Coming up at City Council: May 2-6, 2016

The future of Edmonton’s LRT planning and funding will be one of the major topics for Council this week, alongside updates to the Capital Budget and a look at the funding impacts of the Federal budget. The downtown arena will also be before Council again, as there’s a bylaw to increase borrowing through the downtown CRL to make up for the Provincial funding that never materialized (but which was part of the original financial agreement).

City Hall

Here’s my look at what Council will be discussing in the week ahead.

Meetings this week

You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.

Spring 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget Update

Part of the City’s budget process is to adjust the Capital Budget in the spring “in response to changing project needs, new funding opportunities and to respond to emerging issues and changing priorities.”

“The funding available for reallocation in the Supplemental Capital Budget Adjustment is $34.9 million, and is comprised of $10.3 million in Pay-As-You-Go funding, $20.6 million in Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding and $4 million of Neighbourhood Renewal Program tax levy funding (released from Profile 12-66-1073 Pavement Management Relocation), which will be directed towards the Neighbourhood Renewal funding deficit.”

Of that, $19.5 million is recommended to go toward the 2016 Neighbourhood Renewal Program shortfall (the $4 million plus $15.5 of the MSI funding). That leaves $15.4 million available for reallocation. The City is recommending using the funding as follows:

  • Manning Drive ($5.7 million)
  • St. Andrews Surplus Park ($0.8 million)
  • Bus Fleet Replacement ($4.9 million)
  • Fire – Dispatch System Radio ($1.5 million)
  • EPS – Helicopter Replacement ($2.5 million)

The report also notes that Edmonton is projected to see a $15 million decrease in MSI funding as a result of the 2016-2017 Provincial Budget and that Administration will bring forward a strategy to deal with this. You’ll also find an overview of projected savings, 2015 carry forwards, new profiles recommended for funding, and other information on changes to the budget.

One of the new profiles recommended for funding is Pedestrian Wayfinding (CM-21-6000):

“Edmonton’s streets and parks are envisioned to be vibrant places where citizens and visitors can walk, access public transit, visit local businesses, and live healthy active lives. The provision of accurate, consistent, public information to help people find their way to local destinations is a key element of improving the livability of a City. Funding this $2.6 million profile is recommended to come from two funded Transit profiles: LRT Facilities & Right of Way Renewal (CM-66-3200) & Bus Facilities Renewal (CM-66-3500) and one Information Technology profile Enterprise Applications Growth (CM-18-1508).”

I really hope that funding goes ahead!

Federal Transit Stimulus Update

This report looks at the most recent federal budget, which “announced $60 billion in new infrastructure funding, delivering on the new government’s promise to nearly double infrastructure spending over the next 10 years.” The plan will be implemented in two phases – the first will provide $11.9 billion over five years. Here’s what that means for Edmonton:

  • Edmonton will receive $50,000 in base funding plus about $140 million from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
  • Alberta will receive about $196.7 million from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
  • “Under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and Clean Water and Wastewater Fund initiatives, the federal contribution will be up to 50 percent of total eligible costs for projects, with eligible costs expanded to include design, engineering, and other planning costs not currently eligible for federal funding.”
  • “Federal Budget 2016 also announced $250 million for municipal capacity building programs to be managed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to provide funding directly to municipalities.”
  • “Removal of the mandatory P3 screen across the New Building Canada Fund, allowing municipalities to determine the best procurement model for their local circumstances.”

The report also identifies some potential projects that could be eligible for funding under these programs. For the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, the only project identified is the Malcolm Tweddle/Edith Rogers Dry Pond at $20 million. For the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, twelve projects have been identified:

  1. D.L. MacDonald Transit Yards Traction Power Substation ($5 million)
  2. Future LRT Planning, Phase 1 ($1.5 million)
  3. Future LRT Design Phase 1 ($32.7 million)
  4. Bus Replacement ($10.8 million)
  5. Growth LRVs ($116 million)
  6. Bus Camera Systems ($7 million)
  7. Growth Buses ($47 million)
  8. Bus Priority Signals ($2 million)
  9. Heritage Valley Transit Centre and Park and Ride ($29 million)
  10. Station Lands Pedway ($26 million)
  11. Electric Buses (No cost estimates)
  12. Design for the Refurbishment of Stadium and Coliseum Stations ($2 million)

The next step could be that Council chooses to submit some of these projects for federal funding.

Priorities for Future LRT Funding

Last week Transportation Committee discussed the priorities of future LRT funding. The City is recommending the following order:

  1. Valley Line, Downtown to Lewis Farms (LW-1, LW-2, LW-3)
  2. Metro Line, NAIT to Blatchford North (HNW-1)
  3. Capital Line, Century Park to Ellerslie (HSW-1)
  4. Downtown Circulator, University to Bonnie Doon (LE-1)
  5. Metro Line, Blatchford North to Castle Downs (HNW-2)

The item was referred to Council by the Committee without a recommendation.

Edmonton Light Rail Transit
Edmonton Light Rail Transit, photo by IQRemix

There’s also a report on future LRT concept planning that identifies the remaining projects in order of priority:

  1. Downtown Circulator, Energy Line and Festival Line to City Limits
  2. Valley Line, Mill Woods to Ellerslie Road
  3. Capital Line, Gorman to Edmonton Energy and Technology Park
  4. Capital Line, Heritage Valley Town Centre to the Edmonton International Airport

Administration had identified $1.5 million for LRT concept planning in the 2016-2018 Operating Budget, but Council did not approve it. The service package will be updated and presented at a future supplementary operating budget adjustment.

Other interesting items

  • If Council approves, a Special City Council meeting will be scheduled for August 31 at 1:30pm to hold a non-statutory public hearing on Northlands’ Vision 2020.
  • Councillor Henderson intends to make a motion that would direct the City to investigate becoming a biophilic city, which are “cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world.” You can learn more here.
  • There’s a recommendation “that the Mayor, on behalf of City Council, write to the Minister of Environment and Parks, to advocate for the development of a regulatory compliance framework for commercial waste haulage and disposal that promotes sound environmental sustainability including incentivizing private haulers.”
  • Council had allocated $50,000 to the Downtown Proud program in 2013, but it was never spent as matching funds were not raised and circumstances changed. The City is now recommending that the money be used to help transition to a new fee-for-service delivery model and to ensure a “living wage” for program workers.
  • Bylaw 17639 would increase the borrowing authority for the downtown arena by about $32 million to replace provincial grant funding that was not secured. This bylaw is ready for first reading only.
  • Bylaw 17589 would designate Phyllis Grocery, located at 10631 96 Street NW, as a Municipal Historic Resource and would allocate funding of $91,822.50 from the Heritage Reserve Fund for the building. “The total estimated cost of the restoration portion of the project is over $183,000.”

Wrap-up

You can keep track of City Council on Twitter using the #yegcc hashtag, and you can listen to or watch any Council meeting live online. You can read my previous coverage of the 2013-2017 City Council here.