“The next decade will be a time in which the fiscal woes of federal and state governments will leave local and regional governments on their own, struggling to balance the need for innovation against the necessity of making tough choices… it will also be a decade in which local government will lead the way in developing creative solutions to extraordinary problems. There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about this coming decade of local government”
- Bob O’Neill, The Coming Decade of Local Government, Governing Magazine
The City of Edmonton has big dreams. We recently, with the help of thousands of citizens, created Vision 2050 which focuses on 4 big goals. Those goals are Regional Prosperity, Urban Places, A Healthy City, and Climate Resilience. And we are about to debate our next four-year Capital and Operating budgets, the outcomes of which should be in alignment with that vision and our goals. But today I want to talk about City-owned land and how we could use that land differently to aid in future budgets.
This was a big week for Edmonton, with a lot of changes and transformative initiatives being set out for our city and region.
There’s a lot of change happening in the ways we build our city. Edmonton’s infill strategy is evolving and the way we break ground is changing as our population begins to grow. Recently, a lot of major decisions have taken place, and I’d like to take a minute to address some of the changes coming Edmonton’s way.
This past week at the Community and Public Services committee, Council discussed LRT station safety and the consistent issues with crime occurring within and around LRT stations.
This fall, Council will be discussing the next four-year budget. When considering major budget decisions, we must ensure that it lines up with the City’s goals for a thriving and livable future. Our decisions must be evidence-based and consider people’s and businesses ability to absorb further tax increases. I wrote about this previously.
This past week at the Urban Planning Committee, we received the new City Plan that outlines how our city will continue to build as Edmonton grows and expands.
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.
The City’s four-year operating and capital budget plans are being discussed in a few months, and going into this season, I want to outline some important factors that we all must keep in mind when discussing something that impacts every single citizen, business, and property across our city.
All Edmontonians should have the opportunity to live their lives free from the harmful impacts of drugs, second-hand smoke and alcohol. With this in mind, I plan to make amendments to the proposed bylaw at Council next week to restrict cannabis consumption in parks where there are playgrounds and sports fields and especially where there are parks that are primarily programmed for children. We must stay in line with the City’s principle of drug, alcohol and tobacco-free youth and protect all Edmontonians from unwanted repercussions of cannabis legalization. As the country makes this transition, it’s imperative that we be prepared to maintain restrictions on cannabis consumption to align with Edmonton’s goals to promote a healthy, livable city.
Edmonton is growing rapidly, and more and more of that growth needs to be in the core. The next challenge is make that new housing in the core more affordable. This is focus of the Infill Roadmap 2.0. But first we need to reflect briefly on our recent efforts.
Edmonton is now one of the finalists to compete in the next phase of Infrastructure Canada's Smart Cities Challenge. Finalists were announced this morning at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference.
Out of 132 applicants, only 20 moved onto Phase 2, with Edmonton competing for $50 million in the top prize category against proposals from Montreal, Quebec City, Waterloo Region, and Vancouver/Surrey. The next Phase of competition will award Edmonton with a $250,000 grant from Infrastructure Canada to further develop our proposal before a winner is decided.
In December 2015, Canada ratified the Paris Agreement to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C but closer to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. As a Canadian city, we must respond to this international call to action and reduce our carbon emissions by at least 30% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 according to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Here is a quick update on playground zones. After much debate at the last City Council meeting we passed the following motion to address most of the major concerns that we heard on the topic:
In 2016 there were over 1700 homeless people and over 48,000 renter households experiencing housing affordability issues in Edmonton. With only 18,000 affordable housing units in Edmonton, there is a severe supply gap of 916 permanent supportive housing units 25,484 social housing units and 21,550 affordable housing units.