Edmonton Police Service budget increase for 2022 cut to $1M, capital budget finalized

· The Pulse
By and

The Edmonton Police Service will receive a $1-million increase to its budget next year, after city council decided to divert more funds to address houselessness, social services prevention-and-response programs, and other initiatives to be determined.

The EPS budget was slated to increase by $11.9 million in 2022 to nearly $395.8 million, up from $383.8 million in 2021. Council instead approved an ongoing $10.9 million decrease in a tight 8-5 vote, with councillors Tim Cartmell, Sarah Hamilton, Andrew Knack, Karen Principe, and Jennifer Rice opposed.

Coun. Erin Rutherford put forward the motion to cut the proposed increase by $10.9 million, with the remaining $1 million increase intended to cover costs incurred by EPS recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The cost of overtime for the new holiday came up during the Edmonton Police Commission's presentation last week. "I know they want to be transparent with us, but everyone else in the country and our organization absorbed that money because it was the right thing to do," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

Administration told councillors there's no way to verify whether the $1 million will be spent as intended.

The decision followed council's finalization of the 2022 capital budget, during which more than $482 million worth of projects were approved.

City Council on Oct. 26

City council in Chambers on Oct. 26. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here's what else council has approved so far:

Capital budget

  • $282.9 million over seven years for the Lewis Farms Community Recreation Centre and Library. Construction is expected to be completed in December 2026, with the facility slated to open in September 2027.
  • $80.3 million for the first phase of the Ambleside Integrated Site. Construction is expected to be completed in September 2026.
  • $50.3 million for the second phase of the Nature's Wild Backyard project at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Just under $45 million will come from tax-supported debt, with the remaining $5 million to come from a partnership with the Valley Zoo Development Society. Construction is expected to be complete in December 2025.
  • Almost $41.2 million for the Coronation Park Sports and Recreation Centre and $10.5 million for the Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre.
  • $11 million for river valley land acquisition.
  • $4 million to address multiple missing sidewalk links, plus $750,000 for planning and design of active transportation improvements.
  • $2 million for the design and delivery of permanent public washrooms. "We have a severe shortage of public washrooms in our city," said Sohi.

City Manager Andre Corbould told councillors that capital projects are an investment in Edmonton's economic recovery coming out of 2022.

"We've now estimated the economic impact of the approvals of these projects and anticipate that the City of Edmonton's capital investment of $689.3 million is estimated to support the creation of up to 3,830 local jobs throughout construction," he said.

Operating budget

  • Nearly $3.5 million in one-time funding to freeze transit fares at 2021 rates. "I've heard loud and clear from the public that they do not want to see a fare increase," said Coun. Aaron Paquette, who introduced the motion that was passed unanimously.
  • $900,000 in ongoing funding to contract additional encampment social workers from Indigenous-led organizations, with the funding to come from the decreased EPS budget increase.
  • $600,000 in one-time funding for Free Play for Kids in 2022.
  • $378,000 to support debt servicing costs for the approved capital budget amendments.
  • $250,000 in one-time funding for the RECOVER Urban Well-being program.
  • $206,000 in ongoing funding to implement the Dogs in Open Spaces strategy.
  • $49,000 in one-time funding to support the Mill Woods Presidents' Council summer festival.

Council will continue with amendments to the 2022 operating budget on Dec. 17.