(Update: The content of this blog is not necessarily my election platform: It is a collection of thoughts, satire, and hyperbole. Oh, and we now go by the name ‘North Side Journal’)
I wanted to start a blog on urban planning issues in Edmonton. This helps me keep my writing skills fresh and gives the readers of my novels some additional material to sort through, as well as an excuse to return to the all-encompassing www.JonDziadyk.com website.
This particular post is designed as an intro to the blog series in general, although I have already produced four previous posts. So welcome, and thank you for reading.
I am trained and work as an urban planner, and thus I feel as though I have a leg up on understanding urban planning issues, even though planning is value-based and there are no objectively right or wrong answers. A recent trend in planning is to place high emphasis on public engagement for infrastructure decisions. My novella Jimmy Meets Jane Jacobs plays on this.
The community is usually right, but it is self-interested. As planners, we just have to be careful not to put words in the mouths of residents. Nothing is more disingenuous than misrepresenting public opinion. (The ‘Edmonton Insight Community’ might be treading in these dangerous waters. It is an opt-in ongoing survey used in decision making, but the respondents are far from representative of all Edmontonians… stay tuned for more on that.) Anyhow, the real challenge is to engage the community regarding local development, while still balancing the broader needs of the city.
The Blog Name
While I used to be against using hashtags unnecessarily, and I opposed the silliness of referring to Edmonton by the International Airport’s call sign (YEG), I have adopted both of these, as they have fallen into common use. Really, ‘YEG’ should refer to Leduc, because the airport is not even in Edmonton, but that can be the subject for a separate blog post. Again, I have plenty of material that I want to tackle, so keep an eye on this website, or subscribe to the blog.
All Is Planning
I truly believe that most local issues are urban-planning-related. For this reason, the #muniYEG Blog will be comprehensive. Occasionally, I will cover something slightly different. If you flip through a newspaper, you will see that most stories involve geography and land use, at least to some extent (dog parks, hospital locations, new libraries, pipelines, infill, etc.). All of this is fair game here.
One aspect of planning that I feel is not true urban planning is social planning. You’ll see that I do not treat the two as the same, ever. I feel that urban planners who do want to perform social planning (or ‘social engineering’) are not being true to urban planning. Urban planning sometimes suffers from an identity crisis, and for this reason, I feel some planners grasp at straws to broaden their authority base. For the record, I am against social engineering. Such initiatives always break more than they fix.
The identity crisis within urban planning to which I refer is that, unlike engineers and architects, there is no strict entrance requirement to become an urban planner. I happen to have a master’s degree in urban planning, but, believe me, I am no expert in the field. If someone in high school presents good arguments about LRT design or routes, I may be inclined to agree with them. Why wouldn’t I? This brings me to the debate club that I have established.
The Edmonton Social Debate Club
The debate club (still seeking members) is intended to increase the public understanding of urban planning issues, and to be able to defend and refute common urban planning ideas. I wish I had joined a debate club when I was in university, but I missed the boat on that. Since I came to Edmonton, I have tried to find a debate club for adults, but there are no options. Plus, since I am in charge of this club, I am going to put a friendly social spin on it. I want a relaxed atmosphere. I hope that the members make friends and improve their public speaking skills, and finally become better debaters, all while becoming critical of the important urban planning decisions that are going on all around them.
In summation, the #muniYEG Blog will be a catch-all. I even hope to have some guest contributors from time to time. I hope you enjoy the contents within, and if you have any topic suggestions, please feel free to reach me via the contact form embedded in the website. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe.
If you liked this, please consider reading one of my novels. I write on a variety of topics. The broad themes of my fiction include individualism versus collective thought, and the importance of culture and identity in society. I sometimes use humour as a tool. I sometimes use pity. Sit back, click, and enjoy.