lanes_memo.pdf

Sanger, T., & Crawley, C. (2009, April 1). The Problem with Public-Private Partnerships. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/monitor/problem-public-private-partnerships

Tolley, R. (2011). Good for business: the benefits of making streets more walking and cycling friendly. Retrieved from Heart Foundation of Australia website http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sitecollectiondocuments/goodforbusinessfinal_nov.pdf

Transport Canada. (2011). Active Transportation in Canada: A Resource and Planning Guide. Ottawa, ON: Publishing and Depository Services.

2 thoughts on “Progressive: Defined

  1. It’s a pity the arena doesn’t come into the assessment — a demonstration of how P3 allows profits and administration of a primarily publicly funded project can be given away to private interests.

  2. I question the logic behind parts of the definition above:

    1) Prioritizing urban agriculture and reducing urban sprawl are opposing concepts. If we are serious about urban agriculture, then we need to provide sufficient land for it. For example, converting abandoned lots into gardens means that space cannot be used for a new commercial or residential property. Reduction of urban sprawl requires us to optimize land usage… i.e. if possible, abandoned property should be sold and reused. Large roof-top gardens would require structural supports that can support the additional weight of the garden (plus the snow that falls on it in winter). This comes with additional costs a property owner will incur.

    Although urban agriculture is a nice concept, it isn’t suitable for efficient mass production of food (which is a basic requirement of feeding a large population). So to promote urban agriculture the city would need to either hire people (and spend more money on this inefficient agricultural process) or people would need to take interest of their own accord, setup a garden and sell their food (for a loss or, at best, a nominal profit that excludes the cost of their labour).

    Reducing urban sprawl may be necessary to make the city more financially efficient, but I don’t see a logical or feasible business case for prioritizing urban agriculture and assigning a budget for it from our city’s money. We may be able to implement it to a degree but the ROI is seriously questionable.

    2) The above list contains nothing about managing city finances and reducing debt. Edmonton’s debt is more than $2 billion and the 2013 budget indicates that our expected revenue is around $1.8X billion. I saw nothing in the budget conveying an intent to eliminate that debt in future. Look at Detriot’s recent bankruptcy. That city failed to plan for a hard time, spent money like there was no tomorrow and got sucker-punched when things took a down turn. In Canada, we just came out of a recession. Considering the US debt situation, another recession is quite possible. Is it not prudent to prioritize making an annual surplus and storing it for potential bad times?

    There are 3 ways to reduce debt: increase revenues, decrease costs or transfer the debt to someone who will shoulder the burden. It’s improbable that any institution (city, province or federal govt.) would want to shoulder the city’s debt currently, so scratch that option unless Edmonton has a debt crisis. Increasing revenues is possible, but nothing drastic (enough to quickly reduce the city’s debt rapidly) is possible. Increasing fees a lot and transferring costs to local businesses or residents is possible, but any profitable business would and logically should transfer the costs over to customers. This doesn’t mean the latter option should be scrapped. This option just needs to be reviewed very carefully. Decreasing costs or austerity is another solution. Austerity doesn’t have to look like Greece’s situation and does not mean that all services need cost cutting. It only implies cost control with the objective of living within our own means. Our city needs a small dose of austerity measures (carefully monitored and controlled ones) that will ensure a small, regular decrease in debt and a small surplus that can be put away.

    3) ActivatED’s Ward 4 Statement says “ActivatED will not be supporting candidate Sam Hachem primarily because of his leanings towards fiscal conservativism. While he is enthusiastic to reduce Edmonton’s debt, his practical plans to do so focus on “increasing efficiency,” leaning more towards austerity measures instead of considering alternative ways to fund City infrastructure projects.”

    Financial efficiency is a fundamental pillar and foundation for effective management of any nation, province, city, community, business or household. Judging a candidate negatively based on that candidate’s commitment to financial efficiency is simply illogical (if you don’t want to endorse him, that’s fine, but justify it with a better reason than him/her wanting financial efficiency). China is awesome at financial efficiency. I hope we can learn from their example and that we too may see a day when we have a similar problem of needing to figure out what to do with all the surplus money in our bank accounts.

    I hope that my points will give your team some food for thought. I invite you to re-evaluate your definition of the term ‘Progressive’. I admire your team’s commitment to making a difference. Good job on your efforts thus far. Keep up the wonderful work.

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