Coming up at City Council: December 15-19, 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

2015 Budgets

Yesterday, City Council approved both 2015 Operating and Utilities budgets, as well as the 2015-2018 Capital Budget. The Operating Budget average tax increase is 5.7%, of which 1.5% is still dedicated to the Neighbourhood Renewal Program. Here’s what the mayor said in the news release:

“This Budget demonstrates how the City of Edmonton works at improving our operations and finding more efficient ways to deliver on our commitments to Edmontonians,” said Mayor Iveson. “City managers have been committed to positive changes that create better value, ensuring maximum payoff for every taxpayer dollar.”

The Capital Budget will see investment of $4.3 billion in infrastructure throughout the city. Here are the mayor’s comments from the news release:

“The Capital Budget strikes a balance between investments in a growing city and the requirement to keep existing City assets in good repair,” said Mayor Iveson. “We’re building a great city for the people who live, work and play in Edmonton.”

Mayor Iveson also wrote a wrap-up blog post which defended the tax increase and called the budget a “value-for-money kind of budget”. He said it “makes responsible use of every dollar we’ve asked for.”

The budget was approved unanimously by City Council.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Council starts the week with a public hearing scheduled to take place all day. After the incredibly involved budget discussions, I’m sure all of Council will be happy to get back to business as usual!

There’s not much on the agenda that caught my eye, but here are a few things:

  • Bylaw 17023 proposed to close a portion of Winterburn Road (215 Street NW) to allow for the development of business and industrial uses in the area.
  • For those of you annoyed by such things, bylaw 17019 is a rezoning to allow for digital signs in Place LaRue near 184 Street and 100 Avenue.
  • Bylaw 17025 is for an amendment to the Stewart Greens NSP. Nothing major, and doesn’t result in any changes to the approved Land Use and Population Statistics.
  • Bylaw 17015 is an amendment to The Hamptons NSP and Bylaw 17016 would allow for the development of a medium rise apartment site (four apartment buildings with 364 total units and 88 townhouse units). Together these two bylaws increase the density of the site by enabling the development of additional apartment buildings in place of the townhouse units.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The LRT Governance Board will meet on Tuesday in the River Valley Room at City Hall. As a Committee of Council, I thought I’d include it here.

The main item is the LRT Governance Board’s semi-annual report. Here are the highlights:

  • The board met six times this year.
  • Five RFQ submissions were received and evaluated, resulting in a recommended shortlist of proponents for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT project.
  • The three shortlisted proponents were issued an RFP in September.
  • A public engagement plan was approved in July, including the “accountability, transparency, and disclosure framework.”
  • As a P3 project, the LRT Governance Board is tasked with ensuring the Valley Line LRT project delivers “long-term value for money, and cost and scheduled certainty.” So far, they are confident the project does indeed “demonstrate value for money as a P3 project.”
  • Also in September, the board approved the draft Project Agreement, which is the main contract between the City and the winning proponent that covers the 35 year period of design, construction, operations, maintenance, and financing for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT.

Also on the agenda is a verbal update on the Valley LRT Line project, as well as on the RFP activity. The LRT Governance Board is slated to meet five times in 2015, in March, May, July, August, and November.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Council’s final meeting of 2014 will take place on Wednesday, and there are some big items on the agenda.

Municipal Development Corporation Business Plan

The first report listed (though not yet available) is a business plan for the proposed for-profit municipal development corporation. This is a follow-up to the September 2014 meeting decision to proceed with the establishment of a municipal land corporation (you can see that report on options here). The business plan should include “a governance model, financial analysis, non-financial analysis, and a detailed implementation strategy for the establishment of a for-profit municipal development corporation.” Administration was also tasked with generating “a list of potential City-owned properties to be included in the initial transfer to the entity.”

Emerging Economy Initiative

This item was known until September as the “Economic Development – for Start-ups Initiative” until Council decided to change the name. The main update here is the draft terms of reference for this initiative, which “outlines the background and recommended future state for the five Council recommended small-business and entrepreneurship focused programs.” The five programs include:

  • New Canadian and Aboriginal Business Start-up Supports
  • “Make Something Edmonton” and “Edmonton Original” marketing strategies
  • TEC and Startup Edmonton mentoring and accelerating programs
  • Live Local and Local Economy Organizations
  • Corner Store Program

The City is meant to be a partner in this effort along with EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. In some cases the City has provided seed money to these programs, in other cases the City indirectly funds them through contributions to parent organizations (like TEC and Startup Edmonton through EEDC).

Can I just say I really dislike how they include the dash in “start-up”! Seems unnecessary.

Bylaw 17001: Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Centre Pedway Connection

This bylaw is ready for first reading and would authorize the City to borrow up to $22.5 million to build a pedway connection to the proposed EDACC (or Galleria as it is more popularly known). Because this is on Crown land, second and third reading would only take place after the Minister of Infrastructure has approved it. No valid petitions to this project were received.

The proposed pedway is an underground connection from Churchill LRT Station into the Station Lands through the new Royal Alberta Museum. The total cost of the project is $30 million, 25% of which will be financed by the City. The remaining $22.5 million will be financed “by way of local improvement assessment against the abutting property owners.” But this bylaw allows the City to borrow that money to complete the project, with the debt to be repaid over a period of 20 years.

The capital profile for the pedway justifies the project as follows:

“A significant factor of the Galleria project is the partnership with the University of Alberta. The establishment of an academic facility campus will bring more people to the downtown core every day, catalyzing services and development in and around the downtown area. The University participation is conditional upon connecting 104 Ave to the Churchill LRT Station via an underground Pedway.”

In terms of timing, it was argued that the pedway needed to be built now or a connection to the RAM would not be possible.

2015 Council and Committee Meeting Schedule

The schedule was approved back in October, but Council asked to hold their City Council meetings more consistently on Tuesdays (with a continuation on Wednesday mornings). This report changes a few of the meetings to better align with that schedule. So in general, Public Hearings take place on Mondays and Council meetings take place on Tuesdays.

Special Meeting on Public Engagement

The Council Initiative on Public Engagement is well underway, and a public event has been planned for January 24, 2015 to “discuss the vision for the Initiative.” Mark your calendars! In order to get aligned, a joint City Council and Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) facilitated session is being proposed for January 21, 2015.

Capital Region Board Appointments

Both Mayor Iveson and his alternate Councillor Gibbons are unavailable for the CRB meeting in January, so it is being proposed that Councillor Walters attend instead. Additionally, Council is looking to update its appointments to the CRB Subcommittees and Task Forces as follows:

  • Advocacy & Monitoring: Mayor Iveson, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Governance, Priorities & Finance: Councillor Walters, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Land Use & Planning: Councillor Gibbons, Councillor Walters as the alternate
  • Regional Services: Councillor Gibbons, Councilllor Walters as the alternate
  • Transit: Councillor Walters, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Growth Plan Update Task Force: Mayor Iveson, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Housing Task Force: Councillor Gibbons, Councillor Walters as the alternate

BRZ Budgets & Travel Grant Recommendations

Just when you thought Council was done with budgets, they’re right back it! On Wednesday they will approve the 2015 Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) budgets. There are 13 BRZs in Edmonton.

Council will also be discussing the latest Community Investment Program Travel Grant Program grant recommendations. This program is intended to support round trip travel from Edmonton for individuals working in the arts and festival communities. Grants of up to $750 per traveler can be awarded. A total of $21,600 is being recommended in travel grant funding to 27 individuals. The Edmonton Arts Council has recommended $82,240 in travel grant funding through the program in 2014.

Other

A series of updates from Council on Agency and Initiative appointments is being made available at this meeting. These include updates on work with AUMA, the ELEVATE initiative, the Urban Isolation/Mental Health initiative, Child Friendly Edmonton, and the Edmonton Women’s Initiative.

Council is being asked to approve expropriation of four properties for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT project: Property 1, Property 2, Property 3, Property 4.

There is one listed motion pending, from Councillor Knack, on electronic cigarettes.

Three private reports are listed:

  • Edmonton Business Revitalization Zones – 2015 Boards of Directors
  • Process and Timelines for City Manager and City Auditor 2014 Performance Evaluations
  • Reappointment Recommendation – Audit Committee Public Member

One report has been revised to March 2015 on Electrical Franchise Fee Charges as part of The Way We Finance.

Winter Recess

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Council will be on winter recess. They’ll resume on January 19, with Committee meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that week. A public hearing is slated for January 26, with the first City Council meeting of the year scheduled to take place on January 27.

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.

One thought on “Coming up at City Council: December 15-19, 2014

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