Mike Nickel’s Edmonton
The outspoken candidate aims
to take his approach downtown
By Austin Schuster
OVER THE COURSE of Don Iveson’s two terms as mayor, the downtown core has seen many development projects, as gentrification was one of the main focuses.
City councillor Mike Nickel is known for being unapologetically critical of City Hall’s priorities – and now he’s out to change them, as a candidate in the upcoming municipal election.
During his term as councillor of Ward 11 (now known as Karhiio) Nickel has been a subject of much controversy.
He has been critical of municipal policies enacted by Iveson, such as bike lanes, transit fare, and photo radar – something he emphasized in his campaign rollout. Nickel has promised that he will be repealing these legislations and re-opening businesses within municipal limits during the COVID-19 pandemic. (With the election coming up in fall, it is unknown how relevant the reopening of businesses will be at that time.)
During his time as councillor, one decision Nickle vowed to push back was the industrial development of the River Valley – where city council sold 51 acres of land to Epcor last year to develop a solar farm. In his campaign platform, Nickel condemned. City Council for the sale of public land in the River Valley for commercial purposes:
“Developers will always try to shave a little here, use a little there” his statement went, “and I will always oppose development in our green spaces. This should be preserved and cherished for future generations.”
Central to his platform are plans for city administration is changing the way projects are managed from the top down. The intent is to cut excessive middle management, which slows infrastructure development, and costs an additional $50 million a year in tax dollars.
Nickel says he intends on breaking down bureaucracy within the city by “getting rid of a lot of middle management in the city.” He also plans on opening an “independent project management office,” which will work under the supervision of city council.
Nickel hopes that this two-step protocol will cut red tape and correct the issue of endless construction in the city by speeding up development.
Despite this, what Nickel has said so far can easily be applied to benefitting the downtown area, though indirectly, like speeding up construction and reducing transit fare.
Outside of enacting downstream policies that could potentially benefit the city centre, Nickel has said that he is against focusing on projects specifically for downtown, because “the suburbs need some loving.”
Nickel declined to talk to The Magpie – leaving some of the specifics of his vision for the downtown vague, though this early in the campaign, most mayoral candidates’ responses were vague at best. The one candidate we couldn’t interview was Remedy Cafe founder Michael Oshry, who has yet to announce his platform.