Committee & Regional Roundup (November 21-25)

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.

SOUTH CAMPUS UPDATE

On Monday, the City of Edmonton gave conditional approval to partially fund the Twin Arenas project at the University of Alberta’s South Campus. Our $20 million investment, which is consistent with what the City would usually spend on a single-surface ice arena, will aim to help fill a void in the availability of ice time throughout Edmonton. Our $20 million support is contingent on the University coming up with an effective solution to the operational issues related to the facility proposed to accommodate the users of the new arena. As the City and the University work through this issue, I will be sure to keep the potential affects to the surrounding communities on the forefront of my mind, and will be sure to regularly connect with members of those communities through the South Campus Neighbourhoods Coalition.

RIVER VALLEY TRAILS

Addressing the condition of our river valley trails was discussed Monday afternoon at Community and Public Services Committee. Eight percent of the trails running through the river valley are in poor to very poor condition. To address the overall maintenance in the long term, a strategy will be brought forward to Council in the Fall of 2017 that will look at completely rehabilitating our trail system to ensure that the system remains in acceptable condition. In the short term, the City received permission from the Province to remediate a number of eroded trails in the ecologically sensitive Whitemud Creek area, which many Ward 10 residents use to access the river valley; work to remediate these trails is expected to start in the Spring of 2017.

ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS PILOT

On Tuesday, Executive Committee approved funding of $300K to install 30 electric vehicle charging stations at City-owned facilities such our community recreation centres and libraries; this funding is already part of an existing fleet services budget and will require reallocations to be spent on EV infrastructure.

The original proposal that was brought forward to Executive Committee would have seen an additional 70 stations installed at strategically located private businesses. While I did not support this proposal, and these additional stations were not approved, as a City, we need to recognize that the landscape of how people get around is changing. In fact, in a recent report by Bloomberg, by 2040, it is expected electric vehicles will account for 35% of new light duty vehicle sales. At some point, we will have to address how government and private industry will work together to address this growing demand for alternative energy transportation methods.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Executive Committee also gave the greenlight to the creation of a Community Development Corporation (CDC). Our newly created CDC will aim to work with communities to address poverty through the attraction of jobs and investment to lower-income neighbourhoods.

TRAFFIC SHORTCUTTING POLICY UPDATE

Our Community Traffic Management Policy (CTMP) is currently being updated, and Urban Planning Committee received information on this update, which is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2017. Results from stakeholder consultation, a state-of-practice review and learnings from recent pilot projects will be used to guide the development of the new CTMP. After experiencing one of these pilots in Pleasantview last year, I am a firm believer that for any traffic shortcutting program to be successful, it needs to be coupled with heavy speed enforcement on the front end of the project. Additionally, the real solution that will truly address the issue of traffic shortcutting within our communities will come through Neighbourhood Renewal, where we have the ability to redesign and reconstruct roads.