Edmonton Votes 2017: Future of Northlands site an issue in northeast Ward 7

Ward 7, in northeast Edmonton, has about 46,000 eligible voters.

Long-time incumbent Tony Caterina is facing five challengers in Ward 7

The future use of the Northlands site will be an issue for candidates and voters in Ward 7. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

At its base, Ward 7 hugs the northeast section of the river valley and stretches north beyond Alberta Avenue and Northlands to the corner of 97th Street and 137th Avenue.

A hot-button issue in the municipal election campaign is sure to be council's recent decision to close the Northlands Coliseum at the end of 2017.

It's unclear what will happen to the 65-hectare area, which also includes the Northlands racetrack. A draft of the redevelopment plan isn't expected until early next year.

That leaves residents with a big question about what will happen to the sprawling Northlands grounds.

Business owners in the area are similarly unsure of their fate.

"We're all waiting to find out before anyone spends any money sprucing up," Rick Shermack, general manager of the nearby Axe Music, recently told CBC News. "I'm a little frustrated."

2016 municipal census statistics

Population: 63,048

Eligible voters: 46,056

Owns home: 47.2%

Rents home: 35.4%

Lived in home five years or more: 36%

Mainly drives to work: 69.4%

Takes transit to work: 16.2%

Main language other than English: French (2.8%)

Income under $30,000: 14.6%

Income $60,000 to $100,000: 11.9%

Children in preschool: 3.9%

Children from kindergarten to Grade 6: 4.6%

Interesting statistic: Ward 7 has the highest percentage of unemployed residents in the city and the highest percentage of people earning under $30,000 a year (14.6%).

​Neighbourhoods: Rundle Heights, Beverly Heights, Bergman, Abbottsfield, Beacon Heights, Highlands, Bellevue, Newton, Montrose, Cromdale, Parkdale, Alberta Avenue, Eastwood, Elmwood Park, Delton, Killarney, Balwin, Delwood, Glengarry, Northmount, Kildare

Six candidates: Kris Andreychuk, Tony Caterina (incumbent), Andrzej Gudanowski, Liz John-West, Matthew Kleywegt, Mimi Williams

From lefty: Liz John-West, Andrzej Gudanowski, Matthew Kleywegt, Mimi Williams, Tony Caterina, Kris Andreychuk (Ward map: City of Edmonton; candidate photos supplied)

CBC Edmonton's candidate survey responses:

Kris Andreychuk is a lifelong Edmontonian

Family: married with one child, expecting another
Credentials:  supervisor of community safety for the City of Edmonton (on leave during the campaign); social work degree from University of Calgary  
Top issues: build sustainable communities; encourage small business development; build effective relationships with residents, businesses, police
City's biggest challenge: transitioning from "big-small city" to "small big city" with an eye for ensuring affordable living

Tony Caterina - No response

Andrzej (Andy) Gudanowski has lived in Edmonton since 2008

Family: Married with four daughters

Credentials: consultant & adviser in hospitality indus. High School graduate, Post secondary courses in law enforcement, and maritime industries.

Top issues: Complete distrust of local, provincial and federal politicians. Lack of investors and jobs. Low income community, poverty & crime.

City's biggest challenge: competition with other cities for new business; high taxes, low wages, high rent and home prices, giving immigrants understanding of multicultural Canadian life, homelessness

Matthew Kleywegt, 39, has lived in Edmonton for seven years

Family: married
Credentials: graduation coach for Edmonton Public Schools; BA in English from York University, B.Ed from University of Toronto.
Top issues: redevelop Northlands into housing; reduce cost of building housing; repair and upgrade infrastructure such as sidewalks, back alleys, water and drainage system
City's biggest challenge: Curbing urban sprawl and filling the gaps in existing city

Mimi Williams, 54, has lived in Edmonton 31 years

Family: divorced, two sons and a stepson
Credentials:  self-employed writer and organizational consultant; BA in political science and incomplete MA, both at U of A
Top issues: promote diversity on council (be the first woman of colour elected); traffic safety; redevelop Northlands
City's biggest challenge: affordable housing

Liz John-West , 55has lived in Edmonton 32 years

Family: married with three adult daughters
Credentials:  managing women and children's shelter; BA in sociology and political science, completing master's degree in community development
Top issues:  infrastructure — roads, sidewalks, back alleys and trees need a lot of attention; redevelop Northlands; responsible infill housing
City's biggest challenge: Managing growth — transit, infrastructure, safety; homelessness

Ward 7 candidates forum: Monday, Oct. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Bernadette Elementary School, 11917 40th St.

Ward Issues: 

About the Author

Elizabeth Hames

Elizabeth Hames is a producer for CBC Edmonton's morning radio show, Edmonton AM.

With files from the CBC's Natasha Riebe