Sohi downplays three departures from Edmonton Global

· The Pulse

The decision by three municipalities in less than a month to leave Edmonton Global is disappointing but not fatal, says Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.

"While I acknowledge that Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, and Sturgeon County will no longer be a part of the important work of Edmonton Global as of December 2025, they are still active and important partners in the Edmonton region and make valuable contributions to our region's success," Sohi said in an emailed statement provided to Taproot.

He added that Edmonton Global has Edmonton's full support, and it "continues to generate returns on investment: for every dollar invested into Edmonton Global, more than $129 in investment has been attracted into the region, which amounts to over $2.6 billion worth of investment since they were established in 2017."

Sohi has highlighted regional collaboration as an economic win several times in recent years. In his state of the city speech in May, Sohi discussed it twice. "I have said before that when investment comes to our region they get 13 mayors working together," he said.

Nonetheless, in December 2022, Sohi and a majority of Edmonton's council voted to pull the city's funding for the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Commission, effectively killing the body. By that point, the regional partners that the commission would have included had worked for a decade on a plan to amalgamate eight transit systems across the region into one. St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron called the decision heartbreaking.

"What I voted against is the creation of a governance model that is very expensive," Sohi told Global News at the time.

Saving money was also on Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank's mind when his council made the decision. "It's a comment on a tight budget," Frank told Taproot earlier this month. "Clearly capital costs have increased. So, we ended up going to every line of that budget, almost, justifying each cost."

Each of the three municipalities that have announced decisions to leave Edmonton Global did so during budget deliberations. Sturgeon County council approved a budget that will increase property taxes by 2.1%. In Strathcona County, the Nov. 30 budget set property tax increases for 2024 at 5.87%. Fort Saskatchewan's city council approved a budget this week but as of this writing has not publicly released details of any tax increases.

A photograph of Amarjeet Sohi, framed from his shoulders up, taken in 2021.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, seen here in 2021, says the recent decision by three municipalities to leave Edmonton Global is disappointing but not fatal. (Mack Male/Flickr)

In late November, Edmonton announced its fall budget adjustment will result in a property tax increase of 6.6%.

Sturgeon County spokesperson Megan Candie said in an emailed statement that Sturgeon County recognizes the potential value of regional collaboration. "This is why it has contributed a total of approximately $600,000 in membership fees since 2017 and approximately $340,000 to fund various initiatives to support investment," Candie said.

Candie suggested Sturgeon County remains "committed" to regional collaboration, pointing to its involvement in hydrogen projects and the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board. Still, Candie discussed "specific reforms" that Sturgeon County will raise with Edmonton Global.

"Sturgeon County will be having discussions with the Edmonton Global Board shortly to share its concerns, and welcomes Edmonton Global's input and engagement in future specific reforms. Sturgeon County will continue to work alongside Edmonton Global and its partners until the withdrawal takes effect."

The next municipal elections will take place in October 2025, just months before these departures will take effect thanks to Edmonton Global's two-year off-boarding process. Edmonton Global currently has 14 member municipalities.

With files from Colin Gallant