Cody Bondarchuk is not running to uphold the status quo – he is running to bring the big bold progressive change Edmonton needs in the areas of housing, community development, mobility, public safety and other issues that affect the residents of north Edmonton. He is an advocate, writer and community leader. LCCMedia is grateful to Cody for taking the time to answer these questions.
Tell us about you?
I am a lifelong resident of north Edmonton, having grown up in Lorelei and now living in Baturyn. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Alberta, and have had the opportunity to wear many hats in my career and through volunteer opportunities: I am a writer, an advocate, a former community league president, a non-profit CFO, and most recently a constituency manager for an MLA, where I helped people access government services and worked with communities to advance their priorities.
I have been interested in politics and governance since I was young, and still see it as the way to address the problems we face in society. I know many people have become frustrated with how politics operates – I have too – but I believe in the power of people and the importance of municipal governance to ensure decisions can be made honestly and ethically that are reflective of the entire community.
What are your super power/s in respect to the position you are seeking? How are you prepared for the mandate you are seeking?
I am confident in my ability to persuade and collaborate with communities to move policies forward. I like to dream big but also have the skills to ensure those big ideas become reality. A piece of advice my mother gave me when I became President of the Lorelei-Beaumaris Community League was to do the work well in advance of decisions having to be made, to allow for enough time to convince others of your ideas and plans. You should walk into meetings knowing the vote for your initiative will succeed, because you’ve laid the groundwork in the weeks and months beforehand to get everyone on the same page.
Do you find time to read? May I ask what the last book you read was?
I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, being out in the community every day talking to voters. But I do try to read every evening. Most recently, I’ve been chipping away at Huda Fahmy’s Yes, I’m Hot in This, a light-hearted collection of comics about the author’s experience as a hijabi woman in America.
What are your climate priorities?
Our climate and world are changing, and we have a responsibility to keep up with environmental innovation not only to survive, but to prosper. Edmonton has the potential to be a world leader in the transformation to a resilient green economy while creating well-paying jobs in emerging industries. While addressing climate change is a shared priority among all orders of government, there is a lot Edmonton can do as a city to lead the way: expanding opportunities and funding for residential energy efficiency development, supporting a worker-led energy transition, and exploring natural and low-maintenance plant growth in non-recreational green spaces are some of the priorities I’ve identified and put into my platform. Keeping the status quo will cost us more than change will. My full policy on climate and the environment can be found at https://codybondarchuk.ca/
Can you describe the Edmonton you see?
My parents taught me to work hard and dream big, and in many ways I think that reflects the spirit of Edmonton. The people who live, work, and play in our city are the driving force behind everything that makes Edmonton great – innovation, diversity, compassion, and resilience.
What kind of business barriers will you eliminate at Council?
The most common concern I hear from local business owners in Ward tastawiyiniwak is the onerous process of seeking business permits and licences. While some paperwork is inevitable, the city must make the process easier to streamline approvals and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in Edmonton.
Businesses need support to get going after the pandemic. What will you do for businesses?
There are excellent programs underway through city-funded corporations like Edmonton Global and Innovate Edmonton, and those must be maintained and supported. Attracting new and emerging industries to our city will give us a significant advantage in the rebuilding period when the pandemic ends, as well as address Edmonton’s unemployment rate (currently above the national average).
Units within the city that are responsible for business development and support must also be able to adapt to future global events that may impact businesses. The provincial government rolled out a program earlier this year that provided funding to local business owners for converting to digital sales and virtual marketplaces – supports like these can be developed very quickly, and while no one wants to experience another pandemic or similar event in our lifetimes, we have to be ready if the worst happens to quickly enact supports to keep businesses operating.
Homelessness and drug addiction are big problems for Edmonton and your ward.. what are your strategies to solve these problems?
I fully believe in the Housing First model of support for addressing chronic housing insecurity. Guaranteeing permanent supportive housing as a first step is not only proven to work, but costs less over time. Emergency services like shelters must always be funded and available for people in crisis, but do not help people who have been houseless for years. Once someone has a roof over their heads they can begin working with other forms of support to address the root causes of their housing insecurity, with the goal of eliminating chronic houselessness in its entirety. My full policy on addressing houselessness can be found at https://codybondarchuk.ca/
Addiction and the recent spike in overdoses, like any health crisis, must be taken seriously by the community and addressed proactively. The recent change in strategy by the provincial government to essentially require sobriety as a condition of getting help is backwards and will not work – people are deserving of support and care regardless of whether they are in active addiction or recovery. The reality is, people will use drugs for many different reasons, and will continue to do so whether there are safe and controlled places to use or not, so we must be there with supports like safe use sites and programs for recovery if a person chooses. Recovery supports must also be available to those outside programs, as addiction is not limited to people experiencing housing insecurity – invisible addiction is becoming more common, and can be experienced by our family, friends, and neighbours.
How will you foster inclusiveness at City Council?
Many people have felt unincluded at all levels of government for a long time. In many ways, they do not see their experiences reflected in those elected to represent them. While diversity in governance has been improving recently, there is still more to do. As a candidate from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, I would be honoured to represent the community on city council, as there have been so few queer councillors elected in Edmonton’s history. Only by having as many experiences represented at the table as possible can we truly work for all Edmontonians.