In the run up to the 2017 election, we asked our readers and listeners what issues matter most to them. Every day, we ask candidates for their thoughts on healthcare, growth, traffic, city facilities, downtown, and the other issues important to their campaign. Today, Peter Brown addresses your issues.
Peter Brown hopes that on October 16, he'll be reelected as Airdrie's mayor for a third term.
As Airdrie has grown, Brown believes there have been a number of opportunities as well as some challenges. The main challenge is that the community has grown so rapidly that the City is often playing catch-up. Now that growth has slowed somewhat, Brown is optimistic that the City can catch up.
Brown believes community identity is one area that has been impacted by the rapid growth. Brown is pleased that Airdrie is now a multicultural city. With that, Brown thinks it's time to identify Airdrie's identity and define what it means to hail from Airdrie.
Another area that has been impacted by the growth is traffic. While acknowledging that there are pinch points around the City, Brown's opinion is that it is still easy to get around the community and said he does it many times a day. He thinks planned improvements like widened roads, rail underpasses and 40th Avenue will greatly improve traffic flow when they are completed. In regards to light synchronization, Brown said it is not as easy as some residents believe and that making changes one way will impact the flow of traffic in other directions. Brown would like to see one particular innovation when it comes to traffic.
"One of the things I'd like to see is a traffic centre incorporated at the City of Airdrie. So, a municipality like Surrey has an engineering group that meet downstairs. They have ever intersection lit on their board."
That would allow City engineers to override certain intersections to keep traffic moving.
Brown sees a particular need for more city facilities like a new library and a new west side recreation centre. He thinks there are opportunities that the City has not taken advantage of.
"I think we need to investigate more public-private partnerships. Every other municipality has private rinks, arenas, or they have a private pool or they're partnered with the YMCA or however all that comes together."
Ultimately, Brown thinks the drive for new facilities needs to come from the community. He said residents need to be the ones that come before Council to show where the needs are and get the conversation going so that Council can play a supporting role. He's also open to the possibility that facilities need to be built larger from the outset so they aren't full as soon as they open.
Brown is particularly passionate about meeting Airdrie's healthcare needs. He's excited that a health park will be built in conjunction with the Province that will meet many health needs. Brown thinks it is unlikely that Airdrie will get a hospital, and the Airdrie and Area Health Benefits Cooperative is the next best thing. He hopes that facility will not only respond to health needs, but help people take a proactive approach to health that will help Airdrie become the healthiest community in Canada.
Brown spoke at length about downtown redevelopment as well.
"One side of me says, you know, love to have this beautiful new thing that we've got going on here, but again, they have to be a realist about it. How is it all going to come together? Who's going to pay for it? And who's going to initiate it? That's the part that I'm not quite clear on."
He thinks one of the problems is that the City is not a developer and it only owns about four acres of land downtown. Brown would support public-private partnerships to see downtown redeveloped, but does not think the City should invest in buying up more land in the core. For him, downtown development is the City supporting developers. He thinks it might be challenging to get business owners downtown on board with redevelopment, especially when it seems that businesses in the core are thriving.
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