Today, March 20, 2019, City Council’s Community and Public Services Committee is considering the future of Vision Zero, as well as what to do about neighbourhood speed limits. This issue will be debated next week by the whole City Council. What follows is our presentation to the committee this morning.
My name is Steve Finkelman. My wife, Jane Cardillo, and I spoke at this committee four-and-a half years ago in support of Vision Zero.
Our son, David Finkelman, was run down and killed while crossing White Avenue on a green light by a distracted driver in January 2014. David’s promising life was cut way too short. Our lives, as we knew them, were forever shattered.
We saw Vision Zero as a new and
innovative approach to calming the chaos on Edmonton’s streets,
making sure everyone else’s loved ones made it home safely.
We offered to work with the Office of
Traffic Safety. To tell our story as a way to humanize the
devastating loss suffered when someone dies or is injured on the
roads. We thought the city would need voices like ours to help
convince drivers their actions on the road have real consequences.
With more than a million dollars a year for advocacy and education,
we expected an innovative and creative campaign, one that would put
Vision Zero into the forefront of public awareness.
But it quickly became clear that was not going to happen.
Continue reading “Vision Zero should be bold, not bureaucratic”
I wrote this essay in 2016. It was my first attempt at writing since the death of my son, two years earlier.
The house is silent. CNN has been
muted. The kitchen radio and my phone are off. It’s just me and the
computer. The cursor flashes expectantly.
Don’t await greatness today, computer.
We’re in hostile territory here. Because, now, the thoughts I have so
carefully muffled behind a wall of noise are free and they want to be
I was a freelance writer until January
27, 2014. That’s the day my 27-year-old son, David, died.
And here I am, two years later, in my
office, at my desk, attempting to trick my mind into thinking I’m
working on a piece for publication.
It was my therapist’s idea. She thought
doing something that I once found satisfying might give my fractured
life some structure. So I look upon this as a homework assignment
which I will hand in to my teacher next week. I’m prepared to spend
an hour here, even if it’s just to watch the impatient pulsing of the
Continue reading “The Sounds of Silence”
I see him, this young man, moving
aimlessly through the crowded living room.
The dining table is laden with food:
cold cuts, salads, desserts. Every now and then someone picks a grape
or strawberry from an edible display, one of those decorative
arrangements that uses fruit instead of flowers.
Still, there is no shortage of flowers.
The air is thick with their scent. Birds of Paradise swan gracefully
from a crystal vase. Orchids, roses, daisies, jostle for space on any
available surface.They seem so out of place in the dark, waning days
Every few minutes the doorbell rings
with another delivery. The dog has given up barking and hunkers down
under the dining table looking miserable.
Continue reading “Ripples”
Dad and I are at home. The front door opens. You walk in. We stare in disbelief. Our hands fly to our mouths. Our breath comes out ragged.
You look at us quizzically.
“Mom? Dad?” you say, stopping uncertainly in the middle of the room.
“What happened to you? You look so…” your eyes scan our faces in disbelief. “So. Old.”
Continue reading “David comes back”
Last Sunday evening 16-year-old Chloe Wiwchar was going home after spending some time with her friends. The Grade 11 Victoria High School student had to cross Kingsway, a busy and wide arterial road in front of the Alberta Aviation Museum.
The crosswalk had been recently upgraded, with bright, high-intensity flashing solar-powered lights. They are hard to miss.
But she never made it across. A pickup truck, reportedly driven by an Edmonton corporate lawyer, ran through the crossing, killing Chloe. To make matters worse, the driver sped away, but was followed by an alert off-duty police officer and later arrested. He has been charged with a number of offences including drunk driving.
Continue reading “Why Chloe Wiwchar’s death matters”
I dance around the word like a moth circling a bright flame. From a distance, I see its beauty. But if I fly too close it will burn me.
I try to live my life with kindness. I follow as best I can the Buddhist principle of Ahimsa, the practice of doing no harm to any living thing, including yourself.
Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.
I am human. It is not always easy to be kind. It is not always easy to forgive.
Continue reading “Forgiveness”
A blast of arctic air pushes past me into the yoga studio. The sun has not yet risen, leaving those brave enough to venture out at the mercy of the ice fog and biting winds. It is January in Edmonton. The dead of winter is alive and well.
I hang up my parka, stuffing my mitts and toque into one sleeve. The snow is melting from my boots even before I pull them off. I begin to relax. This is my community. Here I can forget for just a little while what awaits me beyond these walls.
I have been coming to this space four or five times a week since January 2014. It is my refuge, my sanctuary. Here, I find peace from the ever-present reality that my son, David, is dead.
Continue reading “Yoga Breaths”
Holidays and celebrations are particularly difficult for people grieving the loss of a loved one. When our son, David Finkelman, was killed at the age of 27, our lives changed forever. This is an excerpt from my diary. I refer to David’s girlfriend as “M.”
Wednesday, February 14, 2018:
Valentine’s Day. We were hit by freezing rain overnight. This morning, I inched along behind the dog, my crampons all but useless on the smooth, glassy streets.
The snow danced wildly around me, whipped into a frenzy by the north wind. I was blinded by a veil of whiteness. Blinded by the white. Blinded by the light.
Valentine’s Day. Suddenly, I was remembering Valentine’s Day 2014. It came just weeks after David was struck and killed in a crosswalk. The bleakest of times. We were zombies, moving through a world we no longer recognized. Blinded by the darkness.
Continue reading “Valentine’s Day 2018”
Tuesday, September 6, 2016:
I have been frozen for weeks. Unable to write more than a handful of words.
It began with David’s boots. The shiny, black leather boots that laced up his ankles. He was fastidious with those boots, always polishing them, buffing them, to a high luster.
He had them on the day he was killed. The police returned them to us in a hospital-issue plastic bag. Continue reading “David’s Boots”
“Just the facts, ma’am.” The famous line attributed to the 60s TV show detective Sgt. Joe Friday was aimed at cutting through the investigative clutter. We could use Friday’s no-nonsense character today as we search for the truth about photo radar, speeding and how to make our roads safer.
Recently, such prominent people as Edmonton’s police chief, Rod Knecht, have waded into the debate. He told reporters, apparently without being asked, that he would favour an increase in the posted speed along Anthony Henday Road from 100 km/h to 110 km/h. He said it was his personal opinion that the safety of the route would not be compromised because people already drive that speed.
Within days, Alberta’s Transportation Minister, Brian Mason, waded into the fray announcing a government review of photo radar, to ensure it was not being used as a “cash cow” by municipalities.
Continue reading “Let’s talk facts, not opinion, on photo radar”