By Mack Male
City council is back from the Thanksgiving break with three committee meetings to discuss transit improvements and fares for youth, an external evaluation of progress at Blatchford, and funding for community safety and well-being.
- Amending the city's transit fare policy to make transit free for children 12 and under when unaccompanied by a fare-paying adult would cost $900,000 in lost revenue, administration says in a new report. A separate report prepared by the City of Edmonton Youth Council highlights concerns raised by young people who were surveyed about Edmonton's transit system, including routes and timing, payment procedure and affordability, and comfort and security. Administration says it has several new and enhanced initiatives to support young riders, including the rollout of Arc to youth, increased off-peak service frequency, enhanced bike connectivity, and youth fare reduction in 2025.
- A third-party review of Blatchford conducted by Gettel Appraisals found the overall pace of home sales is "reasonable," with 85.6% of homes constructed being sold. Gettel also concluded that both lot and home pricing are "appropriate" given the context of Blatchford being "a public policy guided development area." Administration says it is seeing "significant interest" from existing and new homebuilders and it is already planning to address all of Gettel's recommendations. To help with affordability, administration recommends looking into the opportunity for smaller housing units, reviewing architectural design guidelines to help lower the cost of construction, and investigating bringing larger sections of land to market to attract large homebuilders.
- Administration is looking for $3.95 million in one-time funding for the Community Safety and Well-being and Family and Community Support Services Grants and the creation of a one-time Collaboration Grant. Another $500,000 in ongoing funding would increase the Indigenous Operating Grant. There is currently $5.16 million of unallocated CSWB funding available for 2023, which includes a $350,000 reallocation of "previously approved Anti-racism Strategy funding held within the City Manager's budget." Ongoing funding of $1.36 million for 2024, $3.86 million for 2025, and $3.85 million for 2026 is available.