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.
This week Council will be talking about playground zones and residential speed limits. Improving the safety of road users is paramount - but we need to better understand our priorities and look at the whole picture to find the best way forward.
Here are a few things I have had on my mind this week.
Edmonton’s Energy Transition Strategy Annual Report was presented to Executive Committee this week. While we are well on our way on phase 2 of our strategy: “Implementation of 7-Key Energy Transition Actions” there is still work to do.
It has always been important to me to provide affordable housing to all areas of the City. We took a big step in that direction yesterday.
Municipalities can be key decision-makers about food security and farmland preservation in Alberta. But if we’re serious, we must collaborate and strategize with our neighbouring municipalities to make sure our prime agricultural land is preserved regionally and that we have an excellent vision for a strong local food and agricultural economy. Development of the new Regional Agricultural Master Plan (RAMP) started just last week and we have the following goals:
• Identify a supply of Prime Agricultural land to conserve for future food security
• Reduce fragmentation and conversions of agricultural land
• Promote the growth and diversification of the agri-economy
This week in City Hall: Knees, ankles, ugly parking lots, and smart transit cards.
The Edmonton Waste Services Audit was recently released and the news is not great. While this audit has revealed problems with current operations, it has also given us the opportunity to refocus our waste management strategy. We must improve this vital service and recommit to excellence.