Coming up at City Council: December 15-19, 2014

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

2015 Budgets

Yesterday, City Council approved both 2015 Operating and Utilities budgets, as well as the 2015-2018 Capital Budget. The Operating Budget average tax increase is 5.7%, of which 1.5% is still dedicated to the Neighbourhood Renewal Program. Here’s what the mayor said in the news release:

“This Budget demonstrates how the City of Edmonton works at improving our operations and finding more efficient ways to deliver on our commitments to Edmontonians,” said Mayor Iveson. “City managers have been committed to positive changes that create better value, ensuring maximum payoff for every taxpayer dollar.”

The Capital Budget will see investment of $4.3 billion in infrastructure throughout the city. Here are the mayor’s comments from the news release:

“The Capital Budget strikes a balance between investments in a growing city and the requirement to keep existing City assets in good repair,” said Mayor Iveson. “We’re building a great city for the people who live, work and play in Edmonton.”

Mayor Iveson also wrote a wrap-up blog post which defended the tax increase and called the budget a “value-for-money kind of budget”. He said it “makes responsible use of every dollar we’ve asked for.”

The budget was approved unanimously by City Council.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Council starts the week with a public hearing scheduled to take place all day. After the incredibly involved budget discussions, I’m sure all of Council will be happy to get back to business as usual!

There’s not much on the agenda that caught my eye, but here are a few things:

  • Bylaw 17023 proposed to close a portion of Winterburn Road (215 Street NW) to allow for the development of business and industrial uses in the area.
  • For those of you annoyed by such things, bylaw 17019 is a rezoning to allow for digital signs in Place LaRue near 184 Street and 100 Avenue.
  • Bylaw 17025 is for an amendment to the Stewart Greens NSP. Nothing major, and doesn’t result in any changes to the approved Land Use and Population Statistics.
  • Bylaw 17015 is an amendment to The Hamptons NSP and Bylaw 17016 would allow for the development of a medium rise apartment site (four apartment buildings with 364 total units and 88 townhouse units). Together these two bylaws increase the density of the site by enabling the development of additional apartment buildings in place of the townhouse units.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The LRT Governance Board will meet on Tuesday in the River Valley Room at City Hall. As a Committee of Council, I thought I’d include it here.

The main item is the LRT Governance Board’s semi-annual report. Here are the highlights:

  • The board met six times this year.
  • Five RFQ submissions were received and evaluated, resulting in a recommended shortlist of proponents for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT project.
  • The three shortlisted proponents were issued an RFP in September.
  • A public engagement plan was approved in July, including the “accountability, transparency, and disclosure framework.”
  • As a P3 project, the LRT Governance Board is tasked with ensuring the Valley Line LRT project delivers “long-term value for money, and cost and scheduled certainty.” So far, they are confident the project does indeed “demonstrate value for money as a P3 project.”
  • Also in September, the board approved the draft Project Agreement, which is the main contract between the City and the winning proponent that covers the 35 year period of design, construction, operations, maintenance, and financing for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT.

Also on the agenda is a verbal update on the Valley LRT Line project, as well as on the RFP activity. The LRT Governance Board is slated to meet five times in 2015, in March, May, July, August, and November.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Council’s final meeting of 2014 will take place on Wednesday, and there are some big items on the agenda.

Municipal Development Corporation Business Plan

The first report listed (though not yet available) is a business plan for the proposed for-profit municipal development corporation. This is a follow-up to the September 2014 meeting decision to proceed with the establishment of a municipal land corporation (you can see that report on options here). The business plan should include “a governance model, financial analysis, non-financial analysis, and a detailed implementation strategy for the establishment of a for-profit municipal development corporation.” Administration was also tasked with generating “a list of potential City-owned properties to be included in the initial transfer to the entity.”

Emerging Economy Initiative

This item was known until September as the “Economic Development – for Start-ups Initiative” until Council decided to change the name. The main update here is the draft terms of reference for this initiative, which “outlines the background and recommended future state for the five Council recommended small-business and entrepreneurship focused programs.” The five programs include:

  • New Canadian and Aboriginal Business Start-up Supports
  • “Make Something Edmonton” and “Edmonton Original” marketing strategies
  • TEC and Startup Edmonton mentoring and accelerating programs
  • Live Local and Local Economy Organizations
  • Corner Store Program

The City is meant to be a partner in this effort along with EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. In some cases the City has provided seed money to these programs, in other cases the City indirectly funds them through contributions to parent organizations (like TEC and Startup Edmonton through EEDC).

Can I just say I really dislike how they include the dash in “start-up”! Seems unnecessary.

Bylaw 17001: Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Centre Pedway Connection

This bylaw is ready for first reading and would authorize the City to borrow up to $22.5 million to build a pedway connection to the proposed EDACC (or Galleria as it is more popularly known). Because this is on Crown land, second and third reading would only take place after the Minister of Infrastructure has approved it. No valid petitions to this project were received.

The proposed pedway is an underground connection from Churchill LRT Station into the Station Lands through the new Royal Alberta Museum. The total cost of the project is $30 million, 25% of which will be financed by the City. The remaining $22.5 million will be financed “by way of local improvement assessment against the abutting property owners.” But this bylaw allows the City to borrow that money to complete the project, with the debt to be repaid over a period of 20 years.

The capital profile for the pedway justifies the project as follows:

“A significant factor of the Galleria project is the partnership with the University of Alberta. The establishment of an academic facility campus will bring more people to the downtown core every day, catalyzing services and development in and around the downtown area. The University participation is conditional upon connecting 104 Ave to the Churchill LRT Station via an underground Pedway.”

In terms of timing, it was argued that the pedway needed to be built now or a connection to the RAM would not be possible.

2015 Council and Committee Meeting Schedule

The schedule was approved back in October, but Council asked to hold their City Council meetings more consistently on Tuesdays (with a continuation on Wednesday mornings). This report changes a few of the meetings to better align with that schedule. So in general, Public Hearings take place on Mondays and Council meetings take place on Tuesdays.

Special Meeting on Public Engagement

The Council Initiative on Public Engagement is well underway, and a public event has been planned for January 24, 2015 to “discuss the vision for the Initiative.” Mark your calendars! In order to get aligned, a joint City Council and Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) facilitated session is being proposed for January 21, 2015.

Capital Region Board Appointments

Both Mayor Iveson and his alternate Councillor Gibbons are unavailable for the CRB meeting in January, so it is being proposed that Councillor Walters attend instead. Additionally, Council is looking to update its appointments to the CRB Subcommittees and Task Forces as follows:

  • Advocacy & Monitoring: Mayor Iveson, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Governance, Priorities & Finance: Councillor Walters, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Land Use & Planning: Councillor Gibbons, Councillor Walters as the alternate
  • Regional Services: Councillor Gibbons, Councilllor Walters as the alternate
  • Transit: Councillor Walters, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Growth Plan Update Task Force: Mayor Iveson, Councillor Gibbons as the alternate
  • Housing Task Force: Councillor Gibbons, Councillor Walters as the alternate

BRZ Budgets & Travel Grant Recommendations

Just when you thought Council was done with budgets, they’re right back it! On Wednesday they will approve the 2015 Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) budgets. There are 13 BRZs in Edmonton.

Council will also be discussing the latest Community Investment Program Travel Grant Program grant recommendations. This program is intended to support round trip travel from Edmonton for individuals working in the arts and festival communities. Grants of up to $750 per traveler can be awarded. A total of $21,600 is being recommended in travel grant funding to 27 individuals. The Edmonton Arts Council has recommended $82,240 in travel grant funding through the program in 2014.

Other

A series of updates from Council on Agency and Initiative appointments is being made available at this meeting. These include updates on work with AUMA, the ELEVATE initiative, the Urban Isolation/Mental Health initiative, Child Friendly Edmonton, and the Edmonton Women’s Initiative.

Council is being asked to approve expropriation of four properties for Stage 1 of the Valley Line LRT project: Property 1, Property 2, Property 3, Property 4.

There is one listed motion pending, from Councillor Knack, on electronic cigarettes.

Three private reports are listed:

  • Edmonton Business Revitalization Zones – 2015 Boards of Directors
  • Process and Timelines for City Manager and City Auditor 2014 Performance Evaluations
  • Reappointment Recommendation – Audit Committee Public Member

One report has been revised to March 2015 on Electrical Franchise Fee Charges as part of The Way We Finance.

Winter Recess

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Council will be on winter recess. They’ll resume on January 19, with Committee meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that week. A public hearing is slated for January 26, with the first City Council meeting of the year scheduled to take place on January 27.

That’s it! 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.

Why isn’t City Council pushing back on the Edmonton Police Service?

An Edmonton Journal editorial in late 2002 discussed the potential decision between the police union’s campaign for 300 new officers and the operating expenses of the new helicopter that had just been donated by the Edmonton Police Foundation:

“Some would argue that the city should find the money to provide both more officers and the chopper. Yet how realistic is that? And if we must choose, which option will provide the best policing?”

In the end, Council voted to add an extra $5.1 million to the 2003 operating budget to hire 55 new officers, but rejected an increase to pay for the helicopter operating expenses. Police chief Bob Wasylyshen promised to find money elsewhere in his budget to enable the helicopter to fly.

Oh how times have changed. Now, the police get a new helicopter paid for by taxpayers, along with the operating costs of that helicopter, and they’ll get likely an increase in officers too.

Instead of asking EPS to find efficiencies in its budget as in years past, recent Councils seem content to go out of their way to support the growth of the police budget, both operating and capital. Instead of applying “Council’s 2%” to the police, Mayor Iveson is instead going to lobby higher levels of government for more money. And this year he went further – inexplicably, he’s going to lobby the helicopter industry to build a better product!

I want to live in a safe community and I have great respect for the work our police officers do. But as a taxpayer, I also want to know that I’m getting the best return on my investment. So I think it’s fair to question the police service, and as the largest part of the budget at between 16-18%, to question them harder than other departments. Is EPS really operating at maximum efficiency? Is there truly no room in the budget, now more than $360 million a year, to improve the way our police service runs?

The 20 year drought ends

Though police staffing levels have increased considerably in recent years, there was a long period of time during which the number of officers remained stagnant, despite increases in our population.

In 1991, police chief Doug McNally fought to add 11 officers, but was left with a budget of $76 million and the ability to add just one officer. He said EPS “desperately” needed additional staff, partly due to the roughly 90,000 more people that were living in the city compared with 1981.

Ten years later, in budget discussions in 2002, Councillors asked EPS about their staffing levels. The police noted that despite an increase in population of about 115,000 people from 1982 to 2001, the number of authorized police officers increased by just one to 1,138. That means the ratio of police officers to citizens went from one for every 485 people to one for every 585 people. Total FTEs had increased just 332 to 1,494.

change in ftes

Since 2001, the population has increased by about 212,000 people, and the number of FTEs at EPS has gone up by 780, to more than 2,200 today. The number of officers totals a little over 1,600. And with the 2015 budget, EPS is proposing to increase to more than 2,400 (with more than 1,700 officers), as shown in the chart above.

Declining crime stats

Despite the stagnation in staffing levels through the 1990s, crime statistics in Edmonton fell along with the rest of Canada. In 1995, Edmonton led the country with a 19% drop in crime. If the number of officers didn’t increase, how did the decrease happen? Tony Mandamin, chair of the Edmonton Police Commission at the time, offered his opinion: “What I take from that is we’re doing something different and the number one thing we’re doing different is community-based policing.”

Acting chief Al Buerger agreed, saying “no police department on its own can have that effect.” The local push to support community-based policing began in 1991. Crime rates continued to fall through the 90s and into the early 2000s.

change in csi

Despite some blips over the last 15 years, we can see that crime has continued to fall. The Crime Severity Index (includes all Criminal Code violations including traffic, drug violations, and all Federal statutes), which for Edmonton stood at 150.57 in 1998, was down to 93.34 in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.

The latest statistics show that crime is down across the entire country more or less uniformly.

The disconnect

Despite the decrease in crime, we hear the same refrain year after year. We need more police officers, because the work is getting more complex and our population is increasing so dramatically.

In 1994, facing cuts in provincial grants to EPS, chief Doug McNally said “we’re absolutely assured the quality of policing will go down.” But we know that in fact it went up.

In 2001, Council cut the proposed EPS budget by $1.7 million, and they shaved $1.5 million off the capital budget too. Police chief Bob Wasylyshen said the move left him “flabbergasted”. Yet they found a way to improve the service being offered anyway.

One could argue that the increase in officers throughout the last 15 years is the reason for the decrease in crime, but you can’t make that argument for the 15 years before that. There seems to be a disconnect between the dire warnings from EPS and the facts.

Air-1, Air-2, and the helicopter debate

Despite the correlation between community policing and a decrease in crime rates, we have increasingly decided to spend money on other approaches. Like helicopters.

The push to acquire a police helicopter picked up speed in the late 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2002 that Air-1 was purchased and brought into regular service. A one year pilot project began in August 2001 with a leased helicopter, and a public lottery raised the $1.7 million needed to purchase it the following year. Initially, it was expected that Air-1 would cost EPS about $600,000 per year in operating costs.

In response to questions from Council in 2002 about replacing Air-1:

“The helicopter has an expected life cycle of 30 years. The EPS has an obligation to ensure the on-going maintenance will enable the equipment to remain in top condition.”

“Replacement of the helicopter has not been contemplated at this time. City funds are not anticipated to be used for any replacement of this citizen sponsored initiative. Partnership and other funding sources will be explored when this becomes a necessity.”

Then in September 2006, it was revealed that EPS was assessing the feasibility of a replacement or a complete rebuild of the helicopter. Instead, we ended up with a second helicopter. Total funding of $2 million for Air-2 was approved in 2008 ($1.65 million for the helicopter, $350,000 to outfit it for police work) and the helicopter was purchased and went into service in August 2009.

When Air-2 was purchased, the rationale was for it to take over as the primary eye in the sky, given that Air-1 was said to be unavailable 30% of the time because of maintenance.

Air 2 - Dim
Air-2, photo by Buie

We’re currently spending about $1.9 million each year on the police helicopters. Operating costs like fuel and maintenance account for $1.1 million, with the remaining $800,000 spent on personnel for six positions. In response to a question from Councillor Sohi, the EPS said “this $1.1 million is equivalent to 8 constables, but in all likelihood this $1.1 million would just be used to offset the productivity efficiencies that are realized as a result of Air-1.” Back in 2000 when public campaigns to fund a helicopter were picking up steam, an EPS official suggested a helicopter could be as effective as 30 officers.

Helicopters “are operationally available 4,845 hours over 365 days in a year, weather and maintenance permitting.” That’s half the year that they are available, but they are only budgeted to be in the air for a total of 1,700 hours, or 35% of the available time. In 2013, they flew 1,611 total hours.

We know that while the helicopters are effective when they are involved (with a 99.2% apprehension rate) the problem is they aren’t involved very often. The average response time to respond to a call is 73 seconds, but most “criminal flights” as they are called are quite short. In 2012, the helicopters were only involved in 64 or 37.6% of all recorded criminal flights.

Combined with poor weather, the helicopters just aren’t available or useful to police very often, a point that Councillor Knack returned to again and again during the most recent debate. Is that something we should be spending money on?

New helicopter(s)

In proposing the purchase of two helicopters this budget cycle, EPS Chief Knecht suggested the police would not be back at Council asking for new helicopters for close to 20 years. “Yeah right!” was my first thought. And I think that EPS’s own recommendations would call the chief’s comments into question. In response to a question from Mayor Iveson on the viability of purchasing a new EC130, EPS wrote:

“To maximize trade-in value and minimize maintenance, the EPS’s life span recommendations for any single engine helicopter within the program is 8-10 years. For a twin engine helicopter a 10- 12 year consideration is advocated.”

So realistically, EPS would be back in 10 years asking to replace their twin-engine helicopters had Council approved them.

And they didn’t want just any old helicopter, they wanted the Cadillac option at $7.2 million a piece. That’s firmly in the want category, as far as I am concerned.

In response to a question from Mayor Iveson about the pros and cons of the EC130 helicopter, EPS wrote, “EC-130’s are rarely used for law enforcement service in North America and are not viable for flight patrol operations.” If that’s the case, then how did our police service end up with two of them? UPDATE: Our service flies EC120 choppers.

EPS was looking for twin-engine models, but Council discussed the possibility of a single-engine option instead. Here’s what EPS had to say about the difference between a single-engine and a twin-engine helicopter:

“Generally, the major difference between a single engine helicopter and a twin engine helicopter is the ability for the twin to continue flying in the event one engine fails. The redundancy of this second engine would allow the EPS to reliably and safely navigate the helicopter into small spaces like helipads, heliports and forward operating bases within congested areas of the city. This redundancy also would contribute to the increased safety associated to flying longer distances over the ever expanding “built up” areas of the growing city.”

For the safety of the officers flying them, let’s hope the engines don’t fail very often. Still, that redundancy doesn’t seem like a great reason to buy a new helicopter, let alone a much more expensive one.

Though Mayor Iveson did ask about the potential for using drones, EPS basically responded that current Transport Canada regulations make them impractical for police work (despite the fact that the RCMP already uses them in some situations). “Helicopter’s and UAV platforms are not mutually exclusive,” they wrote, presumably in a bid to hang on to their helicopter funding. While that may be true, it’s not difficult to look at the rapidly increasing level of investment into drones and the changing regulatory landscapes around the world to see that we should be examining the technology more closely.

Let’s put data analytics to work on the budget

I think the helicopter debate is instructive, because it’s full of information that just doesn’t hold up upon inspection. Just like the disconnect in staffing levels vs. crime rate, there seems to be a big gap between what EPS says about the helicopters and what is actually the case.

Here’s another example. Question after question from Councillor Nickel about the 2015 operating budget was met with the same response from EPS: “The EPS does not formally measure and report on the “insert measurement here” as defined by Statistics Canada, and hence this data is not provided for 2014.” This is what we hear all the time – local police don’t use the same statistics, so it can’t be compared. Well, why not? Why aren’t we demanding comparable data? It makes it seem like they’re hiding something.

It shouldn’t be enough to point to an increasing population and to just say “the work is more complex.” The police have one of the most sophisticated data analysis systems/teams in the city, so why can’t we have better justification for their budget requests?

New helicopter is a go, what about new officers?

Mayor Iveson called the meeting this week “the most complex bit of procedural chicanery” he has ever seen. Councillor Oshry called the discussion “city government at its almost worst”. I listened on Monday night, when the first vote took place, confused all the Councillors, and was postponed until Tuesday morning.

After a long and difficult debate (that ended up being more about procedure than the issue at hand), Council voted to spend $3.47 million to buy a new single-engine police helicopter. They made that purchase subject to a report on how the new helicopter would be stored, maintained, and operated, and a report evaluating the pros and cons of the EC130 (the existing model of Air-1 and Air-2) versus the AC350 (the single-engine helicopter proposed by EPS). They also voted to have the mayor work with the Police Commission and federal government to explore housing the helicopter fleet at CFB Edmonton.

But wait, there’s more! They also decided it would be a good use of Mayor Iveson’s time to “advocate to the helicopter industry on the prospects for a suitable forthcoming enclosed tail rotor single engine model.” Look, if anyone can understand the appeal of digging in and truly understanding an issue, it’s me. But do we really need the mayor to become an expert on helicopters? And to use his already limited time to advocate to the helicopter industry? Not in my opinion.

So far during the 2015 budget discussions, Council has committed to a new helicopter (among other police-related capital expenditures) and to having the mayor lobby others for more money. Soon they’ll need to make a decision about growing the operating budget.

eps net operating requirement

Since 1999, the EPS operating budget has grown to more than $360 million. In the chart above, you can see the net operating requirement (the amount our taxes cover after revenue is taken into account) has increased by nearly three times, from about $101 million to almost $300 million.

Doing more with less

Not that long ago, Council seemed more willing to push back on EPS requests for increased funding. In 2004 for instance, EPS was tasked with cutting $2 million from its 2005 administration budget in order to help pay for up to 124 new patrol officers. A similar challenge doesn’t seem to be on the table this time around.

I don’t disagree that the Province and the federal government should contribute more to the police budget. If it’s true that EPS is handling an ever increasing workload for the feds, and I have no reason to question officials who say that’s the case, then perhaps EPS should make information about that available. At the moment, it’s not clear what portion of proposed increases are for local policing versus other work.

It’s not uncommon to hear that often the best solutions arise during times of restriction, not abundance. That’s what happened in the 1990s. “Community policing isn’t sexy,” wrote current Councillor Scott McKeen in his column in the Journal on December 11, 2002, noting that the helicopter had captured the public’s imagination. “It just works.”

In the midst of new helicopters and additional officers, I just hope we’re not missing out on the modern day equivalent of community policing. What could EPS do if they were a bit less comfortable?

Mayor Iveson on Budget 2015, Council’s 2%, City Charter, and more

On Monday, Mayor Iveson held a lunchtime “editorial board” at his office for some local bloggers. He seemed energized and excited to talk about the budget, even though he was in the middle of a day-long public hearing and barely had time to eat. Given the limited time we had available, we didn’t cover as much as I would have liked, but we did get to hear from the mayor on some important budget-related topics. Here are some that I wanted to highlight.

Mayor Don Iveson

Demystifying the Budget

Describing the budget as “by far the most complex piece of governing that we do,” Mayor Iveson said he was pleased with the attempts this year to demystify it for Edmontonians. He cited the new City Budget microsite and the associated PDF primer as two positive examples of a different approach to getting budget information to citizens.

He also mentioned the Reddit AMA with CFO Lorna Rosen. I thought that was a great initiative, but there weren’t as many questions as I expected. I asked Mayor Iveson what the City can do to increase the budget literacy so that people feel empowered to ask more meaningful questions.

“How do you usefully simplify 600 pages of information into a high level, ‘where does the money go?’,” he asked rhetorically. “People have every right to say, ‘where does this money go'” but he noted that it’s certainly not an easy process. One positive example was the Edmonton Insight Community, which serves as an educational tool as much as an input tool. More than 800 Edmontonians spent an average of 24 minutes using the interactive tool that was part of the Edmonton Insight Community survey on the budget.

“I think we could go one step further in the future, with an interactive website,” he added. The mayor envisions being able to put in your tax roll and see how your contribution breaks down by department. He says Edmontonians would be pleasantly surprised to see that the City does indeed spend the bulk of its money on the things that citizens say are important to them.

Progress on Council’s 2%

During the election, Mayor Iveson proposed a new program called “Council’s 2%” that would require City Administration to find about 2% in increased efficiency every year. The goal would be to take the roughly $20 million saved per year and invest that into either infrastructure improvements or other innovative ideas.

The goal this year was to find about $23 million in savings. So how did the City do? “They were able to find tangible changes in the $15.5 million dollar range, which for the first year out, is pretty good,” Mayor Iveson told us. But he made it clear that this work is about more than the figures. “The point is less about the exact dollar, and is about the goal of continuous improvement, and being transparent with the governors and the public about the accomplishments that they’re making.”

It’s a culture change, from what Mayor Iveson calls “pin the tail on the budget” to interactions based on trust. “We trust our staff to do the right thing if they are given the right incentives and given the right recognition for doing the right thing.” Instead of padding the budget because they think Council will just try to cut a few million, the goal is to have Administration put forward the most realistic figures they can. Mayor Iveson explained that a tiny change in assumptions can often translate into millions of dollars in the budget. Over time, that trust could translate into greater acceptance by Council of ideas brought forward by Administration, where as previous Councils would have remained skeptical.

So while the City is off to a good start with Council’s 2%, there’s still a lot of work to be done. “It’s a term-long project to instill that culture,” Mayor Iveson said.

Big City Charter

Everyone knows that Calgary, Edmonton, and the Province have been holding discussions on the idea of a big city charter, but no one seems to know where that effort is going or how successful it’ll be. Mayor Iveson said the question is not whether Edmonton will get anything from the effort, but how much we’ll get. “Getting nothing is a politically unacceptable result,” he told us. “There’s too much political expectation that something must be done.”

The mayor made his case for receiving a bigger piece of the pie. Or as he put it, “some equity in consideration of the fact that we are a hub for northern Alberta.” Though he did talk briefly about the importance of having stable funding for and “line of sight” on big infrastructure projects like LRT expansion and improvements to the Yellowhead, the mayor focused more on working with the Province in his comments.

For instance, he spent quite a bit of time talking about the cost of the Edmonton Police Service. “Policing is a huge area were we can give example after example of the load that Edmonton is carrying for northern Alberta,” he explained. He said EPS deals with national and sometimes international criminal phenomena (like cybercrime) but is funded almost entirely by Edmonton property taxes. Noting the importance of the work, he said “I don’t want to get out of that business, I just want appropriate help.”

Mayor Iveson lamented the fact that Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding has not been increased in quite some time, and said “if we don’t deal with some of those things proactively they can become policing challenges, which is the most expensive thing we do.” He talked about preventing people from needing to access health care, as an example, which is a big piece of the provincial budget. “I’m less interested in just getting the Province to just pay for a whole bunch more cops,” he said. “What I’m really interested in is getting the Province to fund FCSS.” It’s about working together on prevention.

That’s the mayor’s takeaway message. “The City Charter isn’t just us with a hand out,” he said, “it’s us with a handshake.”

Neighbourhood Renewal

The 1.5% levy to fund neighbourhood renewal looks like it’ll remain in place for the foreseeable future. Repeating something he has said before, Mayor Iveson told us that “people want lower taxes and they want me to fix their streets – I can’t do both.”

The general sentiment he’s hearing is that people are fine with paying a little bit more in tax now because they see things changing. They see neighbourhoods getting reconstructed, and they see potholes getting filled, they see roads being improved.

“I do worry that in the newer areas there may be less understanding that we are building up a reserve fund,” he admitted. The mayor explained that after 15 years, neighbourhoods will get preventative maintenance, and at 60 years of age, they’ll get rebuilt on time. Thanks to the neighbourhood renewal fund, new neighbourhoods won’t fall into the state of disrepair that some of our mature neighbourhoods have. “It’s actually the old neighbourhoods that got off scot-free over the last 60 years by not contributing to such a fund.”

Though he has previously suggested there might be light at the end of the tunnel for those looking for a tax break, the mayor clarified that comment. “The neighbourhood renewal levy will be fully funded on an ongoing revolving basis as of about 2018,” he told us. So you can count on that 1.5% tax levy for at least the next four years.

Mayor Don Iveson

Final Thoughts

I was very glad to have some time to hear directly from Mayor Iveson on the budget. It’s great to see that he is willing to reach out to bloggers and other social media folks, too. Budget discussions continue at City Hall for the next couple of weeks, and you can find all the relevant information here.

Coming up at City Council: November 24-28, 2014

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

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s budget time!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Council starts the week with a non-statutory public hearing on the proposed 2015 operating, capital, and utilities budgets. The public hearing is scheduled from 9:30am to 9:30pm, and if you’d like to speak, you can register here.

If you haven’t already done so, check out this microsite that the City put together as a primer on the budget. When you’re ready for more detail, you’ll find everything you could possibly want to know about the City’s budget process here. If you’d like to go through some Q&A, check out the AMA that CFO Lorna Rosen did on Reddit last week. And when you’re ready, try to come up with your own budget using the CBC’s interactive tool.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

There is one non-budget-related meeting taking place this week, and that’s the Audit Committee meeting on Tuesday. The Audit Committee is responsible for “providing oversight and consideration of audit matters brought forward by the City Auditor and the External Auditor.” Among other things, the Committee will consider:

The City Streets Audit Report determines if the City is adequately protecting roads as a capital asset (it is) and assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of the Pothole Repair Program (it is consistent with previous years). Here’s a look at how many potholes have been filled over the last 10 years:

potholes

The current average condition of all roads is considered “good”, which is 6.06 on a scale of 1 to 10. Here’s a look at how that number has changed over the years:

pqi

To date in 2014, the Office of the City Auditor has provided 17 reports to Council and the Audit Committee.

Once the Audit Committee meeting has adjourned, a selection committee meeting will be held to select/reappoint the public member of the Audit Committee.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Wednesday, the 2015 budget meetings begin. Council is scheduled to discuss the 2015 budget on both Wednesday and Thursday, and also December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10. If they need more time, they’ll discuss it on December 11 and 12 too.

2015 Drainage Services Utility Operating & Capital Budget

The proposed 2015 operating budget for Drainage Services has revenues of $167 million and expenditures of $127 million. The proposed 2015-2018 capital budget for Drainage Services totals $727 million.

Bylaw 16980 provides for both Sanitary Drainage & Stormwater rate increases of $0.50 per month each for the typical residential customer, to take effect on January 1, 2015.

2015 Waste Management Utility Operating & Capital Budget

The proposed 2015 operating budget for Waste Management Services has revenues of $169 million and expenditures of $172 million. The proposed 2015-2018 capital budget for Waste Management Services totals $121 million.

Bylaw 16982 sets out the proposed increases in the residential monthly waste service fee, and also changes to six facility user rates at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, all of which would take effect on January 1, 2015. The change in monthly waste service fees is $3.35 per single-family home and $2.18 per multi-family unit.

Proposed 2015-2018 Capital Budget

The proposed capital budget includes expenditures of $5.962 billion for tax-supported operations, which includes new tax-supported debt of $321.5 million, new self-supporting tax guaranteed debt of $121.4 million (to be recovered by the Downtown and Quarters CRLs), and a tax increase of 1.5% per year for the period 2015-2018 for the Neighbourhood Renewal Program.

Of the $5.962 billion, $2.830 billion was previously approved and $2.699 billion is new funding. These are big numbers and you’re probably wondering about how much debt Edmonton can carry, so check out this post from last year. Here’s a look at where the money comes from:

sources

Roughly 45% of the funding will go towards infrastructure renewal projects, which are an “investment in existing infrastructure to restore it to its former condition and extend its service life.” The remaining 55% will be spent on growth projects, which are investments in “new assets as well as…projects that add to or enhance components of existing infrastructure assets.”

Some of the major growth projects include: Valley Line LRT ($1.618 billion), Rogers Place and related infrastructure projects ($403.1 million), Blatchford ($561.4 million), and The Quarters ($47.1 million).

Here’s a look at the recommended 2015-2018 allocation by service area:

renewal vs growth

There is obviously a lot more detail in the attached reports, so if you want to dive in, now’s the time!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The budget meetings continue on Thursday, with Council slated to hear presentations from civic agencies on the proposed capital budget. Starting at 9:30am, they will hear from:

  • Edmonton Police Commission
  • Edmonton Public Library
  • Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
  • Francis Winspear Centre for Music
  • Fort Edmonton Management Company
  • TELUS World of Science

Proposed 2015 Operating Budget

Following those presentations, Council will look at the proposed 2015 operating budget, they’ll have presentations from each of the major departments, like Community Services and Sustainable Development.

The budget discussions will continue over the next three weeks.

That’s it! 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: November 17-21, 2014

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

A reminder that it’s budget time! If you want to dig into the 2015 budgets, check out this microsite that the City has launched. Also head over to the Edmonton subreddit at 12:30pm on Friday, November 14 for an AMA with CFO Lorna Rosen. City Council will be discussing the budget in detail from November 26 to December 10, with optional meetings scheduled for December 11 and 12 if they need more time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On Monday, City Council is holding a public hearing. The usual bylaws to allow development will be discussed, but three include amendments to ARPs:

  • An amendment to the Strathcona Area Redevelopment Plan (bylaw 16988), a rezoning to allow for a five storey addition to the exist Crawford Block building (bylaw 16989), and a bylaw to designate the Crawford Block as a Municipal Historic Resource (bylaw 16916). You can learn more about the Crawford Block, which was built in 1912, at the Edmonton City as Museum Project.
  • Rezoning (bylaw 16992) and an amendment to the Boyle Street/McCauley Area Redevelopment Plan (bylaw 16991) to allow for a 4 storey mixed-use development. This is for the property at 9103 111 Avenue in McCauley.
  • Rezoning at 10505 106 Street in Central McDougall (bylaw 16852) and an amendment to the Central McDougall/Queen Mary Park Area Redevelopment Plan (bylaw 16851).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On Wednesday, Council will hold its final meeting before the budget meetings take place, which means there is just one “normal” Council meeting left for 2014 (on December 17). Items on the agenda next week include:

Corporate Measures and Targets Follow-up

With this item, Administration is recommending 26 measures and targets for the 12 outcomes in The Way Ahead. There are both new and revised measures and targets compared to the 23 provisionally approved in June, based on feedback from Council. You can learn more about the 12 outcomes here.

The measures are things like “% of new residential units in mature areas”, “transit ridership per capita”, “ecological footprint in hecatre/capita”, or “City of Edmonton credit rating”. Each measure has a corresponding target and measurement frequency. The idea is to provide Council with information to aid in their decision-making. These aren’t the only things the City measures of course, as the report says the City tracks “hundreds of different types of performance measures.”

None of the recommended targets go beyond 2018 because that’s the end date of the current The Way Ahead. Once approved, an updated document will be made available, and Administration will begin to report back to Council on the outcome measures and targets.

Approval of Expropriation for the Southeast to West LRT (Valley Line) Stage 1, Phase 2

Administration is recommending that Council approve the expropriation of land required for the Valley Line LRT under the Expropriation Act. This approval will enable them to proceed with finalizing the expropriations, which needs to happen before construction can begin.

There are 17 properties being expropriated. Some are located near five corners in The Quarters, some are near Cloverdale Road and Strathearn Drive, some are along 83 Street between 76 Avenue and 77 Avenue, and some are further south. The largest property is #10 which is about 0.519 ha and is currently a parking lot owned by the Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre. Seven of the properties are residences.

Construction of the Valley Line LRT is scheduled to begin in 2016, with preparation of the lands required continuing through 2015.

Committee Recommendations

There’s also approval of recommendations made from the Utility Committee, Executive Committee, and Community Services Committee, including:

Some other items that Council will be looking at include:

  • Edmonton Police Commission – Interviews and Appointment
  • Terms of Reference – Commonwealth Games Bid Oversight Committee
  • Jerry Forbes Centre Multi-tenant Project Update

That’s it! 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: November 10-14, 2014

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

First I want to mention that this week Council held a public hearing and its first budget meetings. If you want to dig into the budget, check out this microsite that the City has launched. There will also be an AMA on Reddit at some point, and a survey has already been sent out to members of the Edmonton Insight Community. City Council will be discussing the budget in detail from November 26 to December 10, with optional meetings scheduled for December 11 and 12 if they need more time.

If you’d rather listen to this overview, check out this episode on Mixcloud:

Or you can download it in MP3 here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On Wednesday, Executive Committee will be meeting in the River Valley Room. Items on the agenda include:

TEC Edmonton’s 2013-2014 Annual Report

This is the annual update that TEC Edmonton is required to provide. A recent study of university business incubators listed TEC Edmonton 10th overall worldwide, and 3rd in North America, and in June, TEC Edmonton was named “Incubator of the Year” by Startup Canada. An increase in federal funding of about $2.5 million per year will enable TEC Edmonton to launch a new Health Accelerator “to enable the city to catalyze growth of a significant new health tech cluster.”

The Way We Finance White Paper on Debt

This item is the public launch of the third white paper presented as part of The Way We Finance. This one focuses on debt: “After establishing the Edmonton context related to the use of debt, we are going to talk about what the City of Edmonton uses debt for, why it is used and how we determine what amount of debt is reasonable for the City to carry.” Debt was a hot topic during last year’s municipal election, which I wrote about here.

Purchase of the Wellington Surplus School Site

Administration is recommending that City Council approve the purchase of the Wellington Surplus School Site from the Edmonton Public School Board for $4,755,000 (which reflects current market value for the property). Council had previously agreed to proceed with the land purchase, which ultimately will result in a new home for the Calder Library, 2.27 hectares of “civic open space”, and potentially a future multicultural centre.

2014 City of Edmonton Subsidy to the Homeward Trust Foundation

City Council last year approved a subsidy of $1,238,000 for the Homeward Trust Foundation, but approval by Executive Committee is now required to actual pay it. Since 2000, the City has contributed approximately $1.2 million per year to support the agency’s work. The Homeward Trust Foundation receives funding from all three levels of government and has allocated $154 million in funding to 95 capital projects since 2001.

A number of reports were supposed to have been discussed at this meeting, but have instead been pushed out until 2015:

  • Bylaw amendments for parking requirements for “minor” eating & drinking establishments
  • A report on business models & governance options for Edmonton Research
  • An update on the potential for commercial activity at the Rossdale Generating Station
  • An update on the West Rossdale Redevelopment

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Community Services Committee

In the morning, Council’s Community Services Committee will meet. Items on the agenda include:

Edmonton Historical Board Chair’s Report Recommendations

This one seems timely given the discussion lately about more of our historic buildings disappearing to development. The report responds to recommendations that were made on how “new leadership could be applied to extend and add to Edmonton’s existing heritage achievements.” Administration is looking for a funding increase of $500,000 to increase municipal heritage designation participation rates.

Edmonton Arts Council 2015 Festival Operating Grant Recommendations

With this report, Administration is recommending the approval of $200,000 for six festivals in 2015: Deep Freeze, Edmonton Poetry Festival, Edmonton Pride Festival, Ice on Whyte, Silver Skate Festival, and Serca Festival of Irish Theatre. The program enables a maximum of 25% of the festival’s operating budget to be covered by the grants.

Backyard Firepit Control

This one is a response to an inquiry made by Councillors Esslinger and McKeen (which many people thought was a rookie mistake). The report outlines some background, how the City enforces fire pit regulations, and clarifies the current legislation. It also says that “current Bylaw provisions provide effective enforcement tools to regulate the impacts of outdoor fires, and no Bylaw amendments are recommended at this time.” No surprise there!

Three items have been postponed until early next year:

  • Update on the New Africa Centre Facility
  • Civic Precinct Master Plan – Addressing Current Square Design
  • Options to Support Suicide Prevention

Transportation Committee

In the afternoon, the Transportation Committee will meet. Items on the agenda include:

Low Income Transit Pass Pilot

The report for this item has not yet been released, but this should be an update on the three-year pilot project that was approved back in May. At the time, the goal was for the low income pass to be in place by January, so hopefully that remains on track.

Late Night Transit Update

This report is a follow-up from August and outlines “a proposal for the phased implementation of late night service”. There are two phases proposed: the first would extend late night service until 3am on five routes, the second would further extend service to 5:30am. Funding of $1.322 million is needed to get Phase 1 going, and phase 2 would cost $2.1 million annually. If the budget is approved, Phase 1 could be implemented in September 2015 and Phase 2 could be implemented in September 2016. The five routes are the 1, 4, 8, 9, and 505 (Clareview – Central LRT replacement service).

How can we build a great city with transit?

Get ready to be consulted and engaged on the development of a major transit strategy! This report “outlines the steps for public consultation to be completed as part of development of a transit strategy” that aims to discuss the question above. Administration is looking for one-time funding of $623,000 to take this work forward.

Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Coverage in LRT Stations and Tunnels

Back in July, Mayor Iveson made an inquiry about mobile and Internet coverage underground. This report answers that inquiry, and states that “today, cell coverage in LRT stations and tunnels is limited.” On the plus side, the report says the City is looking to offer cell phone coverage and Wi-Fi service in the fourth quarter of 2015 to LRT stations (and parts of tunnels). That means getting connected underground is still a year away, but at least it is coming.

Two items have been postponed to an undetermined future date:

  • Civic Precinct Master Plan – SE LRT Integration
  • Valley Line Construction Impact on the Use of Churchill Square

Friday, November 14, 2014

There aren’t normally Council meetings on Friday, but on the morning of the 14th the City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee will be meeting. There are no reports available as these items are protected by sections 17, 19, and 24 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. My understanding is that the committee will agree upon the process and timelines for evaluating the performance of the City Manager and City Auditor but that the actual evaluations will take place at a future date.

That’s it! 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.

Edmonton City Council Initiatives for 2013-2017

With the adoption of Policy C518 (pdf) in March 2006, City Council started identifying and assigning Council Initiatives, “projects that Council deems would benefit from having a Councillor as a sponsor.” At its December 11, 2013 meeting, our current City Council approved the list of initiatives for the 2013-2017 term.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

The following initiatives from the 2010-2013 term were renewed (the Councillor assignments, as volunteered, are in brackets):

  • Northern Relationships/Circumpolar (Gibbons, Iveson, Caterina)
  • Arts & Culture (Henderson, McKeen)
  • Economic Development
    • Heartland (Iveson, Gibbons)
    • Startups (Oshry)
    • Port Alberta (Nickel)
  • Housing (Iveson, Henderson)
  • Edmonton’s Poverty Elimination (Iveson, Henderson, Sohi)
  • Indigenous Peoples Strategy (Iveson, Caterina, Henderson)
  • Multiculturalism (Iveson, Sohi)
  • Next Gen (Oshry, Knack*)
  • Public Transit (Knack, Sohi)
  • Recreation (Anderson)
  • Seniors (Knack, Sohi)
  • Traffic Safety (Esslinger, Loken)

The following initiatives are new (the Councillor assignments, as volunteered, are in brackets):

  • Child Friendly Edmonton (Esslinger)
  • Communities in Bloom (Nickel)
  • ELEVATE (Esslinger, Walters)
  • Public Engagement Initiative (Henderson, Walters)
  • Urban Isolation/Mental Health (McKeen)
  • Winter Cities (Henderson, McKeen)
  • Women’s Initiative (Iveson, Esslinger)
  • Post-Secondary Relations (Iveson, Knack, Esslinger)

Here’s a look at all the initiatives by Councillor for the 2013-2017 term:

Councillor Initiatives
Anderson
(Ward 9)
– Recreation
Caterina
(Ward 7)
– Northern Relationships/Circumpolar
– Indigenous People’s Strategy
Esslinger
(Ward 2)
– Child Friendly Edmonton
– ELEVATE
– Women’s Initiative
– Post-Secondary Relations
Gibbons
(Ward 4)
– Northern Relationships/Circumpolar
– Economic Development – Heartland
Henderson
(Ward 8)
– Arts & Culture
– Housing
– Edmonton’s Poverty Elimination
– Indigenous People’s Strategy
– Public Engagement Initiative
– Winter Cities
Iveson
(Mayor)
– Northern Relationships/Circumpolar
– Economic Development – Heartland
– Housing
– Edmonton’s Poverty Elimination
– Indigenous People’s Strategy
– Multiculturalism
– Women’s Initiative
– Post-Secondary Relations
Knack
(Ward 1)
– Next Gen*
– Public Transit
– Seniors
– Post-Secondary Relations
Loken
(Ward 3)
– Traffic Safety
McKeen
(Ward 6)
– Arts & Culture
– Urban Isolation/Mental Health
– Winter Cities
Nickel
(Ward 11)
– Economic Development – Port Alberta
– Communities in Bloom
Oshry
(Ward 5)
– Economic Development – Startups
– Next Gen
Sohi
(Ward 12)
– Edmonton’s Poverty Elimination
– Multiculturalism
– Public Transit
– Seniors
Walters
(Ward 10)
– ELEVATE
– Public Engagement Initiative

The following initiatives from the 2010-2013 term were considered complete and are now discontinued:

  • City of Learners (mandate complete and to be continued by EPL)
  • Community Sustainability (to be re-focused through ELEVATE)
  • Environment (moving into implementation)
  • External Affairs (covered with board appointments)
  • Transforming Edmonton (mandate complete and operationalized)
  • Agri-Food/Urban Agriculture

Council approved the above initiative assignments and closures unanimously. The next step is for Administration to bring forward updated Terms of Reference for each.

One impact of declaring these initiatives is that Administration is required by the policy to include all Council Initiatives in business plans and budgets. That makes it possible (to an extent) to track resources and progress on each.

These initiatives aren’t highlighted and assigned just for show. You can expect to see Councillors at any media events related to their initiatives of course, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that each will do as well.

In addition to the initiatives above, Councillors are also appointed to various boards and committees. There is a limited amount of overlap.

I am a little surprised that the Environment initiative was closed, with no related initiative put forward to replace it. Especially given the direction Edmonton is heading as a leader in sustainability and waste management. I am very pleased to see a new initiative focused on public engagement, however.

* – Though the documents do not reflect it, Councillor Knack has confirmed that he too is on the Next Gen initiative.

2013-2017 Edmonton City Council Swearing In Ceremony & Inaugural Meeting

Edmonton’s new City Council was officially sworn into office this afternoon at City Hall. Councillors have been busy since last week’s election of course, learning how everything works, getting their staff and offices in order, and I’m sure, stopping every now and then to take it all in. But now their positions are official, and the real work can begin.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

The event was emceed by John Dowds and opened with an invocation from Elder Francis Whiskeyjack. With the help of Justice D. M. Manderscheid, each new member of Council took the oath of office in front a packed crowd. It wasn’t all business though, as Sierra Jamerson performed a beautiful song right before Mayor Iveson took to the podium to deliver his remarks.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Mayor Iveson began with some tributes, acknowledging that Edmonton is on Treaty 6 territory, and praising the work of the previous Council. He highlighted the “vigorous pace” that outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel had set and confirmed that he too will lean on “the diversity of wisdom and perspective” that each member of City Council brings to the table.

Mayor Iveson talked about the importance of the Edmonton Region, the new relationship with Calgary, and the need to “firm up stable, predictable funding for key infrastructure, including LRT.” He talked about roads and pipes, fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency, homelessness and poverty, urban living, innovation, the environment, the arts, and diversity and inclusion. It was the same messaging Iveson has been delivering for months on the campaign trail, but asserted with the new confidence that comes from being mayor.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Mayor Don Iveson takes the oath

Before highlighting his colleagues on Council to close, Mayor Iveson addressed the so-called generational shift that has been talked about over the last week:

“Some have remarked that this election marked the passing of the torch to the next generation of leaders. But I and my fellow Council members are custodians of that leadership, doing the most good with it to make Edmonton an even greater place, in time to pass on the torch to our children and grandchildren. The leadership you see here represents all Edmontonians, regardless of age or interest. A united city we must be, in order to accomplish all on the path ahead in the next four years.”

Here’s a video of some of today’s highlights:

The inaugural meeting of the new City Council took place immediately after the ceremony. The first order of business was to adopt the agenda, and after the vote passed unanimously, Mayor Iveson let out a brief “whew!” that the much-larger-than-normal crowd enjoyed.

Here’s the seating order, from left to right:

  • Councillor Amarjeet Sohi
  • Councillor Michael Oshry
  • Councillor Ben Henderson
  • Councillor Andrew Knack
  • Councillor Tony Caterina
  • Councillor Scott McKeen
  • Mayor Don Iveson
  • Councillor Bev Esslinger
  • Councillor Dave Loken
  • Councillor Michael Walters
  • Councillor Bryan Anderson
  • Councillor Mike Nickel
  • Councillor Ed Gibbons

The mayor gets to select the seating order. I’m not sure how Mayor Iveson came up with the order, but Joveena noted that experienced and new Councillors alternate, which seems like a smart approach. The returning Councillors are more or less in the same spots as before too.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Unanimous, for now

The meeting was very short, though Councillor Sohi did give notice that he intends to bring forward a motion in November to provide WIN House with $50,000 in funding. He was sporting a bright blue shirt that said, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like”.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
Mayor Don Iveson

Now that it’s official, City Council will get down to business, starting with Strategic Planning tomorrow and soon, the 2014 budget. You can see the upcoming schedule as well as agendas and minutes here.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017
City Council gets down to business

Congratulations to our new City Council!

You can see my recap of the 2010 Swearing In Ceremony here. You can see more photos of today’s ceremony and meeting here.