On the agenda: Potential tax increases, Windsor Park rezoning, supportive housing

· The Pulse

This week, council will make adjustments to the city's operating budget, look at a rezoning in Windsor Park, and discuss supportive housing projects at risk of losing funding.

There is a city council public hearing meeting scheduled for April 22 and a city council meeting scheduled for April 23 and 24. There is a special city manager and city auditor performance evaluation committee meeting on April 26.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • Administration recommends 2024 property taxes to increase by 8.7% in the spring operating budget adjustment. That's 2.1% higher than what council approved last November, during the fall adjustment. City administration also recommends raising property taxes by 7% for 2025 and 6.4% for 2026, compared to the 5.3% and 4.7%, respectively, which council approved last fall. Stacey Padbury, Edmonton's chief financial officer, said expenses have grown faster than expected, but staff now have a "much better sense" of how much costs will increase in the future. Council is scheduled to debate the proposed budget adjustment at a council meeting on April 23 and 24. Previously, city council asked administration to find $60 million to cut from the budget and $240 million that could be moved toward council priorities — a process referred to as OP12. Council is set to decide on these changes this week. The proposed budget also includes $100,000 in 2024 and $146,000 in 2025 to establish a sergeant-at-arms position at city hall. This follows the Jan. 24 attack.
  • Westrich Pacific Corp. has applied to rezone a parcel containing three single-family homes in Windsor Park, near the University of Alberta. The rezoning, if approved, would allow for a building of up to six storeys with a minimum of 19 housing units. Some neighbours oppose the development, including many who say that it does not align with land-use guidelines, that the building is too large, and that the neighbourhood is already experiencing enough densification. Council has recently approved three buildings of between four and 11 storeys in the southwest corner of Windsor Park, but administration said it supports this application as it is near the university and can help provide additional housing.
  • City council needs to approve construction on two supportive housing projects or risk losing out on funding from other levels of government, according to city administration. In March 2023, council directed administration to apply for federal funding for three supportive housing developments in Holyrood, Canora, and Garneau. The province also provided $10.6 million for the developments, according to a report set to be discussed at a city council meeting on April 23. Only the Holyrood development was successful in securing federal funds. Administration said the provincial funding for the Canora and Garneau projects is at risk if the city doesn't start construction. The price tag to build the two projects is $33.4 million. About $22 million would come from an existing affordable housing fund, and administration would access the rest from funds held in abeyance. This was discussed at an executive committee meeting on April 10 where the committee recommended starting construction.
Councillors Sarah Hamilton, Erin Rutherford, and Ashley Salvador at a council meeting.

City council is set to tackle the spring operating budget adjustment on April 23. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Here are some other items on the agenda:

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