On the agenda: Zoning, Downtown District Energy, and shisha bars

· The Pulse

This week, community and public services committee will meet on June 19, urban planning committee will meet on June 20, and executive committee will meet on June 23.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • A refined draft of Edmonton's new Zoning Bylaw is ready for review. Administration says the latest draft incorporates input from community, industry, and other stakeholders. The next step is for the bylaw to proceed to a public hearing on Oct. 16, with approval anticipated by the end of the year. After the new bylaw takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024, administration has identified several opportunities to more closely align the Zoning Bylaw with the city's environmental and climate goals.
  • About 50 existing buildings and two future developments have been identified to connect to the Downtown District Energy Initiative, though costs for the first phase of the project have increased by $7.7 million. Administration recommends funding the shortfall within existing approved budgets. The agreements with EPCOR to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the system, and with the Francis Winspear Centre of Music, where the District Energy Building is under construction, are ready for approval.
  • Administration does not recommend advancing bylaw amendments to allow for indoor shisha consumption in public places, saying the practice "poses serious unmitigated health risks."
Downtown Edmonton rendered in Lego, with an LRT train in the foreground and City Hall in the back

Several buildings in Edmonton's central precinct, seen here rendered in Lego at a Pecha Kucha Night in 2013, are part of the Downtown District Energy Initiative, which supports council's 10-year climate resilience objectives. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here are some of the other new agenda items:

  • In an analysis of Edmonton's outreach ecosystem, which aims to "keep the most vulnerable populations safe and alive" as well as connected to services, administration identifies opportunities for further exploration while acknowledging a need for further conversation and research. These opportunities include the creation of an outreach database, the establishment of an outreach hub, ensuring there is a geographic division of labour, and exploring the development of performance measures.
  • The majority of stakeholders consulted were not supportive of the City of Edmonton playing a direct role in the operations of drug-checking services. Administration is expecting to present broader recommendations for reducing drug poisoning injuries and deaths in September 2023.
  • Strategic communications agency pipikwan pêhtâkwan is supporting the city's efforts to ensure Indigenous involvement in the River Crossing project implementation, with a series of workshops planned for the next few months. The next update is scheduled for Q1 2024.
  • A total of 2,875 tickets were issued during the most recent Phase 2 parking ban (January/February 2023) for snow and ice removal. Administration cautions that Edmontonians can expect a decrease in service levels during the 2023-2024 winter season, though service levels will increase again over the next three winter seasons. Planned improvements to the snow and ice control program include enhanced communication and "using weather prediction services to further tailor road maintenance."
  • About 94% of property developments in Edmonton in 2022 were developed without complaints or reports of non-compliance, according to administration. Further engagement will increase accountability related to construction site safety, the report indicates.
  • The 2022 annual reports and audited financial statements for Edmonton's Business Improvement Areas are ready for review.
  • Administration recommends that the environmental impact assessment and site location study for Stage 2 of the Terwillegar Drive expansion project be approved.

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