On the agenda: Cost-cutting, Strathcona development, and council's conduct
By Mack Male
Council will start the week with a public hearing on Jan. 23, followed by council services committee on the morning of Jan. 24, a code of conduct subcommittee meeting on the afternoon of the 24th, an emergency advisory committee meeting on Jan. 25, and a non-regular council meeting on the afternoon of the 25th. Here are some of the key agenda items:
- City council will receive a draft scope of work for the 2023-2026 operating budget amendment that directed administration to reduce expenses by $60 million over the four-year cycle and to identify "an additional minimum $240 million" that could be directed to priority areas such as housing and climate change. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said in December that the intent of the amendment was not to eliminate frontline services, but rather to streamline management, remove redundant positions, and analyze the use of consultants. An audit conducted in 2018 found that the city spent an average of $123 million per year on consultants from 2013 to 2017.
- Updates to the Strathcona Area Redevelopment Plan would address concerns raised by the Old Strathcona Business Association about desired businesses being denied development permits due to outdated zoning. The affected area consists mainly of one- to two-storey commercial buildings south of Whyte Avenue between 101 Street and the CP Railyard. New uses allowed would include breweries, wineries, and distilleries; cannabis retail stores; live/work units; supportive housing; and urban indoor farms.
- A draft work plan proposes that updates to council's code of conduct be developed by reviewing more than a dozen sections over four meetings in 2023. The code of conduct bylaw was adopted in June 2018 and was followed by the addition of an integrity commissioner and an ethics advisor in September 2018.