Coming up at council: March 21-25, 2022

Coming up at council: March 21-25, 2022

· The Pulse

Last week's city council meeting will continue on March 22. Among the items remaining are the two potential mask bylaws.

There are three committee meetings scheduled for this week: community and public services committee on March 21, executive committee on March 23, and utility committee on March 25. Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • The Edmonton Transit Service continues to tweak the new bus network and on-demand transit service as ridership has recovered to more than 60% of pre-pandemic levels, with several initiatives and service changes planned for 2022. The planned completion of the Valley Line Southeast LRT this year will provide an opportunity to repurpose bus routes that currently provide parallel service, which could allow for expansion into new years, support improved frequency along busy corridors, or support the initial stage of bus rapid transit service along Terwillegar Drive.
  • The aerial mosquito program, which was eliminated in fall 2020 to help achieve a 0% tax increase that year, was reinstated for one year in May 2021. Council will now determine whether to provide ongoing funding for the program, at a projected cost of $507,000 per year.
  • A draft financial assistance policy — intended to support businesses affected during major construction and modelled after a similar program in Montreal — is available for review. Administration anticipates that such a program would cost $200,000 per year to operate and $15,000 per business experiencing an eligible loss, and cautions that there could be "significant risks" in providing appropriate oversight and governance.
  • Administration's recommendation made in June 2021 that the mandatory three-stream communal collection program be city-managed has not changed following the evaluation of alternative business models. Communal collection — which serves approximately 167,000 homes across nearly 3,400 multi-unit properties — is set to adopt the third stream for organics beginning in late 2023. The program is expected to cost $29 million in capital and $93.5 million in operating and maintenance expenditures over the next 24 years.

Here are some of the other notable agenda items:

  • The city received 11 offers to purchase two buildings at the Edmonton Research Park — the Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) listed at $4 million and Research Centre One (RC1) listed at $2.795 million — and is seeking approval to enter into negotiations with the recommended buyers. Administration estimates the two buildings require approximately $32 million for extensive rehabilitation in order to continue operations. There are currently 29 tenants in the two buildings, with 45% of RC1 and 39% of ATC vacant.
  • An update on how the city is working to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry Final Report Calls for Justice says administration is undertaking short-, medium-, and long-term actions and that stable funding and partnerships are required to support local community-led solutions.
  • Administration has identified five alternative options for landscaping of boulevards and turf: naturalization, permaculture, parkland urban farming, low mowing grass alternatives, and artificial grass. None are recommended, but a new Naturalization Strategic Plan is under development.
  • Administration is seeking approval for a $1.37-million amendment to the consulting services agreement with Ernst & Young for the Valley Line West LRT project.
  • The city's plan to reduce single-use items is a follow-up to the waste reduction roadmap approved last May. The city recommends banning single-use plastic shopping bags, banning foam cups and containers, requiring restaurants to serve dine-in beverage orders in reusable cups and accept reusable customer cups for dine-in and takeout orders, and requiring restaurants to provide utensils, straws, and pre-packaged condiments and napkins only when requested. The previously proposed fee for disposable cups is no longer recommended. About 450 million single-use items are thrown away each year in Edmonton, but if the recommendations are approved that could be reduced by 20% within four years, the city said.
  • EPCOR has released its 2022 annual operational plan for water and drainage services. Major initiatives planned for this year include the implementation of a greenhouse gas reduction plan, execution of the lead mitigation strategy to meet new guidelines; completion of the E.L. Smith solar project and smart grid, and execution of the corrosion and odour mitigation strategy to reduce complaints and extend the life of the sewer network.
  • Environmental impact assessments and site location studies are ready for approval for the Edmonton-Strathcona County Footbridge project and the William Hawrelak Park rehabilitation project.

Meetings are streamed live on city council's YouTube channel.

Photo: When the Valley Line Southeast LRT opens, buses may be repurposed to support expansion, improved frequency, or contribute to the early stages of bus rapid transit. (TransEd/Twitter)