10 Questions: Strathcona County Mayoral Candidate Roxanne Carr

*part of a 10 Questions series with local candidates

1.       The number one issue facing Strathcona County:

Ill planned and unmanaged growth will result in serious economical, social and political dissension for the entire region.

Strathcona County will continue to grow. Integral to the growth challenge is that it is a regional reality. Surrounding neighbours will continue to grow as well. I believe that our growth will continue and that we have an opportunity to do it correctly, with smart and sustainable solutions.  Part of those solutions must include a strong understanding of infrastructure needs.  I believe that if we expand too far and too fast we'll put extraordinary pressures on traffic, public transit and utilities, thereby increasing the chance of annexation attempts by the City of Edmonton.  

Having the right information and paying attention to the growth plans of the City of Edmonton and our regional municipalities are critical. Our relationship with the region overall is strained and needs to be revitalized.  That can also be said about our relationship with the Province.  I believe working together we can first remain informed, second provide support to the province in building strong regional municipalities - thus be better positioned to defend our borders.

2.       Is there a way to balance infrastructure maintenance and growth without debt?

Infrastructure maintenance must be achieved without increasing our debt limit. Under my leadership we utilize property tax revenues, provincial and federal grants and then get innovative: I will be working with council to establish a legacy fund that can be used to revitalize existing infrastructure.

Urban planners and developers talk about “developer pay” as guiding principles. Well yes, developers can and do pay for building infrastructure inside the developed area, and even, in some cases, arterial roads and other projects. These are great partnering strategies. After the build, however, taxpayers are left to maintain the mass of infrastructure. We need to run the numbers before we create the new growth areas, to ensure generational equity. While the Municipal Government Act allows us to borrow money, there is a finite debt capacity and I believe it would be folly to ‘ride the line’.

3.       What is your take on the Sherwood Park hospital issue?
While the 24/7 urgent care phase is scheduled to open in the spring, I believe our Mayor and Council needs to intensify its efforts to advocate for the completion of the hospital. This will include repairing the relationship with the province and working as a team with our primary care network and MLAs to speed up the completion. We need more public lobbying. As Mayor I will support our existing advocacy groups, to work in a positive way to get those 72 beds in place. 

Also, I believe we need to better understand our actual, current and future needs as a community, and so will look to support information gathering that will substantiate the highest hospital priorities for immediate completion of our hospital.

4.       Transparency is the buzzword for this election.  How will you ensure an open administration?

Immediately upon my election I will implement the ‘9 Initiatives in 90 Days Action Plan. Councillor Records on expenses, committee attendance and voting records will be put on line. I will enforce the Code of Conduct and urge Council to add penalties and fines to ensure that elected officials think twice about embarrassing the citizens of Strathcona County.

I have become increasingly concerned with ‘in camera’ meetings that are private, out of the public eye. I will work diligently to reduce the number of hours of ‘in camera’ meetings.  Ensuring only those matters that are legal land and human resources, as defined by the Municipal Government Act, are kept behind closed doors! I will urge council members to immediately open Council Workshops to the public. 

5.       You are a attempting to replace the current Mayor. Why do you believe Strathcona County needs a change in leadership?

Strathcona County has become increasingly reactive and dependent upon external consultants to direct our business planning and to repair relationships with regional partners and the provincial government. This is the job of elected officials.

Spending under this mayor has been out of control, with the most recent example being the $614,000 business plan which I voted against.  Add to that questionable spending in other areas such as trips, office renovations and there’s a pattern that emerges. As elected officials we are the stewards of taxpayer dollars and I take that very seriously.

Current council is lacking strong leadership that can model ethical behaviour and integrity.  I have demonstrated leadership and service to our residents. I ask for their support to serve them to a greater degree in the next four years.

6.       Who was your first political influence/mentor?

My parents modeled my work ethic that I carry with me through my political career.

7.       Your perfect Sunday:

I appreciate getting an opportunity to spend time with friends and family.

8.       The music in your car stereo:

I play Classic Country & Jazz in my truck.

9.       Dog person or cat person (it’s important):

I have always had dogs and horses – they are my best friends.  

10.   Your vision of Strathcona County in 25 years:

We are at a critical juncture in our history as a community.  Bremner, Colchester and hamlets such as Josephberg are all under consideration for growth.  How we proceed today will forever change our community. 

My vision for the county includes a smart and innovative approach to our growth.  We must maintain our quality of life, while broadening our agri-business and industrial strengths.  Strathcona County will continue to be a regional economic leader, however, with that will come pressures to grow based on short-term or individual relationships.  The real question is how to achieve the right balance.  First, we need to ensure we grow with the community’s best interests and assets in mind.  Sprawl can cost more than it generates in taxes.  My opponent has not pushed for enough information to justify the current Bremner plan.  I want to see visionary designs based on strong feasibility studies, and numbers to justify the growth, otherwise we will be setting up Strathcona County for serious debt in the future.

We will continue to be a leader in the petro-chemical industry, however, I see a future where we have developed special programs to inspire business innovation.  We’re a healthy and active community with lots of green space options for parks and recreation.  We will maintain our strong relationship with our regional partners.  We have and will continue to have a strong heritage and cultural foundation here in Strathcona County.

I love our community, and if fortunate to become the next mayor, I will ensure that our community grows based on a progressive business plan that not only continues to promote our current business interests in the oil industry but also seeks to incorporate new opportunities that set us on a path to long-term success for decades to come.

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