I’m disappointed that I have to write this blog post. There was a statement made on Facebook by one of my colleagues on Council that has been shared significantly since it was published. I won’t share it here because unfortunately, most of it is false and It’s not responsible to share something that I know is inaccurate. But, I felt I needed to respond as I’ve seen this post shared on some west end community pages and received emails about it as well.

I have a lot of respect for the person who made the statement. As you can imagine, we don’t always agree but I don’t always agree with every member of council. The wonderful thing about municipal politics in Alberta is that we don’t have political parties and therefore I believe councillors regularly approach each issue with an open mind. I have learned a great deal and even changed my mind because each member of council brings their own life experiences to a discussion. What I find is that even when we disagree on the proposed solution, we are able to communicate our dissatisfaction with the outcome without getting personal or sharing misinformation. That’s been my experience over the last six and a half years and it’s why I feel strongly about responding to this.

I’ll start by addressing some of the bullet points in the original post.

The first suggestion was that there is no leadership on how we rebuild. This is an odd suggestion because at the last few meetings of City Council and the Emergency Advisory Committee, we have regularly been discussing how we relaunch. Our city administration provided us with their expected steps which are to Respond, Relaunch, Recover, and Reimagine. As this approach has been presented to us, any member of council has the ability to offer alternative solutions if they feel a different approach is needed to rebuild.

All members of Council and the Mayor have been meeting with different individuals, community groups, business associations, elected representatives, etc. to discuss what is going to be needed to help rebuild. I know I don’t have all the answers – no individual person does. That’s why it’s critical to engage with as many people as possible. Any elected representative who believes something is not being done well has the ability to bring ideas forward at any time. In fact, I’d argue that not bringing ideas forward when we believe something is not being done well is an abdication of our duty to serve all Edmontonians.

The second and third suggestions are that there is no consideration about those who will slip into poverty or for those businesses who won’t be able to rehire staff and/or pay property taxes. Since our meetings are public, people are welcome to listen or watch them at any time and they would see and hear for themselves that these concerns have been and will continue to be discussed extensively. If you haven’t had a chance to watch my virtual Community Conversation from Thursday night, please take some time to watch or listen to it as we have spent a lot of time focusing on our budget shortfall due to COVID-19 and the need to address that without passing those costs on to our property taxes. Almost every household and business is struggling and while the provincial and federal governments have the ability to provide the most support during this time, we absolutely play a role within our local government to support people and businesses.

Our budget will have to change. Thankfully, unlike the reference to other cities that are worried about bankruptcy, the City of Edmonton has a strict Debt Management Fiscal Policy that ensures our financial position is relatively strong. Unlike the provincial and federal governments, we cannot run a deficit. I’m glad we can’t do that and combined with our Debt Management Fiscal Policy, I’m comfortable with how the City of Edmonton will deal with this. It won’t be easy as I discuss in the link above, but we will be able to get through this.

Along with those very serious issues, we have also been talking about what steps we need to take as a city so that people can comply with the Public Health Orders and maintain appropriate physical distancing. When physical distancing was first introduced in Alberta, you may remember a photo of many people using the stairs beside the Royal Glenora. People weren’t following the rules but as we all know, our sidewalks and trails are not typically large enough for two people to pass each other without breaking the rules.

As exercise outdoors is still permitted by our Chief Medical Officer of Health, some people who would like to spend some time outdoors expressed concerns that many high traffic areas don’t have enough space for them to maintain the appropriate distance. Therefore, some of us were asked by residents if there can be some under-used space that could be turned into a shared-use path to provide more space. As vehicle volume has dropped substantially, that felt like a reasonable request since it wouldn’t require much more than a few pylons and signs.

So I was one of the people who spent a total of approximately 2-3 minutes over the last few weeks asking about the possibility of this change. Most of the other 70-80 hours per week has been spent on issues like the ones mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’ve spent more time writing this post than I spent on the issue raised by the member of council who first made the statement. I’ll continue to focus on the relaunch, recovery, and reimagine portions and look forward to working together with all of you on those additional steps while we continue to respond to the current public health emergency before us.

Thursday, April 23rd at 6:30pm will be my next virtual Community Conversation on Facebook. I’ll be talking about what I’ve learned from everyone I’ve spoken with, get your feedback/ideas on how we move forward, and discuss what actions we will need to take as part of the relaunch, recovery, and reimage phases.

My colleagues and I are asked, almost daily, to consider the lives of the people we serve, and to make decisions based on the best available scientific evidence. We need to embrace this now, more than ever. The more we gather and share information in an open, honest, and transparent way,  the easier it is to make more informed decisions which will lead to an even better city. Thanks everyone and I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy.

30 Comments

  1. Robert C Roechert on April 20, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    I stand with Mike Nichol, not you sir.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 10:01 am

      Thanks for the message. As noted in the blog post, I still respect the member of council who made the original post, the purpose of this blog was to ensure everyone had the accurate information. Thanks again for the message and if you ever want to chat in more detail, please give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Have a great day.

  2. Andrew on April 20, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    While I’m 100% supportive of this post, you can say Mike Nickel’s name. People who are following the news know its Nickel, people who aren’t will be unnecessarily confused by this post. Anyone who’s feathers are going to be ruffled by this post will be regardless of saying his name or not.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 9:41 am

      Thanks for the message. Part of why I left out names is because the purpose of the post was not to focus on individuals but to focus on the message.

  3. Edgar A Friendly on April 21, 2020 at 7:20 am

    Well Andrew looks like you were totally in favour of spending $30-$60 Million for something
    the city could really do without here at this time.
    http://sirepub.edmonton.ca/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=2352&doctype=MINUTES

    Guess what ISN’T being cut to save citizen’s jobs or services so that some rich multinational can make more money.

    Facts matter Councillor knack

    • Denis on April 21, 2020 at 8:47 am

      Yea your link of 30-60 million was never mentioned so what is your point. The councillor had to get a majority to approve something. Spending millions on something creates jobs in our city, so what’s your point. That ridiculous FB was shared on our FB community page and was quickly removed by the admin because it was a garbage post. It provided no source of information and was simply false information. I support Andrew Knack and in all the years of politicians who have represented me at various levels, Andrew has been the most visible and available politician I’ve ever met. I have nothing but good things to say about Andrew.

      • Edgar A Friendly on April 21, 2020 at 4:25 pm

        Oh you didn’t look at the supporting docs. Fair enough. Didn’t know what else to expect.
        That 30M doesn’t go to the city companies or employees, it goes to a big multinational
        corporation, which the city has already shoveled in excess of $12M to for zero benefit.

        I’m glad you support Knack. I just wish he supported Edmontonians.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 9:52 am

      Thank you for the message Edgar. I believe you are referring to the Enterprise Systems Transformation Program. If that is correct, the week before council did discuss that item and in a motion made by Councillor Nickel and seconded by me, we asked for the program to be approved as much of our software that we use is outdated considering most corporations use cloud-based solutions now. Therefore the motion that was approved unanimously by council was to approve the funding but hold it in abeyance until the following week so that we could all review the business case in more detail. If you want to chat about this item in more detail, please give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Thanks again for the message and have a great day.

      • Edgar A Friendly on April 21, 2020 at 4:29 pm

        The Executive council approved it according to the notes. That is you and the mayor Councillor Knack. Do you support spending $30M now when the city could use that money locally and keep services running instead of handing it off to a big multinational?

        If so, then you do not have my vote.

        • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 5:14 pm

          Thank you for your reply. For clarification, Executive Committee is not permitted to approve that level of funding. That level of funding can only be approved by City Council which they did and then held the approved funds in abeyance until the business case was presented the week following. So that approval was done by all of council since it was a unanimous vote.

          To the bigger question of whether that funding should be approved, I’m not sure if you had a chance to read the business case but the payback period for that investment is 7.3 years. Our current system is inefficient which impacts the effectiveness of our staff and thereby impacts the service level we provide to residents and businesses. The business case gave me great comfort at the time that was the right investment. We are going to be making a number of changes to our budget to deal with the financial situation in front of us and whatever we reduce or cut will be made using the best advice of our city staff who will be able to identify the most important priorities back on approved plans. Thanks again for your reply.

          • Edgar A Friendly on April 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm

            Andrew:
            You talk about leadership and doing right by Edmontonians.
            A leader would stand up and ask questions as to how or why this was needed
            and not simply go along with the “group think” that consumes this council.
            If you choose not to speak up, then Mike is completely right about you.

            Remember:
            1. outsourcing to “cloud solutions” does not employ Edmontonians.
            2. There is no payback in 7.3 years or 10 years or 25 years to the city for $30-60M. Take a look at previous spends just like this at the city, the province or the country and see what kind of return on investment these types of projects actually provide. These are not infrastructure projects that provide long-term
            benefits to citizens like housing, roads, buildings, museums or galleries.
            3. Providing funding to a large international company not only doesn’t improve service, it also doesn’t support citizens or create Edmonton jobs.
            4. Given the current economic climate this is the absolute wrong time to make any changes that may or may not pay off in 7-10 years. Citizens need changes to help them now. No one will care that they had to wait a year or 3 to get a cloud solution in place. They WILL care that they lost their house or job.

            Please Lead.



          • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm

            Thanks for your reply. Is your suggestion that the business case is not accurate? If so, I’d be interested in learning more about the specific areas of concern. Please give me a call at (780) 496-8122 as I’m interested to better understand those concerns. While some of the work is already underway since this was approved almost a year ago, if there are specific issues in the business case, I’d like to better understand them.

            I agree that the primary concern is to address the current economic crisis which is why we are doing a full review of our operating and capital budgets. This could possibly be a project that gets puts on hold but whichever projects are postponed or cancelled will be done based on the best information possible which is why I’d be interested in getting your more detailed feedback about the business case. Thanks again for reaching out and I look forward to chatting further. Have a great day.



          • Edgar A Friendly on April 22, 2020 at 8:03 am

            Sorry I have to reply to this thread as the other one has no reply possible.

            You requested specific areas of concern on the ESTP business case.
            Here are some of them:

            Concern 1. No supporting data. All numbers for cost reductions are magic.
            They are simply stated with no supporting facts or data to justify them.

            Concern 2. The statements about current city infrastructure made to justify the expense are simply not true, the city already has invested heavily into cloud services and technologies and yet has not seen the dramatic cost reduction or
            upswing in services those projects promised.

            Concern 3. The implementation timelines are no only not achievable they are missing significant steps

            Concern 4. The approach advocated will not only hinder citizen services and city operations they will consume far more resources to provide the same level of service the city currently provides

            Concern 5. The “enabling cloud” argument hides the fact that the city and its citizens will no longer have control over service levels, personal data, costs or security of the hosted data (see Equifax, Facebook, Linkedin data leaks for example)

            This blog post is how you are concerned with Facts and Data and how you
            feel that Mike Nickel is wrong about the council.
            Yet…
            You are more concerned with appearance than reality

            You have an opportunity here. Reach out to Mike Nichol. Jointly propose with him to shelve this $30-60M monstrosity until it becomes fiscally responsible to complete it. You will both reap the political capital and heal the council to better serve Edmontonians.

            Otherwise Councillor Knack – You have failed this city.



          • Andrew Knack on April 22, 2020 at 8:25 am

            Thanks for the additional feedback. I’ll definitely review this in more detail prior to our budget discussion next week. It is worth noting that during my time on council, I have put forward motions that have resulted in approximately $80 million in savings through various actions. For more details on that, you can review this blog post from late 2018 and this post from 2017.

            The blog post was not focused on how I feel but rather on the real actions that have been occurring at our council meetings. As mentioned in the post, since our meetings are public, no one has to take my word for the points I made as they can listen and/or watch the meetings to experience that for themselves. Thanks again for the message and have a great day.



  4. Gerry Montgomery on April 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

    I stand with Councillor Nickel. Mayor Iveson, yourself and Councillor Walters have been consistent champions of a social engineering experiment in Edmonton bike lanes and traffic calming as one poorly executed example. Not one city project has been financially managed properly nor completed on time.The planning department and city administration has been a complete disaster. The incompetency that sits on this City Council is staggering. For example we have a Mayor who gives his wish list for a two billion handout from the Province for residential infill and LRT funding, at a time when oil is worth zero. Your density projections are done and most of the residential builders will be bankrupt. This Councillor Knack is reality.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you for the message. In terms of projects being completed properly, thankfully the vast majority of our projects are completed on time and on budget. For more information about those results, you can read through this blog post. Regarding the list of infrastructure projects sent to the Province, that list was set to them at their request. The provincial government asked for all municipalities in Alberta to share projects that are shovel ready as they plan to put forward infrastructure stimulus funding to help get people to work. If you want to chat about these topics in more detail, please give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Thanks again and have a great day.

  5. Anonymous on April 21, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Stop spending money. Somethings are necessary but not everything. More bike lanes are not.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the message. More money isn’t being spent on bike lanes. A few pylons were put down on a road to help create a temporary multi-use trail in high pedestrian/cycling traffic locations. Thanks again for the message and have a great day.

  6. taxpayer on April 21, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Andrew stop wasting our money. The west end residents do not want the LRT.
    We can’t afford to keep dumping money on the money losing transit system.
    I’m tired of you and Walters love in with Iverson.
    Thank God we have someone like Mike Nickels standing up for the taxpayers.
    Hopefully the starts laying off some of those middle managers at city hall.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you for the message. When I ran in both 2013 and 2017, one of my primary campaign commitments was to start building the West LRT. I was fortunate to receive the support of residents to take action on the things I campaigned on. While I certainly realize that not every person who voted for me in 2013 or 2017 supports every commitment I made during the campaign, this was one of the most important commitments I made and therefore I would imagine that a majority of people who gave me the honour of representing them are interested in seeing this project proceed. That was my experience when knocking on doors over the last six and a half years and that has also been my experience when connecting with people at various events. Not every person I have spoken with wants it, but the majority of people I’ve spoken with do want it. If there are specific concerns you have about that, please feel free to give me a call at (780) 496-8122 and we can discuss it in more detail.

      To the concern about middle managers, our City Auditor is reviewing that through the City Productivity Audit. For more information on that, please take a few minutes to review this post. Thanks again for the comment and have a great day.

  7. Thank U Formorespace on April 21, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    The comments on here are pure comedic gold, and the reason “you can’t please everyone” is such a common phrase. Lol

    I live near one of the highly congested areas where the pylons were put up, and genuinely appreciate it. I use this area to walk to/from work at the UAH; before COVID-19 I would see less than 10 people on my walk home, today I saw numbers approaching 100… it is crazy! There is considerably less vehicular traffic in the area, and those I know who drive there have no complaint – it is obvious to us all how many more pedestrians and cyclists there are. The pylons are a great common sense solution, and I don’t get what all the negativity is about.

    That said, I do not agree with all of the bike lanes – I live near the ‘Oliverbahn’, and have watched my community parking/two way lanes get eaten up by all the cycling infrastructure and become more difficult to navigate safely for both pedestrians/vehicles. I can understand why we want to encourage alteranatives to cars in the core, but think reassessing the number/ appropriateness of bike lanes periodically to make it easier and safer for all of us to get around. I think a lot of the commenters here are taking out their disgruntlement with that (very different) subject here instead of the subject at hand! Sometimes passionate people are not the most logical.

    • Andrew Knack on April 21, 2020 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks for the feedback on both topics, I appreciate it. It’s great to get feedback on a variety of different topics even if they aren’t connected to the main post. And I definitely agree about reassessing various types of infrastructure, that will likely occur once the new City Plan has been approved to help inform the priorities within that plan. Thanks again for the feedback.

  8. Hop on April 22, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Wow….. congrats for your thin skinned snide remarks carefully disguised as polite quips. Remember many of your constituents have an education as well. No need to be pompous when we don’t agree with most of your ego driven policies .

    • Andrew Knack on April 22, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Thanks for the comment. My intent was not to make snide comments. My intent was to be firm in correcting misinformation while not getting personal. As I noted in the post, I have great respect for all colleagues and look forward to working together with all of them. If there are particular concerns that you want to share, please share them here or give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Thanks again and have a great day.

  9. Kathy Brower on April 24, 2020 at 10:11 am

    I certainly hope you, Iveson and Walters aren’t using any of my tax dollars on your witch hunt, this is a perfect example of the utterly ridiculous things you three have been focusing on. You have been playing around with our tax dollars like it is a never ending money tree. At some point I think many of you on council have forgotten that you work for us.

    • Andrew Knack on April 24, 2020 at 10:52 am

      Thank you for the message. I’m not sure I understand the reference to a witch hunt. The only thing my blog posts require is the time it takes me to write them. In terms of your concerns around spending of tax dollars, I want to share a few posts I’ve written over the years which detail the specific motions that I’ve put forward to find savings. This post from 2017 details the approach I took to staff vacancies and this post from 2018 provides a breakdown of the budget reduction motion that I put forward. Between those two motions, almost $80 million in savings was achieved. I’m proud of the fact that the motions I’ve made have produced more savings than any other motions made and passed over the last number of years. Our ability to make change as councillors comes through making motions like the ones referenced in the links above.

      I also want to give credit to our City Administration which regularly look for savings. This post provides a few of the many examples of savings that our city staff have found over the year. As you noted, our tax dollars are not a never-ending money tree which is why it’s important for members of council to put forward motions like the ones I have in order to reduce spending. More work is happening to help find efficiencies and I’m more than happy to discuss any ideas you may have as well. Please call me at (780) 496-8122 and we can discuss this in more detail. Thanks again for the message and have a great day.

  10. Doug Green on April 24, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Time to grow a set, and honestly stop being a sheep to this pet project group. The bike lanes, the no reason speed reduction, the ridiculous amounts spent of art for buildings that can’t even be opened, the war zone of roads. Where do I stop. The sheeple of Iverson and you know who you are. Enough, tired of the lack of leadership. You politico’s need to go back to reality and build a city with vision and sustainability. You better not advocate for one cent of my tax dollars to go to this ridiculous idea.

    • Andrew Knack on April 24, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you for the message. Just to clarify, the ridiculous idea you are talking about is the addition of temporary multi-use trails on some lower-volume roads? If yes, as noted in the post, I don’t see a concern with taking pylons that we already have to put them down in a few locations to allow proper physical distancing. It takes a few minutes of staff time but otherwise there really is no new cost for that.

      For the other issues you have raised, I’m happy to chat about those in more details. I’ve written blog posts and/or recorded videos on many of the topics if you are interested. I think we share the same desire to build a city with vision and sustainability. Continuing the status quo is incredibly expensive as the more we grow out, the more we have to pay for the infrastructure and services. We can’t keep doing that and the new city plan will help provide that new direction. If you want to chat further, please give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Thanks again for the message.

  11. jackson on April 27, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Majority councilors action so far regarding city spending, unaccountability and irresponsibility has bring city running out of money. NO one has guts to come forward to take leadership and propose reduction to capital and operating budget to bring financing in line.
    You need code of conduct to perform your duty or reduce compensation.

    • Andrew Knack on April 28, 2020 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you for your comment. There have been a number of motions over the last few years that have reduced spending. I’ve previously written about some of those and this would be one of the best examples. If you want to discuss those actions and the others in more detail, please give me a call at (780) 496-8122. Thanks again for the comment.

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