On the agenda: OP12, Katz Group parking request, financial updates

· The Pulse

This week, city hall partially reopens to private events only as councillors meet to discuss OP12, financial updates for the operating and capital budgets, and whether to allow the Katz Group to continue using two lots for parking.

There is a city council public hearing scheduled for March 11, a city council meeting scheduled for March 12 and 13, and a city auditor recruitment committee meeting on March 14.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • Council is scheduled to make decisions on proposed budget cuts at a city council meeting on March 12. Last month, councillors learned that to reach their OP12 goals, they would need to make significant cuts to services. City administration presented a list of options, including eliminating funding to the Edmonton Heritage Council, reducing public engagement, and increasing parking enforcement. Several councillors said they did not support cutting funding to the Edmonton Heritage Council at a council meeting last month. At the meeting, Coun. Jo-Anne Wright also said selling naming rights to city recreation facilities — another of the options to save money — could cause a disconnect between residents and the city.
  • Katz Group Real Estate has submitted an application to extend the temporary use of its properties in McDougall as a surface parking lot. The company owns the lots on either side of 102 Street just north of 105 Avenue, near Rogers Place. The properties are zoned as high-density, mixed-use urban village. While redevelopment of the lot is pending, city council has decided to allow the Katz Group to use the land as a surface parking until Dec. 31, 2023. The group is applying to extend that use until the end of 2028. Administration said surface parking is not a desirable long-term use for the land and that there is already sufficient parking for demand. Administration said it worked with the Katz Group to improve the appearance and safety of the lots, including shrubs, trees, and pedestrian pathways through the lot. "The parking lots to the north of Rogers Place not only ensure hockey and concert fans have access to parking, these lots also provide parking for events at the Fan Park, Ice District Plaza, employees and residents who work and live in Ice District, as well as patrons of… a variety of other downtown businesses," Katz Group president Fabio Guarducci told Postmedia. Council is set to vote on the required bylaw change for the extension at a public hearing on March 11.
  • Council is set to receive financial updates for the capital and operating budgets as of December 2023. Councillors will also receive the financial updates for the capital and operating budgets as of September 2023. Those updates were laid over from a meeting in December due to time constraints, and then from a meeting that was cancelled after the attack at city hall. The more recent capital update said when weighted by approved budget, 99.6% of projects are on budget and 82.4% are on schedule. The city said preliminary results reflect a $48.2 million operating budget deficit as of the end of 2023.
Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton.

Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton. The Katz Group has applied to extend the temporary use of its properties north of Rogers Place as surface parking lots. City council is scheduled to vote on the extension on March 11. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here are some other items on the agenda:

  • Administration is scheduled to provide its quarterly update on transit safety and the downtown core on March 13.
  • Council is set to vote on a recommendation from its community and public services committee that would see Mayor Amarjeet Sohi write a letter to the provincial ministers of health and mental health and addictions. The letter would outline the costs the city covers by responding to mental health, addiction, and drug poisoning events, which are provincial responsibilities, and include opportunities for collaboration with the province.
  • Following a recommendation from its community and public services committee, council is set to vote on an $8 increase to yearly dog licence fees, with the new funding used to establish off-leash dog parks.

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