Sunday, July 30, 2017

Who is Jon Wieler?

Hey everyone,


I recently announced that I am running for city council and I am grateful for the outpouring of support that I have received! People are asking for lawn signs and sharing content on social media about my campaign. Just this last week my FaceBook Page soared to over 500 likes!

With all the momentum building for my campaign I want to write a little about my background so that you can get to know me better. I have always remarked, during election season, how it feels empty to just vote for a name on an election sign that I see as I drive by. So I feel that it is very important for me to be as transparent as I can be. But I have to admit up front, it is a little out of my comfort zone.

My late brother Isaac was severely autistic and never spoke a word in his life. My family moved to Red Deer in the late 90s because there were better services available for him here. While it's easy to fall through the cracks, I can say from personal experience that there are many people in our city doing great things to help families like mine. My brother died almost a decade ago but he is still in my heart. I see him when I talk to a senior citizen who is living in poverty and I look into his eyes when I pass a homeless person on the street.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; as much as the average person who has no personal experience with developmental disabilities wants one. It takes compassion, empathy and patience to make a positive difference for someone like my brother. My experience growing up with Isaac helps me to understand the bigger picture of mental health and social justice in our community. I am constantly looking to understand how everything is connected and where an innovative solution may be found. Closely related are issues around seniors care, affordable housing, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and housing first. These are issues that I am passionate about because I feel I can relate to them.


I have been very privileged to grow up in Red Deer. I went to Hunting Hills High School and Red Deer College. As I was growing up so was this city; the population effectively doubled in the years since I was in middle school. I know now that the boom was because of our thriving oil and gas industry. People came from all across Canada to our province and many landed in Red Deer.

I have effectively made a living in the oil and gas industry. I say effectively because, as we all know, it ebbs and flows. The boom years seem like they'll never end and the recession hurts badly. But Red Deer has pushed through it. I've been laid off from high paying oil patch jobs and had to make personal sacrifices. I deeply understand how important it is for the citizens of our community to get the best value for their tax dollars. I also know that it is imprudent to plan for 20 more years of growth based on a booming oilfield that may or may not come through for us. As a city we must live within our means and save for the future.

I started my oilfield career as a roughneck on a service rig. I worked until they shut us down in -49C. I worked in the snow and mud. I have been covered head-to-toe in oil. I've been as far north as Rainbow Lake and as far south as Brooks. To the west I worked 97 days straight on a rig in Hudson's Hope, BC and to the east I've drilled for oil near the USA boarder in Manitoba. I know what it's like to work hard and I have done it all so that my family can have a good life.


With all that said, I am an environmentalist and who better to lay claim to that title than an oilfield worker. I am very fond of that place where all my air, water and food comes from. I have seen environmental catastrophes covered up and I have seen vast landscapes degraded. But there is reason to be optimistic. Attitudes are changing, technology is improving and our industry has made leaps and bounds when it comes to taking environmental issues seriously. I see programs in our city such as organic waste collection and efforts to conserve water and energy making the impact our city has on the environment less severe.

I am very bullish on emerging technologies such as solar panels and battery storage. It is very quickly becoming a reality that the way we generate and use energy is going to shift. I have looked into solar for my own house and it is very close to making economic sense. Without rebates and incentives I can get a net zero system that will pay for itself in under a decade. I suspect that in a few years we will see mass adoption of this technology and our city will have to adapt, quickly. However in the meantime the biggest gains for the environment and the wallet will come from energy conservation and efficiency strategies; which are largely behavioural changes and building upgrades.


Red Deer is the city that I grew up in and this is where I choose to raise my family and run my business, Bullseye Safety Training. I have 4 wonderful kids and a loving wife. I have personal vested interest in seeing this community continue to prosper and my success is your success. We have a lot going for us here. We need both a steady hand at the wheel and a long view for the way forward.


This summer I will be out door knocking and meeting as many Red Deerians as possible and I would love to hear from you!


Let's go for coffee!


Please feel free to email me (jonwieler@icloud.com) or contact me on social media; just search for "Wieler4RD" on most platforms or use the hashtag #CoffeeWithWieler.


Cheers,


I invite you to support my campaign:




Thank you!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Jon Wieler For City Council, Why?

Hey everyone,

I am announcing that I am running for Red Deer City Council and I want to hear from you! Over the last 4 years I have made a huge effort to demonstrate community leadership by speaking out on important issues. I have been writing a blog and making YouTube videos about the issues that concern my fellow citizens and I am grateful for all of your support!

I am especially grateful to have been challenged along the way to check my assumptions and learn new ways of thinking about solutions. I have come to realize that solutions aren’t found in rigid ideology but that we are well served by an open minded, collaborative approach. That is what I will bring to the table when I am elected. I have a proven track record of mindfully engaging people both on social media and in the community.

I grew up in Red Deer. I graduated from Hunting Hills and went to RDC. I have worked in the oil and gas industry for over a decade. Now, I am an Enform safety instructor. My wife Krystal and I own and operate Bullseye Safety Training. I am a family man and Red Deer is the community where I am raising my kids and I want them to be happy, healthy, safe and to have opportunity. Our city is a really good place to raise a family and I am proud to live here. I want to give back to our community by serving on council and working to ensure that our city continues to be a vibrant and prosperous place to live.


As a family man who made a career in the oil and gas industry, I understand the struggles that many have faced during the economic downturn. That's why it is very important that we focus on getting the best value for our tax dollars while maintaining our high standard of public services. I am happy when I see our city investing in things that will improve our quality of life and make Red Deer a place where people love to live and want to stay. We can do this by continuing to strategically save money for future amenities and by maintaining fiscally responsible tax rates. When I’m a city councillor I will insist on maximizing efficiencies in the system so that we can pass those savings onto the citizens of Red Deer.

Crime is also a serious concern in our community. I’ve spoken with many people and heard stories about businesses being broken into, vehicles being stolen and drug needles laying on the streets; there’s a lot that we need to clean up in this city. With that said, some of the best minds have come together over the last few years to figure out what we can do and there are some very feasible, evidence based solutions being put forward. When I’m a councillor I will be committed to making Red Deer safer by implementing these solutions and putting action behind our words.

The environment is also a concern that I share with many Red Deerians. Climate change adaptation needs to be the foundation of all of our plans going forward. We will be well served to consistently consider this question: “How will this move us towards our environmental goals?”. As our city grows we will be using more water from our river, we will be using more energy and we will looking for new ways to manage waste. We have an amazing opportunity to make Red Deer truly environmentally sustainable. When I am councillor I will be committed to implementing solutions that will protect and restore our environment.

The first question people ask is why am I running. To put it briefly, I am committed to getting the best value for our tax dollars, to putting crime prevention strategies into action and to making Red Deer truly environmentally sustainable. But, who is against those things? I’m sure every candidate will also say the same. I am committed to rising above the rhetoric and that’s why I need your help.

What do you suggest we do to make our city run more efficiently so we can get the best value for our tax dollars?

What do you suggest we do to prevent crime and make our community safer?

What do you suggest we do to make our city more environmentally sustainable?

Let's go for coffee!

Please feel free to email me (jonwieler@icloud.com) or contact me on social media; just search for Wieler4RD on most platforms or use the hashtag #CoffeeWithWieler.

Cheers,


I invite you to support my campaign:



Thank you!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Speed on Green?

Hey everyone,

As of August 11 the intersections in our city that currently have red light cameras will also now have the ability to issue tickets for speeding through them on green lights

What do you think of this? 
Could we frame this discussion as a speeders tax or a fee-to-speed? Perhaps. 

But either way let's not fool ourselves; these cameras are only marginally effective at making our roads safer. As soon as drivers learn where these cameras are they slow down temporarily and then they defiantly speed up again as soon as they're out of range. So, yes, these cameras probably do make specific intersections safer. But on the other hand I suspect the gains might be lost if drivers are dangerously slamming on their brakes to avoid having their picture taken as soon as they catch a glimpse of the camera as they speed by. I suppose the data will bear out the fact of the matter. My mind will remain open. 

Also, while the focus on catching speeders does give us a good feeling of accomplishment, the question remains; how do we address the other major factors such as distracted and impaired driving? I hear Police ride the bus in some cities and call in distracted drivers they see through the window as they cruise around the city. But that's a whole other topic. 

One thing that has worked well is installing timers at many intersections around our city. I really like how I can see from a distance that I have enough time to safely slow down and stop. So I'd like to put it forward that, if we must have speed-on-green cameras then we should use the money to pay for things like timers at intersections and other things that improve traffic safety.

I also wonder if we should be having the conversation about timing traffic lights better? "Red-Light-Deer" is a social media meme which is growing in popularity. So the bigger picture question here is how can we make traffic flow better in our city?

Lastly, another discussion that we should be having is how to improve safety in our school zones. Since we know that traffic cameras only temporarily slow drivers down and we also know that many drivers are unwilling to temporarily slow down near schools, it seems like there is an obvious solution to the problem, let's put traffic cameras in school zones. Can we do that? Call it a cash grab, sure, just please don't run my kids over. The scariest thing to a parent is a speeding car in school zone!

With all of that said, the reality is that we can't legislate the sort of cultural change that needs to happen. I recently became a defensive driving instructor and this is something that I talk about a lot. People need to obey the rules of the road not because they're afraid of getting a ticket but because they care about their own safety and respect the safety and well-being of everyone else in their community. This is the ultimate way to be proactive when it comes to road safety. It starts with you and the attitude that you choose to have when you get behind the wheel.

Cheers,

Monday, December 12, 2016

Riverlands Redevelopment

Hey everyone,

I know it is still a decade or two from realization but I am seriously excited about the Riverlands redevelopment! I have to say thank you to all the urban planners and to our city council for putting together such a wonderful vision of this part of our downtown. The new redevelopment plan for this area was recently approved and I just finished reading through it. I am very impressed!

Few communities ever get a chance to fully redevelop ⅓ of their downtown. This is an amazing opportunity. I think about where we came from and how it wasn’t that long ago when the train tracks came down Taylor Drive to where McDonalds is today. Then I think about where we are going and how this area will be a shining example of sustainable urban development which will balance environmental integration, human scale density and mobility optimization into a world class urban district. There are too many exciting things to share in one post but let me name a few.

The intersection of 48th St (Alexander Way) and Taylor Drive fully opens up the Riverlands and does so in a way that balances all mobility options from biking, walking and public transit to driving. Alexander Way is well on its way to becoming a complete street, meaning it will enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel for all users regardless of their mode of transportation. In the future this street will become a landmark of our city which will have exciting culture and substantial economic output.

There will be many 4-6 story buildings in this area and potentially there will be 12 story buildings along the Taylor Drive boundary. One of the larger buildings could be a premier hotel conference centre and performing arts venue. This shift in planning and design will set a new precedent and start a trend of urban renewal for the rest of our downtown and our city as a whole. As our city grows it will be an option for more people to choose to live downtown and enjoy amenities that are within walking distance.

Then there is the plan for a Riverwalk and a pedestrian bridge to Bower Ponds. This will be the crown jewel of the Riverlands. There will be patios and park benches, walking paths and unique storefronts. From the Taylor bridge southwards there will be a world class pedestrian walkway that will be the pride of our city. Sporting and cultural events at Bower Ponds will be easily accessed from the Riverlands thereby creating a valuable synergy between the two spaces.

There are many other things that impress me, such as:

-Parking requirements that include provision for bicycle storage.
-Pedestrian walkways that are required “to connect all adjacent buildings, trails, walkways” etc.
-“Underground parking strongly encouraged”.
-“Drive thrus are not allowed”.
-Live/Work developments; a business owner can work on the main floor & live on the 2nd floor.
-Rooftop terraces and green roofs that can be used for active of passive recreation.
-Minimizing blank walls and encouraging public art.
-Encouraging the use of crime prevention through environmental design principles (CPTED).

With all this said, I am a bit disappointed that the plans to fully build the riverwalk and the pedestrian bridge are still more than a decade off in the horizon. I understand why and I commend our city for not loading up on debt and for not pushing through just another a cookie cutter business as usual design for this unique area. But I also know that when the bridge is eventually built it will stimulate a virtuous cycle of investment and growth. In the meantime, I’m not sure if the area will attract the caliber of private development that is desired before the city is fully invested in this plan. What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this. I am on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Cheers,


------------------------------------------------------

Have you walked down Alexander Way lately? A lot has changed since I made a video about it but it is still quite relevant.


Did you know that there is a really cool building that has a rooftop terrace in our downtown? Check out this video tour I recently made of it called Green Roof.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hazlett Lake

Hey everyone,

What is the biggest lake in Red Deer? You guessed it, Hazlett Lake! It’s right there, just north of HWY 11A. Plans to develop this area are in the works as we speak. It has been projected that over the next 20 years or so this area will become home to about 20,000+ new Red Deerians.

Hazlett lake has the potential to be the great equalizer for our city. Let's be honest, over the years, the south side of the river has gotten most of the attention. To put it lightly, there is a split in our city that is cultural as well as geographical. The natural barrier of the river need not demarcate where our city invests and how our city grows.

So, let’s talk about the potential of this area. My first thought is that there could be a high school near Hazlett Lake. This would service the growing north side of Red Deer. Also, there is potential to benefit the county and nearby communities by partnering and sharing resources. Maybe Blackfalds would benefit from this?

There could be a recreation centre near Hazlett Lake that would bring the same level of service to the residents of Johnstone and Kentwood as people in Inglewood and Anders receive. On a side note, I say LEAVE the downtown recreation centre as it is, don't go ahead with plans to build a giant aquatic centre on the park behind the current outdoor pool. That park has immense value to our downtown and we need to preserve natural assets like that.

As another side note if Camrose can do it, Red Deer can do it as well, when we build a new aquatic centre it should have solar panels on its roof. It’ll save money and lower our carbon footprint. Win! Win! But that's another conversation.

The road that will eventually be built to better connect North and South will open up the entire region north of HWY 11A. But we need to be cautious to not design for urban sprawl. We need to balance all mobility options upfront so that we’re not trying to retrofit in bike lanes and jam in busses after-the-fact. We really have the potential to design a mobility efficient neighbourhood that is pleasant and safe to walk, bike, ride the bus and/or drive in. As you know I am a huge fan of walkability, I made a 10 part video series about walking in Red Deer. Check them out and you’ll see what I mean. (YouTube: Wieler4RD).

Hazlett Lake is an environmental asset that we need to protect and enhance. As we develop this area we would be well served to do so in a way that restores this delicate wetland and preserves it for the future. There needs to be sufficient buffer space between roads and buildings and the waters edge. Runoff needs to be managed so that there isn't contamination and erosion problems. Wildlife habitat needs to be taken into consideration.

Environmental challenges aside there will be other obstacles. Road access will be one of the biggest as there are only 2 major access points; one straight through Taylor Drive and the other off HWY 2A near Precision Drilling. So it will be even more important to make this area sufficiently walkable and balance all mobility options so we don’t create a traffic jam dystopia.

Another challenge is emergency services, especially to the area across the river from the golf course to the North East, as there will only be one way in and emergency response times will be stretched. One way to overcome this is to design for sufficient density in this area and create a sustainable tax base to meet the required level of service. Another way, perhaps better, is to design for minimal density and not make emergency access to the North East corner an issue to begin with.

Hazlett lake in terms of environmental and social capital could rival what we Red Deerians love so much about our river valley. Let’s build on the success of the past and place the same standards of environmental and social sustainability into our plans to develop Hazlett lake that we put into natural assets like Heritage Ranch and Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all this. Twitter works great (@Wieler4RD) and Facebook too, or let’s have coffee!

Cheers,


For more info see: North Of 11A Major Area Structure Plan