'Thriving and vibrant': Mayoral candidates throw final pitches to improve downtown

The frontrunner candidates for mayor all agree downtown Edmonton still needs work as they placed bets on how best to improve the core in the final week before the vote.

“I just can’t imagine a thriving Edmonton without a thriving and vibrant downtown,” candidate Amarjeet Sohi said.

Sohi wants to make sure every citizen has a park within a 10-minute walk. He‘s also proposing designating the river valley as an urban national park, and pitching a plan to activate unused space in the core.

“Festivals are so critical, that’s why animating our back alleys and empty parking lots are so critical, and that’s why safety is so critical,” he said.

Candidate Mike Nickel stirred controversy early in his campaign by issuing a “downtown travel advisory.” He insists downtown is not as safe as it should be.

“Everyone knows that if you’re downtown, you have to watch out. If you don’t have safety, you can’t have a marketplace, if you don’t have a marketplace you can’t do business,” he said.

Candidate Kim Krushell released a plan to reduce the concentration of supervised injection sites north of downtown and believes red tape for businesses is also hurting the core.

“One of the things that I would do is obviously reduce on the permitting side so that businesses can have more outdoor space options,” she promised.

Krushell supports a day pass for downtown attractions like the museum, art gallery and theatres to help increase traffic and vibrancy.

That’s the goal of candidate Cheryll Watson’s “central business neighbourhood” concept - which offers public WiFi, phone charging stations, and free transit downtown.

“Without a thriving downtown, and its enormous impact to the entire region and province, we are in for years of economic hardships, and we risk losing the incredible gains we’ve made in developing our city core,” her website read.

Candidate Micheal Oshry supports the $5 million “downtown vibrancy strategy” the outgoing council passed in June and he wants to redevelop the Rossdale Power Plant.

“I think we need to have a meeting place in the heart of the city where people can have a glass of wine or a coffee in the river valley and do something cool with that building,” he proposed.

Edmonton’s election is on Monday, Oct. 18.

A complete list of candidates for mayor is available on the City of Edmonton website.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson