Community and public services committee is scheduled to meet on May 16, with executive committee on May 18. There is also a utility committee meeting on May 20. Here are some of the key items on the agenda:
- This week, executive committee will consider recommending whether council should direct administration to develop a revised funding formula and policy for the Edmonton Police Service budget during the 2023 to 2026 cycle. Police funding has been a contentious issue in Edmonton, with public hearings into racism and policing leading to the creation of the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force in 2020, and ongoing debate about the funding formula for police. The previous council approved a funding formula that guarantees an increase each year based on population growth and inflation, resulting in about 15% of the city's annual $3-billion budget being designated for policing. When Edmonton's current council tackled the 2022 budget last December, it approved an ongoing $10.9 million decrease (which meant EPS still added $1 million to its budget in 2022), with funds diverted to address houselessness, social services prevention-and-response programs, and other initiatives. Now they'll need to consider two key questions: how much base-level funding the police should receive, and what mechanism should be used to "reasonably grow" that funding, accounting for the overall Community Safety and Well-Being Strategy. As the committee prepares to discuss this, EPS and the police commission have stated that they do not recommend tying funding to performance or freezing the budget, which were two of the recommendations made in the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force's Safer for All report.
- A new community safety and well-being strategy is also on the agenda at community and public services committee. The strategy was released last week, with the aim to make Edmonton the safest city in Canada by 2030. It comes in the wake of concerns about transit violence, racism, and an opioid crisis, to name a few of the challenges facing the city. The recommendations included in the strategy include funding 10 ideas, which could begin to be funded with the $8.4 million remaining from the amount that was taken from the police budget. Those ideas include an Indigenous-led shelter and a dispatch centre that would take calls related to mental health and addictions. A seven-pillar framework would guide the strategy, and the report says it is "strongly aligned to the City Plan". An update on the recommendations from the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force will also be provided.
Here are some of the other notable agenda items:
- A report on the status of the Traffic Safety Automated Enforcement Reserve (TSAER) will be provided to executive committee, because revenue has sharply declined due to changes to the provincial enforcement guidelines and other factors, such as fewer speeding violations. It is expected that the reserve will end 2022 with a deficit of $9.1 million, meaning TSAER wouldn't be able to fund the city's Safe Mobility Strategy initiatives for 2023 to 2026 nor would it be able to provide the current $22.3 million annual funding to Edmonton police.
- Administration has prepared a report that outlines the current approach to community recreation facility planning and how this planning is being enhanced at the local and district level. The community and public services committee will also hear an update on the work and funding strategy for the Rollie Mills Recreation Centre.
- Executive committee will consider recommending a bylaw that would see Hangar 11, which was built in 1942 by the United States Army Air Force, designated a municipal historic resource.
- Utility committee will receive an update on how EPCOR is "modernizing its design standards to reflect its customers' declining water consumption and sanitary generation patterns." Water use is declining in part due to more efficient fixtures and appliances, and the trend is expected to continue.
Photo credit: Mack Male/Flickr