Edmonton Votes 2017: Ward 4 residents want solutions to growth in city's northeast

Ward 4 in northeast Edmonton has 12 candidates vying to replace outgoing Coun. Ed Gibbons.

12 candidates vying to succeed outgoing Coun. Ed Gibbons

12 candidates are running to represent Ward 4 on Edmonton city council. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

There was a time when the Evergreen trailer park was on the remote fringes of Edmonton.

Today, brand new houses are filling once-empty fields, butting up against 153rd Avenue. Traffic whips by on the northeast section of Anthony Henday Drive.

As Ward 4 candidate Aaron Paquette goes door-to-door in this quiet neighbourhood, residents are telling him about the problems that have resulted from all that growth.

Keith Vongrad says the nearby intersection of 18th Street and 153rd Avenue is dangerous because trees and bushes make it hard to see traffic exiting the Henday.

"We have had a couple of serious accidents there so from a safety perspective, that's huge," he said.

In terms of the numbers of candidates who have stepped forward, Ward 4 is probably the most competitive in the Oct. 16 municipal election.

Long-time councillor Ed Gibbons is retiring and Paquette, 43, is one of 12 candidates looking to succeed him.

Paquette's message is that he wants residents to get their fair share of city services. 
Ward 4 candidate Aaron Paquette door-knocking in the Evergreen trailer park. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC)

"I don't know if you've noticed that but up here in the northeast we seem to be last on council's list," he tells Evergreen resident Arie Schoep. "Sometimes not even on the list. And I'd like to make sure that changes."

This is not Paquette's first time on the campaign trail. The well-known artist and writer was the NDP candidate for Edmonton Manning in the 2015 federal election.

Paquette says it's important to canvass the community to learn what the issues are.

"I always maintain that a councillor may think that they know everything but if they just go out and knock on some doors, they're going to learn a thing or two, that's for sure," he said.

Transit cuts

Ward 4 covers the northeast corner of Edmonton. It includes neighbourhoods like Belvedere, Fraser and Clareview as well as the future Horse Hill development and the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park. The latter two developments are controversial as they are being built on what many consider prime agricultural land.

The pressure caused by growth is a key issue in this ward, as is the feeling the area is neglected by city hall.

For example, the Manning Town Centre, at the corner of 153rd Avenue and Manning Drive, has become a hub for this burgeoning area with a multiplex, restaurants and retail outlets.

But there are concerns the area may not have the roads required to handle the increased traffic.

While door-knocking in the York neighbourhood, Tricia Velthuizen, who is also running in Ward 4, brings up the roads around the Manning Town Centre.

She suspects the city may have another 23rd Avenue scenario on its hands.

"My concern is that we are creating a situation there like we had at South Edmonton Common, where we put in all the commercial, we put in all the residential and we don't realize until after the fact the traffic that comes with it," she told one resident.
Ward 4 candidate Tricia Velthuizen knocks on a door in the York neighbourhood. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC)

Velthuizen, 35, works as a research analyst for the United Conservative Party. She says she is running to stop what she calls short-sighted city planning.

Like Paquette, she feels the northeast is frequently overlooked when it comes to road maintenance, snow-clearing and recreation centres. She wants to make sure the city is spending money appropriately.

Velthuizen grew up in the northeast and still lives there. As a transit user, she is concerned about the recent system overhaul that cut bus routes in the northeast.  

One of the key ideas in Velthuizen's platform is to use the land currently occupied by the Northlands Coliseum for a new transit hub where VIA Rail and Greyhound could locate their stations. (The Northlands site is in Ward 7.)

Velthuizen notes that Yellowhead Trail is nearby and Edmonton already has the Coliseum transit centre at that site.

"If we can get LRT going to the airport, or a shuttle service, I think it's perfectly situated," she said.

In addition to Paquette and Velthuizen, Rocco Caterina, son of current Ward 7 Coun. Tony Caterina, is also in the race. The younger Caterina is his father's executive assistant.

Another candidate is Alison Poste, who most recently worked with Alberta Emergency Management Agency, and was a member of the emergency response team for the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Other candidates include engineer Felix Amenaghawon, program and project planner Justin Draper, accountant Beatrice Ghettuba, realtor Sam Hachem, power engineer Hassan Haymour, Wade Izzard, Emerson Mayers, and drilling contractor Martin Narsing.

2016 municipal census statistics

Population: 78,819

Eligible voters: 54,540

Owns home: 55.5%

Rents home: 24.5%

Lives there five years or more: 36.9%

Mainly drives to work: 73.1%

Takes transit to work: 15.3%

Main language other than English: French (2.4%)

Income under $30,000: 7.2%

Income $60,000 to $100,000: 14.5%

Children in preschool: 5.2%

Children from kindergarten to Grade 6: 6.5%

Interesting statistic: In the 2016 census, only 54 residents of Ward 4 said a bicycle was their main mode of transportation between home and work.

Neighbourhoods: Belvedere, York, McLeod, Matt Berry, Hollick-Kenyon, Brintnell, Cy Becker, Miller, Casselman, Miller, Ebbers, Kirkness, Fraser, Clareview, Hairsine, Bannerman, Kernohan, Belmont, Sifton Park, Homesteader, Overlanders, Hermitage, Horse Hill, Edmonton Energy and Technology Park

12 candidates: Felix Amenaghawon (Amen), Rocco Caterina, Beatrice Kerubo Ghettuba, Justin Draper, Sam Hachem, Hassan Haymour, Wade Izzard, Martin Narsing, Aaron Paquette, Alison L. Poste, Tricia Velthuizen

Clockwise from top left: Alison Poste, Rocco Caterina, Beatrice Kerubo Ghettuba, Felix Amenaghawon (Amen), Justin Draper, Emerson Mayers, Hassan Haymour, Wade Izzard, Sam Hachem, Tricia Velthuizen, Aaron Paquette, Martin Narsing. (Ward map: City of Edmonton; candidate photos supplied)

CBC Edmonton's candidate survey responses:

Felix Amenaghawon,48,  has been living in Edmonton seven years
Family: married with three children
Credentials: M.Sc. mechanical engineering and M.Sc. information technology. Certificate in mechanical engineering technology from NAIT
Top issues: improve infrastructure and transit; public safety; neighbourhood renewal
City's biggest challenge:  infrastructure deficit, including homelessness, schools, health care, public transportation, unemployment

Rocco Caterina, 32, born and raised in Edmonton

Family: in a relationship
Credentials: executive assistant to his father, Ward 7 incumbent Tony Caterina; NAIT chemical technology diploma
Top issues: build strong economic and residential growth policies; retain and create jobs and improve quality of life; build recreation centres, libraries and parks.
City's biggest challenge: reliance on residential tax base, attracting better ratio of non-residential taxes

Justin Draper, 22, has lived in Edmonton his whole life.

Family: single
Credentials: program, project and strategic planning with City of Edmonton; BA in political science from U of A, interdisciplinary leadership from Peter Lougheed Leadership College
Top issues: revitalize roads and sidewalks; improve speed enforcement program, including limiting photo radar to residential areas and school zones; develop transit
City's biggest challenge: long-term development plan with focus on transit, education, health, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability

Beatrice Kerubo Ghettuba has lived in Edmonton 22 years
Family: married with four children
Credentials: Chartered accountant and small business owner; BComm
Top issues: economic development and revitalization; security and safety; empower residents to hold city hall accountable; tackle racism, promote multiculturalism
City's biggest challenge: lack of accountability, lack of in-depth research to address a sprawling city

Sam Hachem, 36, born in Edmonton

Family: one daughter
Credentials: realtor  
Top issues: improve transit, roads in residential areas and parks
City's biggest challenge: high spending and hiked property taxes

Hassan Haymour, 29, has lived in northeast Edmonton his whole life

Family: married
Credentials: power engineer, BA in psychology/power engineering
Top issues: foster economic development; revitalize communities; increase recreational opportunities; make transit accessible
City's biggest challenge: ensuring tax dollars are spent properly as city grows

Wade Izzard - No response

Emerson Mayers has lived in Edmonton for over 30 years

Family: two children
Credentials: registered nurse, mental health therapist
Top issues: develop growth plan while maintaining green spaces; improve public safety by increasing police budget
City's biggest challenge: building Valley Line LRT on budget and on time

Martin Narsing, 49,  has lived in Edmonton 38 years

Family: three children
Credentials: directional drilling contractor in oil and gas, Canadian Forces veteran, BA political science from U of A, accounting from NAIT
Top issues: curb crime; develop Ward 4's industrial and manufacturing zones; expand LRT line north; seniors' residences.
City's biggest challenge: controlling spending and managing capital projects

Aaron Paquette, 43, has always lived in Edmonton

Family: married with four children
Credentials: artist, writer, educator, mostly self-taught with apprenticeships in stained glass and goldsmithing
Top issues: bolster public transit, adding buses and LRT lines; promote commercial development like restaurants and stores; improve recreation centres and community resources   
City's biggest challenge: developing services and infrastructure while city grows

Alison L. Poste , 47, has lived Edmonton for 10 years

Family: partnered
Credentials: land development/emergency management professional; BA political science, course work in urban land and development economics
Top issues: develop Ward 4 as part of the Industrial Heartland and Edmonton Energy and Technology Park; improve services such as drainage, roads, snow removal; advocate for transportation options to reflect community preferences
City's biggest challenge: council's lack of transparency and accountability

Tricia Velthuizen, 35, has lived in Edmonton for almost all of her 35 years

Family: single
Credentials: research analyst, United Conservative Party; BA from King's University, diploma from MacEwan
Top issues: road maintenance; recreation centres; snow clearing
City's biggest challenge: trying to play catch-up, for example with LRT. City should be looking at solutions: bus rapid transit, self-driving technology, integrated transportation systems

Ward 4 Issues

About the Author

Michelle Bellefontaine

Reporter/Web editor

Michelle Bellefontaine covers the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. She has also worked as a reporter in the Maritimes and in northern Canada. You can reach her at michelle.bellefontaine @cbc.ca.

With files from the CBC's Natasha Riebe