City Councillor’s Corner


This page will be dedicated to communications direct from our City Councillor, Ben Henderson.

May 2015

On April 29, City Council unanimously passed the Energy Transition Strategy, which sets out a plan for Edmonton to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 35% below 2005 levels by 2035. In the process Edmontonians should save $2.5 billion directly, and another $900 million in social costs including improved health from better air quality.

The Strategy has been developed with 150 potential tactics which can be used to achieve this goal and has been designed from the ground up to address Edmonton’s particular situation. The Strategy consists of tangible and achievable activities the City can do to meet our targets at a cost about $120 million from 2016-2021.

The Strategy includes things like LRT expansion, shorter commuting distances through increased infill housing, changes to the building code, as well as considering subsides for technologies like solar panels, and campaigns demonstrating the benefits of new technologies.

Our previous attempt at tackling emissions failed. The previous goal was to see emissions cut to 20% below 1990 levels by 2008. Instead we saw them rise by about 17%.

This increase was primarily caused by Edmonton’s booming population and economy, but this new strategy incorporates the lessons we learned from our previous failed attempts at controlling greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the errors that were made and providing new ways to meet our commitments.

Time is our enemy. The argument is no longer whether we act on climate change, but how fast we act. Every moment of delay makes it harder to meet our environmental targets and avert severe and irreversible climate change. The Strategy has been front loaded with tactics that will make the biggest difference fastest.

Edmonton is already facing the costs of inaction. We have seen dramatic increases in the number of freeze- thaw cycles per winter which dramatically increase the number of potholes we see on our roads.

Frequent large scale localized storm events will only become more common as our environment changes. These storms are a significant strain on our drainage system, which was designed for a time when these storms were much less common. Edmonton’s single most expensive asset is the underground drainage system and upgrades to meet these new storms will cost billions. We need to find ways to lessen these kinds of costs. This Strategy is designed to do so.

You can find both a shortened version and a full version of the Energy Transition Strategy at Edmonton.ca and I would encourage all Edmontonians to read it.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or at 780.496.8146. Follow me on Twitter @ben_hen

 

July 2014

I want to share my excitement about the opening of the brand-new Fulton Ravine South Skatepark in my ward. There are only a few skate parks in all of Edmonton, and this brand new one is already very popular with active citizens of all ages.

The Fulton Ravine South Skatepark can be seen from Terrace Road and 98 avenue; some call it the “Capilano” skatepark, being on the northwest corner of Capilano Mall.

This free recreational opportunity is open to all wheeled non-motorized users, notably skateboards, bicycles and in-line skates. The concrete construction of the skatepark makes it very low maintenance; the design includes many unique features that enhance a continuous flow throughout the park.

This was made possible by funding from the Province, City, from the South East Community Leagues Association (SECLA) as well as private donors. It only came about due to long term and excellent cooperation from many many community volunteers and city staff. The project has been shepherded through many hurdles by the South East Community Leagues Association (SECLA) over several years.  Special mention must go to Bob Hutchinson and Bob Gerlock, as well as SECLA chair Lori Jeffery-Heaney.  Without the dedication and sheer determination of these community volunteers, this special project would not have been possible. My hat goes off to all who had a hand in bringing this fun new opportunity to all Edmontonians.

You can always contact me at phone (780) 496-8146 or at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca, and you can follow me on Twitter @Ben-Hen

Ben Henderson, Councillor, Ward 8

May 2014

I have heard much concern on the issue of speed limits, and photo radar over the past few months. While we all need to get from point A to point B quickly, efficiently and safely, it is important to remember that much of our travelling goes through peoples’ neighbourhoods and communities.

From a high level, city transportation is the constant interplay and balancing of efficient and safe travel, while protecting the vibrancy of existing communities. When a main artery travels through a neighbourhood, it has significant effects on the livability, sense of place, walkability, and community orientation of that area. Essentially, the ability of residents to utilize the spaces and opportunities outside of their private property becomes restricted. Examples include, the community’s ability to socially congregate in public spaces, pedestrian accessibility to local conveniences such as stores and parks, safe use of public spaces for children’s play like road hockey or bike riding, and overall perception of safety within the area, among much more. Over time, neighbourhoods that absorb considerable cut through traffic, increased volumes on arteries, and consistent speeding, become less desirable areas to reside, especially for families and seniors. This negative connection between speeding vehicular traffic and community livability is the reason why speed enforcement is so important.

Studies have shown that your chance of survival in a collision with a vehicle travelling at 50km/hr is 45%. Drop that speed down to 40km/hr and you are looking at survival rates of about 73%. Furthermore, a 1km/hr increase in travelling speed attributes to a 3% higher risk of a crash involving injury, with a 4-5% increase for crashes that result in fatalities.

While I have heard from many residents complaining about overuse of traffic enforcement, I have also heard from many others who are asking for further enforcement within their neighbourhood in an effort to maintain it’s livability.

At the end of the day, the role of traffic enforcement is to ensure that those who are driving, are driving safely and are being considerate of others. It is not about a war on the car, and it is not a cash grab; it is about ensuring that all people, no matter what transportation mode, are able to move efficiently and safely through the city.