On the agenda: Homelessness response, trees, and investment performance

· The Pulse

This week, community and public services committee will meet on May 1, urban planning committee will meet on May 2, and executive committee will meet on May 3.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • Although more than 15,500 people have been housed through Housing First programs in Edmonton since 2008, the number of people experiencing homelessness has nearly doubled since 2019 and agencies are struggling to keep up. The city spent about $14.1 million on its 2022-2023 winter response, and administration has identified several options for the upcoming winter that council will consider as part of an update on Edmonton's approach to supporting those experiencing homelessness. Currently, there is $1.25 million of funding available for the 2023-2024 winter response.
  • In order to plant two million new trees by 2030 and achieve 20% total canopy coverage by 2017, administration recommends increasing incentives and programs for tree planting and preservation on private lands. Naturalization is expected to be the largest contributor to the city's goals for trees. The city currently maintains an inventory of 385,000 trees, 2,500 hectares of natural area tree stands, and 1,000 hectares of naturalized areas. A private tree bylaw, which administration does not recommend, would cost about $1 million to develop and implement.
  • An update on the William Hawrelak Park Rehabilitation Project suggests at least 741 trees are at risk, with an estimated 112 to be removed. An earlier assessment suggested about 220 mature trees would be removed.
  • According to the 2022 Investment Committee annual report, the city's investment funds totalled $3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2022, and all the city's investment funds outperformed their benchmarks in 2022. The largest fund, the Ed Tel Endowment Fund, paid $54 million in dividends to the City in 2022 — the largest contribution in the fund's history.
Geese in front of the pond surrounded by trees at Hawrelak Park

A new report suggests at least 741 trees are at risk as part of the Hawrelak Park rehabilitation project. (Kurayba/Flickr)

Here are some of the other new agenda items:

  • A $66.7 million project will repair 1,955 affordable housing units managed by HomeEd and Civida over the next 20 years. The city will contribute $14 million, with $19.55 million coming from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The federal funding was announced on April 21, but council approval is required for the necessary budget adjustments.
  • A previous agenda item regarding escalating costs for the Capital Line South LRT extension from Century Park to Ellerslie Road will be considered by executive committee this week. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2024.
  • In 2022, administration entered into 277 agreements valued at more than $250,000 each, with a total value surpassing $1.9 billion, according to the latest annual delegation of authority report. About 91% of those agreements resulted from a competitive procurement process, with 25 agreements totalling $103 million resulting from a non-competitive procurement process. About 78% of competitive procurements included sustainable benefit criteria.
  • An amendment to the Speed Zones Bylaw, which corrects spelling mistakes and changes a handful of speed limits, is ready for three readings.
  • Administration recommends closing several vehicular access points in the Calder, McCauley, Ottewell, and Pleasantview neighbourhoods to improve the conditions for pedestrians and cyclists by reducing conflict points with vehicles, boosting visibility, and maintaining a level surface for walking and cycling.
  • An update on the city's hydrogen initiatives highlights the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB, which aims to leverage municipal and private sector opportunities to create supply and demand; and the Alberta Zero Emissions Hydrogen Transit Project, a demonstration project for hydrogen fuel cell buses and fuelling systems.
  • An item titled Advancing Edmonton's Safety and Security is on the agenda for community and public services committee, but the report has not yet been made available.
  • The second annual report on the state of immigration and settlement in Edmonton highlights the themes of employment and education.
  • Amendments to the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw will create mandatory training requirements for all drivers and will update the Edmonton International Airport zones and taxi flat rate fares, among other changes. An overview of the Vehicle for Hire Program's 2022 and 2023 work plan, which notes engagement took place with user groups and industry stakeholders between April 2022 and March 2023, is also available for review.

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