On the agenda: Bag fees, flood mitigation, travel budget

· The Pulse

This week at committee meetings, councillors will discuss a potential increase to fees for paper bags, the city's emergency response plan, travel costs, and EPCOR's flood mitigation efforts.

A utility committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22. An emergency advisory committee meeting is scheduled for 9:30am on Jan. 23 and a committee meeting on city-auditor recruitment is scheduled for 1:30pm on Jan. 23. On Jan. 24, a council services committee meeting is scheduled for 9:30am and a special performance-evaluation committee meeting for the city manager and city auditor is scheduled at 3:30pm.

Here are some key items on the agenda:

  • Administration developed four options for the future of bag fees under the single-use item reduction bylaw. The fees are meant to increase to 25 cents from 15 cents per paper bag and to $2 from $1 per reusable bag on July 1, 2024, but council directed city staff to explore options. The options that will be presented to councillors at a utility committee meeting on Jan. 22 include delaying the fee increase by a year, keeping the current fees, and creating different fees for retail and food service businesses. Under this option, bags at retail stores would be 25 cents while food service bags would remain at 15 cents, as the bag fee is more "controversial" in food service settings, the city said. The report includes public feedback about the bylaw. It is mixed. Three-quarters of business owners who responded to the survey said they did not support the proposed increase to fees. Any change to bag fees will need to be voted on at a future city council meeting.
  • The major projects in EPCOR's 2024 plan fall within six specific areas: drainage integration updates, advanced metering infrastructure, situational awareness, standards modernization, wastewater treatment, and flood resiliency. EPCOR introduced a new flood mitigation plan in the summer of 2023. The utility committee is set to hear more about EPCOR's plans at a meeting on Jan. 22.
  • At the first council services committee meeting of 2024, councillors will start to plan which councillors will attend which conferences and events, and how much it will cost. Ten out of 12 councillors submitted travel requests to attend events such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, board meetings for Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association, and the Calgary Stampede. The councillors get a shared budget of $73,000 for the year. Requested trips add up to nearly $96,000. The committee will also discuss council's collective budget for furniture. The estimated amounts for travel and furniture will need to be approved by city council at a future meeting.
The Rossdale water treatment plant in Edmonton's river valley.

EPCOR's flood resiliency plan includes the construction of berms and concrete walls around its E.L. Smith and Rossdale water treatment plants. (Stephanie Swensrude)

  • The city served almost 20,000 meals to people displaced by wildfires in Alberta and the Northwest Territories in the summer of 2023, according to a report that an emergency advisory committee will receive at a meeting on Jan. 23. For 64 days spread over three periods from May to September, hundreds of staff worked to support evacuees from Drayton Valley, Edson, and the N.W.T. The report also includes the municipal emergency plan, which is reviewed at least once a year and is modified as needed.
  • Councillors will get a private update on the recruitment process for the next city auditor on Jan. 23, and a private update from a consultant on Jan. 24.

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