Headlines: Dec. 13, 2022

  • Spending approved in the capital budget so far would require taxes to increase more than previously proposed, city staff told council during a Dec. 12 meeting. Funding approved to date would require a cumulative 1.03% tax increase over the next four years. However, administration said these numbers were likely to change as budget deliberations continued. Among the spending approved was $35 million to demolish the Coliseum building.
  • Motions by Coun. Michael Janz to reduce the budgets for the William Hawrelak Park Rehabilitation project and the Lewis Farms Facility and Park project were both defeated. "There's so many projects that are going to be in jeopardy over the next decade that could go the way of Scona Pool because we keep investing in the new and not maintaining what we have," said Janz. However, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said Edmontonians expect investments in the projects. "I'm glad council made the decision not to stall or reduce the scope of Lewis Farms," Sohi said.
  • Edmonton police chief Dale McFee reiterated his support for the UCP government's proposed Police Amendment Act after the bill was criticized by NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir, who suggested it represents "a disturbing step towards the politicization of policing." McFee said the bill, which would give the province the power to appoint members to local police commissions, "puts balance into the equation" and is "nothing that we should be fearing." The bill would also create a new independent oversight agency called the Police Review Commission, which would have the authority to investigate complaints against police and conduct hearings, though the bill does not prevent police officers from serving on the commission. The bill would also expand the power of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) to investigate the actions of peace officers involved in situations resulting in injury or death, an authority that currently rests with police.
  • It has been two years since Edmonton became the first major Canadian city to remove minimum parking requirements for developers, instead allowing them to decide for themselves how many parking spots to provide. According to reporting by CBC, city officials and affected industries generally consider the move to be a success because it makes it easier for homeowners and businesses to use the space for other purposes. "A fear that we heard often was, 'This policy change is going to cause havoc in our streets, there's going to be no parking, folks aren't going to be able to move around,' but that is absolutely not what we've seen," said Coun. Ashley Salvador, who was working as an urban planner at the time and advocated for the change. One exception is the recently approved Metro 78 development near the McKernan/Belgravia LRT Station. The development includes almost no parking, prompting residents to worry about apartment dwellers parking their cars on the street.
  • Peace officers with the city's Animal Protection Act Unit have seized four cats and 17 dogs from the Happy Doggie Daycare, located at 9909 73 Avenue, after receiving a complaint concerning the animals' wellbeing. The pets were seized under Section 3 of the Animal Protection Act, which deals with animals in distress. In a press release, the city said six of the animals were reunited with their owners while the others, yet to be identified, are in stable condition and being cared for in the city's Animal Care & Control Centre. Pet owners who recently used the daycare or have information that may be useful to investigators are encouraged to call 311.