Spruce Grove's Erin Stevenson is running for Alderman this fall.
Communications professional Erin Stevenson says there's a reason she moved back to Spruce Grove, the city she was born in, after spending some time away: she's passionate about the community and the opportunities it provides to residents.
However, Stevenson has taken umbrage to some elements of Spruce Grove City Council which is a motivation for her to run for an Alderman seat on a platform of change in this fall's election.
"If I was to lay my hat down on a couple of issues, they would be accountability and transparency," Stevenson tells One News. "I don't feel we are as open with the residents of Spruce Grove as we can be."
One example cited by Stevenson is the lack of a voting record for the current council, as it's not possible to look back at old council meetings and see how certain members of council voted on certain issues while audio podcasts are available for only the three most recent councils.
"You have no idea if someone was for or against, if it was a unanimous vote, if it was a 3-4 split," claims Stevenson. "To me, that's a problem. I am accountable to those who elected me, and if there's no way for you to know how I voted how am I supposed to defend my position?"
Stevenson is proposing an open data portal for issues such as council votes and on automated traffic enforcement, as she feels the more data available to residents the better they will be able to understand or even oppose decisions made by council.
Another change Stevenson wants to bring forward is the changing of the title of "Alderman" to "Councillor."
"There's a lot of rumour going around of why we didn't change the name from Alderman to City Councillor when we had that opportunity in 2015," says Stevenson. Today in Canada, Spruce Grove is one of the few remaining municipalities to use the term Alderman for elected council officials and is the only city part of the Edmonton Capital Region to still use it.
"That is really disappointing to me. As a woman running, the name 'Alderman' is a barrier for me," Stevenson tells One News. "It literally means 'elder man'; of which I am neither."
When it comes to major issues such as the city's growth and the proposed $79 million dollar Multi-Use Sport and Event Centre, Stevenson would like to see more consideration given to how emergency services are able to operate in a growing city while being patient with the SEC.
"I'm approaching the [SEC] as a very complex issue, it's not black or white," elaborates Stevenson. "$79 million dollars is a lot of money. We have to be very cognizant this is one of the biggest developments happening in Spruce Grove. It's an opportunity, for sure it's an opportunity, but we have to make sure that it's done properly."
As for proposed growth through annexation of Parkland County land south of the tracks, Stevenson notes this could complicate things for the single fire hall city which recently voted to renovate and expanded the current building rather than build a second site.
"Starting to build south of the tracks lends its own problems to many different things," notes a concerned Stevenson. "Right now we've got one fire station and we're growing out. Can we even meet the needs of current neighbourhoods let alone annexed land south of the tracks?"
To hear the full, unedited interview with Alderman candidate Erin Stevenson click here or click play on the file below: