The Pulse: March 15, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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Essentials

  • 3°C: Clearing late in the morning. Wind north 40 km/h gusting to 60 becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 in the morning. High plus 3. Wind chill minus 10 in the morning. (forecast)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (18-12-0) will play the Flames (13-12-3). (details)

City of Edmonton reports surplus of $40.2M in 2020 thanks to early pandemic budget adjustments

City of Edmonton reports surplus of $40.2M in 2020 thanks to early pandemic budget adjustments


By Mack Male Mack Male

Preliminary results suggest the City of Edmonton finished 2020 with a surplus of $40.2 million.

In its latest financial update, administration suggests that "without early budget adjustments the City of Edmonton could have ended the year with a deficit of over $100 million."

Revenues were $29.1 million less than the budget that was adjusted for COVID-19 last spring, while expenses were $69.3 million lower. The figures suggest the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an overall decline in revenue of $171.7 million, compared to the original budget for 2020.

Administration says a number of factors contributed to the surplus, including smaller than anticipated declines in revenue from business licenses and lower than anticipated fuel and utilities costs. Personnel costs were "extremely" close to the budgeted amount. Revenues from Edmonton Transit were $14 million lower than the adjusted amount budgeted in April 2020.

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Headlines


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

  • The City of Edmonton is rolling out a new garbage cart and food scraps system today, where homes will be given a large cart and two food scrap bins. Pickups will also only happen bi-weekly as opposed to the weekly schedule of the past.
  • At least five of nine trustee seats for Edmonton Public School Board will be open heading into the municipal election this fall. Only Nathan Ip has announced he will run again for a third term.
  • Councillor Scott McKeen will bring a motion to council today that urges Mayor Don Iveson to lobby the federal government to "recognize the overdose crisis as a national public health emergency," plus "fund and accommodate a safe supply pilot program, or programs, in Edmonton."
  • Alberta has reported its first two cases of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, which are travel-related in Calgary.
  • The United Conservative Party will conduct a leadership review in 2022, it announced on Friday. “We believe this keeps us fully compliant with our bylaws, and strengthens membership engagement with our party," party president Ryan Becker wrote in an email to constituency association presidents.
  • GraceLife Church held another busy service on Sunday morning, a week after it was charged as an entity for refusing to follow public health orders.
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Coming up at council: March 15-19, 2021

Coming up at council: March 15-19, 2021


By Mack Male Mack Male

Here are some of the notable agenda items coming before city council for the week of March 15-19:

  • A report on the 2019-2022 Capital Budget says that expenditures of $1.3 billion in 2020 are "in line with spending from previous years" with nearly three-quarters of the spending concentrated in LRT, road, and neighbourhood projects. Of the 69 projects with expenditures of at least $20 million, administration says all are within the acceptable tolerance for budget and 84% are within the acceptable tolerance for schedule.
  • The Edmonton Exhibition Lands Planning Framework is now ready for third reading after being approved by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board on Feb. 4. The Northlands Area Redevelopment Plan will be repealed. Administration says the Exhibition Lands site is "the city's second largest infill redevelopment opportunity." An implementation strategy is under development for the project which has an estimated redevelopment timeline of 30 years.
  • Proposed amendments to the Council Procedures Bylaw would remove the requirement to record the names of people allowed to attend items discussed by council in private, and the reasons that person was allowed to attend. Council and committee meeting agendas will now be released at least ten clear days prior to the meeting.
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People's Agenda session explores quality of life on March 18

People's Agenda session explores quality of life on March 18


By Karen Unland Karen Unland

Will Edmonton be a good place to live? That's the question we'll be exploring March 18 at the next listening session for our People's Agenda project.

Join us at noon for another discussion to uncover what is important to you as we head towards the municipal election on Oct. 18. Please register here to attend.

The topic reflects the synthesis of a number of responses to our People's Agenda question concerning quality of life. So far, people have told us they want to know how candidates will maintain or improve their quality of life and that of others. Many are concerned about the affordability of the city, while some are particularly concerned about the vibrancy of downtown or the efficiency of the waste management system. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some are concerned about the survival of small businesses and the future of local arts.

That's a lot to tackle in one hour, and we won't get to all of it, but this seems like an interesting lens through which to consider the candidates' priorities. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips will once again be our host.

If you can't make it, we will recap it on Friday, as we did last week on city finances. Save the dates for future sessions — we'll be convening every Thursday until the end of April.

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Speaking Municipally: Episode 120

Speaking Municipally: Episode 120


By Mack Male Mack Male

The reviews are in and it's clear that Episode 120 of Speaking Municipally is a must-listen. Hosts Troy Pavlek and Mack Male spoke with Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, the new branch manager of the Edmonton Transit Service.

"Great podcast interview," tweeted @gisellegeneral. "Having good transportation choices is important for sure."

"Carrie’s messaging on everything was on point, and she inspired great confidence in her abilities," tweeted @DinicolaNicola. "Can’t be an easy job, but I’m glad we have her aboard!

Hotton-MacDonald "imbues empathy, compassion & dedication to public service," tweeted @SohiAmarjeet. "I am deeply impressed with your interview...and wish you all the best in your new role," he tweeted in a follow-up.

In the interview, Hotton-MacDonald said her extensive experience using transit will help her improve the network.

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Coming up this week

Coming up this week


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

Thanks to Kage Leeb for sharing his photo with us!

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Quiz time: Transit

Quiz time: Transit

Sponsored

Test your knowledge with this daily quiz, brought to you by the People's Agenda project:

What percentage of Edmonton Transit Service operators are women?

  1. 8%
  2. 18%
  3. 28%
  4. 38%
  5. 48%

See Tuesday's issue of The Pulse for the answer.

The answer to the March 12 quiz was c — Leduc announced it will partner with TELUS to bring PureFibre to its city.

Taproot wants to know what key issue you want the candidates to talk about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election, and why. Add your voice to the People's Agenda.

Learn more