It has been a while since my last Council update! I’m going to try to get back into it, with some experimentation on the format. Instead of going day-by-day as I have in the past, I’m going to try a more general overview this time with a focus on highlighting a few specific items. Let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions on how to make this update more readable and useful.
Meetings this week
- June 22 at 9:30am – Audit Committee Meeting
- June 22 at 1:30pm – Public Hearing
- June 23 at 9:30am – City Council Meeting
- June 24 at 9:30am – City Council Meeting
- June 25 at 9:30am – Utility Committee Meeting
You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.
There are 23 Council Initiatives underway and by policy they are reviewed annually by City Council. There is an attachment for each initiative here, with work accomplished as of May 2015. Here are some highlights of the next steps:
- Child Friendly Edmonton – Plans are underway for a Pecha Kucha-style forum in the fall, and development of an intergenerational toolkit is underway.
- EndPoverty Edmonton – The strategy will be presented to Council in September 2015, with a full implementation plan to be finalized by Spring 2016
- ELEVATE – Work continues on a collaborative project to demonstrate the intent and approach of ELEVATE, primarily with the Greater Hardisty Community Sustainability Coalition.
- Emerging Economy – Make Something Edmonton is working on supports for ambassadors of Edmonton, Edmonton Original is working on “52 fishhooks” (a reason to come to Edmonton every week of the year), and EEDC is scaling up its Entrepreneurship 101, Front Desk, and Vacancy Hall programs.
- NextGen – Projects like Pecha Kucha, MEAET, the Ideas Conference, and others will continue, and an RFP is out for the redevelopment of the website.
- Public Engagement – There are plans to establish a Public Engagement Advisory Committee, and also to undertake the 2015 Everyday Political Citizen campaign.
- Public Transit – There are a number of sub-initiatives here, but the report notes that 30% of buses are equipped with Smart Bus Technology with plans for another 500 buses to receive the technology by the end of the year. Also, ridership increased 2.5% in 2014 to 89,283,000 trips, and so far in 2015 there has been “a modest increase” over 2014 levels.
You can read the rest of the updates here.
This report outlines some options for a ward boundary review. This review could address population criteria, may better align ward boundaries to community league boundaries and easily identifiable borders, and could even result in changes to the number of Councillors. You can see the current wards here.
Option 1 is called Ward Boundary Correction and would change the borders of wards 9, 10, 11, and 12 to “balance them to the optimum population levels.” This option is expected to cost $40,000 for public engagement and consultation, redrawing of boundaries, and map creation.
Option 2 is called Ward Boundary Review and is a more in-depth analysis. The last review was completed after the 2007 municipal election, which resulted in a change from 6 to 12 wards. According to last year’s census, there are no wards that have exceeded the minimum or maximum population growth threshold, so a review isn’t required. Moving ahead with a review would allow Council to consider other changes like adding more Councillors or staff, which could result in building, technology, and governance changes. The cost for this option is estimated at $200,000.
Comparing to other cities is difficult, but the report notes that Calgary has 14 wards, Ottawa has 23, and Toronto has 44. Vancouver doesn’t have wards and instead has 10 Councillors at large.
If Council wishes to make changes to the Ward Boundaries and Council Composition Bylaw (15142) they need to do so by April 18, 2017 in order to have it passed at least 180 days before the general election as required by the MGA.
The 104 Avenue Corridor ARP is going to Council on Monday.
This is a big item that you’ve probably been hearing about, especially if you live in Oliver where a series of open houses were held, as well as meetings with community leagues, businesses, and others.
“The 104 Avenue Corridor Area Redevelopment Plan provides a holistic vision and framework of policies and initiatives for the transformation and integration of the 104 Avenue Corridor into a transit supportive, sustainable community.”
The plan covers the area between 111 Street and 123 Street and is important because that is the future alignment for the west leg of the Valley Line LRT. You can read the final version of the ARP and learn more about the project here.
Work continues on the 2016-2018 Operating Budget, but this report had a few things I found particularly interesting:
- Population growth rates for Edmonton are estimated at: 1.9% for 2016, 2.4% for 2017, and 2.6% for 2018.
- The consumer price index increase is estimated at: 2% for 2016, 2.2% for 2017, and 2.2% for 2018.
- Maintaining current services would result in a general tax increase of: 3.5% in 2016, 3.7% in 2017, and 3.6% in 2018.
- Including the Neighbourhood Renewal Program and Valley Line LRT funding requirements, the forecasted tax levy increase would be: 6.0% in 2016, 6.1% in 2017, and 5.9% in 2018.
The City will be updating the City Budget microsite with more information as the operating budget is developed, so stay tuned. They’re also planning to “go to the people” for public engagement on the budget, rather than simply hosting their own open houses.
Here are some recommendations from Council’s committees that will be voted on this week worth highlighting:
- That the location of the Water Play Area proposed for Hawrelak Park be approved.
- Councillor Henderson made a motion that the City stop using herbicides on its own lands, and the item is now back at Council without a recommendation from Committee.
- That the River Valley Alliance extend the timeline for completion of its plan and that the design and construction of the funicular (North Bank Mechanized Access project) be approved.
- In an effort to lower risk and obtain a better financial proposal from the P3 Contractor for the Valley Line LRT, it is recommended that the contractor pay the City a nominal amount in lieu of municipal taxes for the lands occupied. This is only an issue because the line is going to be operated and maintained by the P3 entity, rather than the City (in which case the property would be exempt from taxation). Estimated annual municipal taxes are $551,000 with another $135,000 in education taxes.
Other interesting items
- A rezoning for the North by Lamb Development tower is on the agenda for the public hearing. The rezoning would accommodate a 123 metre high tower (approximately 37 storeys) at 10160 106 Street.
- The City is researching what other cities in Canada are doing with respect to Enterprise Risk Management. “It appears that Edmonton is a leader in its Enterprise Risk Management efforts,” says the report.
- Council has been told to expect The Way Ahead Progress Report 2014 in September. That report will provide “an account of how well the City is meeting its goals and corporate outcomes.” Administration also says the Citizen Dashboard reports performance, though only 4 of the 26 corporate outcome measures are included. The rest are expected to be added after the Progress Report is released in September.
- Bylaw 17233 will amend the parking bylaw (5590) to allow pay-by-plate parking, which the City is rolling out under the name EPark.
- The 2016-2018 business plans for Waste Management Utility and Drainage Services are now available.
Private Reports & Motions Pending
There are seven private reports on the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting, covering some very interesting topics. For instance, Council is slated to hear about Valley Line LRT expropriation, an update on the City Charter, and a major event hosting opportunity.
There’s also a motion pending from Councillor Oshry called 95 Avenue Bike Lane Removal.
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.