Ashley is a doer and has never sat on the sidelines. She has been active at the municipal level long before she decided to run for office.
She has worked with Alberta Municipal Affairs, the University of Alberta’s Office of Sustainability, the City of Waterloo & World Health Organization's Age Friendly Cities Initiative, and Abundant Community Edmonton. She's self-employed as the Founder and President of YEGarden Suites, which has driven over $15 million of investment into our mature neighbourhoods.
Ashley has served on the Board of Directors at the Edmonton Social Planning Council, Old Strathcona Business Association, Infill Development in Edmonton Association, and on the Street Speeds Committee with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, and the Secondary Suites Committee with CHBA.
Upon completion of her degree, Ashley founded YEGarden Suites as a direct response to community need. YEGarden Suites is Canada's only independent non-profit devoted to helping homeowners build garden suites (backyard homes).
YEGarden Suites was started off of a $15 booking at the Highland's Library and has since driven over $15 million dollars of investment into our mature neighbourhoods, opened the door to more affordable, family-friendly housing, and eliminated regulatory red tape to help create healthy, walkable, complete communities.
It helps seniors age in place, young families afford homeownership and our city grow in more efficient, sustainable, and cost effective ways.
While building YEGarden Suites, Ashley concurrently completed a Masters Degree in Urban Planning. She has worked in the public, private & non-profit sectors on age-friendly cities, seniors issues, multiculturalism & inclusion, affordable housing, and economic development.
What steps do you believe are necessary for Edmonton to achieve balanced growth between greenfield and infill development as outlined in the City Plan?
Increased flexibility and a level the playing field are foundational to balancing our growth. We must ensure that the business environment is competitive, consistent, and collaborative. Steps towards this objective are possible through major policy reforms such as the Zoning Bylaw Renewal, District Planning, the Growth Management Framework, and a number of other process and permitting improvements.
How will you support Edmonton’s competitive advantage and market affordable housing? How do you see fees, levies, taxes and municipal cost control playing a role in housing affordability? Note: CHBA-ER refers to “market affordable housing” as housing that is market priced and meets the general requirements of affordability based on household income. Market affordable housing may include market rental housing and market home ownership.
Ensuring that Edmontonians can access a high quality of life and low cost of living will be paramount to our competitiveness and our success in the coming years. Fees, levies, taxes, municipal costs, and delays pass through developers to residents and influence the cost of housing. Where the City is implementing these additional costs, we need to ensure they actually reflect an increase in value or service for residents and developers, and are not simply red-tape making housing more inaccessible and unaffordable.
What steps do you believe are necessary to reduce red tape and support business investment in the residential construction industry?
The next council will be presented with a once in a generation opportunity to reduce red tape and support business investment in residential construction. Embedding flexibility in our Zoning Bylaw Renewal must be the top priority for any candidate. In conjunction with changes to our zoning bylaw, district planning and the growth management framework should be aligned with infrastructure improvements to advance the growth of our nodes and corridors. In a general sense, permitting times must be improved. Beyond that, reliable and respectful builders with good track records should have access to fast permitting times, through the expansion of programs like the Expedited Infill Pilot Program.
Do you support welcoming a diversity of housing types throughout Edmonton?
Absolutely, a diverse housing supply is essential for a competitive city that offers a high quality of life to residents of all incomes. Over the past 6 years, as the co-founder of YEGarden Suites, I have actively demonstrated my support for diverse housing types as a stakeholder and supported many changes on the Infill Roadmap, Missing Middle Housing Review, and the omnibus changes in 2020. Homebuilders in suburban contexts have had access to great forms of housing such as row-housing in many locations, whereas these forms have been functionally illegal through restrictions in our zoning bylaw. I'd like to bring more diverse housing to Ward Métis so that we can improve on our ability to deliver affordable and accessible housing throughout the ward.
How do you envision City Council expanding infrastructure capacity to support future development as outlined in the City Plan?
The growth management framework, district planning, neighbourhood renewal and alleyway renewal must be aligned to ensure we can efficiently make upgrades in line with the goals in the City Plan. The prioritization and timing of upgrades should be planned to prevent repetition and waste.
Do you support the goals of the Community Energy Transition Strategy? How do you envision the City of Edmonton achieving these goals?
I firmly support taking action on climate change and the goals of the Community Energy Transition Strategy. I have degrees in Urban Planning and Sustainability, and I am endorsed by the co-chair of the Energy Transition and Climate Resiliency Committee of Council, Shafraaz Kaba. Land-use and transportation are incredibly important. I look forward to bringing my expertise and actively collaborating with industry and community on this file. There are more than 100 actions in the strategy, many of which are not related to the homebuilding industry but are addressed in my platform, but a few key actions relate strongly to the work of CHBA.
2.2 Provide incentives for new construction to build above Building Code. Incentives will be performance based and increase as follows: 2022 Tier 1; 2025 Tier 2; and 2028 Tier 3. The industry advisory group will provide ongoing advice on the incentives.
2.7 - Accelerate and expand existing building retrofit programs to provide incentives to improve energy efficiency in existing homes and commercial buildings.
2.8 - Continue offering voluntary energy labelling and disclosure programs that include financial and nonfinancial incentives.
2.11 Encourage voluntary reporting of embodied carbon emissions in new construction.
2.12 - Continue to apply energy efficiency criteria as part of the affordable housing grant program, and establish incentives for energy efficient/emission neutral affordable housing, reducing energy costs and increasing total affordability.
2.13 - Pilot a home renovation program designed to address energy poverty and implement income-based programs to help residents living in energy poverty make their homes more energy efficient, access renewable energy and realize benefits of energy transition.
2.14 - Forecast, track and report on energy poverty while collaborating with existing poverty reduction initiatives to lessen energy burden in Edmonton.
3.2 - Implement regulatory and policy changes to enable sustainable and resilient development;
3.4 - Create district plans that enable low carbon and climate resilient communities
5.17 - The City hosts a pilot Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), which provides residential and commercial property owners with access to long-term financing for energy efficiency upgrades and/or renewable energy installations. Repayment is made via the property tax system. Explore if the program can include new construction.
5.20 - Develop and implement financing tools and incentives to advance priority growth areas as part of the growth management framework to support compact and efficient built form.
I know that each and every item in this list will require diligence, careful consideration, consultation, and iteration. The Energy Transition Strategy will be implemented in partnership with industry and community, not from the top down, and we can only achieve success if we work together. My past experience working between industry, community, and government demonstrates that I have the ability to collaborate and achieve success in this role.
Is there anything about your platform that you think CHBA-ER members should know?
My industry experience working with the Canadian Homebuilders Association means I am in tune with the challenges faced by builders in our City, and I view collaboration with homebuilders as an essential component of delivering on our shared goals to become a more sustainable, equitable, and competitive city.
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