Edmonton Votes 2017: LRT challenges and development on agenda in Ward 8

Ward 8 is located in south-central Edmonton and has more than 50,000 eligible voters.

Ward 8 includes the University of Alberta and the new Accidental Beach

Only Ward 8 can say it's home to Edmonton's Accidental Beach, and the issues that go with it. (Nola Keeler/CBC)

On its north side, Ward 8 follows the river valley from the University of Alberta all the way over to Gold Bar. On its south side, it hugs Whyte/82nd Avenue from Gateway Boulevard to 50th Street.

Ward 8 includes the Old Strathcona neighbourhood, and it frequently faces development requests that push the boundaries of permitted zoning. The ward includes the University of Alberta and primarily residential neighbourhoods, such as Cloverdale and Forest Heights.

The Cloverdale community has been affected since the "discovery" this summer of the Accidental Beach, created on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River as a side effect of bridge construction in the valley. Council has asked for a report on the viability of making some kind of permanent beach in the area.

Ward 8 has the city's highest percentage of post-secondary students, at more than six per cent of the population.

It's also on the route of the future Valley Line LRT, which will travel up 83rd Street before turning west onto 95th Avenue before heading across the river into downtown and the city's west end.

Once complete, it's expected to cause major travel delays for drivers, with a left turn at 83rd Street and Whyte Avenue taking up to seven or eight minutes in the morning, and more than 12 minutes during the evening commute.

With plenty of mature neighbourhoods, infill will also be top-of-mind for some Ward 8 voters.

Jacquelyn Cardinal is a member of IDEA, the Infill Development in Edmonton Association. She said that in some neighbourhoods, there's a real aversion to any kind of development that might taint the existing character of the community.

The new elected council will have to do the work of educating people on the wide variety of what infill can look like with proper planning, Cardinal said.

"With really comprehensive policy, infill development can really add to and extend the existing community culture," she said.

2016 municipal census statistics

Population: 67,365

Eligible voters: 51,039

Owns home: 38.2%

Rents home: 41.2%

Lived in home five years or more: 32%

Mainly drives to work: 61.4%

Takes transit to work: 15%

Main language other than English: French (4.1%)

Income under $30,000: 11.2%

Income $60,000 to $100,000: 11.8%

Children in preschool: 2.6%

Children from kindergarten to Grade 6: 3.1%

Interesting statistic: Ward 8 has the highest percentage of post-secondary students (6.02 %)

Neighbourhoods: Gold Bar, Capilano, Forest Heights, Terrace Heights, Fulton Place, Ottewell, Kenilworth, Idylwylde, Holyrood, Cloverdale, Strathearn, Mill Creek, Bonnie Doon, Strathcona, University of Alberta, Windsor Park, Belgravia, McKernan, Garneau, Queen Alexandra

Six candidates: Rob Bernshaw, Kirsten Goa, Ben Henderson (incumbent), James Kosowan, Eli Schrader, Heather Workman

From left: Eli Schrader, James Kosowan, Heather Workman, Kirsten Goa, Rob Bernshaw, Ben Henderson (Ward map: City of Edmonton; candidate photos supplied)

CBC Edmonton's candidate survey responses:

Rob Bernshaw - No response

Kirsten Goa, 43has lived in Edmonton her entire life 

Family: married with five children, two sets of twins
Credentials: former constituency assistant for Edmonton MLA; BA in English/History, B.Ed
Top issues: infill, lot-splitting and large scale development; improve safety and accessibility of transit and transportation; engage with residents to bring different perspectives to light earlier
City's biggest challenge: Polarization — need to connect with diverse groups to find common ground

Ben Henderson, 5936 years in Edmonton

Family: married
Credentials:  city councillor; MFA
Top issues: safer and more effective public transportation; make sure traffic doesn't negatively affect enjoyment of communities; strong and healthy neighbourhoods
City's biggest challenge: managing growth and urban sprawl in financially and environmentally sustainable way

James Kosowan, 51, has lived in Edmonton his whole life 

Family: married with two children
Credentials:  high school social studies teacher; BA and B.Ed
Top issues: develop affordable housing other than lot splitting; rules for types of large-scale residential developments; improve access to transit and LRT
City's biggest challenge: Retrofitting housing to reduce the impact on the environment; help residents improve the energy efficiency of their homes and create jobs in the process

Eli Schrader, 27, has lived in Edmonton 10 years

Family: single
Credentials: Bissell Centre program manager; small business owner; health-care software consultant; degree in recreation, sports and tourism  
Top issues: address LRT Valley Line issues; densification/infill development; evaluate how tax dollars are being spent
City's biggest challenge: improving public spending and improving the democratic process

Heather Workman - No response

Ward 8 candidates forum: Monday, Oct. 2. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McNally Composite High School, 8440 105th Ave.

Ward Issues:

With files from the CBC's Natasha Riebe