On the agenda: Budget adjustments and rezonings

· The Pulse

This week, council returns from a break to start its deliberations on the fall supplemental budget adjustment on Nov. 21, with continuations scheduled for Nov. 22, 27, 28, and 29 if required.

  • Administration says a 7.09% tax increase is needed to maintain services, about 2% higher than forecast when city council set the 2023-2026 budget in December 2022. If council approved this increase, households would pay about $750 yearly for every $100,000 of assessed home value. The city's financial pressures include a salary settlement for police that is higher than forecast and increased energy costs, as well as lower revenues from transit and ATCO gas franchise fees.
  • Administration is recommending a net increase of $80 million to the capital budget. Many of the capital items that administration recommends funding are previously approved construction and renewal projects at the end of the planning stage. These now need funding to be built. The Edmonton Police Service is requesting about $6.25 million in new funds for five projects, including technology and equipment upgrades, and for new vehicles for the Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership program.
  • Council could choose to fund new services and programs through the operating budget adjustment. Unfunded service packages include $4.7 million to redeploy the Southeast Valley Line LRT precursor buses, currently set to be phased out in February. Administration has detailed two packages, totalling $13.8 million, linked to the city's response to homeless encampments. The first is for responding to complaints, which have gone up by 1,000% since 2016, while resources have not kept pace. The second is to fund outreach workers and bridge-housing spaces, which the city said it hopes will help people leave encampments and enter permanent housing.

City council will also hold a public hearing on Nov. 20, with rezonings for several apartment buildings in the south-central area and supportive housing in Athlone on the table.

Councillors Ashley Salvador, Tim Cartmell, and Jennifer Rice in council chambers.

Edmonton city councillors Ashley Salvador, Tim Cartmell, and Jennifer Rice in council chambers. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here are a few rezoning applications council will discuss:

  • The city's real estate branch is looking to rezone an undeveloped green space in Athlone to allow for supportive housing. The lot is beside a Cargill facility near 127th Street and Yellowhead Trail. Some nearby residents are opposed to the rezoning. They argue the site is not within walking distance to transit and grocery stores, and that housing should not be allowed so close to the granary on the Cargill site. Opponents also argue the project would increase crime and congestion, and result in the loss of green space. This rezoning would mean the loss of 0.6 hectares of green space, meaning Athlone would still have three times the city's target of two hectares of green space per 1,000 people. The city has a target of having 16% of housing units in each neighbourhood be affordable, and the city said that, as of 2018, fewer than 1% of units in Athlone were non-market housing.
  • There are three proposed rezonings between the river and the Whyte Avenue area. Administration supports an application to rezone a land parcel just off Scona Road at 94 Avenue from low-density infill to low-rise apartment. Green Space Alliance, the planning firm behind Metro 78, has applied to rezone lots on University Avenue and 115A Street to allow for low-rise apartments. Administration is recommending against rezoning a parcel of four lots on 109 Street and 79 Avenue because it is not in line with policies and plans for the 109 Street corridor — specifically, the guidance that buildings should not be taller than four storeys.

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