I supported the transfer of our city drainage system to EPCOR today. The motion to transfer passed 7- 6.
I also stated very clearly that now is the time for City Council to become a more engaged representative of the shareholders of EPCOR. The citizens of Edmonton are the shareholder. City Council as the shareholders representative must expect more engagement with citizens, a deeper commitment to innovation and renewable energy and leadership on environmental stewardship and climate change adaptation (read more about that topic here).
I’ve provided the facts and details behind the proposal from EPCOR in a previous blog, which can you can read here.
On April 4, City Council approved a new Public Engagement Policy, which marks an important step forward on public engagement for Edmontonians. Its goal is to re-define the relationship citizens have with their municipal government.
This policy and strategy raises the bar on transparency, accountability and leadership in our city for our citizens.
For many seniors, the question of housing can be a difficult one. It can be hard to contemplate giving up independence, but living independently can lead to social isolation. The answers to these questions have to be decided by seniors and their families on a case by case basis. For between 4,700 - 12,000 Edmonton seniors, their sexuality adds another layer of complexity to housing decisions.
This past week was a busy one in Council Committee meetings. I’d like to focus on three items that could have impacts in Ward 10, and an update on the plan for redeveloping the South Park site on Whyte Avenue.
Almost four years ago when I became a Councillor, I committed to practicing sound financial management; I remain committed to this today.
On Tuesday of this week, Council discussed the Preliminary Year-End Financial Results, which highlighted a $64.3 million budget surplus - $13.6 million of which will be used to fund the carry forward of expenditures where 2016 program commitments exist (this surplus is explained in further detail here). While I am pleased there was a surplus this year, I cannot in good conscience support directing these funds to be used to offset the anticipated 2.85% property tax increase, as some have suggested.
Community League Presidents Breakfast:
One of the best parts of my job is being able to connect and work with so many great community leaders throughout Ward 10. Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to host a large number of Ward 10 Community League Presidents for breakfast. I feel it’s important to stay connected to the communities throughout Ward 10, and the issues that they are facing.
One of the key themes that emerged from this breakfast was the difficulties Community Leagues face when trying to complete a community project like a spray park. Whether it's having to complete a business plan or go through a parkland change process to create a beach volleyball court. There are too many barriers to completing any community project, especially when these projects are volunteer driven.
As this is something that needs to be addressed, I will also be hosting a meeting in the near future that will bring together Community League leaders and members of our Administration to discuss this issue and work towards a solution.
From left to right: Michael Karpow (Yellowbird), Mayja Embleton (Allendale), Sam Goertz (Greenfield), Lori Kraus (Grandview), Murray Whitby (Malmo Plains), Travis Ball (Blue Quill)
Not pictured, but in attendance: Nadir Bellahmer (Royal Gardens), Paul Greenwood (Lansdowne), Gary Goulden (Lendrum Place)
In the past eight years, the City received over 7,000 complaints about odours emanating from the drainage system. Odour hotspots have been reported in numerous neighbourhoods throughout Edmonton, including Steinhauer (one identified odour hotspot). Back in 2013, while doorknocking in the area 34 Avenue and 106 Street, residents of Steinhauer expressed concerns of putrid sewer odors. And following the campaign, my team continued to receive complaints from area residents. As a result, my office worked with drainage operations to extensively investigate the root cause and determine a long-term solution.
In my current role, as City Councillor and past role as a Community Organizer, I have always been inspired by the inner-city street life and compelled to work with vulnerable populations. I met Adoulfus (pictured below) while working with the Bissell Centre. He is one of the most memorable individuals I have met--kind, creative, and artistic.
Photo Credit: Pieter de Vos Jr.
Like myself, many Edmontonians may have received the postcard pictured below. Unfortunately, the organizations involved in distributing the postcard did insufficient research into the terms of the proposed transfer. The postcard does not provide full details on the financial side of the proposal or a breakdown of the discussion to date, which is why I felt it was important to provide some clarity.
An Important Conversation Continues
As Edmonton continues to grow and evolve; our citizens, streets, and businesses are ever-changing. We’re becoming more aware of the way our city is built and more excited about the kind of city we want to become. Great cities don’t just grow, they evolve--Edmonton is no exception to this, and infill development is one of the largest driving factors for this evolution.
Within the last four decades, the population in mature neighbourhoods has steadily declined, by more than 70,000 residents. Today 85% of new homebuyers choose to live in the suburbs, rather than mature neighbourhoods. So, how do we attract homebuyers to these communities?
In a city with an annual budget of nearly $3 billion, nearing 1 million people. With limitless ambition and generous imagination about how we can serve and lift our citizens by aspiring to End Poverty, homelessness, illiteracy and exploitation of all kinds. Where we build architecturally renowned recreation centres, art galleries, bus barns and sky kissing towers. Where we fight back against the northern winter winds with ice castles and slip and slide Sundays. Where the next generation of leaders, citizens, and taxpayers rise from the bungalows of Malmo and arrive from the shanties of Bangladesh.
Community Sandbox Program
In 2015, when the City was looking for efficiencies to reduce costs, the Community Sandbox program was identified as a potential reduction. As a result, Council eliminated the program as part of the 2016-2018 Operating Budget--saving the City $300,000 annually. However, I feel the safety benefits to Edmontonians outweighs the financial savings. For this reason, I made the following Notice of Motion at Wednesday's Council meeting:
That Administration, in consultation with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and other potential partners, prepare a report that details a strategy to reinstate a new and improved Community Sandbox Program for next winter.
Each day, it is an honour and a privilege to be able to come to City Hall and represent you on Edmonton’s City Council. Being a part of the transformation that Edmonton has gone through in the last few years, as well as playing a leadership role in shaping Edmonton’s future, is an opportunity I am grateful to have.
Today, Council approved the lowest tax increase in 10 years, at 2.85%
The approved 2016-2018 Operating Budget increase is made up of the following:
- .70 per cent for base budget to maintain programs and services
- 1.5 per cent for the Neighbourhood Renewal program
- 0.6 per cent for the Valley Line LRT