A Transformative Week for Edmonton
Since Council’s been back in session, we’ve hit the ground running with a big couple of weeks and some exciting changes for our city. I’m excited to be actively engaged in some major developments in the city leading us towards a smarter and sustainable future, a more active city, and an inclusive and affordable Edmonton.
Corporate Climate Leaders Program
This past Wednesday, we officially launched the Corporate Climate Leaders Program, a new initiative to support greenhouse gas emissions reduction within major corporations in the City. 18 members of our local business community are showing stellar climate leadership and reducing their corporate emissions. Our Energy Transition Strategy calls for a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, using Edmonton’s 2005 emission level as the baseline. This initiative is of course about the environment, but it’s also essentially a win/win for the City and the companies who have partnered with us in this area. This is a monumental step in the right direction, and I’m very excited to see us move toward our ambitious goal by 2035. It will be a group effort, with every Edmontonian doing their part.
I’d like to personally thank the 18 organizations and businesses who have taken leadership in this area and are making a massive change in our community and beyond:
- Alberta Health Services
- Canadian Western Bank
- Chandos Construction
- Clark Builders
- Covenant Health
- Enbridge Inc.
- EPCOR Utilities Inc.
- IKEA Edmonton
- Lafarge Canada Inc.
- Landmark Homes
- Lehigh Cement
- MacEwan University
- Manasc Isaac Architects
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
- PCL Construction Management Inc.
- University of Alberta
- West Edmonton Mall
Affordable Housing across Edmonton
Last week, Council voted in support of a plan to increase affordable housing in all areas of Edmonton to reach a target of 16% across the board. Edmonton, historically, has focused affordable housing in a limited number of central communities, and this new target mitigates that issue by making affordable housing possible for people throughout the entire city. While there may be pushback about this approach, I think we need to ask ourselves why there is such an opposition to inclusive housing in communities. Affordable housing should not just be available in a small part of the city, because it should just be available for a small portion of our citizens. Many Edmontonians are spending more than 30%-50% of their income on housing, and that is not conducive to the thriving, family-supportive communities we are trying to build in our city.
Aiding our affordable housing goals was council’s unanimous support this week of expanding opportunities for secondary suites in our zoning bylaw. With the inclusion of secondary suites in row houses, semi detached and narrow lot homes, more affordable units will be available for rent in many more communities. Additionally these suites also make buying homes more feasible for people entering the housing market.
South-side bike grid
Council also had discussions around a new Southside bike grid, which included discussion about 109th Street. One option is to build on 110th Street to avoid this major arterial roadway. While I believe 110th is a better option, I’ve heard a great deal of input from communities that are adjacent to 109th street and who have a some desire for a bike lane on 109th. I asked for a further analysis of the routes, so Administration can have some more time to assess, look at engagement with different communities, and get a better understanding of the best way to move forward.
We must ensure that we have high quality bike lanes built for cyclists of all ages and abilities - separated, whenever possible. This city is not just for drivers, not just for pedestrians, and not just for cyclists. We travel through the city together, and need to provide the necessary infrastructure for all types of transportation, not just one or the other. There is an overarching message of inclusivity here and as a city, we all need to move and grow together.
Still working hard to fix playground zones
The playground zone debate has been a contentious topic over the last few months. It is my view the original implementation went too far and we need to reel it in. Citizens, including me, are frustrated it’s taking so long to actually reel them in. Unfortunately council seems stuck in a few technical rabbit holes as it relates to defining a playground zone. I’m determined to work with Administration directly to get the zones I feel are overkill in my ward dealt with as efficiently as possible. Read my previous blog here.
The Waste Management System you expect
There are a lot of really exciting changes coming in regards to how the City manages waste and how we can be better stewards of the environment in the process. This past week, the 25-Year Waste Management Strategic Plan was presented at the Utility Committee outlining Edmonton’s road to reach a 90% target for diversion in the next few years, focusing on keeping organic waste like food and grass clippings out of the landfill. We also discussed how manufacturers and corporations can reduce their impact through Extended Producer Responsibility, making sure that manufacturers are extending the lifespan of their products to transfer the cost of needless packaging from the ratepayer to the manufacturers of the products. The Committee approved a green bin pilot project for early 2019, and measures to remove grass clippings and yard waste from the solid waste and organics (food waste) stream. Altogether, the outlook for waste collection is starting to realign with the waste system Edmontonians have come to expect and be proud of.
Transformation in Edmonton
City Council has had a busy, good week. I dare to say it was one of my favourites as a Councillor, because I can see the active change being created in communities and our city as a whole. These new initiatives and policies are the cornerstones to construct a better Edmonton on, and I’m excited to see what’s built because of the new affordable housing policies, better waste management approach, and corporations coming together to tackle our climate challenges. It’s a great time to be an Edmontonian.