Coming up at City Council: October 19-23, 2015

Monday is the federal election, so that will be the focus for most Edmontonians and I’m sure Council will be paying close attention also. Mayor Iveson joined other big city Canadian mayors in calling for cities to be a key factor in determining who to vote for. FCM has setup a website to provide information on all of the promises the parties have made related to cities.

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Here’s my look at what Council will be discussing in the week ahead.

Meetings this week

You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.

Zoning Bylaw Amendments on Urban Agriculture

Bylaw 17403 is a text amendment to the Zoning Bylaw 12800 that will add several urban agriculture uses and associated regulations. There are three new uses:

  • Urban Gardens “is for personal, community, or institutional food production and will be allowed in most zones.”
  • Urban Outdoor Farms “is for commercial food production on private property, primarily intended for vacant and underutilized lots in Edmonton.”
  • Urban Indoor Farms “is for commercial and industrial operations that take advantage of new technologies and processes to increase yield and operate year round.”

Additionally, “Farms” will be renamed to “Rural Farms” and “Greenhouses, Plant Nurseries and Market Gardens” is renamed to “Greenhouses, Plant Nurseries and Garden Centres” and will be updated to better align with the products those businesses sell.

The goal of these amendments is to more closely align the Zoning Bylaw with the policies identified in Fresh, Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy. Importantly, the three new uses “are proposed to assert that primary food production is legal and encouraged in Edmonton.”

Anthony Henday Drive & 135 Street Interchange and Manning/Meridian Interchange

The City is recommending an interchange at Anthony Henday Drive and 135 Street, which could cost in the order of $125 million, “as one of the three top candidates for the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund.” They say the return of investment would come from further development of Heritage Valley.

Also up for Council’s consideration is a project bundle for the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park. The planned 4800 ha area envisioned as “a world-class eco-industrial park” is off to a slow start.

“Development in the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park to date has been limited. It is unlikely that development will occur as desired without infrastructure investment. A significant impediment to development taking place in the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park currently is the lack of existing infrastructure and its associated cost.”

The infrastructure investment in both transportation and stormwater drainage could cost in the order of $230 million. However, Administration advises that “it would be appropriate for Council to first provide direction with respect to the degree to which, and where, public funds should contribute to infrastructure servicing that is otherwise provided by developers.”

Meeting Schedule & Council Appointments

It’s that time of year again – Council needs to approve its meeting schedule for the year ahead. There’s nothing too surprising in the proposed schedule. Council would resume after the Christmas break on January 11 and would meet through March 24, right before the Easter break. The summer break would begin on July 15, with Council resuming on August 15.

“The draft January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016, Council and Committee Meeting Schedule has 19 Council and Standing Committee meeting rotations, 19 Statutory Public Hearings, 18 Non-regular City Council meetings, along with three half-day Council meetings and eight Committee meetings for civic agency recruitment and selection matters.”

The report helpfully includes some statistics from 2013 – 2015 to compare the proposed schedule with previous years. Council must also set the Deputy Mayor and Acting Mayor schedules for the coming year. Each Councillor gets a turn.

As of December 31, a number of Council appointments to civic agencies will expire. The following appointments are being proposed:

  • Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Exchange Agreement Coordinating Committee – Councillor Anderson and Councillor Walters
  • Canadian Urban Transit Association Transit Board Members Committee – Councillor Sohi
  • Capital Region Board – Councillor Gibbons
  • Capital Region Waste Minimization Advisory Committee – Councillor Anderson
  • Edmonton Police Commission – Councillor McKeen
  • Edmonton Public Library Board – Councillor Henderson
  • Edmonton Salutes – Councillor Loken
  • Inter-City Forum on Social Policy – Councillor Esslinger
  • REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities – Councillor Loken (as advisor/liaison)

If Councillor Sohi is successful in Monday’s election, then a future report will be brought forward to replace his existing appointments. There is also a list of appointments not yet up for renewal if you’d like to see which Councillors are representing us where.

Northern Circumpolar Secretariat Memorandum of Understanding

The Northern Circumpolar Secretariat is a collaborative effort between the City, EEDC, Chamber of Commerce, U of A, and the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority. It was established earlier this year and the report on the table presents the Memorandum of Understanding for approval. It is “a policy tool to ensure the long-term stability of the Secretariat as it executes its mandate in support of the Northern Relations Council Initiative.” The MOU is 10 pages long and also attached is a 22-page business plan which outlines the budget, governance model, goals, vision, and timeline and deliverables for the Secretariat. The City is providing $90,000 this year, $35,750 in 2016, and $62,000 in 2017.

Adoption of the Aster NSP

Aster is the 7th and final neighbourhood in The Meadows ASP. Larkspur, Wild Rose, and Silverberry are considered 100& complete in terms of low density residential units while Laurel, Tamarack, and Maple are considered 45% complete.

meadows asp

Aster will accommodate approximately 3,499 dwelling units and 8,755 people, which is a density of 33.3 upnrha, barely meeting the CRB target for the region. It will account for approximately 15% of The Meadows ASP’s gross area and population.

The neighbourhood will include:

  • one school/park site, with two K-9 schools located in the centre of the area, and three pocket parks throughout the neighbourhood
  • approximately 22 hectares of preserved existing natural areas
  • approximately 13 hectares of stormwater management facilities
  • a system of shared use paths and a bicycle network

The initial neighbourhood infrastructure costs are being largely funded by developers – $104.7 million compared to the City’s $14.8 million – but as usual “there will also be associated operating and life cycle costs that would require City funding allocations in Operating, Utilities and Capital Budgets.” City funding could be required as early as 2017 if the planned construction begins in 2016.

Bylaw 17366 will be considered along with Bylaw 17365 to amend the Meadows ASP and Bylaw 17367 to amend the boundary of the North Saskatchewan River Valley ARP.

Committee Recommendations

Recommendations that have come forward from Committee include:

There are also two Executive Committee reports that have been referred without a recommendation:

Bylaws

There are a number of bylaws on the agenda. Here are a few highlights:

  • Bylaw 17352 will allow for digital signs to be erected in South Edmonton Common, between Gateway Boulevard and Parsons Road and 23 Avenue and Anthony Henday.
  • Bylaw 17373 and Bylaw 17374 together will “ensure the continued operation and preservation of the Oblats Maison Provinciale building, a Designated Municipal and Provincial Historic Resource.”
  • Bylaw 17297 would amend the Public Places Bylaw to include the prohibition of e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco products.
  • Bylaw 17432 authorizes borrowing of up to $250 million for the Valley Line LRT project.
  • Bylaw 17390 will increase the borrowing authority to finance construction costs for the Valley Line LRT from $152 million to $1.1 billion.

Other interesting items

  • Council will once again be discussing the Youth Council recommendation of vegetarian eating, in the name of sustainability.
  • There is a small change being proposed to the 2016-2018 Budget Process, to allow for an early release of the Utility Budget. Council must now submit written questions regarding the budget by October 28.
  • The City Manager Recruitment Committee, made up of Mayor Iveson and Councillors Esslinger, Loken, and Walters, met for the first time on September 30. Pretty much all of their activities will be carried out in private.
  • Tuesday’s agenda includes six private reports, including an update on the Valley Line LRT Funding Plan, an update on City Infrastructure Priorities for the Provincial Budget, and a status update from the Acting City Manager.
  • Wednesday’s agenda includes just two private reports: verbal shortlistings for both the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority and the Edmonton Police Commission.

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.

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