On the agenda: Encampments, development, and LRT

· The Pulse

After the Easter long weekend, community and public services committee will meet on April 11, urban planning committee will meet on April 12, and executive committee will meet on April 14. There's also a non-regular city council meeting scheduled for the evening of April 12.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • Encampment-related calls to 311 have increased by 1,075% since 2016, rising to 9,300 in 2022, and administration says the issues associated with encampments have been "further deepened by the simultaneous impacts of the economic downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the drug poisoning crisis". An enhanced encampment response plan that will guide the city and its partners over the next two years will focus on increasing the number of people shifted from encampments to housing, reducing the time it takes for unsheltered people to be housed, and improving the coordination, communication, and efficiency of encampment response processes. Additional funding will be required, as council only approved about $1.4 million of the $4.89 million Encampment and Unsheltered Homelessness Response package in the 2023-2026 budget.
  • Establishing a Municipal Development Corporation could make land development more nimble while reducing risk exposure to the City of Edmonton, but the idea would take time to set up and faces potentially significant startup costs. An MDC may also reduce alignment with city goals, might have a limited ability to borrow money, and is "poorly suited" to undertake existing land development work such as Blatchford and the Exhibition Lands, administration says.
  • Major construction on the Capital Line South LRT extension from Century Park to Ellerslie Road is expected to start in spring 2024, but administration cautions that estimated project costs "have escalated" due to "significant economic pressures and market uncertainty." Potential cost-saving measures include deferring the planned Heritage Valley Park and Ride expansion, reducing the number of light rail vehicles to exclude spares, and reducing the storage garage capacity. The 4.5-kilometre extension will include two new stations and is expected to attract an additional 9,100 daily riders in 2030.
An LRT train at Century Park station

Construction is set to begin next year on the Capital Line South LRT extension from Century Park to Ellerslie Road. (City of Edmonton/Flickr)

Here are some of the other new agenda items:

  • Administration is requesting approval of an extension to its agreement with AECOM Canada for technical advisory services for the Valley Line LRT at a cost of $5 million, funding for which would come from the project's existing approved budget. Administration says it "evaluated the costs and risks of a competitive procurement and determined the planned amendment represented the best value."
  • A revised Land Development Policy would incorporate the Land Enterprise Dividend Policy and would change the dividend calculation, resulting in increased revenue of $8.2 million from 2024 to 2026. Administration is considering earmarking a portion of the increased dividend as part of the repayment strategy for the demolition of the Coliseum.
  • Bylaw 20427, ready for three readings, would close a parcel of land at 906 111 Street NW to support the Capital Line South LRT extension.
  • Bylaw 20472, ready for three readings, will amend the Youth Council Bylaw to improve the recruitment process, establish a co-chair model, and clarify that members will be youth aged 13 to 23.
  • Council will receive 2022 annual reports and 2023 work plans:
    • The Edmonton Historical Board plans to support the historian laureate, manage the historic bridges database, and monitor rezoning applications.
    • The City of Edmonton Youth Council plans to host a clothing swap to educate youth about sustainable clothing, and to produce urban planning information clips to educate youth about important city planning.
    • The Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board plans to continue working on sustainable and equitable funding models for transit, winter mobility and accessibility, and youth safety and security.
    • The Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton Committee plans to host a women and gender-diverse leadership speakers panel, and to boost its social media presence.
    • The Accessibility Advisory Committee plans to educate city council on the definitions and scope of disability, and will continue efforts to get regular reporting about snow and ice control.

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