Coming up at City Council: November 10-14, 2014

Agendas for upcoming City Council meetings are generally released on Thursday afternoons. I like to take a look to see what Council will be discussing, and I figured I should share that here. Below you’ll find links to the meetings taking place next week, as well as links to and thoughts on some agenda items that caught my eye.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

First I want to mention that this week Council held a public hearing and its first budget meetings. If you want to dig into the budget, check out this microsite that the City has launched. There will also be an AMA on Reddit at some point, and a survey has already been sent out to members of the Edmonton Insight Community. City Council will be discussing the budget in detail from November 26 to December 10, with optional meetings scheduled for December 11 and 12 if they need more time.

If you’d rather listen to this overview, check out this episode on Mixcloud:

Or you can download it in MP3 here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On Wednesday, Executive Committee will be meeting in the River Valley Room. Items on the agenda include:

TEC Edmonton’s 2013-2014 Annual Report

This is the annual update that TEC Edmonton is required to provide. A recent study of university business incubators listed TEC Edmonton 10th overall worldwide, and 3rd in North America, and in June, TEC Edmonton was named “Incubator of the Year” by Startup Canada. An increase in federal funding of about $2.5 million per year will enable TEC Edmonton to launch a new Health Accelerator “to enable the city to catalyze growth of a significant new health tech cluster.”

The Way We Finance White Paper on Debt

This item is the public launch of the third white paper presented as part of The Way We Finance. This one focuses on debt: “After establishing the Edmonton context related to the use of debt, we are going to talk about what the City of Edmonton uses debt for, why it is used and how we determine what amount of debt is reasonable for the City to carry.” Debt was a hot topic during last year’s municipal election, which I wrote about here.

Purchase of the Wellington Surplus School Site

Administration is recommending that City Council approve the purchase of the Wellington Surplus School Site from the Edmonton Public School Board for $4,755,000 (which reflects current market value for the property). Council had previously agreed to proceed with the land purchase, which ultimately will result in a new home for the Calder Library, 2.27 hectares of “civic open space”, and potentially a future multicultural centre.

2014 City of Edmonton Subsidy to the Homeward Trust Foundation

City Council last year approved a subsidy of $1,238,000 for the Homeward Trust Foundation, but approval by Executive Committee is now required to actual pay it. Since 2000, the City has contributed approximately $1.2 million per year to support the agency’s work. The Homeward Trust Foundation receives funding from all three levels of government and has allocated $154 million in funding to 95 capital projects since 2001.

A number of reports were supposed to have been discussed at this meeting, but have instead been pushed out until 2015:

  • Bylaw amendments for parking requirements for “minor” eating & drinking establishments
  • A report on business models & governance options for Edmonton Research
  • An update on the potential for commercial activity at the Rossdale Generating Station
  • An update on the West Rossdale Redevelopment

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Community Services Committee

In the morning, Council’s Community Services Committee will meet. Items on the agenda include:

Edmonton Historical Board Chair’s Report Recommendations

This one seems timely given the discussion lately about more of our historic buildings disappearing to development. The report responds to recommendations that were made on how “new leadership could be applied to extend and add to Edmonton’s existing heritage achievements.” Administration is looking for a funding increase of $500,000 to increase municipal heritage designation participation rates.

Edmonton Arts Council 2015 Festival Operating Grant Recommendations

With this report, Administration is recommending the approval of $200,000 for six festivals in 2015: Deep Freeze, Edmonton Poetry Festival, Edmonton Pride Festival, Ice on Whyte, Silver Skate Festival, and Serca Festival of Irish Theatre. The program enables a maximum of 25% of the festival’s operating budget to be covered by the grants.

Backyard Firepit Control

This one is a response to an inquiry made by Councillors Esslinger and McKeen (which many people thought was a rookie mistake). The report outlines some background, how the City enforces fire pit regulations, and clarifies the current legislation. It also says that “current Bylaw provisions provide effective enforcement tools to regulate the impacts of outdoor fires, and no Bylaw amendments are recommended at this time.” No surprise there!

Three items have been postponed until early next year:

  • Update on the New Africa Centre Facility
  • Civic Precinct Master Plan – Addressing Current Square Design
  • Options to Support Suicide Prevention

Transportation Committee

In the afternoon, the Transportation Committee will meet. Items on the agenda include:

Low Income Transit Pass Pilot

The report for this item has not yet been released, but this should be an update on the three-year pilot project that was approved back in May. At the time, the goal was for the low income pass to be in place by January, so hopefully that remains on track.

Late Night Transit Update

This report is a follow-up from August and outlines “a proposal for the phased implementation of late night service”. There are two phases proposed: the first would extend late night service until 3am on five routes, the second would further extend service to 5:30am. Funding of $1.322 million is needed to get Phase 1 going, and phase 2 would cost $2.1 million annually. If the budget is approved, Phase 1 could be implemented in September 2015 and Phase 2 could be implemented in September 2016. The five routes are the 1, 4, 8, 9, and 505 (Clareview – Central LRT replacement service).

How can we build a great city with transit?

Get ready to be consulted and engaged on the development of a major transit strategy! This report “outlines the steps for public consultation to be completed as part of development of a transit strategy” that aims to discuss the question above. Administration is looking for one-time funding of $623,000 to take this work forward.

Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Coverage in LRT Stations and Tunnels

Back in July, Mayor Iveson made an inquiry about mobile and Internet coverage underground. This report answers that inquiry, and states that “today, cell coverage in LRT stations and tunnels is limited.” On the plus side, the report says the City is looking to offer cell phone coverage and Wi-Fi service in the fourth quarter of 2015 to LRT stations (and parts of tunnels). That means getting connected underground is still a year away, but at least it is coming.

Two items have been postponed to an undetermined future date:

  • Civic Precinct Master Plan – SE LRT Integration
  • Valley Line Construction Impact on the Use of Churchill Square

Friday, November 14, 2014

There aren’t normally Council meetings on Friday, but on the morning of the 14th the City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee will be meeting. There are no reports available as these items are protected by sections 17, 19, and 24 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. My understanding is that the committee will agree upon the process and timelines for evaluating the performance of the City Manager and City Auditor but that the actual evaluations will take place at a future date.

That’s it! 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s