To me, policing is on the list of the most important jobs in the world. Teachers are on that list, too.
Inner-city aid workers. And of course … City Councillors for Ward 6, the best Ward in Edmonton.
But of all those jobs, policing is perhaps the most trying. You graduates will put yourself in harm’s way to keep us safe. And by that, I don’t just mean physically.
The future Valley LRT line is a dream and a vision, represented today by lines on a city map.
Once built, it will run from Mill Woods in the southeast, through downtown, to Lewis Estates in the far west end.
That it has been controversial is no great surprise. Pushing LRT infrastructure through existing neighbourhoods is certain to negatively affect some or even many people.
The Valley Line alignment was approved in 2009. Yet last fall I met representatives of the Save the Footbridge group, who continue to protest the southeast alignment of the Valley Line.
Save the Footbridge argue the alignment is flawed and violates City policy to protect the environment, as well as parks and green space, especially in the river valley.
The southeast alignment crosses the river valley just west of Riverdale, over a planned LRT/pedestrian bridge that will replace the existing pedestrian bridge.
Save the Footbridge are a group of engaged citizens who formed around the Southeast LRT line and its social and environmental impacts.
Specifically, the group is opposed to the selected route and in particular the dismantling and reconstruction of the river valley footbridge linking Downtown and Cloverdale.
The issues these folks raise are worthy of serious consideration. Edmonton’s river valley and river are jewels; the footbridge is not only a commuter route for pedestrians and cyclists, but a gorgeous civic landmark.
The group also raised concerns about how the new dual purpose bridge – pedestrian and LRT – will harm natural areas, mar fish habitat and disrupt wildlife corridors.
I met with the group twice at City Hall and chatted with one of its champions during the fall election campaign. I also met twice with city officials and raised the group’s major concerns at a public meeting of City Council.
Then I weighed the information and chatted with my council colleagues.
Finally, I came to a conclusion: That I will not be raising this issue further with city council.
How do I feel?
I’ve been asked that question dozens of times since the election results were confirmed.
I feel ... well, discombobulated. It is all a bit surreal for this former City Hall journalist to be whisked down the rabbit hole to public office.
It will take some time to sink in. And some good nights of sleep.
I am so grateful for all the support from Ward 6 voters. I am fiercely proud of all the volunteers on Team McKeen.
And I’m really keen to follow through on my commitment to engage with communities and people in Ward 6.
There are a couple of things I want to put on the record, though.
First, I want to congratulate all the candidates who sought election in the ward. I know how much work it takes.
And I know how it feels to fall short. I lost my election bid in 2010 and went into a brief funk afterwards.
Then I started volunteering and quickly regained my optimism and enthusiasm.
So I wish all candidates a speedy return to what matters — friends, family and community. And I hope you all enjoy a sense of personal pride for what you accomplished in engaging with people in Ward 6.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Heather Mackenzie, especially. Heather’s campaign was optimistic and respectful. Not once did she attempt to undermine a rival or denigrate past city councillors. I respect and admire her dedication. I dearly hope she continues to be a leader in Edmonton for more vibrant and family-friendly communities.
And for all the citizens I met on the campaign trail, the privilege was all mine. See you soon.
So this is it.
Our campaign comes to a close today, after months of visiting doorsteps, forums and events in Ward 6.
Team McKeen’s volunteers came from community leagues, from non-profit agencies, from government and private sector jobs; from friendships and family ties; from all over the political map, the multicultural mosaic and the LGBTQ spectrum.
All of us on Team McKeen have a simple plea: If you support our vision of prosperous, safe and just communities, please take time Monday to vote for me, Scott McKeen.
We called our campaign the Core Values Tour. We’d like to think it won’t end today.
If you take time to vote for us today, the Core Values Tour will travel Ward 6 continuously for the next four years, meeting you where you live and listening to your aspirations and concerns.
Thanks to everyone who reached out to us in the past few months. We hope to meet you again. Soon.