Turning On the TAP

New political movement looks to install "shadow" advocates in every Edmonton ward

The website launched this week, to little fanfare. The home page tells you that TAP YEG is “nearly ready.”

What is it? President Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson assures that Transparent and Active Partnerships (TAP) is not a political party. It is, however, a call to action for Edmontonians to become more engaged in the civic decision making process. You could call it a think tank, a grassroots movement, but Hansen-Carlson doesn’t want the group to be affiliated with any existing political party.

“We’re a big tent in the centre of things,” he says. “We’re not here to oust the mayor or any current councillor. We’re here for the long game.”

TAP has over 200 members. The group’s board is led by Naseem Bashir, the chairman of the Williams Engineering Group of Companies, and a former board member for Edmonton International Airport and Innovate Edmonton.

Hansen-Carlson is an Edify Top 40 Under 40 alumnus, managing director, Infrastructure development at EllisDon Capital and founder of the Edmonton Project, which put forward the gondola plan that city council halted in August of 2022.

Hansen-Carlson knows that there will be those who look at his past history with the gondola project and believe that the TAP project is the result of sour grapes. But, he said he has no wish to seek public office.

“I learned a lot during the journey with the gondola,” says Hansen-Carlson. “Really, TAP’s aims are similar to what we had when we originally started the Edmonton Project — Edmontonians have awesome ideas, and we should follow through with them.

“But, Edmonton has a precious relationship with the people at City Hall. It’s like you’re not allowed to tinker with City Hall.”

He said TAP’s goals are to build engagement with Edmontonians, to amplify their voices so they can be heard by the mayor, council and administration. He sees TAP being a “partner” to council, in helping it improve its relationship with the city.

TAP plans to install a “champion” for each ward in the city — in some cases, more than one. These people will focus on the issues and hopes for their particular neighbourhoods. Whether these people end up running for office or not will be their own decision, says Hansen-Carlson.

“What these people won’t be are the usual suspects,” says Hansen-Carlson. “The usual suspects already know that they can just simply call the mayor and he’ll respond. This is for everybody else.”

A stated goal for TAP is to increase Edmontonians’ political engagement, so that voter turnout for municipal elections tops 50 per cent. Voter turnout in the 2021 election, which saw Amarjeet Sohi elected to the mayor’s chair, was 37.6 per cent.

Hansen-Carlson says he made the final decision to take the presidency of TAP because of his daughter. She’s nine — and he wants her to make Edmonton her forever home.

“There is no doubt, there is a sense of frustration out there right now,” he says. “A lot of people are telling us that they are concerned where Edmonton is going. Right now, the city is kind of bumping around, and there is no direction. I accept that this is an experiment, and I’m not afraid of that.”