Vision Zero 2016: Creating Safer School Neighbourhoods

When our City Council approved Vision Zero, with the long-term goal of having zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, we knew it would require a multidimensional approach from the City and Edmontonians and I am happy to report we are making progress, particularly when it comes to school safety.

2016 results

Keeping students and their families safe as they travel to and from school is so important and in 2016 the City undertook a number of improvements at Edmonton schools:

  • Traffic safety assessments were conducted at 13 elementary schools to observe road user behavior and new countermeasures were installed in September 2016. Countermeasures included new zebra crosswalks, new stop signs with retro-reflective poles, reflective strips on pedestrian signs, and upgrading from yield signs to stop signs.
  • Starting in 2016, a pickup/drop-off zone will be implemented at one school every year. In 2016, St. Justin School received a pickup/drop-off zone.
  • Prohibiting left turns from school parking lots was implemented at two schools.
  • In October, City Council approved the expansion of 30 km/hr school zones to include Edmonton’s 43 junior high schools. This new speed limit will be in place for all junior high schools by September 2017, when students return to class.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of school zones

In 2014, 30 km/hr school zones were implemented for Edmonton’s elementary schools. Our evaluation of these 30 km/hr school zones showed significant safety improvements, including:

  • 43 percent reduction in injury collisions
  • 71 percent reduction in injury collisions involving vulnerable road users
  • 12 km/hr reduction in vehicle speeds

Many great improvements have been made and we will continue this work throughout 2017 to make Edmonton’s streets safe for all road users, especially close to schools. For more information on Vision Zero, visit edmonton.ca/visionzero and follow @VisionZeroYEG on Twitter.

Yellowhead Improvements

On December 16, 2016, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta joined the City of Edmonton to announce joint funding for improving the Yellowhead Trail to better accommodate current and future traffic. The federal and provincial governments are each contributing up to $241.6 million, with the City of Edmonton providing remaining funding for a total of over $1 billion.

The Yellowhead Freeway project is anticipated to achieve free flowing traffic along the full length of Yellowhead Trail. This work will be scheduled to occur over the next 10 years. The project focuses on the removal of at-grade intersections between 156 Street and the North Saskatchewan River in the east/west directions while still maintaining north/south connectivity where technical feasible. Concept planning, design, and construction will be staged in a manner of optimizing efficiency and to minimize traffic impacts.

The current status of the various segments along the corridor is at different stages.

Concept planning has not been completed for the section between St Albert Trail and 97 Street, which will identify the configuration of interchanges at 127 Street and 121 Street. A large component of executing on the concept planning work will be engaging with communities and businesses to identify how the proposed changes will impact the area and identify potential mitigating strategies to address the impacts. This concept planning is scheduled to occur over the next two years.

Concept planning has been completed for the section between 156 Street and St. Albert Trail, and between 97 Street and the North Saskatchewan River. The next project phase of design for these sections will be staged to meet construction timelines. Public engagement will include connecting with affected property owners as work in these sections progresses.

The project website (www.edmonton.ca/yellowheadtrail) will be updated regularly with project information and public engagement opportunities. I want to encourage you to attend and participate in the public engagement sessions and conversations, and to be an active part of the planning process.

As always, you can contact with me at City Hall by phone, 780-496-8136, or by email,

Are You With Me?

I was saddened to hear of the horrific tragedy in a Quebec mosque this week.   We hear about such events around the world but not in our own country.   We have seen isolated incidents but nothing to this magnitude.   I thought our country was different.  Overall, we are respectful, accepting and supportive of our fellow citizens.  We saw that this summer during the wild fire in Fort McMurray how many people came from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds to support those who were displaced from the fire.   Together we welcomed and supported them.  We held fundraisers and volunteered our time.   I am proud of our community and what we did.   It is a good example of our true heart for our fellow man.

Recent incidents of racism do not reflect the majority of us.   Are these individuals acting out of fear or ignorance?

I had the opportunity to visit a mosque after the Quebec shooting and heard from Muslim community members who expressed concerns about whether they should send their children to school or go shopping the next day.   They were fearful about what we as a community would say or react to them.  This bothered me that our community would feel uncomfortable in their own community.

What can we do?  What should we do?   How do we stop the fear on both sides?  Personally, I am going to continue to meet, support and respect all citizens in our community.   When I hear the negative comments or misinformation I am going to speak up. I will not sit idly by, nor will I be passively disengaged. I will stand up and show both compassion and concern for my neighbour, my fellow Edmontonian, and my fellow Canadian… are you with me?

It’s Time!

Overwhelmed! I am in absolute awe of the number of partners, new and existing,came out to support the proclamation of Family Violence Prevention Month inEdmonton. Last year, more than 5,400 women sought safety in women’s shelters and along with them were more than 5,000 children. Edmonton has some of the highest rates of gender-based violence in Canada which is both sad and alarming. While we have great responsive services and strong partners who are supporting victims and children, there is still work to do.

Today we came together to stand together and speak up about Gender BasedViolence and Sexual Assault. It is time to take action, speak up and change our attitudes. We need to start talking about it and that will take our entire community. I was overjoyed to see business, media, sports, faith leaders, unions, education and community groups step up to take actions in their respective organizations. I’m very proud that City Council, City Staff, and Unions also stepped up and have committed to take action on this important issue.

It’s not always an easy conversation when we suspect someone is a victim of violence but, it is an important one. Victims have families and no action can delay getting help to some very vulnerable children. We all need to speak up and provide support to those in need.

I’m hoping we will find ways to educate employees and supervisors, provide tools and resources to educate and support business, faith groups and cultural groups. We all need to talk about it. It’s not a secret – it is unacceptable but, people who are victims need our support and understanding.

How do you help? How do I help? Talk about it with your friends, co-workers and network. Let’s change our community – one conversation at a time until we have a collective roar that says: “Not in our Community!”

Will you join me?

Find information and resources by calling the 24-hour Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818, toll-free, or visit endfamilyviolence.albert.ca.

Shame On Us

There are heroes among us. Among our ranks are those who served as teachers, nurses, construction workers and military personnel. Others have raised families and have strengthened their communities through community leagues, sports, and religious organizations. They have raised funds and built playgrounds, community league buildings and have helped their neighbors. Today as they retire and get involved in our senior’s centers and organizations they support and encourage one another. They gather for fitness, education and to improve their health. They gather socially and host events that help others avoid isolation and improve their mental health.

We spend dollars to invest in preserving historical buildings but, what about the keepers of our history? How do we honour them? As a city what is our responsibility?

Today we have a mish mash of buildings that serve seniors. Some are brand new and very functional and others have poor accessibility and roofs. How do we provide an equity of service and access to seniors throughout our city? Is it up to the city or through partners? We need to answer the who and what in order to move forward.

The City is engaging seniors to help answer these questions as part of the Senior’s Centres of the Future. Please speak up! We need your input and we need to find the right way to serve our seniors.

Community Leaders Meeting

What do Community Leaders do on a Saturday morning?   They gathered under the shiny exterior of the Castledowns Pavilion last Saturday as faith, cultural and Community League leaders in Ward 2 met to discuss issues that impacted Ward 2, and other emerging city wide issues.   The conversation included everything from construction to infill and firehall’s to libraries.   We also chatted about something that is near and dear to my heart, gender based violence prevention and how we each play a role in changing the community conversation and actions to prevent more violence in our communities.   It can affect all of us regardless of social economic status, culture, faith and location.   We, as a City, have one of the highest rates in the country and we must say it is enough!   Education, awareness and community discussion are essential to change behavior and get those victimized the support and help they need.

I came away from the meeting encouraged that as leaders we can work together.   One participant commented after that it was great to hear what else was going on in the ward because it is easy to just focus on their own challenges.   Another wanted to find ways that we can advocate for change together in the City’s public engagement initiative. Others approached me and wanted to know what they needed to do to help prevent gender based violence.   All agreed that the meeting was valuable and would be happy to meet again!

It really reminded me of the quote by Margaret Mead that says “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Together we can make a difference!