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.
Fairness for mature neighbourhoods - this is something that I always consider always when making decisions on Council.
Over the last few years, as a City, we have recognized the importance and value of investing in our mature neighbourhoods, and have made the concerted effort to renew the infrastructure in these neighbourhoods. Through programs such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Program and Drainage Renewal Program, coupled with our Flood Mitigation Strategy, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in renewing the critical pieces of infrastructure in mature neighbourhoods throughout the City.
While these efforts are appreciated and certainly warranted, we haven’t been as focused on investing in one of the most critical aspects of any mature neighbourhoods - the people and their facilities. In South Central Edmonton where many neighbourhoods , like Queen Alex and Allendale, are densifying and adding new families this investment is more urgent.
In my recent “Beautiful Edmonton” blog, I outlined some of my concerns regarding kemptness in Edmonton. Something critical in maintaining an efficient and beautiful City is how we handle our roadways and sidewalks. In recent years, the City has taken up the practice of temporarily filling in concrete sidewalk cracks with asphalt instead of concrete.
This leads to unappealing sidewalks, and a host of other issues stemming from asphalt (like unevenness and environmental concerns).Temporary asphalt filling should not be standard practice, I have received a host of concerns about the temporary filling lasting much longer than anticipated. Additionally, I am concerned with the growth of plants in between the cracks, this breaks apart the sidewalk/roadway further and is unsafe. As a City we must do better in these areas to create a beautiful and welcoming environment for all residents. We strive for a more walkable Edmonton for health, safety, and enrichment but sidewalks with foliage growing out of them or asphalt don't exactly indicate this. The real question is how do we create a better strategy to upgrade crumbling portions of sidewalks while we wait for neighbourhoods renewal that maybe two or more capital cycles down the road.
Council swung back into action on Monday. There was no shortage of excitement this week, a few of the highlights are listed below:
THE NEXT SOCCER CENTRE
At Community and Public Services Committee a motion was passed to start looking into the development of two new soccer centres in the southwest, City staff will return with a business case on prices and locations for a new soccer centre. Edmonton Indoor Soccer Centres are currently strained due to high demand, and as a City we need to meet that demand to provide opportunities for recreation for kids and adults alike. The new complex would also accommodate other indoor sports. Here is the report for the new soccer centre.