Coming up at council: Oct. 17-21, 2022

Coming up at council: Oct. 17-21, 2022

· The Pulse

City council will meet on Monday, with a continuation scheduled for Wednesday. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, a non-regular meeting to deal with Edmonton Police Commission interviews is on Wednesday, audit committee will meet Friday morning, and a special city council meeting to prepare for the upcoming budget discussions will be held on Friday afternoon.

Key agenda items include:

  • The city's Neighbourhood Renewal Program is currently "on track" to achieve the goal of having no neighbourhoods rated in either poor or very poor condition by 2038, administration says in a new report. Reducing funding for the program by 25% to 35% would delay the goal by six to 10 years, but would free up $151 million to $212 million to support the renewal of other infrastructure. Administration says $10.3 billion in renewal funding is required city-wide over the next 10 years, but only $6.7 billion is available for capital investment. Council will also consider establishing dedicated renewal funds for facilities, bridges, and transit, which would be funded through dedicated tax levy increases.
  • Proposed changes to the city's policies regarding debt would increase total debt servicing limits from 22% of city revenues to 26% of city revenues (but borrowing above 21% would be restricted to "emergency purposes" only). That's still below the 35% limit established by the Municipal Government Act. Administration also proposes increasing the tax-supported debt servicing limit from 15% of tax-supported revenues to 18% of tax-supported expenditures. Based on current interest rates, administration projects that up to $3.5 billion in debt room is available for capital projects, with another $2.7 billion available for emergency purposes.
  • Homelessness in Edmonton has "increased dramatically" over the past two years, administration says in a new report. Homeward Trust's By Name List indicates that more than 2,650 Edmontonians are experiencing homelessness, with more than 1,300 self-identifying as sleeping in emergency shelters or outdoors. There are currently 622 permanently funded emergency shelter spaces in the city, and another 450 temporary spaces will be established for winter 2022-2023 and winter 2023-2024, as a result of the province's recently announced Homelessness Action Plan. All provincially funded shelters will also expand to 24/7 access.

Here are some of the other new agenda items:

  • In an update on the city's financial condition, the city auditor found that from 2019 to 2021, the city relied more on property tax and less on federal and provincial government grants. During that time period, operating spending decreased relative to inflation and population growth, but long-term debt per capita — and the cost of servicing that debt — increased relative to operating expenses. Administration contextualized those trends in its response.
  • Bylaw 20275, called the Fall General Repealing Bylaw, will amend or repeal bylaws that have expired or are otherwise no longer relevant and will rescind expired or redundant motions and amend clerical errors.
  • Charter Bylaw 20301 would allow the owners of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in The Quarters at 9576 Jasper Ave. to operate 13 affordable housing units at 85% market rental rates for 10 years in order to satisfy the cash-in-lieu contribution of $262,500 that was required when the project was first approved.
  • Charter Bylaw 20297 would allow for low-rise, multi-unit housing in Sherwood at 9321, 9313, and 9311 156 St., which is within 300 metres of the future LRT stop at 156 Street and 95 Avenue. The land is currently occupied by a single detached house.
  • A proposed upgrade to the pedestrian access near the south boundary of the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Facility can move forward with council's approval of the environmental impact assessment and site location study.
  • The 2023 council calendar is ready for final review and approval. The big change is that city council meetings move back to Tuesday and Wednesday, with public hearings taking place on Monday. Thursday and Friday will be mostly free of meetings, except after long weekends.
  • Deputy mayor and acting mayor terms have been scheduled from Oct. 17 through to the October 2023 organizational meeting and are ready for review and approval.
  • Audit committee will consider audits on enforcement services management and support, safety codes permits and inspections, and the governance of Fort Edmonton Park.
  • As of Sept. 29, there are 14 recommendations from the city auditor outstanding, two of which are overdue: one is related to the forestry services audit's recommendation on tracking capabilities for pruning, and the other is to fully implement an IT disaster recovery program.
  • Executive committee recommends that the proposed changes to the Ward Boundary Policy be approved.

Meetings are streamed live on YouTube on the Chamber channel and River Valley Room channel.

Photo: Neighbourhood renewal is on track to meet the city's 2038 goal of boosting the condition of neighbourhood assets, but funding from the program could be redirected to other renewal efforts. (City of Edmonton)