2015 has been an incredible year, and I’m proud of what this Council has been able to accomplish. We passed our first multi-year Operating Budget, the Energy Transition Strategy is gaining steam, and our relationships with our regional partners are stronger than ever.
At a Special Executive Committee meeting yesterday, Councillors were presented with reports on the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay Review, the Subdivision Process, and the top of bank zoning questions that Executive Committee posed to Administration in early October.
I’m delighted to remind everyone that the Ward 10 Holiday Open House & Fundraiser for Catholic Social Services in support of the Syrian Refugee Effort is taking place on December 8 at the Parkallen Restaurant.
Update: Council passed the budget last week, settling at a rate of 3.4% for 2016 and 2017, and 4.8% for 2018. This is 2.6 per cent to keep up with growth (15,000 new people moved here last year), plus 0.8 to pay our portion of the Valley Line LRT. For a typical home valued at $401,000, this amounts to a total municipal tax bill of $2,299 for 2016, an increase of $76 dollars from last year. This is an average of $6.32 more each month.
Welcoming New Edmontonians - Please Join me for Ward 10 Holiday Open House and Fundraiser for Catholic Social Services in support of Syrian Refugees
The events of the world and the situation in Syria have been weighing heavily on my mind the last few weeks. We're also moving into a season when many of us celebrate with families and friends and enjoy in the bounty that we have here in Canada.
We’re at it again: Vehicle-for-hire, most commonly thought of as Uber versus taxis, has returned to City Council in the form of new proposed bylaw amendments. As usual, nobody on either side of the Uber/Taxi debate is happy with the proposal. Such is life in the vehicle-for-hire world, apparently.
Last week, I wrote about the proposed 4.9% property tax increase. Long story short, I don’t support a 4.9% increase. In tough economic times when many Edmontonians are struggling with job losses, Council has to respond by cutting down on ‘want’ projects and ensuring our ‘needs’ are being met effectively. Mayor Iveson has lead the charge this past week on restraint both by suggesting "we stick to our jurisdiction" and by making some hard choices. I support his position.
I campaigned on a city building agenda. I want to invest strategically in maintaining and enhancing the $40 billion dollars of assets owned by the city. I want to fix crumbling neighbourhoods as quickly as possible. I want to invest in a modern progressive city that continues to attract the brightest people from around the world, not just because they can find a job here, but because this is a great city with great neighbourhoods in which to raise a family.
But I also campaigned on sound financial management.
Winter in Edmonton is always coming and it’s never too early to get prepared. On a personal note my snowshoes are by the front door ready for that first beautiful snowfall. Bring it on! From a city perspective we need to get prepared for snow.
City Council is about to debate our first ever three-year operating budget starting next month. As we consider this budget and future budgets, it is time to elevate the conversation on Council and among citizens about the importance of non-residential taxes. We have an opportunity to build our industrial tax base, innovate our economy, and reduce tax increases for residents while still keeping up with core service demands and our ambitious city building agenda.
Nominate a local leader for the Everyday Political Citizen Project today!
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in a blog post on the Century Park Park and Ride that an upgraded system of express buses might be one way to supplement the loss of parking at Century Park. Fortuitously, today’s Transportation Committee featured a discussion of a different sort of bus network, one that could also improve the transit situation in south Edmonton: Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT for short.
Nobody can say that the job of a City Councillor is boring. This afternoon’s meeting on vehicle for hire and ride-sharing regulations was a little tumultuous at times. In fact council was holed up in our bunker for around an hour as meeting attendees reacted angrily in our chambers.
Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap is one year old. It is a good time to look back over the past year and reflect on our progress, particularly in light of the Infill Roadmap Progress Report. The roadmap was built to address our rapid growth and challenges facing mature communities. Edmonton has to grow much differently in the next thirty years than we did in the last thirty. In order to do this effectively we need to ensure the proper checks and balances are in place for builders and communities.