Council is back to Committee meetings this week. Below are a few highlights from the week’s agendas with links to the reports and more information.
Meetings this week
- August 31 at 9:30am – Community Services Committee Meeting
- September 1 at 9:30am – Executive Committee Meeting
- September 2 at 9:30am – Transportation Committee Meeting
- September 4 at 9:00am – City Manager & City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee Meeting
You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.
The report is not yet available, but Council is slated to receive an update on the results of testing at the Transportation Committee meeting on Wednesday. The City is planning to open the Metro Line LRT on September 6 using a modified approach (slower trains, line of sight operation, etc). Last week Council discussed the auditor’s report.
A response to an inquiry by Councillor Walters provides some information on the management of coyotes within the city. Here’s what we learned:
- 311 received 3600 inquiries/complaints about wildlife in 2013, 4500 in 2014, and 2500 so far in 2015. “It is estimated that coyote-related issues represent the majority of these calls.”
- The City has started tracking coyote-specific inquiries in June 2015.
- Research shows that coyotes are the top animal predator in an urban area. They help to reduce the abundance of “pests” like mice, rabbits, and grasshoppers, but they can get too comfortable around people and then become a nuisance.
- Coyotes are considered a nuisance if they attack a human or animal, pose a risk to public safety, loiter in “safety sensitive locations”, establish a den in residential neighbourhoods, or are sick or incapacitated in residential neighbourhoods or parkland.
Coyote near Elk Island Park, photo by Shawn McCready
“While most of the existing and future plans seek to enhance and protect wildlife habitat diversity and reduce human wildlife conflict, there continues to be a growing need for a faster enforcement response, improved educational effort and more support for wildlife research and rehabilitation.”
UPDATE: This item has been moved to September 3.
Project Watch is “a collaborative initiative between the City of Edmonton and Province of Alberta to ensure safe housing conditions for vulnerable individuals and families that are temporarily housed in commercial accommodation.” Mayor Iveson made an inquiry about the program back in June and the report being discussed this week provides background and an update on what Administration has done to help.
Here’s how the City has been involved:
- Research, inspections, and enforcement for infractions to the Zoning Bylaw 12800.
- Review of business licenses.
- Coordination and assistance from the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board and Housing Programs.
- Enforcement of the Community Standards Bylaw 14600, to address “any exterior aesthetic deficiencies, including nuisances on land and on buildings.”
- A Fire Prevention Officer attends all Project Watch inspections and provides public safety and awareness.
- Inspections and enforcement for Building Safety Codes.
Administration is working to “develop clear communication protocols” with the Edmonton Police Service and the two will continue meeting to support the initiative.
While additional budget is not being requested, Administration is assigning one full-time employee to the project.
Valley Line LRT Street Closures
Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting will include a non-statutory public hearing for 38 different road closure bylaws. These closures are intended to “promote the safe interaction of trains, vehicles and pedestrians along the Southeast to West LRT (the ‘Valley Line’) alignment.” The associated documents say that “construction of the Valley Line is scheduled to begin in 2016 and will result in changes to various streets and vehicular access points along the alignment.”
Implementation of the Alberta Wetlands Policy began on June 1, 2015, but there are still plenty of details yet to be released. Council previously recommended that the Mayor write a letter to the Province outlining concerns with the policy. The Province responded acknowledging the concerns and committed to working with the City to address them.
The report identifies a number of implementation issues, including a risk that “if the Province maintains current compensation rates it may result in further loss of wetlands in the City.” Other potential issues include “hydrological impacts that make it difficult to sustain natural wetlands,” “an increased number of wetlands regulated by the Province within the City of Edmonton,” and “the transfer of compensation funds collected in Edmonton and spent on wetland restoration/conservation projects outside of Edmonton represents a flow of money from one municipality to another municipality without any benefit to the citizens of Edmonton.”
Whitemud Wetland, photo by Kurt Bauschardt
Administration has identified three options for addressing recommendations of the Wetland Task Force (which was formed in 2014 to consider the impact of the new policy). The first is to advance work with existing resources, the second is to add a full-time employee and spend $500,000 on “external services” over two years, and the third is to add a full-time employee and spend $700,000 on external services over two years.
Other interesting items
- The Community Services Advisory Board 2014 Annual Report and the City of Edmonton Youth Council Annual Report will be discussed by Community Services Committee on Monday.
- Bylaw 17297 will amend the Public Places Bylaw to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco products.
- Bylaw 17298 will amend the Community Standards Bylaw to “formalize the creation of a nuisance condition related to backyard fire pit activities.”
- A response to an inquiry from Councillor Knack provides information on the Home for Life Initiative, part of Age-Friendly Edmonton, “focused on promoting home design features that allow seniors and people with varying abilities to live in their homes independently.”
- The first Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) with the Decoteau ASP is being developed. Currently identified as the North Neighbourhood, it will include parks, roadways, and sewers as you might expect, but will not include a library, fire station, or police station. Development is slated to start in 2020.
- A new report outlines the authority of Administration to grant variances as part of Development Permit applications.
- Bylaw 17353 is an update to the Procedures and Committees Bylaw to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on prayer at Council meetings. “On April 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in Mouvement Laique Quebecois v. Saguenay (City) 2015 SCC 16, 2015 CSC 16. The court ruled that municipalities must be neutral in matters of belief and non-belief.”
- Amendments to the Zoning Bylaw are being considered to reduce parking requirements for minor eating and drinking establishments.
- Currently you don’t have to be a resident of Edmonton to be appointed to civic agencies, but a new report details a couple of options to change that. Many other municipalities require residency but allow Council to make exceptions.
- Council will receive a private update on the Vehicle for Hire bylaw on Tuesday. We must be getting close the proposed changes for Uber. UPDATE: This item has been moved to September 3.
- The only item on the agenda for the Performance Evaluation Committee is a verbal report on Consulting Firm Interviews.
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.