The Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards is an annual celebration of the many significant accomplishments of Métis, First Nations and Inuit youth from across Alberta.
Originally developed in 2003, and now an initiative of the new Rupertsland Institute, the awards gala
is designed to encourage excellence among our Aboriginal youth.
The recognition and publicity devoted to the 12 award-winners helps establish positive new role-models for young people throughout the province.
Uplifting role-models like these are vital for young minds struggling to realize the tremendous personal potential each possesses.
Tony was honoured to be a special guest at this entertaining event and bring greetings on behalf of the City. For more information, click HERE
To view the entire post, click HERE
Tony & I met at his campaign office, as usual I started with environmental questions.
He would like to see our transit fleet converted and upgraded into a green transit system by using next generation electrics and high efficient diesels or hybrids. In conjunction with this, it would be a priority to find more ways to encourage people to use their vehicles less by living local. In his early years you could do anything necessary in your community, then came box stores in far away corners of town, and now we seem to be swinging back towards local community living.
His favourite personal environmental issue is greenhouse gas emissions and waste energy. Tony ran a company that provided reusable heat blankets to industrial customers which saved energy and reduced waste heat for increased efficiency. Less waste is good for business. Unfortunately Tony doesn't know what a Feed-in tariff is despite several educational presentations to city council by groups this year hoping to spur renewable generation in the city, but he is very much in favour of using incentives to encourage residents & grow business in efficiency sectors.
When it comes to urban development Tony was very clear, he is absolutely against the airport closure and would support efforts to put it to a binding plebiscite in the future.
He was disappointed that the city failed to include a non-binding question on the ballot at this election after the petition failed. He believes that redevelopment plays a long term game that we do not have the tools or knowledge to understand, while the airport could be improved to give us more benefits in the shorter and medium term. He has some frustration that current administration seems to start projects and move on without completing them, such as the quarters, downtown revitalization, and other projects that are ongoing efforts.
To encourage development activity in mature areas he would help create a market for buyers by enhancing safety and security. He believes there is a problem getting developers to build around ghettoized low income areas and the answer would be to diversify and spread social housing around the city to avoid larger pockets that can cause a downturn in the area. Integration of smaller projects would have less negative impact on surrounding communities and improve the marketplace for business to make a profit without worsening our sprawl problems. Maintaining a balance between single dwellings, multifamily dwellings, apartments, and commercial is important during densification and the city needs to consider this more in the future.
City infrastructure has suffered greatly by approaching it on a case by case basis and Tony thinks we need to use our ability to finance to do even more renewal. Maintaining the current 2% renewal tax for neighbourhoods will be critical to this process as it allows the city to make payments and leverage borrowing to take care of the most ancient problems completely, while we also patch what needs minor work and proactively address middle aged neighbourhoods. The old "no borrowing, no tax increases" policies of years past put us in this position with no cushion so now we must swallow it and go forward.
Tony considers Abbotsfield mall to be the junkiest of the junk, and has huge news regarding that corner. The landlord is not renewing leases, will be kicking out tenants as they expire! The entire area is facing redevelopment into a new retail space. Details are not available yet but perhaps something like Oliver square, or Northtown mall.
He says the city has the ability to control the entire development due to zoning and that this is everyone's opportunity to tell them what they want to see. Residents can have a hand in setting the standards for the new development. When it comes to other developments such as the habitat for humanity project in Bergman Tony says he will not tolerate
cheaper, or substandard developments hiding behind a social "cover" in order to get preferential treatment. While it is too late for that project, future projects will face greater scrutiny from Tony, and he says that they should find a way to balance densification needs with surrounding homeowner & community needs. He cited an example of the city stopping a group home on 111ave that was being pushed by an ex-city employee abusing his connections. The city retrieved $900,000 in funding from cornerstone and terminated all his applications as the development was extremely substandard.
To address transit issues surrounding longer trips from this ward Tony would explore rapid express bus service to other major hubs, which was taken off the table at the time LRT expansion was approved. He believes that LRT expansion is a long term solution which
could leave residents scrambling for service during the years of construction, and leave gaps when we don't address interconnecting bus routes which get residents to the LRT stations.
Tony believes crime reduction should be focused in the community. When people are active in their local areas, and feel safe, the crime levels drop. Transit centre crime at LRT stations is also a large issue for him and increasing security presence is a priority. Adding permanent security stations at LRT stops is an idea Tony would like to see implemented.
When it comes to city services such as snow removal, garbage, & street repairs Tony is very clear that he believes in city staff first, and contracting out only in emergencies for short projects. Tony would like to expand the public service into a complete street construction department, which would give us better service, stable results, and also keep outside contractors honest. Edmonton has a history of tunnelling expertise, engineering, and other professional departments that
are sought after by other jurisdictions around Canada and we should be proud of that.
It's time for the city to be in charge of contracting again, and end the practice of cost plus jobs that run hundreds of millions over budget like the 23rd street overpass, in favour of firm contracts that the city
can hold people to account for such as the Capilano bridge construction project which the city forced the contractor to swallow the overage on.
The city does an abysmal job communicating and that entire structure needs reforming, according to Tony we have great positives to report and do a lousy job ensuring residents are aware of them. Improving the citizens understanding of city finances, successes, and future goals should be done regularly in a consistent way that people can understand and expect. Access to general city information online must be made simpler.
Tony thinks that citizen apathy is a serious problem particularly for younger generations because they have a psychology of cynicism. When people believe their opinions are not valued or heard they stop giving them. The idea that politicians give lip service and do not serve their constituents is prevalent these days and must be reversed. Tony sees a particular issue with the generation gap because it is so much wider now than in years past. We lost many "in between" generations that bridged views and tempered issues, so that now there is a stark difference between the older and the younger sets. Mutual respect will be the key here, according to Tony and empowering people to participate will be a key part of his activity as councillor. He believes that there are many ways to access government but people no longer understand them or feel there is anyone there to listen, so firstly addressing that psychology is important, as well as communicating out to people about how they can be heard and responded to. He wants to ensure that while we adapt to new technologies and media we do not lose track of the people who don't use it yet, and rely on personal contact, physical mail and other traditional means of engagement.
When it comes to communities and leagues Tony is quite specific in his views, he believes that the city could never afford to duplicate the volunteers and services provided by communities and is feeling the pain of their decline in some ways. He wants to help leagues shift with society towards new roles in their communities such as immigrant services, and adapt to new family structures that do not fit the same old "kids sports" kind of scenario. The city should provide more training, grants, accounting services, and physical supports such as infrastructure repair to take the strain off league finances but avoid any direct involvement in league operations as they are community democracies. Helping residents access services, integrating newcomers, bridging cultural and economic divides, and providing new kinds of programs to replace and augment existing offerings would breathe new life
into leagues and help them become a focus of local living.
DISCLAIMER: This Letter of Recognition is not to be construed or seen as an endorsement of Tony Caterina, official or otherwise, by the Alberta Avenue Business Association.