Erin Rutherford won one of the tightest Edmonton municipal election races of them all, defeating incumbent Bev Esslinger in Ward Anirniq by 4,728 votes to 4,455.
What did Rutherford hear from residents in the northwestern ward, most of it located north of 111th Avenue?
“In this ward, people are feeling like their concerns are falling on deaf ears,” Rutherford says. “They weren’t seeing the investments, they weren’t seeing a strong voice or a strong champion [for the area]. The voters saw in me someone who has a strong voice, but is kind and compassionate and could look at all sides.
“I definitely heard at the doors about the major investments being made in the south and not in the north.”
So, maybe we could crown Rutherford “Queen of the North?” Or is Game of Thrones just too played out, now? But, Rutherford’s advocacy for the northern reaches of Edmonton came to the fore in February. City administrators had presented a plan to further extend the LRT south, which would have kept the northward expansion from the planned Blatchford neighbourhood to Castle Downs in the “we’ll get to it down the road” category. Rutherford was vocal in her advocacy to prioritize the northern route — and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and council agreed.
“The LRT is a great example,” says Rurtherford of the north/south schism. “The northwest Metro line and LRT was supposed to be prioritzed over the south line, but then things got prioritized to the south.”
But LRT is expensive. No matter if it’s prioritized or not, it’s going to take hundreds of millions of dollars to make any expansion happen — north, south or central. East or west. Money will have to come from the feds and the province. We’ve heard it many times before; cities are extremely limited in how they can collect money. And, Rutherford is concerned that the LRT is only one item on a long list of capital projects that need to get done in order for City services to keep up with the growing population.