Iveson's top priority: sustain Edmonton's prosperity
'We've got to fight tooth and nail for investment, for talent, for reputation'
Don Iveson started the first day of his second term as Edmonton's mayor by meeting all four of the city's new councillors — Jon Dziadyk, Aaron Paquette, Sarah Hamilton and Tim Cartmell.
"The most important priority I have this week is to onboard the new councillors and reconnect with the existing councillors and for us to gather and hear from each other about what we heard from citizens in this election," Iveson told reporters Tuesday.
"We'll have each heard different things and we need to gather that up into the beginnings of consensus for priorities moving forward."
Iveson said his next priority for his second term will be to ensure the city is able to sustain its prosperity as it evolves from a resource-based economy.
"We had it really good when oil was expensive," Iveson said. "That probably won't happen again, so we've got to fight tooth and nail for investment, for talent, for reputation like every other big Canadian city."
Iveson said his job will be to "rally the troops" — not only at Edmonton Economic Development Corp. but also at post-secondary institutions, the city's major employers and small businesses — to ensure the city sees long-term growth in jobs, wealth, entrepreneurship and innovation.
"Our work at city hall has to be to make Edmonton as resilient as possible," he said.
"But the wind is at our backs right now. People are paying attention now in Toronto, New York and London to what's happening in Edmonton," he said, pointing to Rogers Place, the city's work around homelessness, poverty and reconciliation.
Iveson took more than 72 per cent of the vote as he cruised to victory Monday.
Incumbents Andrew Knack, Bev Esslinger, Scott McKeen, Tony Caterina, Ben Henderson, Michael Walters, Mike Nickel and Moe Banga were all re-elected, while incumbent Dave Loken lost in Ward 3 to Dziadyk.
Mayoral tag-team back again
It was a tighter race for mayor in Calgary as Iveson's big-city counterpart in Calgary, Naheed Nenshi held off challenger Bill Smith.
"Mayor Nenshi and I were trading bitmojis into the the end of the night," Iveson said. (A bitmoji is a personalized cartoon avatar popular among social media users.)
"Mayor Nenshi and I have known each other as Don and Naheed since before either of us got elected. Obviously as a friend I'm happy to see him successful and happy to see him return to the big city mayors' table. He's an important ally along with 20 other mayors of Canada's largest cities."
"He and I have tag-teamed the province effectively over the past four years on everything ranging from the city charter, to transit, to affordable housing. We're very well aligned on those issues, so we won't skip a beat this way."
Rejects 'narrative of division'
Iveson was asked about Edmontonians who live in the suburbs, where new councillors were elected after running on issues specific to their wards. Based on his door knocking in the suburbs, Edmontonians seem happy with the work the city is doing in those neighbourhoods, he said.
"As I've said all the way along since nomination day, any narrative of division I roundly reject. I think the numbers back that up as well. People will exploit that. This day and age it's becoming more and more common in our politics, and I challenge that and will continue to challenge that in our council as well if that pops up."
John Stewart is Beaumont's newly elected mayor. The relationship between Edmonton and Beaumont is contentious as the municipalities are embroiled in a tussle over six square kilometres of land separating them. Both argue they have the best plan for the land straddling 50th Street.
The land was recently annexed by the town of almost 20,000 people for commercial and residential development, but Edmonton has since applied to annex the land for itself.
Despite this, Iveson is still confident he and Stewart can work together.
"I'm optimistic that we'll find a solution there. Really, they're technical issues. They're not personality issues. I think if we start from a technical basis and set that right tone for collaboration, we can achieve the same results with Beaumont we've achieved with other neighbours where we have a much deeper history of distrust that we've overcome."
New council meets next Tuesday
A swearing-in ceremony will be held Oct. 24. It will be followed by a meeting to decide membership of council committees. Their first council meeting is expected to be Nov. 1.