Changes to city services could save nearly $16M over five years

· The Pulse

The City of Edmonton is advancing 18 actions as part of its Reimagine Services review to reduce costs and generate revenue in support of the 2022 budget. Administration will present its plan to city council on June 22.

"While these reviews started in response to the changing economic conditions and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the actions being presented to council are necessary in order to manage the corporation for Edmontonians in a way that ensures services are effective, efficient and relevant today and into the future," said city manager Andre Corbould in a news release.

Six of the actions will result in estimated annual cost savings ranging from $572,000 to $1.4 million for a total of $6 million over five years. Another five actions require further analysis but could lead to additional annual cost savings ranging from $1 million to $3.2 million for a total of nearly $10 million over five years.

The first action, to implement paid parking at some parks and attractions, has received the most attention since the report was released to the public on June 11.

The city said it will implement paid parking at Emily Murphy Park, Rafter's Landing, Muttart Conservatory, Fort Edmonton Park, and TELUS World of Science in spring 2022.

A number of councillors have already indicated they oppose the idea.

Parking at the Muttart Conservatory may not be free starting in spring 2022. (Steve Potter/Flickr)

Parking at the Muttart Conservatory may not be free starting in spring 2022. (Steve Potter/Flickr)

"I will be putting forward a motion to prevent charging for parking at our parks," Coun. Jon Dziadyk tweeted on June 16.

"I will not support these proposed changes," Coun. Mike Nickel tweeted.

Coun. Tim Cartmell tweeted he also opposes paid parking in parks.

An online petition calling paid parking "a petty money grab" currently has more than 800 signatures.

The city said the first two hours would be free at river valley locations, but no other details have been made available yet. Paid parking at Hawrelak Park would be considered in 2026.

The actions were identified after reviewing five service areas: facility management and maintenance, fire rescue services, fleet management and maintenance, park and open space access, and recreational and sport facility access/recreation and cultural programming.

CTV News reports the city paid $997,500 to KPMG for its work on the Reimagine Services project, up from the projected $900,000 budget that administration outlined in March.

All 18 actions can be advanced without formal approval by city council.