A longtime Fort Rouge resident is hoping his neighbours will elect him to represent their interests at City Hall.
Jeff Palmer, 47, is running for city council in the Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Ward. The city planner and father of two from Riverview said the timing was right to put his name forward for consideration.
"I’ve always been interested in city politics," Palmer said. "City planners are, I think, political by nature. City planning isn’t a rational exercise. There’s no one answer to the question.
"The answers depend on evaluating all the different questions that come to the table and considering people’s values and opinions and perspectives, and that’s a political process."
Palmer is a partner in Catapult Community Planning, a local consulting firm that has been involved in affordable housing projects and neighbourhood revitalization initiatives, and he has sat on the boards of the Westminster Housing Society (a registered charity working in the West Broadway neighbourhood), the Performing Arts Lodge, Storefront Manitoba and the Canadian Institute of Planners.
After more than a decade working on development projects in the city, and seeing first-hand the barriers to establishing affordable housing, Palmer thought taking his talents to the council chamber may have greater effect.
"I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about what I would do if I was on the other side of the table," Palmer said.
"I think that City Hall needs a city planner. I think that I have a good understanding of the issues in the neighbourhood because I’ve lived here for 18 years and I have these conversations with my neighbours every day."
Palmer, who has been canvassing the community in his fuschia Boler, said within Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry residents have expressed concern over infill development and unchecked property decay and vacancies — such as the Rubin Block in South Osborne — as well as crime and safety in the community.
While Palmer said there is no single answer to address crime and drug use in the community, the solution is a mix of policing and prevention. Palmer said supporting local organizations that provide food security, affordable housing, and community programming is one way to deter people from engaging criminal behaviour.
Palmer is also supportive of infill development, in principle, and believes compactly built neighbourhoods will have an overall positive impact on the city and taxpayers.
"We can’t continue to grow at the fringe of our city. It’s not economically sustainable, it’s not environmentally sustainable. We need to build so that people can easily get between communities by bike, by walk," he added.
"Generally speaking, I’d like to have more of an environmental focus on our city’s activities."
He said it’s also possible to reopen the City’s derelict buildings bylaw and current neighbourhood planning policies to address concerns about development, transparency and process.
"I think it makes sense to try and revisit those discussions. They’re never easy conversations to have and they’re time consuming, but they’re also very important," Palmer said.
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