Councillor fond of northern roots

An article in the Edmonton Sun on Tuesday, October 08, 2013:

EdWard 4 councillor Ed Gibbons knows a lot about the community he has served for 16 years — 12 as councilor and four as an MLA. He has actually spent most of his life in the north east part of the city.

“I’ve been married for 42 years here in this area, and my great-grandparents — my mother’s parents — lived in the Hermitage area,” said Gibbons. “We have roots here, after moving from Gibbons years ago. I raised my family in Belmont.

“It is a good place to live. We are close to the Alberta Industrial Heartland in Fort Saskatchewan, and we’re on the extreme north east part of Edmonton where people can work in Fort McMurray and have their family closer. We’re a working class community — tradespeople that work in the industries, and through a lot of government work — municipal, provincial and federal.”

Gibbons serves his community by working on area issues such as facilitating the reclamation of the old industrial Domtar site, and lobbying for the redevelopment of Fort Road, Alberta Avenue and Bevedere.

On the real estate side, Gibbons represents Edmonton on the Capital Region Board (CRB), and is proud of the

growth in his area — expansions in McConachie and CY Becker, and new neighourhoods like Gorman, Ebbers and Fraser Point — about 10 to 20 new house permits every week.

Gibbons sees the importance of providing affordable housing to help with the rapid growth across the region – paricularly fond of Rohit and Landmark’s projects of turning old, unused school sites into affordable housing developments.

The councilor has lobbied for the controversial Horse Hill Area Structure Plan that will see farmland transformed into high-density housing with 27,600 dwelling units pro-

posed to house a population of 71,000 new Edmontonians in five new neighbourhoods. Gibbons says the large-scale development must incorporate green initiatives.

“We have a commitment to put up a very green community out there,” said Gibbons. “Market gardens and green- houses. It’s going to take about 30 years to build, but we’re already doing a first neighbourhod structure plan, and developers are working very well with me on going forward with green build-up.”

He believes that such projects are necessary to help manage the rapid growth the Capital Region is experiencing, and particularly important with the upcoming election and changes in council.

“Our city is growing so fast – we have to keep a close eye on how we manage the growth,” said Gibbons. “I’m anticipating a lot of work needing to get done with the new council underway. It scares me a little bit — it’s a big change. But I am quite willing to work with our new councillors.”

Gibbons came into council in 2001, with mayor Stephen Mandel, and has worked with several councillors over the years, including Karen Leibovici, whom he admits would like to see become the new city mayor.

“Karen and I were MLAs together and in council for the last 12 years together, so I know her well,” said Gibbons.

On Leibovici’s Red Tape Elimination Commission, which the mayoral candidate has planned to cut permit approval time for development — Gibbons says it is a “no-brainer.”

“I think our city needs good, steady hands to move forward, and I for one hope to be back to help to the job.

“I am quite happy that our city is moving forward like it has been in the last few years, and with the amount of people moving into our region. Whether it’s Edmonton or our neighbours around us, we have to keep working to make it the best place to live.”

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