With a multitude of dawn to dusk meetings, events, parades, media interviews, proclamations, downtown core redevelopment and chief magistrate to a million people, there is no doubt Mayor Don Iveson is on the of the busiest men in Western Canada.
Back in October 2013, Edmonton was swept up with Iveson-mania. During the municipal election, Iveson – a city councilor since 2007 – picked up 61.88% of the vote, the largest margin for a mayor in recent Edmonton history. His two closest competitors, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte only received 19.4% and 15.5% respectively. During his term as councilor, it became clear to many that he worked hard, was smart, young and vibrant and that he believed Edmonton could be a world-class city.
But being a councilor and being the mayor bring very different responsibilities, including an already-bursting schedule exploding into a full-blown Blackberry meltdown. So, we wanted to know. How does Don Iveson maintain fitness, health and sanity?
When speaking to the mayor, it is clear that family is not just a main priority, but spending time with them in invigorating and family is a huge part of how he maintains general wellness and focus.
“My children take weekly art classes downtown and they always drop by afterwards. Seeing them makes for a rejuvenating midday break. I try to make it home in time to put them to bed but, as mayor, that is not always possible every night. In addition, I have a supportive team in the office that is protective of my well-being.
“It is a matter of making time, no different than other busy families in Edmonton. As mayor, my days are taken up by meetings and events but I try to see my children before they get to sleep most nights. Playing with them or tucking them in is a wonderful time to catch up with each other. Making time to read to my kids, when I can, is very important to me,” says Iveson.
With such a hectic schedule between the demanding duties of being a mayor, father and husband, Iveson still manages to maintain a healthy balance between work and exercise.
“I try to eat properly for starters, since that’s they thing I have the most control over” says Iveson.
Due to some previous injuries in some car accidents, pumping iron isn’t a great option for Iveson. Instead he carves out time for pilates once or twice a week for core strength and flexibility, which helps heal those past injuries and his prolonged sitting at work. When his schedule allows for it, he treasures being able to ride his bike to work, even in the winter.
“It is such a different but invigorating way to experience the commute to work” says Iveson. “I try to ride my bike whenever possible. I also take the LRT where I can catch up with work before I get to the office. AS mayor, a typical day requires me to be at functions across town, which unfortunately means I drive more now than in my days as councilor.”
That passion for cycling was evident when Mayor Iveson was a Ward 5 councilor as he tirelessly championed for better relationships between riders and motorists. Now that he is mayor, that cause, along with his other passion of improved public transportation, are two of many that he can champion further.
“Building quality cycling infrastructure is still on the agenda. Providing Edmontonians with choice when it comes to transportation is a priority for City Council and cycling is one part of that plan. We are also investing in light-rail transit, improving the city’s walkability, and expanding and renewing out road infrastructure.
“It is about making choices available to Edmontonians. We heard from citizens that they would like to see improved cycling infrastructure in the cure area where cycling is already popular, “ says Iveson.
In response to that feedback, public meetings are in the process of being held, including one in June where discussions focused on major bike routes in Old Strathcona and downtown. Iveson says that the City is also looking at higher-quality cycling infrastructure, including protected bike lanes where there is a physical barrier between motorists and cyclists.
“We have heard from cyclists and motorists that this is the kind of infrastructure they would like to see in the city and we are moving forward with exploring that suggestion,” says Iveson. “We are restarting that conversation and I encourage all citizens, including cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, to get involved.”
“Providing Edmontonians with choice when it comes to transportation is a priority for City Council”
As for the general health of Canadians, Iveson says he is concerned about rising rates of obesity and diabetes, and other illness that correspond to sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition.
“It’s a risk to our productivity and competitiveness, and jeopardizes the cost-effectiveness of our public healthcare system. As a municipal leader, I think we have a role to play in supporting active lifestyles through our parks, recreation centres as well as our “active transportation” network for cyclists and pedestrians. Even making an urban shift towards more walkable transit-oriented development will help. Connecting community gardens and local food to good nutrition is also critical, and the City plays a role here too,” says Iveson.
Even though Edmonton has a ton of great winter and summer activities readily available, we asked the mayor what is Edmonton’s most under-utilized gem for staying active?
“Our North Saskatchewan river valley, North America’s largest urban park, comes with 160 km of trails and 20 major parks. It truly is a year-round destination, where you can ski, fish, toboggan, Segway, golf, bird watch, run, walk, bike and so much more,” says Iveson.
Find Your Fit in Edmonton
- Two new recreation centres come online this fall which offer state-of-the-art facilities and a wide range of exercise amenities. Both The Meadows and Clareview centres are part of an 18-facility citywide network that offers 300-plus drop-in programs staffed by fitness professionals. Free access is available for qualifying low-income Edmontonians to these facilities; details at Edmonton.ca/lap
- Subscribe to the quarterly City of Edmonton Find Your Fit e-newsletter (Edmonton.ca/findyourfit) where you will get great tips from the City’s wellness and nutrition specialists, workout routines, health recipes and details on City recreation programs and facilities.
- For those who are inactive and looking to include physical activity, the City partners with Primary Care Networks in the Prescription to Get Active program and starts off residents’ wellness routines with trial complimentary access to City recreation and leisure centres.