Coming up at City Council: November 9-13, 2015

This coming week Council is back to Committee meetings. I think because of the budget, a lot of reports have been postponed or rerouted. Below are a few highlights from the week’s agendas with links to the reports and more information.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Meetings this week

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

First Responders Memoriam

Councillor Anderson made an inquiry back in June about how Edmonton Police, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, Emergency Medical Services, and other first responders who have died on duty are honoured. Some highlights from the response:

  • “There is no one existing record or public location that identifies the names of all first responders who have died in the line of duty.”
  • EPS and EFS both have programs that honour their fallen members.
  • The City has both the Civic Employee Memorial and the Naming Committee does honour people and places in the City.
  • “The Edmonton Police Service recognize members by adding the names of fallen officers to their flag (or colours), which is on permanent public display at City of Edmonton Police Headquarters. The names of ten fallen officers, dating back to 1918, are recorded on the flag.”
  • For Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, “there is a bell tower that contains the ceremonial bell and the honour roll which names all of Edmonton’s fallen firefighters.”

The City holds a memorial event every two to three years, the next of which will take place in September 2017. “The program includes an Honour Guard procession provided by Edmonton Police Service and Fire Rescue Services, and the laying of the wreaths in honour of the deceased.”

The response also says it could be possible to identify a permanent location for a “First Responders Memorial” within City Hall.

Current Status of the Film Commission

There’s some interesting background in this report on Edmonton’s film industry. The role of Edmonton Film Commissioner was created in 2001 and since then two people have filled the position. But it has been vacant since March 2015 as EEDC “has been evaluating a new strategy which encompasses other forms of media and technology.”

There are also two recommendations, based on public engagement and other evaluation:

  • “That the Edmonton Film Commission and the role of the Edmonton Film Commissioner continue to reside with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.”
  • “That Administration work with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Alberta Media Productions Industries Association and representatives of the film, music and digital media industries, to develop an industry collaboration and development framework, and provide a report to Executive Committee with the results of these discussions.”

EEDC’s new strategy is called “Intersect – a collision of artists and geeks”.

“Intersect offers a multi-disciplinary environment for content creators, interactive designers, hardware engineers, and data scientists, working to transform the way we visualize and analyze data, tell and share stories, and interact with technology.”

The strategy notes that although the digital/interactive media industry generates $7.5 billion of revenue in Canada, just 14% of digital media production takes place in Alberta, and 80% of that is in Calgary. That means there’s a big opportunity for Edmonton to take a bigger piece of the pie.

A separate strategy from AMPIA proposes the creation of an Edmonton Screen Industries Office that would support the local industry. But: “Ultimately, there needs to be collaboration with municipal and provincial organizations and government departments to align goals and resources where appropriate to grow Edmonton screen and cultural industries.”

There’s also a report on the Film Funding Agreement between the City and EEDC. “Administration sees a continued economic benefit in supporting the previously established agreement.”

Distributed Energy in Edmonton’s Downtown

The report begins:

“The City of Edmonton has long understood the benefits of a district energy system and has been monitoring district energy opportunities for several decades. Feasibility studies were done in 1980 and 1992 to explore implementation of district energy in the central core. Since that early work, the technology has evolved considerably and the infrastructure needed takes less space and is more cost-effective than traditional boiler installations.”

The business case for a district energy system in downtown Edmonton is now ready for Council’s review. The City would need to provide a few things in order for it to work: commit City-owned building connections, provide a central located building site for the energy hub, and encourage other organizations to use it. It would also need to contribute $9 million over three years to “help to offset ENMAX’s financial investment and risk” in developing the system.

The benefits of the district energy system for downtown include:

  • “A reduction of 18,100 tonnes (3,800 cars) of greenhouse gas emissions per year in the initial build out of the district energy system.”
  • “Reduced environmental footprint for municipally owned and operated buildings.”
  • “Increased power grid resiliency for the urban core.”

Administration will likely bring forward an unfunded service package for the system for Council to review during the 2016-2018 budget process.

Low Income Transit Pass

This report is a follow-up to Council’s request from April on options for implementation and distribution of the Low Income Transit Pass for 2016. The pass is to have an initial discount of 60%, funded by property taxes. Administration is recommending a $35 pass for eligible customers.

“The most significant challenge for implementing a low income pass program is ensuring that there are enough distribution points so that qualified individuals and families can purchase the pass with relative ease, while still ensuring that only those intended to benefit from the tax levy funded subsidy do so.”

There are more than 100,000 individuals in Edmonton with incomes below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO). ETS expects that an average of 20,000 Low Income Transit Passes will be sold each month (which includes the roughly 5,000 people who already qualify for the AISH Pass). The report recommends four sales locations: Clareview Recreation Centre, Mill Woods Recreation Centre, St. Francis Xavier Sports Centre, and City Hall.

In terms of budget implications:

“The net impact for the recommended $35 Low Income Transit Pass, for all transit services, is $3.1 million in 2016, $6.3 million in 2017 and $8.4 million in 2018.”

Administration is also providing a couple of enhancement options and alternatives:

  • One enhancement would mean that qualifying families only pay for adults and all children under 18 would get a transit pass at no cost. This would further reduce ETS revenue by $2.3 million.
  • A separate enhancement could be to provide the pass at no cost to all eligible Edmontonians. A further reduction in ETS revenue of approximately $8 million would anticipated.
  • An alternative would be a $1 pay-as-you-go cash fare. The cost to ETS of such a program would be “significantly reduced compared to the monthly pass” but the cost to Edmontonians could be more or less, depending on how many rides they take each month.

The City is also recommending that 500 transit passes be distributed monthly to homeless citizens.

Another interesting item from the report is that the “new Low Income Transit Pass operational program should be considered as an interim process” because the regional Smart Fare system will incorporate all fare products, including low income. The report says the new Smart Fare system is expected to be operational in 2018.

Neighbourhood Renewal Program Status Update

There’s lots of really interesting information in this report! From 2009 to 2014, Neighbourhood Renewal Program investment has totaled $660 million. That includes:

  • 22 Neighbourhood Reconstruction Projects
  • 44 Neighbourhood Overlay Projects
  • Total of 1651 lane kilometres of Local/Collector Roads renewed

The Capital Budget for 2015-2018 would total $615 million in Neighbourhood Renewal. That’s 1.5% annually and will fund:

  • 20 Neighbourhood Reconstruction Projects
  • 24 Neighbourhood Overlay Projects
  • Total of 1122 lane kilometres of Local/Collector Roads renewed

The report includes a possible reduction to just 1.4% for 2016, 2017, and 2018, which would reduce the funding by $41.6 million.

Other interesting items

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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