On the agenda: Brentwood redevelopment, 2SLGBTQIA+ plan, Fort Edmonton

· The Pulse

This week, city council meets at city hall (recently re-opened to the public) to discuss the redevelopment of a large housing complex in Woodcroft, the process to create a 2SLGBTQIA+ action plan, and a loan for the Fort Edmonton Management Company.

There is a public hearing scheduled for April 2 and a city council meeting scheduled for April 3, with a continuation on April 4.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • Council is scheduled to vote on whether it should loan the Fort Edmonton Management Company money to offset what the company has to pay back to the Canadian Revenue Agency for wage subsidies it was ineligible for. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, the company that operates and manages Fort Edmonton Park received nearly $1.5 million from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidies program, but later realized it was not eligible. If the loan is approved, Fort Edmonton said it will raise fees and introduce a new "immersive and interactive multimedia guest experience" to pay it back. The loaning bylaw is scheduled to be discussed at a council meeting on April 3. At a previous meeting, the executive committee recommended council approve the loan.
  • Brentwood Community Development Group, the non-profit that owns Brentwood Homes in the Woodcroft neighbourhood, is applying to redevelop the community's aging townhouses and apartment building. The redevelopment is expected to take approximately 15 years and add up to 500 additional housing units. The company said it charges market prices for 65% of its units and subsidizes the other 35% through its own funding. The redevelopment would consist of three-storey townhouses and mid-rise towers, with up to 850 underground parking stalls. The developer said all current residents will be offered a similar unit for a comparable rent, and that its goal is to retain all tenants. Council is scheduled to vote on the redevelopment at a public hearing on April 2.
  • The community and public services committee recommended to council that it increase the budget of the social development branch by $155,000 to fund the beginnings of a 2SLGBTQIA+ Action Plan. The funding would support engagement with community representatives to develop recommendations that would guide the creation of an advisory committee. Council is set to vote on the funding at a council meeting on April 3.
A sign at Fort Edmonton Park.

City council is set to vote on whether to loan $1.5 million to the Fort Edmonton Management Company. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here are some other items on the agenda:

  • City council is scheduled to discuss and vote on an incentive program for downtown residential construction. The executive committee looked at a report about the program on March 20 but decided to push it to the city council meeting on April 3 so that the full council could have a say. Puneeta McBryan, CEO of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association told the executive committee that construction costs are the same in Edmonton as Calgary and Victoria, but rents are much lower, stifling investment. "The math simply doesn't work right now for downtown Edmonton … The land is too expensive, the property taxes are too high, and then building costs and everything else." The city has calculated a grant program that would mimic a property tax freeze, equating to approximately $40 per square foot — less than the $75 to $100 per square foot requested by developers. A program budget of $33.6 million could fund about 1,000 housing units, the city said, but added it's difficult to prove such incentives spur development. Administration said economic conditions do not warrant a grant program for new residential construction or office conversions.
  • At a city council meeting on April 3, council is set to vote on creating a limited program to regulate surface parking lots in the core, following a recommendation from the urban planning committee in March. Through the program, the city would amend the zoning bylaw to allow parking as a temporary use for existing surface parking lots. Owners would need to make upgrades including landscaped setbacks, lighting, curbs, paved accesses, and a regulated stall size. Lots with more than 30 stalls would need internal pathways. Parking lot operators would not be required to pave their lots or add drainage in the proposed program. The city is proposing that temporary use would be allowed for seven to 10 years. Council is also set to vote on the future of one particular surface parking lot the day before voting on the general program — the Katz Group's lots north of Rogers Place. The lots were allowed as a temporary use, but that term expired at the end of 2023. The Katz Group has applied to extend the term. The vote had been pushed from a previous council meeting.
  • Coun. Ashley Salvador is set to introduce a motion that asks for administration to look at the Task Force for Housing and Climate's Blueprint for More and Better Housing report. Salvador wants to know what actions the city already takes and what else can be learned from the report.

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