Coming up at City Council: April 13-17, 2015

With the Easter break behind us, Council is back in session next week.

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. You can find my previous roundups here.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Monday, April 13, 2015

Council will start the week with item 7.2 from the March 16 meeting, actually. Bylaw 17116 deals with elimination location-based restrictions for Garage and Garden Suites, and enables RF1 sites to be subdivided into narrower lots, as narrow as 7.6 metres wide.

After they have dealt with that item in the morning, they’ll begin the regularly scheduled public hearing at 1:30pm. Most of the bylaws deal with minor rezoning to allow for infill development. Here are a few of the items that I wanted to highlight:

Bylaw 17151 – Text Amendment to the Zoning Bylaw

This proposed amendment is intended to streamline the process for the development of paths and trails within the river valley by removing the requirement for a development permit for paths and trails that Council has deemed essential. The whole idea here is that the City and River Valley Alliance want to move forward with their plans for a connected river valley park, and they don’t want the process to be held up in permitting. There would still be “adequate environmental review” however.

Bylaw 17142 – Development of a public park in Kernohan

Can you ever have too many public parks? Not really! This bylaw would rezone the properties at 303, 311, and 551 Clareview Road NW from CS1 and CS2 to AP to allow for the development of a new public park. These properties were originally zoned for Public Parks (AP) but were set aside to support First Place development.

Bylaw 17148 – Closure of a portion of 153 Avenue NW

This bylaw will be considered along with Bylaw 17150 and proposes to close 153 Avenue NW east of 13 Street NW in Fraser. The closed area would be consolidated with the adjacent property to make way for single detached housing. There is a 153 Avenue realignment coming in October 2016, which is when the closure would take place.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Next up for Council is a regular City Council Meeting scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. There are 20 public reports, 8 bylaws, 2 motions pending, and 9 private reports on the agenda. It’s going to be a busy one! Here are a few highlights:

Make Something Edmonton Update

With this report, Council will receive an update on Make Something Edmonton. The key update is that the committee is now formalizing its approach to creating a community-led place brand. What does that mean?

“The activities and personalities of ‘makers’ inspired a set of statements of encouragement, or brand promises, that Make Something Edmonton believes truly represent the community identity of Edmonton.”

Basically all of the feel-good aspects of MSE are being written down and visualized in the hope that others will adopt some or all of it. Every Councillor has received a copy of the brand guidebook which “outlines how individuals and organizations can express the Edmonton brand in their own marketing and communications efforts.” For instance, with statements of encouragement:

Statements of Encouragement

I’ll have more on this in a separate post before next week’s meeting.

Edmonton Police Commission Recommendations on Unfunded Police Positions

This report is about an Edmonton Police Commission recommendation that the EPS Operating Budget be increased by $6.36 million, on an ongoing basis, to fund 40 FTEs for downtown revitalization. The source of funds is still to be determined.

You’ll recall that EPS had asked for 84 new positions during last year’s budget discussions, but Council agreed to fund only 35 of them. Now the Police Commission is back again with a focus on positions related to growth in the downtown area:

“The Edmonton Police Commission requests that City Council reconsider the proposal for these 40 positions during the setting of the mill rate.”

The report states that if the request is not reconsidered, the request will be brought back during the 2016-2018 budget process.

Impacts of the Bill 20 on the City of Edmonton

This report outlines the changes that are part of Bill 20, the Municipal Government Amendment Act, and the anticipated impacts on the City. Bill 20 received Royal Assent on March 30, at which time “the sections pertaining to City Charters and off-site levies came into force immediately.” Bill 20 is the first legislative piece of the ongoing MGA review, with additional amendments anticipated in the fall and the process continuing until the end of 2016.

The high level summary of impacts is as follows:

  • “Bill 20 provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to, upon request of a City, establish a charter for that City by regulation.” The report states that a charter regulation for Edmonton is “not anticipated before Fall 2015 at the earliest.”
  • “Bill 20 creates a mandatory requirement for Council to, by bylaw, prescribe a code of conduct for members of Council.”
  • “Bill 20 clarifies that an off-site levy may be imposed once for each purpose specified in the Municipal Government Act, and confirms that developers may be required to pay for public utilities that are not located on the land under development but are necessary to service the development.”
  • “Bill 20 creates a new requirement for Administration to ensure that, when information is provided to one councillor in response to an inquiry about the operation or administration of the City, the information must be provided to all members of council.”
  • “The current Municipal Government Act provides the City Manager with 30 days following the receipt of a petition to report on the sufficiency of the petition to Council. Bill 20 will increase this time period to 45 days.”
  • “The current Municipal Government Act prescribes specific requirements that must be followed when a bylaw or other City action must be advertised, such as placing advertisements in local newspapers. Bill 20 modernizes these advertising requirements by allowing the City to advertise on its website and allows the City to pass a bylaw prescribing alternate forms of advertising that are likely to ensure the advertised matter is brought to the attention of affected stakeholders.”

The overall reaction is that Bill 20 “supports City objectives” and that “no significant negative impacts are anticipated.”

Committee Reports

There are 14 Committee reports that were all recently discussed at one of the four committees and have been referred to Council with a recommendation for approval. A few that I wanted to highlight include:

  • Lewis Farms Recreation Centre Land Acquisition – That Administration proceed with Option 2 for District Park Land Acquisition (which means negotiating with the developers to defer costs and repay over time) and Option 1 for District Park Base Level Development (which means negotiating a development partnership for the park with a developer).
  • Aboriginal Day LIVE! Request for Support – That they be granted $100,000 to fund the concert and event, with funding to come from the 2015 Council Contingency.
  • Electronic Cigarettes – This item was referred to Council without a recommendation, which means it’ll likely be a pretty interesting discussion.
  • Fire Pit Enforcement Options – Same as the e-cig report.
  • EPL Board Member Extensions – That Ellen Calabrese-Amrhein, Chair of the Edmonton Public Library Board, be granted an additional one-year term from May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016 to provide consistency during the transition to a new Executive Director.
  • Canada Packers Smoke Stack – That it be designated a Municipal Historic Resource and that funding of up to $265,000 for rehabilitation of the Canada Packers Smoke Stack Reserve Fund be approved.
  • Open City Policy – That policy C581, the Open City Policy, be approved.
  • NAIT Line Transit Security – That the requested six Transit Peace Officers be funded for June to December 2015 and all of 2016, with funding from the 2015 tax levy, and that the issue return to Council for consideration when the mill rate is set.

Bylaws

There are 8 bylaws on the agenda. Here are two I wanted to highlight:

  • Bylaw 17100 – This authorizes the City to undertake, construct, and finance the Downtown CRL projects and to increase borrowing authorization by $78,178,839. This is ready for second and third reading.
  • Bylaw 17102 – This authorizes the City to borrow $304,186,000 to undertake, construct, and finance Sanitary and Stormwater Drainage projects. This is ready for second and third reading. The total cost of the projects is $536,976,000, which were approved as part of the 2015-2018 Capital Budget.

Private Reports

As mentioned there are 9 private reports on the agenda this time. Council will be receiving updates on:

  • City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluations
  • Civic Agency Appointment Recommendations
  • Police Helicopter Information and Analysis
  • Green Trip Funding Update
  • Walterdale Bridge Replacement Project Update
  • Inter-Municipal Update

Other

There are a couple of reports that are unavailable or that will be discussed verbally:

There’s also an extensive report to support that working session.

There are two motions pending:

  • Amendment to Bylaw 12408 – Non-Profit Community Organizations Exemption Bylaw (Councillor McKeen)
  • Entrance Signs Removal (Councillor Oshry)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Wednesday afternoon and evening the Audit Committee will meet. Here is what’s on the agenda:

Office of the City Auditor 2014 Annual Report

This report highlights the operating results and activities during 2014 for the Office of the City Auditor. It proudly notes that the City Manager agreed to take action on 100% of the recommendations made in the 2014 audit reports. The report lists 20 different projects that were completed last year.

In 2014, the Office of the City Auditor was named as a best practice audit function and a leader in performance auditing by the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation. Only 11 municipalities in the US and Canada received the honor.

Looking ahead to 2015, the report states:

“In 2015, we will continue to focus our audits on promoting strong internal controls that result in secure, efficient, effective, and economical City operations and services. This will assist in providing assurance that taxpayer’s dollars and resources are protected and used appropriately.”

David Wiun is the current City Auditor and he is supported by a staff of 13 individuals.

Actual Numbers & Costing for the Automated Photo Enforcement Program

This report provides an up-to-date, all-in cost comparison of the estimated and actual costs of fully absorbing the Automated Photo Enforcement program into City operations from 2007 until 2014. Prior to 2007, the program was contracted out. As a result, 2007 is the benchmark year.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousands words, so here are the key charts:

audit ape table1

audit ape table2

audit ape chart

And the key conclusion from the report:

“Instead of purchasing a commercial “off-the-shelf” application as assumed in 2007, a custom software solution had to be developed at a significantly higher cost. That cost was more than 200 percent higher than the cost projected in 2007.”

“We found that the current cost per violation is marginally lower than the expected cost in 2007. However, the program took six years to achieve an actual cost per violation that was lower than the last year of fully-outsourced operations.”

There is also this response from Administration to the report:

“In conclusion, the maturation of the program is producing benefits in 2014 that have exceeded the cost performance targets originally which were initially proposed in 2007 for 2008 operations. This confirms that the decision to bring the program in-house was sound and the benefits are greater than initially projected.”

Other

  • City of Edmonton 2014 Consolidated Financial Statements – The report for this is not yet available, and Council approval is required. This is the first item of business.
  • KPMG 2014 Audit Findings Report – This is the second item of business and again, Council approval is required.
  • Proactive Audit Involvement in Capital Projects – This is a status report that looked at project management practices for the Rogers Place, Walterdale Bridge, Valley Line LRT Stage 1, and Alex Decoteau Park projects. “Overall we found that all four project teams are applying the 13 project management principles set out by the Project Management Institute.”
  • Strategic Enterprise Risk Management – This is a big report that pulls together the strategic risk registers for The Way We Green, Grow, and Prosper (work had already been done for Move and Live). Four common risks include: local impacts of economic boom and bust, resourcing, decision-making not in alignment with strategic objectives, and ineffective collaboration with partners.

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.