Coming up at City Council: April 20-24, 2015

If you haven’t watched or listened to Council on the Web recently, you’ll be happy to know they have made some improvements! They are no longer using Windows Media Player. I’m not really sure why they decided to replace it with Flash though. Oh well, they have mobile-friendly (HTML5) streams too.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

The week begins on Monday with a Community Services Committee meeting scheduled from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are eight reports on the agenda, plus one response to an inquiry from Councillor Esslinger. Here’s what caught my eye:

Comparison of Policing Costs

Comparing the cost of policing across municipalities is difficult because they all have different services, funding sources, and reporting approaches. Still, EPS has attempted to provide some comparison in this report. They surveyed Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal and received responses from Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, and Toronto. Here’s what they found after trying to account for differences between the agencies:

Comparison Cost Per Capita – Tax Levy Cost Per Capita – Gross Expenditures
Edmonton vs. Regina (2015) $317 vs. $352 $405 vs. $398
Edmonton vs. Winnipeg (2014) $314 vs. $305 $387 vs. $367
Edmonton vs. Calgary (2015) $317 vs. $291 $396 vs. $365
Edmonton vs. Toronto (2015) $317 vs. $366 $413 vs. $407

Gross Expenditures refers to the annual Operating Budget before applying Revenues. Tax Levy refers to the Operating Budget after the application of Revenues.

They also compared the Cost per Authorized Employee:

eps comparison

Here’s a comparison of Staff per 100,000 Population Ratio:

eps comparison

And here’s a comparison of the percentage of budget spent on support services:

eps comparison

There is no summary or concluding remarks in the report. Just the data.

Winspear Centre Staged Funding Agreement & Parking Solution

The current Winspear Centre was built in 1997 and they’re ready for expansion. Plans call for two main components:

  1. $53 million towards a new 540 seat acoustic hall theatre, six multipurpose rooms, and commercial space
  2. $25 million towards a new 380-stall automated robotic parking system

If funded, the expansion would be complete by 2019. Here’s where they expect the funding to come from:

  • $13 million from each of the three orders of government for a total of $39 million
  • $14 million from fundraising
  • $25 million for the parking system in debt financing

So far the City has already approved $3.75 million for the project. The additional $9.25 million will still need to be approved, and could come from the Downtown CRL, the 2015-2018 Spring Capital Budget Update, or the Community Facility Partner Capital Grant Program.

The City anticipates bringing forward a capital budget profile in June.

Single-Use Recreation Fees

The City’s current recreation membership fees are organized into three tiers: facility (access to 13 smaller facilities), facility plus (access to the 13 smaller facilities plus Kinsmen and Commonwealth), and all facility. If you want to get access to the newest facilities, like Terwillegar, Clareview, or The Meadows, you either pay per use or you need to pay for the highest tier. Now the City is looking at the possibility of introducing a membership fee for use at a single facility.

A single-use pass would reduce revenue for the City but could make it more affordable for some citizens to access recreation facilities, which would be positive for health and wellness outcomes. I’m not sure if Council will take any action on this (there’s no recommendation) but my guess is that the fee structure will remain the same.

Other

Councillor Esslinger’s inquiry was made in January and is about the review of off-leash dog parks. Administration is doing that review now and expects public consultation to begin in May.

Here are some of the other reports on the agenda:

One report, on options for prohibiting smoking at all outdoor City-owned recreation facilities, parks, and attractions, has been given a revised date of June 29.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On Tuesday, the next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled to take place from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are ten public reports on the agenda, plus three private reports. Here’s what caught my eye:

IT Composite Profiles

This report provides an overview of the 2015-2018 IT composite profiles and funded IT investment initiatives. Here are some of the highlights:

  • For 2015-2018, $73.2 million has been allocated to IT in five profiles, three for renewal and two for growth. This represents approximately 1.6% of the total approved capital budget.
  • Additionally, IT funding of $31.6 million was approved for the Edmonton Police Service and $5.6 million was approved for the Edmonton Public Library.
  • The IT Infrastructure Renewal profile “maintains over 15,000 devices, two petabytes of storage and 100 kilometers of network cable.”
  • The total replacement value of IT infrastructure assets is $55 million.
  • There are five key Enterprise Applications utilized across the City: POSSE, PeopleSoft, SAP, TACS, and Geospatial (SLIM and Microstation).
  • The total replacement value of Enterprise Applications is $189 million.
  • The City has a current inventory of 145 business unit applications with a replacement value of $132 million.

Progress updates will now be included in quarterly capital financial reports, the next of which will be presented to Council in June/July.

2016-2018 Financial Services and Utilities Department & Branch Business Plan

You may recall that all City branches and departments are going to be submitting updated business plans as part of the implementation plan for The Way Ahead. This one is for the Financial Services and Utilities branch which consists of five departments: Assessment and Taxation, Corporate Strategic Planning, Financial Services, Drainage Services, and Waste Management Services (business plans for the latter two will be presented at a future Utility Committee meeting).

The business plan serves three objectives, according to the report:

  1. it is a decision-making tool to aid City Council during the 2016-2018 operating budget deliberations for the City of Edmonton
  2. it is a tactical business planning tool for Administration to remain focused through future resource planning and allocation
  3. the business plans set out the work each branch will carry out over the next three years showing the relationships to strategic priorities and expectations including performance measures

Based on feedback from Council, the City will further refine and finalize the business plans. The final plans will help in the development of the 2016-2018 Operating Budget.

Pattison Outdoor Advertising Outline Agreement

Last year, following an open RFP process, the City entered into a 10 year agreement (January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2024) with Pattison Outdoor Advertising for advertising space on the transit system. The agreement provides Pattison with the exclusive right to sell ad space on buses, LRTs, and transit centres.

The City needs to buy space for its own ads, and that has averaged $580,000 per year over the last three years. Administration intends to spend about $500,000 per year going forward, and the outline agreement is intended to provide “an efficient approach” that allows the City to negotiate for the best possible advertising rates.

Other

Here are a few notes on some of the other reports:

The two private reports are a verbal update on the purchase and sale of land in the Quarters, the settlement of expropriation claims in Blatchford, and an update on the Vehicle for Hire program.

The following reports have been given revised due dates:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The next Transportation Committee meeting takes place on Wednesday from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are nine reports on the agenda, plus two responses to Councillor inquiries. This one is going to be interesting!

102 Avenue Bridge Replacement Project Update

Missed opportunity here, they should have called this report “Update on GirderGate!” There’s a lot of other information here, but that’s really want Council will want an update on.

Here’s where the project is at:

“The current status of the 102 Avenue project is that the girders now in place are currently being assessed. Until this review is complete the impacts to the project completion timeline are not fully known. The 3 week delay for stabilization of the girders to the project will impact the planned opening date however the exact delay is currently not known until completion of the girder assessments.”

The City has looked at some options to try to minimize the impact of project delays on commuting traffic and businesses:

  • They considered a temporary lane reversal system along Stony Plain Road (3 lanes in direction of peak flow, 1 in the opposite direction) but as it would cost between $500,000 and $1 million, it is not being recommended.
  • They are considering dedicated tow truck operations for the area, which could cost $500 to $1000 per day.
  • Vacant lots west of 124 Street and north of Stony Plain Road could be leased by the City to offset parking meter bans. They applied for this, but a local business owner successfully filed an appeal, so this is on hold until at least August 2015.

We’ll have to wait for future updates to understand just how far back the opening date has to be pushed.

Low Income Transit Pass Pilot

This report provides an update on the potential for a low income transit pass. The Edmonton Transit Advisory Board recommended a $35.00 per month pass, which would replace the existing AISH pass. Here are the details of the City’s report:

  • Applicants would need to be residents of Edmonton and would need to meet one of the following criteria: household income below the LICO figures, recent immigrants to Canada who have lived here for less than a year, children under government care, recipients of AISH.
  • ETS estimates that a low income transit pass would result in sales of 19,000 and 20,000 per month, which includes the 4,800 AISH passes currently sold per month.
  • ETS also estimates that total ridership would increase by 1 to 1.3 million trips per year. In total, low income pass purchasers are expected to make 9.5 million trips per year.
  • Although revenue generated from new ridership is anticipated to be between $1.1 million and $1.4 million, it is offset by anticipated losses in revenue from existing riders paying less than they do now of between $3 million and $7.5 million, depending on the price of the low income pass.
  • Full implementation of a pilot project would cost $1 million annually.
  • At a 35% discount, the estimated tax levy impact would be $3.7 million. At a 50% discount, it would be $6.4 million. And at a 60% discount, it would be $8.5 million.

The report also touches on the work of EndPovertyEdmonton, and notes that it recognizes that “accessible, affordable transit plays a key role in ensuring all Edmontonians have equal access and opportunity to jobs, services and travel in our city.”

West Edmonton Mall Transit Centre Options

This report outlines options for temporary enhancement, refurbishment, or replacement of the West Edmonton Mall Transit Centre taking into consideration the Valley Line LRT expansion. Built in the early 1980s, the current transit centre building is “nearing the end of its useful life” and is “no longer able to adequately support the operational needs” of the transit centre.

Here’s an overview of the four options:

  1. Temporary Enhancement – This option would include repairs and some replacements for things like doors, but would not change the look of the building. It would cost between $300,000 and $500,000 for the next four years, after which the building would need to be refurbished or replaced.
  2. Refurbishment – This option would basically retain the bones but would give the building a modern look, complete with upgrades to major systems. This should extend the life of the building by 10-15 years but at a cost of $3 million.
  3. Full Renewal – This option would demolish the existing building and replace it with a new one. The risk is that the Valley Line LRT is only in the preliminary design stages so things could change. The cost would be $4.4 million.
  4. Modular Shelter – This option would demolish the existing building and replace it with a shelter similar to what is currently at the Jasper Place Transit Centre. The estimated life of the shelter would be 20-25 years and it could cost around $3 million.

The recommendation is to go with the Refurbishment option which the report says will provide better value than the full rebuild.

Other

The two responses to Councillor inquiries are as follows:

  • Councillor Nickel made an inquiry in October 2014 about the 97 Street on-street bike route between 34 Avenue and 63 Avenue. The report states that since 2009, “73 kilometers of on-street bike routes have been constructed in Edmonton” which brings the total on-street network to 79 km. The report provides history and context, and also costs involved with relocating the 97 Street bike route.
  • Councillor Gibbons made an inquiry in August 2013 about the potential of having bike lanes along utility corridors (power lines and pipelines). The report says that shared-use paths “are an important part of an integrated bicycle network along with on-street routes.”

Some of the other reports include:

And a bunch of reports have been given revised due dates:

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.