Iveson sees collaboration as foundation for family-friendly Edmonton

The new Edmonton City Council is sworn in on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Brad Gowan, Global News

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson tied his campaign platform into his inaugural address as the new city council was sworn in Tuesday at City Hall.

He told the gathering there’s a link between his opening plank of diversifying the economy and his final campaign promise of building a family-friendly city.

“I think it makes sense for our city council to have a closer relationship with our school boards and explore how we can align our community planning efforts with decisions about schools and school lands,” he said during his 20-minute address.

Iveson later confirmed that joint meetings between the boards and city council will be part of the plan.

“Definitely. That will be part of the program.

“We’ll get together with the school boards and council but then as we start up our community hubs initiative, I’ll be working with some of the lead councillors on that to really go do deep with counterparts with the school boards both politically and on the official side.”

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Iveson stressed too that Education Minister Dave Eggen will be part of the discussions, reiterating plans to make sure there’s some sort of community access to school sites in off hours, as well as during the day when students are in class.

“I think that there’s a will that we haven’t seen before in the last decade to really tackle the schools-as-community-hubs question as an opportunity, both in the new areas as we build new schools together and as we collaborate on school consolidations in the older parts of the city.”

Iveson listed several themes for the new council to tackle over the next four years, yet building the economy circled back to the school plan.

“It’s one of our competitive differentiators,” he said about how the city is on the verge of surpassing one million residents in Edmonton proper, while also becoming Canada’s youngest big city.

“Talking to so many of the — particularly the new — councillors, many of whom have young families, they’re passionate about it too. We started the campaign about the economy and we ended it with family-friendly. But if we can do family-friendly right then, that’s going to support that economic priority as well.”

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Iveson said priorities of this new council will include a goal of helping out taxpayers by keeping labour costs down in the next round of negotiations. He said taxes “won’t go down,” however council will work to bring in only moderate increases.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s ‘historic’ new city council officially sworn in

Other files of importance will be catching up on infrastructure in new parts of Edmonton and making improvements on density in older neighbourhoods.

Iveson also said he’s optimistic about how the newly formed, reduced-in-size regional board will work to grow the economy.

“My initial discussions with the mayor of Beaumont have been very positive,” he said of John Stewart.

“We want to work together and not be in conflict with the regional board. But the board is still there to settle issues, if necessary. But our approach has been collaboration so I’m optimistic in having spoken to most of the new mayors, except for one at this point… We won’t skip a beat at this point with regional collaboration but that tighter group I think will get more done.”

Iveson has yet to speak with Division 5 Councillor Tanni Doblanko, who was appointed as mayor of the County of Leduc just moments before the City of Edmonton swearing-in ceremony. Her appointment is for a one-year term.