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
A well-functioning transit system is critical to the success of any major city. Transit is more than just moving people from point A to point B. A transit system affects how cities are designed and where people choose to live and work. In short, a well-functioning transit system plays a leading role in the social, economic and environmental sustainability of any city.
Over the last three years, I have been actively engaging with the developer and our Administration to work towards achieving Century Park’s full potential, which is a thriving world-class Transit Oriented Development, where thousands will eventually be able to live, all within walking distance of an LRT Station.
Please join me and the Ward 10 team for a Holiday Open House and fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. On behalf of the Edmonton Food Bank, we will be accepting non-perishable food and toiletry donations.
BEAUMONT ANNEXATION DECISION
This week, the NDP Cabinet made a very puzzling decision to approve Beaumont's annexation application, which could conceivably accommodate ~70 - 100 years of new growth for that municipality. With a new Edmonton Metro Region Growth Plan awaiting Cabinet approval, the approval of this annexation in advance of this progressive new vision which asks for higher density in new communities, preservation of agricultural land and more efficient use of infrastructure is ill advised. Our Mayor, City Council and Administration has worked hard to create policy leading to more housing units on less land, greater protection of farm land and a better deal for tax payers by requiring less money for municipal infrastructure over the long term. We need the Provincial government to support our vision for an Edmonton Metro Region that is committed to better environmental stewardship, sound financial and infrastructure planning that leads to more investment, more jobs and maintains a great quality of life and prosperity for all of our citizens. Please read the Edmonton Metro Region Growth Plan to get informed.
It is no secret that the City has seen its fair share of challenges. In particular, much has been said about the lack of oversight and mismanagement of some of our major capital projects, in particular, the big three - the Walterdale Bridge, the Metro Line and the 102 Avenue bridge.
“We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument” - Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War.
Potholes, pooling and poor conditions - these are words that I hear on a consistent basis when residents of Ward 10, and other Edmontonians, describe their alleys to me, and I am not surprised. While we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in repairing and reconstructing our arterial roadways and our neighbourhood streets, our alleys have been left behind.
In the face of lingering economic sluggishness, both nationally and provincially, coupled with the eventual completion of many economically stimulating downtown projects, we need to ask some basic questions about the health of Edmonton’s economy over the next few years. We also need to understand where we are vulnerable, what we control at the municipal level and what actions we can take to improve our economic situation in the coming years. Therefore, understanding how we stack up in terms of being an investment friendly city and how we compare to other competitor cities in terms of new business attraction would be useful analysis for us to undertake.
Today, cycling in our city took an important step forward as Council unanimously approved a minimum-grid cycling network for our downtown core. This 7km network represents an important shift from how we used to plan and develop cycling infrastructure in Edmonton, and can be seen as significant progress moving forward.
Earlier today, an audit was released by the City Auditor’s Office that examined the City of Edmonton’s Winter Street Sand Recycling and Mixing Program. In this report, which will be discussed at next Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting, it was found that from 2005 to 2015 the City of Edmonton did not receive full value-for-money in its $37 million investment, and the intended outcomes of the program were far from achieved.
To say that I am disappointed in the results of this audit is an understatement.