Like a seven-foot centre protecting the paint, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi swatted away a petition from Common Sense Edmonton. The advocacy group had gathered 2,153 signatures in support of its call for the City to abandon a plan to partner with the feds on an urban national park.
The petition, which was brought to City Hall on Tuesday, was rejected from being introduced at a City Council meeting this week because of procedural issues. Petitions like that have to be brought in front of committees, not at regular council meetings.
While he “wasn’t surprised” that the petition was rejected, Common Sense Edmonton spokesperson Kerry Diotte believes that Edmontonians should eventually decide by referendum if we partner with the federal government on an urban national park, or not.
But why is there so much hand wringing about a project as seemingly benign as a national urban park within Edmonton’s borders?
And three councillors — Tim Cartmell, Jennifer Rice and Karen Principe — later voted against continuing this process. While the park still has the support of the majority of council, cracks are showing.
While the petition wasn’t presented to council, Rice said she could not ignore it. And, she said she could not discount her own survey in ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi, which had 620 respondents. The majority opposed a national urban park.
Still, with a 10-3 vote of support, the park moves to the planning process. That’s not a full approval; what it means is that council will do more fact-finding and administration will further engage the public and the feds about the feasibility of a park, from maintenance costs to boundaries. And, during the debate, councillors said that, like the gondola project which was supported through the planning process but later killed, they could also withdraw support for the national park at a later date.