Capilano Library

Exciting New Library Coming Soon!
A new library complete with serene views and natural light will be a place east side residents can call their own later this year. The new Edmonton Public Library (EPL) Capilano Branch relocates the existing 9,500 square foot library in Capilano Mall to a new 10,000 square foot standalone facility.

EPL’s Capilano Branch will better serve the community’s need for an accessible space, and will offer a full range of library services. Edmonton’s Fulton Ravine borders the new branch, and many considerations have been made to tie the natural surrounding elements into the building. For example, a seated study space features the ravine as a backdrop, and community rooms with private and semi-private meeting and study spaces will also offer a view of the 60-metre wide forested area.

Integrated within the project are sculptures that have been designed by artists and coordinated through the Edmonton Arts Council.

As we move into summer, the project is nearing the tail end of construction. The majority of the windows have been installed to enclose the building, and interior work has been quickly moving along. Next, the exterior building cladding will be installed and then the landscaping will start to take shape as construction crews work to wrap up the beautiful new facility.

The project remains on budget and on schedule, opening to the public this fall. Keep up to date with the project online at epl.ca/capilano-branch.

As Ward 8 Councillor, I am especially excited about the coming new library and hope to see you there in a short time. Please feel free to contact me anytime at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or at 780-496-8146. Follow me on Twitter@ben_hen

 

 

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50th Street and the tracks

Making the Grade

For years when people travelled on 50th Street, often the first thought was “How long will I have to wait for that train today?”   Delays on this busy transportation corridor are infamous in Edmonton and driver irritation has only grown with an increase of traffic volume.   And traffic tie-ups are costly in time, additional fuel costs, idling fumes, as well as driver frustration.

Now, after years of discussion with the Provincial and Federal Governments there finally is good news.

The Prime Minister made an announcement confirming funding is now committed through the National Trade Corridors Fund for this project intended to improve movement on the 50 Street route. The Alberta Minister of Transportation has also confirmed Provincial money and the City has earmarked funds to move the work along.

North of the Sherwood Park Freeway will be a grade separation of the road and the rail crossing.   To support and enhance active, alternative transportation the City will install new sidewalks and multi-use paths.  And, as identified in the 2010 concept plan, the street will be widened to six lanes between 76 Avenue and 90 Avenue to lessen congestion.

Construction timelines need to be established and we should know more details about the project at an upcoming Public Information Session.   Please attend the meeting on June 26 at The King’s University, 9125 – 50 Street, between 5:00 – 8:00 pm.  Visit the 50 Street Widening page on the City website for a map of the project scope and other information.

If you have questions about any City issue, please feel free to contact me at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or 780-496-8146, or follow me on Twitter @ben_hen

 

 

 

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Street Art

Reporting Graffiti

The City encourages creative expression through street art when property owners and businesses are active participants. These collaborations can result in beautiful and complex murals that brighten up our streets. Examples of these great feature walls include the alley mural on Whyte Ave and 104 Street and the Swirls Mural on the Varscona Theatre.

Some consider what we call graffiti to be an art form. But make no mistake about it: it is defacement of private or public property. 94 per cent of all graffiti in Edmonton falls into the category of tagging, where vandals paint their names or symbols on public or private property without getting consent from the owner or the City. This type of graffiti vandalism is illegal. Once graffiti gets established, it tends to attract more of the same, and contribute to property looking like an eyesore.

The City needs residents to help tackle problem graffiti. You can report unwanted graffiti by calling 311 or using the app to identify the location of the tagging. If your private property has been targeted, you can remove the graffiti yourself or apply to the City’s Professional Graffiti Cleaning Program, which offers up to $750 of assistance to property owners who’ve experienced vandalism. If you plan to get professional cleaning assistance, don’t try to clean the graffiti yourself first – this can actually make it harder for the professionals to remove the paint. For more information, go to www.edmonton.ca/graffiti.

However you choose to deal with graffiti on your property, be sure to deal with it quickly. You can proactively protect against graffiti vandalism by keeping your property maintained and well-lit; vandals are less likely to graffiti properties that appear to be well looked after. The combined efforts of all Edmontonians can help reduce the amount of graffiti in our city.

If you have any questions about any City issue, please feel free to contact me at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or 780-496-8146, or follow me on Twitter @ben_hen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New ways to handle yard waste

Gardening Season

This year we are looking at some changes in the way yard and garden waste is handled.  In the past lawn clippings and yard debris have been picked up along with household garbage. On March 20, Council will vote on recommended changes to the way the City deals with waste collection.  If approved, program details, including special collection and/or drop-off locations, would be available following the June 8 Utility Committee meeting.

Part of the strategy to improve performance of the waste processing facilities, and help reach the goal of diverting 90% of residential waste from the landfill, is to move away from picking up grass clippings during curbside collection, as of September 4, 2018.

It is proposed there would be a special pick up for leaf and yard debris for a specified period, similar to Christmas tree pick up.  Because waste from trees and gardens would be separate from household garbage, it could be chipped and a better quality compost produced.  The Eco Stations and Big Bin Events would still be available to accept leaf and yard waste throughout the year.

Grass clippings, which are high in water content and costly to process, would no longer be collected curbside.  By practicing grasscycling – the process of leaving grass clippings on your lawn to break down –less watering is needed and valuable nutrients stay in the lawn, not in the landfill.

The recommendations presented to the Utility Committee will be discussed at City Council before being implemented.  I know Edmontonians are passionate about lawns, gardens and recycling and I would like to hear your feedback on these suggestions.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or 780-496-8146 Follow me on Twitter@ben_hen

Ben Henderson,

Councillor, Ward 8

 

 

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Connecting the LRT

Centre LRT – The Missing Piece

The proposed Centre Line is a crucial part of Edmonton’s LRT Network Plan.  This route will connect passengers from Bonnie Doon to the Old Strathcona neighbourhood and the University.  From there travel to downtown or south to Century Park is an easy transfer.  Ultimately, the Centre line will be part of the six line LRT network with links connecting North, South, East and West sectors of the city.

Like the Valley Line, the Centre LRT will be a street level, urban style car.  These low-floor vehicles are more neighbourhood friendly with street level stops featuring public artwork and trains that run at the same speed as street traffic.

The first round of public engagement last summer looked at possible routes including 76/University Ave and Whyte Avenue.  The Centre LRT Study with route and stop options, has yet to be presented to Council for discussion.  To my mind the Whyte Avenue option may make the most sense and indications are that may be the preferred route.  The ridership is there and the route would bring people to the shopping and entertainment district on Whyte as well as connect the neighbourhoods in Strathcona with downtown.

There will be more opportunities to share your opinion through public events and open houses.  You can stay informed and get email updates from the study team by calling 780-496-4874 or email centreLRTstudy@edmonton.ca.

And always feel free to contact me anytime at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca or 780-496-8146 .  Follow me on Twitter@ben_hen

Ben Henderson

Councillor, Ward 8

 

 

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A growing city requires changes in representation

October 2014

City statistics show Edmonton as the fastest growing city with a population now sitting at 877,926 with 30,000 new residents calling the City of Festivals home, every year. This massive growth brings complications to how the city governs, and at times, it can be the justification to increase the number of elected officials.

While, it is important for elected officials to maintain contact with their constituents, I believe it is also desirable for municipal government to avoid the development of party politics and bloc voting, which all too often forms in larger governments. With examples of Toronto and Montreal, the complications that come with bloc voting can be crippling to the greater goal of serving the city, and its people. This is the trade-off.

Studies show the ideal number to most effectively govern is around 12-13 elected officials. As we get larger and larger, typically, the more likely bloc voting becomes, and the less efficient Council is. I am always awed when looking back on a year at the number of projects, initiatives, and work that we have been able to complete; something I believe is the envy of many other big cities.

On the other hand, as ward populations increase, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain personal contact with our constituents, get to all the community events, and be able to focus on all individual constituent needs. With some wards pushing 90,000, it is becoming unrealistic to expect to be able to continue to provide the same representation and service to such a large group.

What are our options? We can follow suit with other municipalities, most recently Calgary, and increase the number of Councillors. This would come at significant financial costs including a rework of Council Chambers, the Councillor’s Wing, and a large increase in budget to fund the additional offices. Alternatively, we could look at increasing the number of support staff per office and improve the capacity deficit that way. While it would require some financial investment to fund these staff, it would be meagre in comparison to the first option. This would then mean that the public’s interaction with Council will be even more through our staff as we cannot possibly be as involved in each constituent concern as we would like, while effectively govern.

I am undecided on the issue and see the benefit for both sides, as well as their limitations. Moving forward, I would like to hear from you as to what you think.

Feel free to call me at 780 496 8146, email me at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca, or follow me on Twitter @ben_hen.

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Crosswalks and pedestrian safety

Crosswalks and pedestrian safety has been a hot issue this season. With the unfortunate accidents of Jasper & 119 St, as well as 95 Ave in Strathearn, it is clear that we must do more to create a conducive environment for both pedestrians and drivers alike. These issues are exceptionally apparent in Ward 8 with the high number of pedestrians, and it is a situation that I intend to improve.

The Transportation Association of Canada’s (TAC) Pedestrian Crossing Control Guide acts as a guideline for local governments to uniformly implement marked and signed crosswalks throughout the country. The guide considers the posted speed limit, cross section of the roadway, distance to the nearest alternate crossing, number and types of pedestrians, and vehicular volume, as indicators for the type of crosswalk to be installed. While these measurements are helpful, the trouble is that they do not take into account other things that are not as easy to measure.

There have been some problematic intersections that local residents have repeatedly raised concern over. In the past, we haven’t done much as the argument was they fit within the TAC standards. I strongly feel that we need to do better; go beyond the standards when the need calls, and incorporate residents’ knowledge into the mix.

Moving forward, Transportation Services will be assessing the major pedestrian corridors of Whyte Ave, 109 St, 104 Ave and Jasper Ave, and will be considering upgrades to older marked and signed crosswalks through these areas.

From a community side, we have grassroots work happening in Queen Alexandra through the coordination of QA Crossroads. The community will be undergoing neighbourhood renewal next year and the group is advocating that following rehabilitation, Queen Alexandra should have gone through more than just a facelift. This is an opportunity to make sure that the infrastructure is conducive for all modes of transportation, making it a more walkable, bikable, livable and safe neighbourhood for all.

Feel free to contact me at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca, call me at 780 496 8146, or follow me on Twitter, @ben_hen.

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Exciting New Skatepark Opens! Free Recreation!

June 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

 

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Speeding versus community livability

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.

Feel free to reach me at 780 496 8146 or ben.henderson@edmonton.ca. You can also follow me on Twitter @ben_hen.

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High Level Waterfall: where to go from here?

Great, Divide, Waterfall, high, level, bridge

The High Level Bridge Great Divide Waterfall has been an Edmonton icon since the valves were first turned on in 1980, following its private donation by artist Peter Lewis. Even though the waterfall has been out of commission since 2009, many still consider it a marker of the summer festival season.

The waterfall was turned off in 2009 due to environmental concerns of pumping large amounts of chlorinated water into the North Saskatchewan River. Over the years, the infrastructure to the project has deteriorated and it now needs to be upgraded if we are to bring it back to life.

To get this icon back up and going will take quite an investment, one that the Council has so far said they are not willing to support. There are other options, however; private funding, joint financing with the City, or a grassroots funding structure similar to Light the Bridge are all possibilities. Regardless, I need to know how citizens feel. Is it time to leave the waterfall as a nostalgic memory, or is it worth reinvesting and getting it up and going, again?

The cost of the needed upgrades are currently estimated to be between $1.1 and $2.6 million, depending on the chosen option. This is quite a substantial amount of money, yet the Great Divide Waterfall was also a striking icon to our summer skyline. Where’s the balance?

It is an asset that many have told me they would be sad to lose.

To move forward, I need to know how Edmontonians feel. Is it time to walk away from the project and leave it in the history books, or should we look at creative financing options and get this one-of-a-kind public art piece functioning, once again?
For more information, visit http://sirepub.edmonton.ca/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1202&doctype=MINUTES under item 6.6 to review the reports and find details behind the various options recommended by administration.

Feel free to reach me at 780 496 8146 or ben.henderson@edmonton.ca. You can also follow me on Twitter @ben_hen.

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