Coming up at City Council: March 16-20, 2015

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. You can find my previous roundups here.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Monday, March 16, 2015

The week begins on Monday with a Public Hearing scheduled to last all day. There are 20 bylaws on the agenda. Here are some that caught my eye:

Bylaw 17011 – Adoption of The Decoteau ASP

You’ll recall that this bylaw was first considered at the February 9 meeting, where Council asked for some improvements. Here’s what has changed:

  • The net residential density of the proposed ASP has increased from 30.6 to 34.0 dwelling units per hectare.
  • An increase in the Business Employment designation is not being proposed as it would increase infrastructure costs, among other considerations. Administration says this can be further refined during the NSP phase.
  • Mapping and policies related to wetland and natural areas have been verified as providing “an accurate representation of the ecological network proposed for retention.”

This bylaw is ready for second reading only – third reading is being withheld pending review by the Capital Region Board.

Bylaw 17116 – Amendment to the Zoning Bylaw re: Garage & Garden Suites

This bylaw is meant to eliminate restrictions for Garage and Garden Suites and to enable the subdivision of sites zoned RF1 to narrower lots not less than 7.6 meters wide. These two amendments were brought to Executive Committee back on November 12 and address two actions from Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap (pdf):

  • Action 14: Create more and better opportunities for Garage and Garden Suites in established neighbourhoods by amending the Zoning Bylaw’s location criteria and Site regulations for these types of housing.
  • Action 15: Change the (RF1) Single Detached Residential zone to allow the subdivision of properties into narrower lots that are half of the average width of the other lots on the block (but not less than 25ft wide)

There are currently restrictions on where Garage and Garden Suites can be located, on the height of those structures, and on the minimum site area. The proposed amendment addresses all of these restrictions.

The second proposed amendment will allow a minimum site width for single detached housing of 7.6 meters, decreases the minimum site area for single detached housing to 250.8 m2, increases allowable site coverage for narrow lot developments to 42%, and allows the subdivision of a lot zoned RF1 to a maximum of two lots.

Public input came from the Evolving Infill consultation efforts as well as a pilot project that took place in the Prince Charles neighbourhood. The report says that “more than 1000 residents and stakeholders took part in both Evolving Infill and Garage and Garden Suite consultation.”

Bylaw 17114 – To allow for the development of Public Education Services, Allard

This bylaw is to rezone the property located at 660 Allard Boulevard SW from AP to US to accommodate the development of a public elementary school. This is being done “in conformance with the Heritage Valley Servicing Concept Design Brief and the Allard Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan.” No concerns or questions were raised as a result of the advance notice.

Bylaw 17132 – Closure of portions of 101 Street NW, 100A Street NW

This bylaw is about road closures yes, but it’s really about repurposing Fire Station 21 in Rossdale:

“On July 3, 2013, City Council approved a Community Services Committee Report that recommended, in part, that the existing Fire Station 21 be repurposed to house an active river rescue crew, provide backup service to the downtown core, house specialized apparatus, be approved as a major facility within the River Valley, and that the location of the facility within the River Valley be deemed essential and approved pursuant to section 3.5.1 of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Development Plan Bylaw. This road closure application is a step in the ongoing progression to achieving these recommendations.”

Apparently the station is built over several lots and road right-of-way created by “Plan Q” way back in 1893.

Other

A few others I wanted to note:

  • Bylaw 17111 is to allow a freestanding sign to be put up at 5315 127 Street NW to identify the new Eco Station.
  • Bylaws 17070 and 17071 will be considered together, and amend the Maple NSP to designate land that was being used for a cell tower to row housing as the tower has been dismantled and is no longer in operation.
  • Bylaw 17133 is an amendment to the zoning bylaw to reduce the required minimum Side Setback for garages in RF4 zoned areas from 0.9 meters to 0.6 meters, “specific to Garages where the vehicle doors face a Lane abutting the Site.” Currently constructing a detached garage for each unit of a semi-detached house would require a Class B discretionary development approval.

Tuesday & Wednesday, March 17/18, 2015

Next up for Council is a regular City Council Meeting scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. There are 14 public reports, 3 bylaws, and 3 private reports on the agenda.

Council Members’ Updates on Agency & Initiative Appointments

This report provides an update on the agencies and initiatives that the Councillors are members of. Here are some highlights:

  • AUMA’s Executive Committee will be making its annual presentation to Council’s Executive Committee on March 24.
  • The Chair and CEO of the Capital Region Board will also be presenting to Executive Committee on March 24. The CRB’s Regional Services Committee may be disbanded pending a report in August 2015.
  • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) will hold its annual conference in Edmonton from June 5-8. The mayor will host a reception in Churchill Square after the opening game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on June 6.
  • Edmonton will be the host city for the 2019 International Council on Alcohol, Drugs & Traffic Safety (ICADTS). The 7th Traffic Safety Conference takes place here in Edmonton from April 27-30.

Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy

This report presents a draft of the strategy and will be discussed in a facilitated session on Wednesday morning. So what is a Community Energy Transition Strategy?

“Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy is a risk management strategy designed to protect Edmonton’s quality-of-life (social, economic, environment) from climate and energy-related risks.”

“The strategy responds to City Council’s 10-year goal to be “the nation’s leader in setting and achieving the highest standards of environmental preservation and sustainability both in its own practices and by encouraging and enabling the practices of its partners.” Equally, it responds to Council-approved goals in The Way We Green and to corporate outcomes and measures that call for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in both City operations and the Edmonton community.”

Energy transition is about reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and conservation, ensuring our energy systems are resilient to disturbances, and positioning Edmonton to take advantage of clean energy technologies. The strategy contains:

  • A Diagnosis of the energy and climate challenges/opportunities we face globally and locally;
  • Strategic Courses of Action for addressing these challenges/opportunities in coming decades;
  • An Eight-Year Action Plan establishing the first step (2014-2017) and signaling the second step (2018-2021) of Edmonton’s energy transition journey.

The strategy calls energy transition “the golden opportunity of our age” and says that “few places are better positioned than Edmonton in terms of knowledge, experience, and financial capacity to lead and excel in this area.”

To say there’s a lot to digest here would be an understatement. There are 11 strategic actions, 7 opportunity areas, 45 focus areas, and 10 community scale programs. Targets include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2035 (compared to 2005 levels), reducing energy consumption by 25% per person by 2035 (compared to 2009 levels), and generating 10% of Edmonton’s energy locally by 2035.

By 2035, Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy is “expected to deliver a net present value of approximately $2.5 billion to citizens and community stakeholders.” The report argues that a City Policy is important to make this happen.

So, how much will it cost? Funding of $1.9 million a year is needed in 2016 and 2017 for startup initiatives. The programs beginning in 2018 would require another $27.5 million per year through 2021. No funding sources are identified in the report, but it does say that “additional federal, provincial, and municipal government funding will be needed to advance these initiatives.”

Communications Plan for LRT Funding Advocacy

The report isn’t available yet, but Council will be discussing how to advocate for funds for future LRT development. This item came up at the Transportation Services Committee back on February 25. As a reminder, there is roughly 32 km of the 69.7 km LRT Network Plan without funding.

Committee Reports

The Committee reports were all recently discussed at one of the four committees and have been referred to Council with a recommendation for approval. A few that I wanted to highlight include:

Bylaws

As mentioned, there are three bylaws on the agenda:

  • Bylaw 17005 is an amendment to the Procedures and Committees Bylaw 12300 to change the time for continuation of City Council meetings and Public Hearings. Currently they continue the next business day, but the amendment would allow Council to choose a time within the next three business days.
  • Bylaw 17128 is to decrease the borrowing authority by $9.6 million to $12.3 million for the Aurum Energy Park. This is required to enable the City to recover the actual cost of the local improvement rather than the estimated cost.
  • Bylaw 17101 increases borrowing for sidewalk reconstruction in the Hazeldean neighbourhood by $8,339 because the originally assessed area was short by 46 meters. This is a very small chunk of the $6.9 million project cost.

Private Reports

Council will receive three private reports: one is an intergovernmental update on the City Charter, and the other two deal with the performance evaluations for the City Manager and City Auditor. The 2014 performance evaluation results are time-specific at 1:30pm on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Community Services Committee meeting has been scheduled for Thursday morning, to allow Council to continue interviewing applicants for the Civic Agencies Recruitment effort.

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.

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

It’s Committee week again!

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, March 9, 2015

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

Highway Entrance Signs (Councillor Oshry)

Councillor Oshry made an inquiry back in October about the Highway Entrance Signs that you see as you enter the city. He wanted to know what the process was for removing and replacing them, what the options were for determining the design and contents, how such a project might be funded, and what the public engagement process might look like. Here’s what the report says:

  • There are currently seven such signs, which isn’t really that many when you think about it. There are some key entry points that currently lack a sign, such as Highway 28 or St. Albert Trail.
  • The City says there are three basic options for designing new signs: Standard Architectural Proposal Call, Anonymous Open Design Competition, or a Closed Design Competition.
  • As for funding, options include a fundraising campaign like the “Light the Bridge” effort, private funding “through sponsorship or advertising opportunities,” or a standard Capital Budget profile.
  • The City says the signs are functional and not in need of replacement, so any project to replace them would “need to be assessed against other unfunded growth profiles.”
  • Public engagement options run the gamut from online surveys to workshops and interviews.

I would be surprised to see this report go anywhere beyond Committee – I don’t think there’s an appetite to fund such a project.

LEED Silver Exemption for the Varscona Theatre

The Varscona Theatre is being rehabilitated at a cost of $7.5 million. The City’s contribution is $2 million and Policy C532 says that all new buildings and major renovations to City-owned buildings must achieve LEED Silver certification. Exemptions can be made however, where achieving that certification is deemed impractical.

In the case of the Varscona Theatre, which was built as a fire hall in 1957 and converted into a theatre in 1982, building to LEED Silver would increase total project costs by 11-15%. The report states that the project “is still adopting sustainable design and construction practices where feasible.”

Entering Varscona
Photo by Kurt Bauschardt

The reconstructed Capitol Theatre at Fort Edmonton Park was also granted an exemption back in 2011.

Other

Here’s what the other reports are about:

  • Every six months or as directed by Council, the Edmonton Police Commission is required to submit a report of all agreements entered into for expenditures greater than $100,000. There are three such agreements in this report, totaling $660,944, for helicopter parts, 911 dispatch software, and snow removal services.
  • There’s an update on the new Africa Centre and the corresponding strategy for the involvement of the African community. Council has already approved $838,000 for the schematic design for the building. The estimate for the total project budget is $39,808,100, the City’s portion of which will be considered during the 2019-2022 Capital Budget.
  • There’s also an update on the activities of Aksis, Edmonton’s Aboriginal Business and Professional Association. Last year was the organization’s second year of operation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Tuesday, the next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled to take place from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are eleven reports on the agenda, six of which deal with requests for tax cancellation, deferral, or refunds. Here’s what caught my eye:

Pictometry

Pictometry Canada Corp. provides high-resolution digital imagery of the city through aerial photography. They use fly-bys to create high resolution images of the ground that can be used for many City processes. These images are not unlike what you’d see in a tool like Google Earth, but they are more frequently updated, are higher resolution, and integrate into existing City software.

In 2013, more than 100,000 images were viewed by City staff. That number grew to over 500,000 last year. The City expects usage to grow and is looking to enter into a five-year contract with Pictometry for about $1.1 million.

“Having reviewed several options, Pictometry has proven itself to be the best tool for the City of Edmonton’s purposes. It is the only service provider that is able to integrate its technology directly with other City enterprise priority systems, allowing for seamless interface between them.”

St. Albert, Calgary, Wood Buffalo, and Fort Saskatchewan are some of the other municipalities that use Pictometry.

Impact of the Alberta Wetlands Policy on City Wetlands

The Government of Alberta will be implementing the Alberta Wetland Policy in June 2015, and this report attempts to provide some insight on the impact it will have on City wetlands. About 1,100 hectares of wetlands remain with in Edmonton’s corporate limits, which is 1.6% of the City’s land base. As you might expect, most of those wetlands are in the undeveloped parts of the city.

If an organization wants to do something with wetlands in Edmonton, they currently need to pay a compensation rate of $19,000/hectare. The report notes this isn’t very much:

“When working within a large urban context where property values are higher (in many cases over $300,000/ hectares), it is financially more attractive for most applicants to pay compensation at a rate of $19,000 hectares to fill in a wetland than to protect it.”

The impact of the new policy isn’t fully understood yet. It will increase the area of regulated wetlands in Edmonton from about 600 hectares to 1000 hectares, but the financial impacts “cannot be evaluated until implementation details are released later in 2015.” The City has started a Wetland Task Force to work to understand the potential impacts of the policy.

Delegation of Authoring – Semi Annual Report

Bylaw 12005 requires that the City Manager provide Council with a semi-annual report summarizing all contracts, agreements, settlments, etc. which involved a revenue or expenditure of $100,000 or greater. Tendered agreements of less than $20 million and un-tendered agreements of less than $500,000 can be approved by Administration, otherwise they must be approved by Council.

“For the period of July 1 to December 31, 2014, Administration approved 150 tendered agreements with a total value of $128,865,510 and 1 9 un-tendered agreements with a total value of $3,310,610.”

The report attachment outlines the agreements greater than $100,000 for the reporting period.

Tax Stuff

Four organizations (Edmonton Chevra Kadisha, South Shore Country Club Inc., Habitat for Humanity, and CASA Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health) requested special Council consideration for their taxes to be cancelled, but all four are recommended to be denied. Wellspring Edmonton, which was granted a tax deferral last year, is requesting a further deferral. The recommendation is to approve that, and to bring a new report to Executive Committee in 2016.

Finally, there’s a recommendation to approve tax refunds totalling $74,061.48 as well as any associated penalties. These refunds are for non-profit organizations for the period of time during which their facilities were under construction and not in use.

Other

There’s a report pending on the pedway to the Galleria and Royal Alberta Museum, but it’s not ready yet. It’ll provide an update on the Sole Source Agreement (which basically means there’s one vendor in particular that the City has solicited and negotiated with).

There’s a status update on the Cornerstones Inclusionary Affordable Housing program. “The City has paid, on average, $200,000 per unit using Cornerstones I funds for a total investment of $4.2 million. The market value of this portfolio at the time it was acquired was $4.9 million.” Administration is planning to bring an official policy forward for consideration in the second quarter of 2015.

A bunch of reports have been delayed until March 24, including at least three that deal with the zoning bylaw. An update on the Open City Initiative has also been delayed until March 24.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The next Transportation Committee meeting takes place on Wednesday from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There is one report on the agenda as well as two responses to Councillor inquiries.

ETS Fare Policy Draft Revision – U-Pass

The ETS Fare Policy was last updated in 2013 to increase the U-Pass fare by $7.50 per year for the next four years (ending in 2016). Since then, Council has also adopted a new Multi-year Budgeting Policy (in September 2014). As a result, Administration is bringing forward a revised policy that brings it in line with that new process. But don’t worry, the public will still get a say: “Citizens will be able to provide feedback on a proposed multi-year fare policy as part of the submitted Transit Branch Business Plan.”

Potholes in Back Alleys (Councillor Knack)

Councillor Knack inquired back in October about the process for repairing potholes in back alleys, about the general condition of back alleys, and if there were any plan to address the long-term sustainability of those alleys.

Back Alley
Photo by Bill Burris

The report responds as follows:

  • Repairing potholes in alleys is similar to repairing potholes on other roads, except that it takes longer. As opposed to two working days for arterials and five working days for collector roadways, potholes in alleys are given the lowest priority and are “generally completed in that same construction season” but could be carried over to the following year.
  • “The general condition of the back alley network is poor (Condition D).” The report says that 30% of the total pothole repair budget is spent in back alleys, yet alleys represent just 9% of the total road inventory.
  • The current Neighbourhood Renewal Program “does not include any funding for alleys”.

Streetlight Pole Maintenance & Replacement Program (Councillor Anderson)

Back in September Councillor Anderson made an inquiry about the streetlight pole maintenance and replacement program. Here are the highlights from the response:

  • The City assumed responsibility for the street light system from EPCOR in 1997.
  • Prior to 2004 the City painted street poles, but that practice was discontinued because replacement was more cost effective over the life of the pole.
  • The City currently has approximately 75,000 street light poles, 10% of which are recommended for replacement. The rest are in fair to good condition.
  • The City replaces approximately 1,500 poles per year.

Other

  • Three reports were delayed. Both the report on Scona Road Traffic Safety & Speed Mitigation Strategies and a report on Bike Lanes on Utility Corridors have a revised due date of April 22. The Enhanced Coliseum LRT Station and Pedway to Northlands Expo Centre report has “to be determined” as its due date, presumably to allow the Northlands Arena Strategy Committee recommendation to be considered by the Northlands board first.
  • There’s also a private report: Civic Agencies Recruitment Interviews & Short Listing.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Executive Committee is meeting again on Thursday afternoon. There’s just one item on the agenda, and it’s a private report: Civic Agencies Recruitment Interviews & Short Listing.

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.

Coming up at City Council: March 2-6, 2015

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, March 2, 2015

The week begins on Monday with a Public Hearing scheduled to last all day. There are 9 bylaws on the agenda:

  • Bylaw 17098 – To allow for business, service, and light industrial uses, Wilson Industrial
  • Bylaw 17152 – To allow for the development of business employment uses, Ambleside
  • Bylaws 17085, 17086, 17087 – Amendments to The Orchards NSP and Ellerslie ASP to allow for more housing
  • Bylaws 17093, 17094 – Amendment to the Oliver ARP to allow for a 14 storey building on Jasper Avenue west of 123 Street
  • Bylaws 17096, 17097 – Amendment to the Strathcona ARP to restrict the size of select uses in Strathcona, Queen Alexandra, and Strathcona Junction

The one I’m most interested in is 17094, which is to rezone the property at 12302 and 12308 Jasper Avenue from CB1 to CB3. The proposed opportunity is a mixed-use development up to 14 storeys in height. Currently at that location you’ll find the Peter Robertson, Agnes Bugera, and Front art galleries.

Also on March 2 is the City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee meeting. There are two private items on the agenda – 2014 Evaluation Results and 2015 Evaluation Process Update. The meeting is scheduled to take place over the lunch break.

There’s also an LRT Governance Board meeting taking place on Monday in the River Valley Room. The board will be receiving a verbal update on the Valley Line LRT Project, and the board’s Semi Annual Report will be discussed (it’ll need Council approval). There’s also a report outlining the results of the Public Input on Request for Proposals for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT.

Tuesday & Wednesday, March 3/4, 2015

Next up for Council is a regular City Council Meeting that starts Tuesday and may run into Wednesday. There are 19 reports on the agenda, 13 of which are committee reports. There are also 18 bylaws on the agenda for consideration.

Edmonton’s Economic Forecast Update

This item is all about dealing with the price of oil. “To better understand the implications of lower oil prices on the economic prospects for the City of Edmonton and the surrounding region, a series of simulations were run in late January using the City’s economic forecasting models.” Based on those simulations, the City has updated its forecasted economic indicators as follows:

Indicator 2014 2015
(Spring 2014 Forecast)
2015
(Current Forecast)
Real GDP 3.3% 3.7% 2.8%
Inflation (CPI) 2.1% 1.5% 1.8%
Population 3.6% 2.1% 1.9%
Unemployment Rate 5.0% 4.2% 5.2%
Housing Starts 9,798 10,175 10,600

The highlight? “Economic growth will continue in Edmonton and out perform the rest of the province due to its relatively low direct dependence of the energy sector.” Longer term, Edmonton’s economic growth should recover to levels slightly above 3%, which will still be higher than most of the Province and Canada as a whole.

Another round of forecasting is being planned for mid-April to take the Provincial budget into account, among other data updates.

December 2014 Preliminary Year End Financial Results

There’s a lot of information available with this report, including a dozen attachments. A few highlights:

  • Preliminary results for 2014 tax-supported operations identify a net favourable year-end variance of $9.9 million or 0.5% of the overall expenditure budget.
  • Based on borrowing and repayments to December 31, 2014, the City has $2.823 billion in total debt, which is 61.1% of the MGA allowed debt limit.
  • Based on that amount, the City utilized 39.5% of the maximum debt service limit for 2014 as defined by the MGA. “Debt servicing will increase significantly in 2016 and 2018 due to the repayment of $60 million of short-term borrowing in each of the years.”
  • The Quarters CRL ended 2014 with a deficit of $3.6 million and a cumulative deficit balance since inception of $9 million.
  • The Belvedere CRL ended 2014 with a deficit of $1.6 million and a cumulative deficit balance since inception of $5.4 million.
  • The Downtown CRL has incurred $3.6 million in debt servicing costs for 2014, the first year of operation. “From 2019 onwards this program is projected to have an annual positive net position, which will be transferred to the CRL reserve.”

There’s also a recommendation for Council to approve three things:

  • An increase of $3.6 million to the 2015 Operating Budget, with the funds to come from the Financial Stabilization Reserve.
  • An increase of $5.1 million to the 2015 Operating Budget, offset by an equivalent transfer from amounts currently appropriated in the Financial Stabilization Reserve.
  • An increase of $39.5 million to the 2015 Operating Budget, offset by an equivalent amount in revenue, to address the cash flow of expenditures for the 41st Avenue/QEII interchange.

The financial results outlined in the report are based on information available to February 23, 2015 and are unaudited and subject to change.

Capital Finance Update

Last year was the final year of the 2012-2014 Capital Budget that was approved back on December 8, 2011. “As of December 31, 2014, the three year spend was $3,151.4.4 million against the 2012 to 2014 adjusted capital budget of $4,280.4 million representing 73.6% of the total budget.” Some of the things we spent money on include:

  • The Downtown Arena
  • The Clareview & Meadows Recreation Centres
  • The Walterdale Bridge
  • The Southeast to West LRT/Valley Line
  • Neighbourhood Renewal Program

The unused capital budget will be carried forward, a process that is expected to be finalized in the spring.

Implementation Plan for the Way Ahead (2015-2018)

This report, along with the associated Department and Branch 3-Year Business Plan Process report, outlines the Implementation Project for The Way Ahead. Last year Council reaffirmed the strategic plan with 12 revised corporate outcomes and 26 outcome measures. The scope of the project is to identify and prioritize actions and tactics to achieve or make substantial progress toward the outcomes by December 31, 2018.

Branches are currently developing their 2016-2018 business plans now, which will include actions that contribute to the Implementation Project. By April, the public will have been consulted through the Edmonton Insight Community, and by May the Corporate Leadership Team will have reviewed the Branch business plans and approved the Implementation Plan document. We can expect a public release of everything on November 3, in time for the 2016 budget cycle.

Appointments to Civic Agencies for 2015-2016

Council needs to appoint members to a few different civic agencies for the 2015-2016 term. The appointments are as follows:

  • Councillor Caterina to the Edmonton Northlands Board and Edmonton Northlands Executive Committee
  • Councillor Oshry to the Edmonton Northlands Board
  • Councillor Henderson & Councillor Walters to the River Valley Alliance Board
  • Councillor Esslinger to the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway Association Board

This item will likely be just a rubber stamping exercise.

Committee Reports

The Committee reports were all recently discussed at one of the four committees and have been referred to Council with a recommendation for approval. A few that I wanted to highlight include:

  • Designation, Preservation and Restoration of McDougall United Church – A recommendation that the Mayor, on behalf of City Council, approach the relevant provincial ministers to explore partnership opportunities around heritage, arts and post-secondary uses as part of a repair and long-term operational sustainability strategy for McDougall United Church as a public building.
  • Online Voting – That the Mayor, on behalf of City Council, write a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs requesting that consideration be given to amending the Local Authorities Election Act, to permit alternative forms of voting.
  • ParkPlus Software Licensing & Maintenance Agreement – That the name “EPark” and the EPark design contained in the February 25 Transportation Services report be approved for use to distinguish parking solutions provided by the City of Edmonton.
  • Funding Strategies for Future LRT Expansion – That Administration work with the Mayor, to develop a communication plan to inform citizens about the impact of other orders of government on funding the City’s future LRT Network Plan, in light of the upcoming Provincial and Federal elections, and return to City Council.

Bylaws

As mentioned, there are 18 bylaws on the agenda. Here are a few that I wanted to highlight:

  • Bylaw 17003 would designate the Mountfield House, built in 1905, as a Municipal Historic Resource. This is ready for third reading.
  • Bylaw 17092 will amend the Quarters CRL bylaw to increase borrowing by $44,345,000, to pay for the phase II projects. That’ll bring the total for projects in the Quarters CRL to $95,345,000. This is ready for second and third readings.
  • Bylaw 17075 will increase borrowing authorization for the Great Neighbourhoods Initiative by $60 million. This is ready for second and third readings.
  • Bylaw 17102 will authorize the City to borrow $304,186,000 to undertake, construct, and finance Sanitary and Stormwater Drainage projects. This is ready for first reading only.
  • Bylaw 17100 will authorize the City to undertake, construct, and finance the Downtown CRL projects by increasing borrowing authorization by $78,178,839. This is ready for first reading only.
  • Bylaw 17004 will amend the Public Places Bylaw to provide the necessary legislative authority to prohibit smoking in Churchill Square. This is ready for third reading.

Other

There is one notice of motion pending which is Councillor Henderson’s motion regarding the planned elimination of the use of herbicides on public land. There will also be one private verbal update, on the purchase and sale of land in The Quarters.

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.

Coming up at City Council: February 23-27, 2015

Council is back next week with Committee meetings.

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, February 23, 2015

Council starts the week with a Community Services Committee Meeting scheduled to take place from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are four reports on the agenda, two of which require approval by Council. Here are some things I wanted to highlight:

CSAB 2015 Community Investment Operating Grant (CIOG) Recommendations

The Community Investment Operating Grant program is for non-profit organizations whose mandate falls under Social Services, Multicultural, or Recreation/Amateur Sport. As you can imagine, there’s a large number of eligible organizations. The maximum amount an organization can receive is $17,000 and organizations with operating expenses greater than $2 million are not eligible. Organizations can only receive one operating grant per year from the City of Edmonton.

The CIOG recommendations for 2015 total $3,486,180 to 251 non-profit organizations in Edmonton. There were 268 applications received. The report includes the full list of successful applicants.

EFCL Strategic Plan and Growth Strategy

The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) Board of Directors has identified six key strategic priorities for 2014-2018:

  • Vision – The EFCL Board further develops and articulates a strong, long-term vision for its future based on understanding the components of complete communities, and the complementary functions of EFCL and the Community Leagues.
  • Advocacy & Engagement – The EFCL Board advocates for positive change by engaging leagues and equipping them to engage their communities and advocate for neighbourhood issues, and advocating itself on behalf of all leagues when the issue is city-wide.
  • Broadening Our Reach and Diversity – The EFCL works with Leagues to create better opportunities for social inclusion in their membership and programs.
  • Supporting League Leadership and Capacity – The EFCL focuses on building leadership and capacity in leagues.
  • Building an Efficient Operations Model – As a member agency, EFCL provides effective, efficient and innovative business supports to all leagues, and regularly assesses its effectiveness and benefit.
  • Championing Leagues – EFCL actively and intentionally raises the profile of community leagues and recognizes their contributions and accomplishments.

The organization is now working on its 2015-2019 Business Plan to outline activities and projects, timelines, resources, and budget implications for each of those priorities.

The Growth Strategy is an $80,000 funding package to help EFCL implement “a sustainable, efficient, and effective approach to realizing the vision” outlined in its Strategic Plan. EFCL is looking for a $40,000 contribution from the City of Edmonton for this project to hire a half-time, temporary contractor.

NextGen Community Challenge
Community Challenge, photo by Edmonton NextGen

The City has a Partnership Agreement with EFCL and discussions have begun about renewing it. Watch for a report in the second quarter of 2015 on that topic.

Non-Profit Organizations in Edmonton

Councillor Nickel made an inquiry back in September to learn about how non-profit organizations in Edmonton manage financial reporting, HR, and IT. The report provides an overview of the current situation, outlines how the City of Edmonton supports non-profit organizations, and identifies some challenges for the second. Here are some of the highlights:

  • “Edmonton has approximately 4,000 not-for-profit organizations providing a wide range of programs and services.”
  • “Many not-for-profit organizations are having to adapt to on-line staff recruitment processes. This requires expertise in both human resources and information technology applications.”
  • The primary way the City supports non-profits is through funding, but it works with other organizations that deliver programs and services too.
  • The City says that over the last three years, “fewer organizations are seeking assistance with financial reporting.” They say these organizations are building financial capacity through the resources that are available.
  • Under HR, the highlight is the Shared Services model that was piloted from 2010 to 2013. A group of non-profits are still using that approach to help reduce costs and increase efficiency. The report doesn’t say why the model hasn’t been deployed more widely.
  • There’s not much to take away under IT, aside from the SpaceFinder application that was jointly developed by the City, Arts Habitat, ECVO, and the Multicultural Coalition.

Challenges identified include increasing demand for services from the sector, a general shift toward project-based funding which reduces the amount of core funding available, and high turnover on boards.

I’m not sure what Councillor Nickel was looking for aside from information on the sector, but I find the report to be lacking in detail, frankly. A couple of Google searches probably would have turned up just as much information.

Other

The two other reports on the agenda are:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Council will hold its next Executive Committee Meeting on Tuesday, scheduled to run from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are eight reports on the agenda, three of which require Council approval. There are also two responses to Councillor inquiries. Here are some things I wanted to highlight:

Corporate Measures and Targets

This report is an update on the previous work that Council has done on measuring outcomes for The Way Ahead. The key update is why using genuine progress indicators in tandem with gross domestic product is a good way to measure progress.

“A Genuine Progress Indicator (or Index) measures economic well-being. It is designed to replace gross domestic product as the standard economic indicator. Genuine Progress Indicators attempt to go beyond measuring the market value of goods in an economy and provide an approximation of sustainable economic well-being by subtracting the negative by-products of the economy.”

There’s no one single Genuine Progress Indicator and they are complex to develop. There are also questions about how valid or reliable they are. There are benefits to using them in tandem with other indicators though. “For example, while Gross Domestic Product may rise over time, a Genuine Progress Indicator may not rise as quickly or may even fall over the same time period.”

Over the year, the City is going to be developing a corporate performance measurement registry to house the strategic and key operational measures throughout the organization. There’s a bunch more discussion on the difference between performance measures and indicators, and on genuine progress indicators, in the report.

What will happen to McDougall United Church?

There’s a fairly extensive report on the work the City has undertaken alongside the McDougall United Church Council regarding the future of the church buildings and land. The report calls restoration of the church “unlikely” and says that to avoid demolition, a compromise may be to restore some of the building’s architectural features into a new facility. Here’s the key conclusion:

“Administration has investigated the options for preservation and restoration of McDougall United Church. At this time, Administration has completed its mandate unless otherwise directed to undertake additional work. The Church Council needs to determine the future of its building and congregation. If City Council elects to provide the required funds to the McDougall United Church, it will require reprioritizing Council’s initiatives in order to find funding. Such a decision could set a precedent for other organizations.”

MCDOUGALL UNITED CHURCH
Inside McDougall United Church, photo by Jason Woodhead

The total cost to maintain the church over the next seven years ranges from $18.4 million to $25.4 million. If Council wants to direct some funding to save the church, it won’t be cheap, and it could set a precedent they’d rather avoid.

Current Planning Reserve Fund

This report is in response to an inquiry that Councillor Nickel made back in September about how the current planning reserve fund is operated. Back in 2010 the Current Planning Reserve Fund was established to “ensure full cost recovery and long-term financial sustainability of revenue generating planning, development, building, and mechanical services.”

Here’s what the City targets:

“The target balance of the Current Planning Reserve Fund, as outlined in City Policy C570 – Current Planning Reserve, is 75% of Current Planning budgeted annual operational expenditures.”

The fund balance currently sits at just half the target value, at $26.4 million as of the end of 2014.

The report goes on to say that in fact, a balance of 100% of annual operating expenditures is “likely required to maintain operations and cover costs during a typical economic recession.” Cities like Calgary, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Waterloo all target a reserve fund balance of between 100% and 150% of annual operating expenditures.

Online Voting

In November, Councillor Knack asked for an overview of the Internet voting test conducted in 2012 and an update on any new information that has been learned since that time. The report provides a summary and includes these observations:

“In order for internet voting to be successful, an extensive auditing process, security system, clear communication plan and thorough testing should be completed prior to implementation. The multi-layered authentication sign on system utilized in internet voting has provided electors a secure online voting option. Internet voting has been successfully implemented in a number of municipalities as an additional voting option and tool to help reduce barriers for voters.”

If the City were to move ahead with Internet voting, legislative changes would be required. These changes “have been raised in discussions on the proposed City Charter and revisions to the Municipal Government Act.”

At this time, the City has not developed cost estimates for Internet voting.

I still think the City should adopt online voting as an option. The last time this came up at Council, they voted against it citing security concerns. They had a good discussion about the issue, but my much more cynical take on it was at the end of the day, mayoral candidates were afraid that Don Iveson would use his connections and tech savvy to take advantage of online voting to win the election. Clearly that won’t be a concern in 2017 because, well, he handily won the last offline election didn’t he?

Other

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The next Transportation Committee Meeting will take place on Wednesday from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are seven reports on the agenda, plus four responses to Councillor inquiries. Here are some items I wanted to highlight:

Funding Strategies for Future LRT Lines

The total length of the long-term LRT Network Plan is 69.7 km, of which 24.3 km is either in service or will be soon, with another 13 km that has funding approved. That leaves about 32 km still to be funded and constructed. The City has identified the following options for funding future LRT:

  • Tax-Supported Debt Service Room that becomes available in future years
  • Gas Tax Fund that becomes available as South LRT Debt is fully repaid
  • Additional Transit Fare Surcharge
  • Pay-As-You-Go and other traditional Capital Budget Grant sources
  • Additional Tax Levy Directed to LRT Reserve

How much money would we have to spend?

“The total currently identified nominal dollars becoming available between the years 2019 and 2034 total $658 million. This would mean that in order to contribute $658 million towards future LRT as a direct funding source, it would take until 2034 to generate this amount of funds, without considering any additional tax levy impact.”

If that were applied to debt servicing costs, that would translate into about $1 billion in capital funding.

Of course, any future construction is realistically going to require assistance from the provincial and federal governments and for that reason, “an advocacy and lobbying strategy would be required.”

In order to fund future LRT expansion, Council will need to have either an appetite for more debt, the desire to increase taxes, the ability to get more money from other orders of government, or more likely, a combination of all three.

Escalators at LRT Stations

Transit riders complain about escalators being out of service all the time at LRT stations, and this report summarizes the current status and way forward.

  • There are currently 37 escalators in the LRT system.
  • In 2014 (to the end of October), reliability for escalators was 83%. Total impact of major interruptions was 990 days.
  • The life expectancy of an escalator is 30 years. The oldest one of ours is 36 years.
  • Escalators break down because of age, vandalism, power outages, and of course sand, snow, and other debris that requires regular maintenance.
  • The current elevator and escalator maintenance contract expires this year, so the City will be refining the proposed contract before renewing in an attempt to improve service.
  • ETS has a target reliability figure of 90% based on an average of 36 days out of service for preventative maintenance.

The 2015-2018 Capital Budget included $11.874 million for the end of life escalator replacement program. Six escalators are scheduled to be replaced using that money: three at Central, one at Coliseum, one at Stadium, and one at either Bay or Corona.

TIL there’s an organization called the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association. Who knew!

EPark: Brought to you by the City of Calgary

The City is progressing with plans to replace parking meters with pay-by-plate technology, with implementation set to begin in May. They want to contract the City of Calgary to make it happen, noting that its ParkPlus system is “the only fully automated pay-by-plate parking management solution operational in Canada.” The particulars of the agreement are still being negotiated, but the City is looking for a four-year deal that would include all software and services, plus training.

The report also talks about the need to approve a name and design for the system. I don’t think the logo is going to win any design awards, but I do agree that having a consistent name and look is important. Here’s what the City is proposing for Council’s approval:

epark

Like I said, it’s not pretty.

Other

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The final committee meeting of the week will be the Utility Committee Meeting on Thursday from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are three reports on the agenda:

There’s also one verbal report, on waste management, that is private under sections 16, 24, and 25 of the FOIPP act.

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.

City Council Update: February 13, 2015

There are no Council meetings scheduled for next week. The next Committee meetings will take place during the week of February 23-27, with the next Public Hearing scheduled for March 2.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Here’s what happened at the Public Hearing that took place on Monday.

  • Bylaw 17062 was referred back to Administration for further consultation, to return to Executive Committee on March 10.
  • All other bylaws (except one) unanimously passed third reading (Councillor Loken was absent).

There was one contentious issue though, and that was with Bylaw 17011 which was the adoption of The Decoteau Area Structure Plan (which I wrote about here). With a 6-5 vote (as both Councillor Loken and Councillor Henderson were absent for this one) the following motion was carried:

That Bylaw 17011 be referred back to Administration to work with the proponents outlining the following:

  1. Density: review increasing the net residential density of the proposed Area Structure Plan
  2. Business Employment: review increasing the Business Employment designation within the Area Structure Plan area as it gives direction to the intensity of use in the future Neighbourhood Structure Plan’s
  3. Wetland and Natural Areas: review the mapping and wording within the Area Structure Plan as it gives direction to the next stage of planning for Neighbourhood Structure Plan’s

and return to the March 16, 2015, City Council Public Hearing.

Here’s what the proposed ASP says about net residential density currently:

Residential densities within the Decoteau ASP range from 25 units per net residential hectare (upnrh) to 225 upnrh. The lower range of 25 upnrh will be developed as single/semi-detached housing. The higher range of 225 upnrh will be developed as high density residential, also referred to as medium to high rise units.

And it does make mention of the Capital Region Board targets:

Decoteau is located in the Capital Region Board’s Priority Growth Areas “CE” and “B”. These areas require a minimum net residential density target of 30 units per net residential hectare. The ASP exceeds this density target.

Council is looking for more, however.

Council Services Committee Meeting: February 9

One thing I missed in my last update was the Council Services Committee meeting that took place this week. Here are the draft minutes.

2014 Councillor’s Budget Update – Budget and Actual

This report provides preliminary numbers for the year ending December 31, 2014. There are two budgets to consider:

  • The common budget consists of salaries for Councillors’ and Administrative Assistants; benefits for Councillors and all office staff; and transition, severance, retirement and vehicle allowances for Councillors. It also includes common travel, parking, furniture, telephone expenses, stationery, postage and meeting supplies.
  • The ward budgets consist of personnel and expenses categories. The personnel category reflects Executive and Council Assistants’ salaries, vacation/staff replacement, transportation, and research projects. The expenses category reflects Councillors’ individual travel, training, promotional items, hosting and tickets, communications, and Edmonton Salutes.

What the report shows is that slightly less was spent than was budgeted for both the Common Budget and the Ward Budget. Nearly $70,000 was saved on the Common Budget and nearly $200,000 was saved on the Ward Budget. That means the total Councillors Office spend was $3,578,296, which is $267,383 less than the $3,845,679 that was budgeted.

2015 Common Travel Plans – Office of the Councillors

The 2015 budget for Common Travel and Training remains the same as 2014 at $79,502. This includes:

  • $19,350 for Civic Agency Travel
  • $14,680 for the annual AUMA Conference in Calgary
  • $8,541 for the annual FCM Conference in Edmonton

The report includes some detail about which Councillors are travelling when.

On this report, the Committee made two decisions:

  • First, they voted to allow Councillor Gibbons to submit mileage expense claims for his travel as Chair of the Alberta Industrial Heartland Committee.
  • Second, they voted to allow Councillors representing the City at meetings of intergovernmental bodies to submit “reasonable expense claims” and requested that Administration prepare an amendment to the policy to account for this.

2015 Furniture Plan – Office of the Councillors

If you’ve ever wondered how much Councillors spend on furniture, then this is the report for you! The budget for furniture in 2014 was $11,278, of which just over $9,200 was spent. The budget for 2015 is the same, and so far just $2,108 in requests have been made.

There’s a bit of IKEA in there, and there are lots of ergocentric desk chairs. I’m not sure if they mean ergonomic or if they actually mean the company ergoCentric. In 2014, the big spender was Councillor Sohi, as he installed an adjustable desk. So far in 2015, the biggest request is for two armchairs for Councillor Walters’ office. UPDATE: That request has been withdrawn!

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.

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

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, February 9, 2015

Council starts the week with a Public Hearing scheduled to take place from 1:30pm until 9:30pm. There are 20 bylaws listed on the agenda – here are a few that caught my eye:

Duncan Innes Park becomes official

Bylaw 17059 and Bylaw 17069 will be considered together, and aim to designate Duncan Innes Park as a Municipal Reserve, which “formalizes its status as a park and offers protection against disposal and incompatible uses.” The park is located in the eastern half of the King Edward Park neighbourhood. The second bylaw is to rezone the park from RF3 to AP.

Bylaw 17062 – Text Amendment to Zoning Bylaw 12800

This bylaw is related to a larger project that is reviewing how the zoning bylaw regulates height and grade in the city. This particular bylaw is intended to “reduce delays in permitting walkout basement developments” and updates definitions and regulations pertaining to height. In addition to other changes, the amendment adds a new method for calculating grade, and removes the distinction between roof pitches steeper than or less steep than 20 degrees, which is “no longer a relevant determinant.”

Closures for The Armature along 96 Street

Bylaws 1705417058 are all for closing portions of 96 Street, from Jasper Avenue to 103A Avenue, to facilitate the development of The Armature, a key feature of The Quarters Redevelopment. The Armature is meant to link The Quarters with the river valley, and will accommodate walking, cycling, public transportation, and private vehicles, but with higher priority given to pedestrians and cyclists.

Bylaw 17011 – The Decoteau ASP

This was supposed to be discussed at the January 26 public hearing but was rescheduled. The bylaw is ready for first and second reading, and must go to the Capital Region Board for review before third reading. This item is slated to be discussed at 2pm. You can read my previous post about this here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On Tuesday Council will be holding a regular Council meeting. There are eight reports and five bylaws on the agenda. Council will also receive a verbal update from Administration on the Commonwealth Games bid, and Councillor Henderson has a motion pending on the planned elimination of the use of herbicides on City of Edmonton public lands.

Reports

There are three new reports:

2015 Northlands Capital Budget

The Master Agreement between the City and Northlands requires Northlands to submit each annual budget to the City within 30 days of being approved by the Board. It also enables City Council to object if Northlands plans to spend more than $250,000 on any single new construction project in a given year, or if they plan to spend more than $750,000 on repairs or alterations to an existing facility. Neither of those thresholds have been triggered by the 2015 capital budget.

Northlands plans to spend a total of $3.8 million in 2015 on capital projects, including $1.1 million at Northlands Park and nearly $900,000 on technology. Some of the interesting items:

  • $30,000 for a Food Hub Facility
  • $100,000 for a Northlands Food Truck
  • $71,040 for new office chairs (really?!)
  • $45,910 for Urban Farm Phase II

Update on the Edmonton Arena District

The last update was provided on September 23, 2014 and this latest update reaffirms that Rogers Place “continues to progress on schedule and within the approved budgets.” Excavation and foundation work is over 95% complete, and steel structure erection is 9% complete and should be done in Q3. On average there are 300 workers on-site during the day with no “time lost” accidents reported. The next quarterly meeting of the Arena Community Benefits Advisory Committee is slated to take place on February 9.

All Eyes on the Big Build!!
All Eyes on the Big Build! by Jeff Wallace

Local and Composite Assessment Review Board Assignments

Council has appointed 17 members to serve on Local and Composite Assessment Review Boards, and they must now be assigned as required by the Municipal Government Act. The purpose of these boards (there are three types) is to hear 2015 assessment (tax) complaints.

Committee Reports

There are five committee reports that include recommendations for Council:

Bylaws

There are 5 bylaws that Council will consider:

  • Bylaw 17089 – for decorative street lights in Laurier Heights
  • Bylaw 17073 – for a special tax to repair and maintain alley lighting
  • Bylaw 17002 – Accessibility Advisory Committee
  • Bylaw 17004 – Amendment to the Public Places Bylaw (to ban smoking in Churchill Square)
  • Bylaw 17031 – Amendment to the Community Standards Bylaw (backyard fire pit control)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The first Audit Committee meeting of 2015 will take place on Wednesday afternoon. Here are the audits for which results are now available:

Other

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.

Coming up at City Council: February 2-6, 2015

It’s Committee week!

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, February 2, 2015

Council starts the week with a Community Services Committee Meeting scheduled to take place from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are three reports on the agenda, all of which require approval by Council.

Accessibility Advisory Committee

This report is for bylaw 17002 which will replace bylaw 13194 and change the name from the Advisory Board on Services for Persons with Disabilities to the Accessibility Advisory Committee (because committees are advisory in nature). Apparently a survey of other municipalities found that 70% use the name “Accessibility Advisory Committee”. It also follows the new standard for establishing bylaws of this nature, and would allow the Chair to participate in the shortlisting process for recruiting new members.

Amendment to the Public Places Bylaw

This bylaw is all about the decision to prohibit smoking in Churchill Square. Bylaw 17004 is ready for three readings and enables the City Manager to designate certain outdoor spaces as no smoking areas. What’s interesting is that Administration through the City Manager will now have the power to designate any area as a no smoking area, not just Churchill Square. If the three readings pass, the bylaw would come into effect on April 15, 2015.

Amendment to the Community Standards Bylaw for Backyard Fire Pit Control

This amendment, bylaw 17031, would prohibit outdoor fires during air quality advisories. The fine for violation will be $250, increasing to $500 for subsequent offences. Less than ten violation tickets were issued in 2014 for outdoor fire offences.

Delayed Reports

Three reports have been rescheduled for future meetings:

  • Fire Pit Enforcement Options – March 23, 2015
  • EPS: Policing Expenditures for Non-Residents – March 23, 2015
  • Options for prohibiting smoking at all outdoor City-owned facilities – April 20, 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Council will hold its next Executive Committee Meeting on Tuesday, scheduled to run from 9:30am until 5:30pm. There are nine reports on the agenda, three of which require Council approval. Here are some agenda items that I was particularly interested in:

Policy on Construction Hoarding Standards

I have been concerned about construction hoarding, especially throughout downtown, for a while now. As a pedestrian, the current approach could be described as lacking, at best. Council has heard the concern and complaints from the community and a new policy on construction hoarding has bee proposed.

“Urban densification and a vibrant public realm are key elements to increasing the livability and sustainability of our city. As the city grows, it is crucial to maintain and improve the walkability and vibrancy of the public realm without hindering development in areas best suited for densification. The City of Edmonton promotes the use of construction hoardings that balance the interests of all parties in order to achieve pedestrian safety, transportation mode equity, vibrant streetscapes and community.”

This is a great step forward. The City will develop a template for hoarding agreements and set of standard clauses. They are reviewing the Safety Codes Permit bylaw and other applicable bylaws and will make recommended amendments as appropriate.

North LRT to NAIT Construction

Most importantly, the importance of the pedestrian appears to have been realized:

“A review of Edmonton’s current hoarding fees revealed that the amount charged for the
occupation of road is nearly four times more per square metre than for sidewalk. This creates an incentive to keep the road clear while occupying the sidewalk. Administration is working to change fees to reflect the importance of sidewalks in high pedestrian areas and acknowledge the City’s commitment to encourage active transportation.”

Incentives for public art are also being explored, which could make hoarding much more attractive. On top of that, improvements for public notification about road and sidewalk closures have been requested and will be considered.

This is really great news!

Direct Control Zoning for the Protection of Historic Character

Back in November, Council asked for a report on areas that may be suitable for DC zoning to protect historic character. The report outlines some definitions for heritage districts and the criteria used to identify heritage properties and character areas. These are typically 50 years or older. Edmonton currently has seven identified heritage character areas:

  • Westmount Architectural Heritage Area (1997)
  • Strathcona Historical Commercial Area (1998)
  • Historic West Ritchie Area (2011)
  • Garneau Special Character Residential Area (1982)
  • Viewpoint Special Character Area (1982)
  • Oliver Special Character Area (1997)
  • The Brickyard at Riverdale (2001)

Additional potential heritage character areas have been identified in McCauley, Alberta Avenue, Westmount, Inglewood, Glenora, Jasper Place, and Beverly Heights.

Edmonton’s heritage program was established in 1981 “in response to the loss of a number of key historic resources in Downtown.”

Building Canada Fund Projects

This report outlines the projects that could be submitted to the federal government under the new Building Canada Fund. The National Infrastructure and the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure components of the fund provide a combined $14 billion for projects, with a variety of rules and restrictions that much be followed.

Yellowhead Trail
Yellowhead Trail by Brittney Le Blanc

The proposal is for Yellowhead Trail Improvements (Stages 1-5) to be our city’s priority under the National Infrastructure component. Five projects would be designated under the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure component: LRT Expansion, Key Grade Saparations (50 Street and 75 Street underpasses, Manning/Meridian Interchange), Neighborhood Flood Mitigation Program, Fort Edmonton Park Utility Infrastructure Upgrades, Edmonton Energy and Technology Park.

The City’s portion of those projects would be funded using tax-support debt. Land acquisition is not eligible for funding under the Building Canada Fund, and that is expected to make up more than $200 million of the Yellowhead Trail project costs, so that’s a concern.

TOD on the Coliseum LRT Station and Northlands Site

This report is an update on plans for transit oriented development around Coliseum LRT Station. The high level update is that plans are on hold until the Northlands Arena Strategy Committee (which I am a member of) makes it recommendation on the future of Rexall Place and until the Northlands Board of Directors completes its Strategic Planning Process. The City is meeting regularly with Northlands and have agreed to “evolve a partnership relationship and to enhance communication and collaboration.”

Other

Delayed Reports

Two reports have been rescheduled for future meetings:

  • Possible Amendments to Procedures & Committees Bylaw 12300 – February 24, 2015
  • Public Hearing Process (Henderson/McKeen) – April 21, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The final meeting of the week will be the Transportation Committee Meeting on Wednesday from 9:30am until 5:30pm. Here are the four reports that will be discussed:

Raising Awareness for High Collision Areas

This report follows on from a request made back in November to explore how to raise awareness of high collision locations. It summarizes six measures that may increase driver awareness of those locations:

  • Static Roadside Signs
  • Dynamic Roadside Signs
  • Pavement Markings
  • Intersection Safety Devices (cameras)
  • Improve Signal Visible Measures
  • Public Engagement and Communications

The report says that static roadside signs “have been shown to have minimal effectiveness on collision reduction.” The City is proposing to update the signs to include more information on what action needs to be taken (slow down, exert caution when merging, etc.). Dynamic roadside signs are like digital message boards or signs that show a driver’s speed. The report says that for speed limit compliance, “Driver Feedback Signs are effective as a speed management tool.”

high collision sign

Pavement markings can be effective, but less so in Edmonton where the roads are covered in snow for so much of the year. Apparently cameras at intersections “showed significant reductions” in collision severities and types. The report says the best way to improve signal visibility is to put it overhead, a measure which “can reduce collisions by 30 to 35 percent.” Finally, the report says public engagement campaigns can be effective, such as a program that resulted in a 15 percent reduction of red-light running vehicles.

Expropriation of Lands for the Valley Line LRT

Council approval is required to begin the expropriation process, so I expect the Committee to make that recommendation as a result of this item. By starting the process, the City will be able to negotiate with property owners to reach a settlement or a Section 30 Agreement (which allows the Land Compensation Board to determine the compensation when a settlement between the two parties cannot be reached).

The required expropriations and temporary and permanent construction easements for this stage are all the land around Mill Woods Town Centre (Lot 3, Block 6, Plan 0022000).

Open Tenders of $20 million or greater

Bylaw 12005 requires that open tenders greater than $20 million require Committee approval. This report highlights one tender, number 927871, which is for “Dust-free Mechanical Street Sweeping and Related Services”. The value of the project is between $30 million and $50 million.

Eliminating Railway Whistling at Public Crossings

Back in November, Councillor Esslinger asked for information about how to eliminate railway whistling at public crossings in the densely populated areas of north Edmonton, particularly late at night. The report says that train whistling is required under Transport Canada’s operating rules, but that an exemption could be sought if the City and CN worked together to apply for one. It would require a “whistling cessation study” to be completed at an approximate cost of $50,000 per location. Depending on the outcome of the study, crossing upgrades would likely be added on top of that cost. There is currently no budget allocated for any of this.

Delayed Reports

Eight reports have been rescheduled for future meetings:

  • Escalators at LRT Stations (Walters/Iveson) – February 25, 2015
  • Traffic Noise from the Anthony Henday (Oshry) – February 25, 2015
  • Low Income Transit Pass Pilot – April 22, 2015
  • Public Involvement Plan – Barriers to Participation – May 6, 2015
  • Community Traffic Management Plan Pilot (Prince Charles & Pleasantview) – May 6, 2015
  • Community Traffic Management Process Possible Changes – May 6, 2015
  • Opportunities for Commercial Development in Future LRT/Transit Infrastructure – June 17, 2015
  • Bike Lane Removal (Nickel) – June 17, 2015

Wrap-up

It’s not up yet, but I expect an overview of everything that happened this week to be on the Mayor’s Week in Review Blog soon.

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.

17 reasons why City Council deserves the 3.8% raise

City Council will receive a 3.81% salary increase in 2015, which would make the mayor’s salary $176,145 and the councillors’ salary $99,994. That’s an increase over their 2014 salaries of $6,464 and $3,671, respectively. As one third of that is tax exempt, the fully taxable equivalent salary is $213,272 for the mayor and $118,824 for the councillors. At the end of the day, we’re talking about another $50,516 per year to pay for all the increases. It’s not a large amount, and I think it’s fair.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Here are 17 reasons why Council deserves the proposed raise, in no particular order:

  1. Under our current twelve ward system, Councillors represent between 60,000 and 95,000 Edmontonians each. And our city is one of the fastest growing in the country, so that number is only going up!
  2. Council’s compensation is calculated in an open and transparent way using the percentage change in the 12 month average of the Alberta Weekly Earnings values as reported by Statistics Canada.
  3. Just counting Council & Committee meetings and public hearings, Council met 115 times in 2014. Those meetings included a combined 3,825 agenda items. Many of those included multi-page reports. That’s a lot of reading!
  4. Unlike other levels of government, Councillors do not vote on their own pay raises. It’s done automatically through an independent system that was established in 2011 by bylaw 15969.
  5. An increase of 3.8% is nothing compared with historical increases! Before the current system was implemented, aldermen awarded themselves large increases. In 1972 aldermen gave themselves a 26% increase, and in 1977, immediately after the election, aldermen tried to increase their salaries by 60%! In 1989, aldermen approved a 51% increase over three years.
  6. Supported by Council, our mayor stood up in front of a room full of business people and said that while attempting to eliminate poverty is a complex challenge, he is is unafraid to tackle it. This Council believes in the importance of representing and improving the lives of all Edmontonians.
  7. Councillors work long hours, way more than 40 per week in most instances. Just look at the last week – they had a marathon discussion about Uber and taxis that went to nearly 10pm, and they extended the January 26 Public Hearing twice in order to give everything the time it deserved. On top of that they regularly attend community events throughout the week and on weekends. A busy week could easily exceed 60 hours.
  8. Councillor Gibbons estimated back in 2012 that the proposed 5.35% increase that year worked out to an extra $2 per hour based on the number of hours he puts in.
  9. Many members of Council choose to direct portions of their salary or their eligible increases to worthy causes. For instance, in 2011, 2012, and 2013 Councillor Iveson donated $2,505 of his salary to the Donate-a-Ride program. Sometimes members of Council simply decline an increase. For instance, Mayor Mandel froze his salary for three years until his final year in office.
  10. They are working hard to develop a “true partnership” with the Province that will result in the long-term sustainability of our city. They are renewing neighbourhoods now and building up a fund to pay for maintenance in the future. They’re concerned with Edmonton’s future, not just its present.
  11. A study on the perception of Council’s compensation in 2012 (pdf) found that the annual salaries for comparable positions for the mayor and councillors align well with the actual salaries they receive.
  12. One comparison to another leader in our community: outgoing University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera earned a salary of $544,000 last year. Another comparison: more than 3,100 Alberta government employees earned over $100,000 a year in 2012 and 2013.
  13. Unpopular as the idea may sound, research suggests that higher wages attract better quality politicians and improve political performance. This was the argument made in Boston recently too when Councillors there debated giving themselves a 29% raise.
  14. Council is committed to building our city’s infrastructure, and they’re getting results, securing funding for the Valley Line LRT extension as an example.
  15. If rising costs are your concern, there are far more expensive things to be concerned about. Here are 99 stupid things the government spent your money on. At #53: “The City of Edmonton spent $500,000 on licences for software that an auditor said hardly any employees ever use.” Back in 2008, the City spent $92 million on consultants.
  16. After taking into account the difference in tax exemptions, our mayor and councillors make roughly the same amount as their counterparts in Calgary.
  17. Every year, no matter what they do, Councillors have to deal with hundreds if not thousands of complaints about snow removal, potholes, and other hot topics. Not to mention hearing constant NIMBYism and receiving all kinds of criticism as they try to make positive change for now and the future. It really is a thankless job at times.

I’m sure you can think of many other reasons – what are yours?

Yes, improvements could be made. I’d like to see the salaries stated in terms of the fully taxable equivalent for instance, rather than having to explain that 1/3 is tax exempt. Still, I think it’s crazy how upset some citizens get whenever the topic of salary increases for City Council comes up. There’s no shortage of other more important issues to discuss.

Coming up at City Council: January 26-30, 2015

For an overview of everything that happened this week, check out the Mayor’s Week in Review Blog.

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, January 26, 2015

Council starts the week with a Public Hearing scheduled to take place from 1:30pm until 9:30pm. There are 27 bylaws listed on the agenda – here are a few that caught my eye:

Bylaw 16733 – Text Amendment to the Zoning Bylaw

This bylaw is ready for three readings after the public hearing has been held and its purpose is to change the terminology for height regulations in the zoning bylaw. Specifically it’ll remove “storeys” as a definition for maximum height.

“The current regulations in Zoning Bylaw 12800 manage height through a numerical distance and a description of building form, but this often creates a contradiction between opportunities. For example, a building could meet the numerical height requirement but not meet the storey requirement.”

This bylaw increases the maximum height in all affected zones from 14 metres to 16 metres in response to advances in building construction methods. “For example, the (RA7) Low Rise Apartment Zone allows a four storey building in 14 metres, but it is not possible to fit a four storey building within this allowance using standard grade calculation methods and typical building designs.” The bylaw also clarifies when a wind study or sun shadow study should be requested, and adds basic evaluation criteria for both.

Bylaw 17011 – Adoption of The Decoteau Area Structure Plan

This bylaw is ready for first and second reading only, which means it’ll be back to Council at least one more time. It deals with the Area Structure Plan (ASP) for the area known as Decoteau, which is south of Anthony Henday Drive, east of 50 Street SW, west of Meridian Street SW, and north of 41 Avenue SW. Really far in the southeast, basically.

Decoteau ASP

This is one of the Urban Growth Areas defined in The Way We Grow, and this ASP is the final one to be prepared and advanced to Council. An ASP describes the land uses and their general locations. The proposed Decoteau ASP is approximately 1,960 hectares and proposes a population of nearly 68,000 living in five neighbourhoods. Here’s the vision for the Decoteau ASP:

“Decoteau embraces its unique landscape to provide residents with a remarkable ecological and recreational network comprised of interconnected wetlands, parks and open spaces. It integrates residential development with retail/commercial nodes, the ecological/recreational network, a significant business employment area, and a dynamic mixed use town centre to create walkable, complete communities for all seasons. The result is a group of diverse neighbourhoods that are connected to surrounding communities yet grounded in the local landscape.”

That was developed by a stakeholder advisory group of land owners, residents, developers, the City, and special interest groups. The area is intended to develop over the next 35-40 years.

The ASP discusses revenue and expenditure expectations over a 50 year time span. It’s a projection, based on build-out in approximately 39 years with a total population of 67,816 people.

decoteau costs

As you can see, cumulative costs exceed cumulative revenues. “So as the City grows this and other residential areas, it must also grow its non-residential areas to maintain balanced growth.” It’s another neighbourhood that can only be supported in the long-run by acquiring more non-residential land, which requires more residential areas, etc. “In other words, for the City as a whole to maintain the current ratio, there needs to be approximately $5 billion of non-residential assessment for every $20 billion in residential assessment growth.”

Horse Hill ASP, NSP, and Meridian Street/Manning Drive Interchange

Bylaw 17021 includes an amendment to the Horse Hill ASP that reconfigures some of the proposed elements and would result in an increase in the net residential density from 31 to 33.4 units per net residential hectare. Bylaw 17022 is the Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) for the proposed Horse Hill Neighbourhood 2, which is bounded by 195 Avenue NW to the north, the North Saskatchewan River to the east, Horsehills Creek to the south, and Manning Drive to the west. The NSP will accommodate 25,800 people in approximately 10,800 dwelling units, resulting in a density of 38.1 units per net residential hectare. Bylaw 17030 is being considered along those two, and amends the boundary of the North Saskatchewan River Valley ARP.

Bylaw 17032 is an amendment to the Arterial Roads for Development bylaw that proposes the transportation levy for Horse Hill include a contribution of funds to the interchange at Meridian Street and Manning Drive. The land is under provincial jurisdiction, but “the Province has indicated that it will not construct the interchange.”

Oliver ARP & mixed used building up to 14 storeys

Bylaw 17040 and Bylaw 17041 together proposed to amend the Oliver ARP to allow for the development of medium to high rise mixed-use development on the north side of Jasper Avenue between 121 Street and 122 Street. Currently on that site is the 121 Jasper Liquor Store, Planet Organic, and some empty lots. The second bylaw would rezone from DC1 and CB1 to CB3 which would allow for mixed-use developments up to 14 storeys in height.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On Tuesday Council will be holding a regular Council meeting. Here is an overview of the agenda:

Reports

There are three new reports to be discussed:

Bylaws

There are 14 bylaws that Council will consider, including:

  • Bylaw 17091 – making the name change of the Chinatown Business Revitalization Zone official
  • Bylaw 17092 – to amend the Quarters CRL bylaw to increase borrowing authorization by $44.345 million
  • Bylaw 17075 – this one is like bylaw inception, amending bylaw 15156 as amended by bylaw 15978 – bottom line: it’s to increase borrowing authorization for the Great Neighbourhoods Initiative by $60 million
  • Bylaw 17076 & Bylaw 17077 – to undertake, construct, and finance the new Northwest Police Campus and Dispatch and Emergency Operations Centre
  • Bylaw 17053 – to authorize the City to lend up to $1.2 million to Waste RE-solutions Edmonton

Six of the other bylaws are to undertake, construct, and finance various Waste Management projects.

Committee Recommendations

The following recommendations have been referred to Council for a vote:

Motions Pending

There are two motions pending, both from Councillor Henderson:

Private and Verbal Reports

There are six private or verbal reports listed on the agenda, which means they’re subject to FOIPP and are not made public due to sensitive information that could diminish the City’s negotiating position or ability to compete:

  • Settlement of an Expropriation Claim – Fort Road Widening
  • Settlement of an Expropriation Claim – Fort Road Old Town Redevelopment
  • Bargaining Update (verbal report)
  • City of Edmonton Nominee – Utilities Consumer Advocate Advisory Board
  • Municipal Development Corporation – Possible City Properties
  • Event Update No. 4 – Commonwealth Games (verbal report)

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.

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

The winter break is over and Council is getting back to business next week.

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, January 19, 2015

Council starts the week with a Community Services Committee meeting scheduled to take place all day.

Civic Precinct Master Plan – Addressing Current Square Design

The situation here is that back in April 2013, a number of festivals expressed concern with the proposed Civic Precinct Master Plan. The City hired a consultant as a result to work to identify changes. Festival groups had issues with being limited to 99 Street for programming, concern about safety when the LRT opens along 102 Avenue, and concern about additional trees resulting in limited movement between spaces. Businesses around the Square are “largely supportive of the principles of the Civic Precinct Master Plan” the report says. In short, the City is going to move ahead with some aspects of the plan, but focused mainly on programming, operations, and governance. Revising and advancing the entire plan is “not recommended” at the moment and will be revisited once LRT construction is complete and the new line is operational.

Edmonton Arts Council Grant Recommendations

The Edmonton Arts Council has recommended that eight projects receive funding under the Cultural Diversity in the Arts program for a total of $86,700: May Banh, William Belcourt, Sofia Cristanti, Yong Fei Guan, Todd Houseman, Erika Namsechi, Yukari Meldrum, and Elisa Marina Mair Sanchez. They have also recommended $29,500 in Festival Seed Operating Grants for 2015 for the Edmonton Latin Festival, Relish Film Festival, and Sand on Whyte.

Edmonton Heritage Council Grant Recommendations

The Edmonton Heritage Council has recommended a little over $363,000 in their Operational, Project, Seed Project, and Travel grant programs. Operational grants would be going to the Alberta Aviation Museum Association, Alberta Genealogical Society, Alberta Labour History Institute, Alberta Pioneer Railway Association, Edmonton and District Historical Society, Edmonton Radial Railway Society, Edmonton Telephone Historical Information Centre Foundation, Friends of Rutherford House Society, The Olde Towne Beverly Historical Society, and Societe historique francophone de l’Alberta. One of the most interesting projects to receive a grant recommendation is ECVO’s History of Edmonton’s Human Services Sector, to “document the history of the nonprofit human services sector in Edmonton.”

Other

Here are some of the other agenda items that caught my eye:

  • Council will likely approve a recommendation to have Mayor Iveson write to the Premier and Minister of Education to share the Youth Council’s strong opposition to Bill 10 in its current form. The report states that “Bill 10 will adversely affect the lives of some of Edmonton’s most vulnerable youth and undermine the principles of inclusiveness and diversity in Alberta schools.”
  • Canada Post is undertaking the conversion to community mailboxes in Edmonton this year. The City had asked if mail carriers might use the 311 App to report incidents and issues they observe, but Canada Post has come back and basically said no.
  • It doesn’t sound like big changes are underway for recognition of citizens, but the City is considering a digital museum and Wall of Fame in City Hall.

There will also be a response to an inquiry from Mayor Iveson on charitable donations to Community Leagues, but the report for that is not yet available.

A large number of reports have been rescheduled to later dates so if you were looking for those you’ll have to wait:

  • Support to Not-for-Profit Organizations (M. Nickel) – February 23
  • Entrance Signage – March 9
  • Status Update on the New Africa Centre Facility and Strategy for the Involvement of the African Community – March 9
  • Community League Collaboration – March 23
  • Single-use Recreation Fees – April 20
  • Lewis Farms Recreation Centre – Program Statement and Recreation Facility Master Plan Updates – November 9

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On Tuesday Council will be holding its next Executive Committee meeting, also scheduled to go all day. Here are some agenda items that caught my eye:

Municipal Development Corporation Business Plan

The recommendation here is that Administration proceed with establishing a municipally owned and controlled for-profit land development corporation “to focus on City-building initiatives in addition to earning profits.” The report includes a 73 page business case for the creation of a Municipal Development Corporation (MDC) prepared by Deloitte. Benefits of an MDC include:

  • The MDC could act “more closely like a private company” to benefit from less constraints and capitalize on private sector expertise.
  • The MDC could be a catalyst to bring underutilized sites to market.
  • The MDC could “generate a financial return and also execute on key city-building objectives.”

The City currently has 9,355 land holdings across Edmonton, and estimates suggest nearly 200 could eventually be appropriate for the MDC, though roughly 30 would be appropriate to seed the corporation.

A list of possible properties that could be transferred to the MDC will be presented at the meeting, but is not available under sections 24 and 25 of the FOIPP act. Properties within West Rossdale and the Edmonton Research Park are possible candidates.

If Council approves the recommendation to establish the MDC, Administration will return by the end of Q2 with a more detailed business plan for Council’s consideration. The initiative could require up to $2 million in funding over the next two years for startup costs. The creation of an MDC also requires approval from the Province.

Uber & Vehicle-for-Hire Regulations

The highly anticipated report on vehicle-for-hire regulations and Uber is now available, and while it talks about the regulations and the taxi industry, it doesn’t say much about how the City is going to deal with Uber. The report notes that a 2007 study found that Edmonton should have 17 taxis per 10,000 people, but 2007 was a long time ago and there’s no updated information included. We currently have 15 taxis per 10,000 people, which means we have a shortfall of roughly 177 taxi plates.

The report does talk about some considerations with UberX, including: drivers and vehicles are unregulated, so no background checks are done; drivers with a Class 5 license cannot transport passengers for hire in Alberta; vehicles are not required to obtain a mechanical inspection on a regular basis; and, drivers can carry personal liability insurance rather than commercial insurance.

An attachment called “Options for Edmonton” outlines the following “options that the City of Edmonton could pursue to improve overall taxi services”:

  • Release a close number of night plates
  • Release night plates with no cap
  • Release winter plates
  • Release accessible taxi plates
  • Release regular plates
  • Allow for taxis and drivers from nearby jurisdictions to be licensed to travel from Edmonton to home
  • Encourage executive car services by reducing minimum fares, setting lower pre-booking time frame
  • Ride Share Services (essentially a modified shuttle service)
  • Open system: remove the cap on taxi license plates
  • City of Edmonton to develop its own app

Notably absent from that list? Any mention of updating the regulations to make services like Uber and Lyft legal! Nor is there any discussion of the benefits of services like Uber.

It should be an interesting discussion!

Ballpark Update and State of Baseball in Edmonton

Executive Committee had previously requested information about Telus Field, and this report is the result. “Baseball has been part of Edmonton’s social and sporting scene since the late 1880’s,” the report says. The Edmonton Prospects (a Western Major Baseball League team) played at Telus Field in 2013 and 2014, and are negotiating terms for their 2015 schedule. The report also includes an attachment called The State of Baseball Report, prepared by RC Strategies, which assesses “the current state of professional and high-level amateur baseball in Edmonton.”

Edmonton Capitals

The City owns the ballpark, which it leases to the Oilers Entertainment Group, which in turn subleases it to the Edmonton Prospects. A condition assessment was completed in 2013 and found that an investment of $1.3 million will be required over the next ten years. The report does not recommend any specific action at this time, but suggests that Administration could further explore options including the creation of a business case to make the ballpark more viable, physical changes to the ballpark, and also the implications of removing or replacing it.

River Valley Access Mechanical Lift Options

This report provides an update on the proposal to “advance the Mechanized Access and the Touch the Water Promenade projects.” Council previously approved $34.4 million for the River Valley Alliance Connective Infrastructure, $24 million of which will go to the West Rossdale Mechanized Access Project with the remainder going to the Touch the Water Promenade. Both projects are required to be completed by 2017. The City will return to Executive Committee in Q2 with another project update.

Other

A few of the other reports include:

Here too, a few reports were delayed:

  • Building Canada Fund Projects Yellowhead Trail Improvements – February 3
  • TOD on Coliseum LRT & Northlands – February 3
  • Amendments to Policy C533 – Revolving Industrial Servicing Fund – February 24
  • Designation, Preservation & Restoration of McDougall United Church – February 24
  • 109 Street Corridor ARP – March 24
  • Recreation Lake in Blatchford – March 24
  • Greyhound Main Depot Site Operations – April 21

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The next Transportation Committee meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday afternoon and to run into Thursday if necessary.

Valley Line LRT & Churchill Square

There are two reports here, one that provides information on the Valley Line LRT Churchill Station structure and integration with the Civic Precinct, and one that provides information on the impacts of the Valley Line Stage 1 construction on Churchill Square and its users.

Preliminary Engineering for the Churchill Connection Structure was completed previously, and here’s an aerial rendering of what it might look like:

churchill station

The successful P3 proposal is expected to be selected by the end of the year, with major construction set to begin in 2016. The Valley Line LRT Stage 1 is not expected to be complete until 2020.

It is expected that 102 Avenue will be totally closed for LRT construction starting in 2016 and lasting until the project is done in 2020. Churchill Square itself will remain open, with only temporary partial closures as necessary. Any closures will be limited to the period from October 1, 2016 to April 30, 2018 in an attempt to minimize the impact on festivals (affects just the 2017 summer festival season).

The Valley Line Public Engagement Plan implementation will include opportunities for meetings, updates, and Citizen Working Groups to discuss the construction and its impact.

Metro Line Update

This report has not been made available under FOIPP, but the item is time specific at 3pm. Let’s hope that Council hears the line is ready to open soon, rather than that another delay is necessary.

Other

There’s a response to an inquiry from Councillor Nickel on the Customer Intake Model for DATS. It outlines the current policies and procedures for booking DATS trips and provides an update on the process to determine applicants’ eligibility for the service.

Tons of reports have been delayed here:

  • Installation of Traffic Lights – Criteria and Process – February 25
  • Hotel Street Parking Access – February 25
  • Parking Options 66 Avenue – 88 Street – February 25
  • LRT Funding Strategies for Other Lines – February 25
  • Streetlight Pole Maintenance and Replacement Program – March 11
  • Potholes in Back Alleys – March 25
  • Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board Bylaw – April 22
  • Bike Lane Infrastructure Engagement Plan – May 6
  • North/South Connections to 83 Avenue – October 28

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 – Special Council Meeting

City Council is holding a Special meeting on Wednesday morning to get an update from Administration on public engagement. They will no doubt talk about the Building the Momentum event which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, January 24 at the Shaw Conference Centre. You can learn more about the Council Initiative on Public Engagement and about Open City initiative on the City website.

Wrap-up

Ah, isn’t great to have Council back in session? 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.