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Mandel discusses LRT, arena and whether he’ll run again in year-end interview

 EDMONTON – In a year-end interview with Global News, Mayor Stephen Mandel speaks candidly about the ongoing arena saga, the city centre airport development, his hopes for Edmonton’s future, and whether he’ll be giving up the mayor’s chair.

“It’s a good job. It’s a great life.”

That is how Mandel describes his life as Edmonton’s mayor. Despite the busy schedule, long council meetings, and media spotlight, Mandel says he doesn’t get tired of the demands placed on him as mayor. He admits the year has flown by, and says there isn’t just one thing that stands out as a highlight of 2012. Instead, he shares several points of achievement, including progress made on the City Centre Airport development and the LRT expansion.

“I’m excited about the airport lands, to get that moving to a point where we can start servicing and building, the opening of the north LRT, the opening of recreation centres, maybe not doing so much construction in the summer time to let people move around.”

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Mandel also points out projects and issues that still need to be addressed. For instance, he stresses work still needs to be done on finding a way for major Canadian cities to get more operational support from provincial and federal governments.

“Our province has been great. Under Premier Stelmach and Premier Redford, we’ve been very lucky. We’re probably the luckiest province in the country in the support we have received from our other order of government. Federal government has other challenges…We need to find a way … to come up with an operating agreement for the major centres in the country. We’re the ones that are impacting the growth of this economy the most, people are coming from all over the world to live in our cities. They’re asking us to do things that are very expensive and we need to find ways to do them in a more balanced manner.”

In the following clip, you will hear Mandel address topics including how he’s looking back on the year 2012, development of the City Centre Airport lands, LRT, his trip to China to share Edmonton’s first-class waste management system, taxes, and the idea of big city charters.

The downtown arena continues to be a big issue for city council. The on-again-off-again negotiations with the Katz Group garnered a lot of media attention.

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“I think that we’re closer today than we were a little while ago,” said Mandel Monday. He also says – at some point soon – the citizens of Edmonton will have an answer on the big arena question. He just doesn’t know for sure what the answer will be.

“I think from all our points of view, whether it’s the Oilers or the Katz Group or the city, we need some sort of conclusion on this, and sooner than later. I think there’s enough information out there on both sides that an answer should be able to be readily received. You know, I think the city has offered to the Katz Group a tremendous deal, and we were criticized for that, to be honest with you. But I think that’s the kind of deal I think we needed to do in order to sustain hockey here.”

In the following video, you’ll hear Mandel talk about the arena project, how he feels about the city and the people who call it home, and how he thinks we perceive ourselves.

“When people talk about Edmonton, we should celebrate this amazing city and its people. It’s a remarkable place.”

He also addresses whether he’ll run for Mayor again.

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With files from Vinesh Pratap