The Pulse: April 15, 2024

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  • 13°C: Mainly cloudy. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. High 13. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for National Medical Laboratory Week 2024. (details)
  • 2-3: The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Arizona Coyotes in overtime on April 12. (details)
  • 1-3: The Oilers lost to the Vancouver Canucks on April 13. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Oilers (48-25-6) host the San Jose Sharks (19-52-9) at Rogers Place. (details)

Row housing in the Blatchford neighbourhood.

On the agenda: Climate and Blatchford audits, board recruitment

By Stephanie Swensrude

This week, council will look at audits on climate action and Blatchford redevelopment, as well as get an update on civilian recruitment for boards and committees.

There is an audit committee meeting scheduled for April 15. There is a non-regular executive committee meeting and a non-regular urban planning committee meeting scheduled for April 16. There is a non-regular community and public services committee meeting scheduled for April 17, with a continuation on April 19.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • An audit has determined the city's Environment and Climate Resilience Team is not formally tracking its progress on its climate goals, leading to inconsistency in setting targets and monitoring actions. The audit also found council and administration lack the climate information they need when making operational and budget decisions. The Environment and Climate Resilience Team is determining how it can include climate impacts in more council reports, though the audit found there is no clear rule on when climate information must be included. Administration said it accepts the report's recommendations and will include an "environment and climate review" section in standard council reports.
  • An audit has revealed that the Blatchford redevelopment office may not meet its expected profits and timelines for redeveloping the 536-acre site because it "does not have an effective system to track whether it is achieving all of its goals." The audit found the redevelopment office did not provide documentation to demonstrate how it changed its profit forecast from $45 million by 2038 to $39 million by 2042, and that sales data has not met projected increases. The audit recommends the redevelopment office improve its tracking, how it measures performance, and its data analysis to enhance transparency and informed decision-making. City council's audit committee will review the report at its April 15 meeting.
  • The committee meetings on April 16, 17, and 19 will be in private. Councillors will receive an update on recruitment for boards and committees, like the Naming Committee, Energy Transition Climate Resilience Committee, and the Accessibility Advisory Committee.
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Headlines: April 15, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

An aerial photo of Edmonton City Hall.

Podcasters ponder what's properly part of proposed tax increase

By Colin Gallant

City administration's proposal to increase 2024 property taxes from 6.6% to 8.7% might be traced back to a tax freeze during the pandemic and the provincial government's unpaid property taxes, the hosts of Episode 259 of Speaking Municipally said.

"I think that maybe council and administration will look back and regret the 0% tax increases during the pandemic because now you just have to catch up, catch up, catch up," co-host Stephanie Swensrude said. "Every year when there's that 6, 7, or 8% tax increase, the people are not happy, and they will not remember the 0% back in 2020."

Both hosts stressed that property tax increases can be difficult to understand, as many conflate the city's operating budget and capital budget. For example, in a "don't read the comments" moment, co-host Mack Male mentioned the reflexive criticisms about the $100 million earmarked for active-transportation infrastructure in the capital budget that immediately followed news about the potential 8.7% increase. As Male pointed out, that project increases the operating budget by just $1.9 million over four years.

Male paraphrased Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz's comments about the province's unpaid municipal bill, noting that it could reduce property taxes once paid.

"Municipalities like Edmonton — but across the province — have been frustrated with changes that the province has made, and how they are not indeed paying their tax bills," Male said.

In an unrelated discussion, the pair examined the challenges Hudsons Canada's Pub on Whyte Avenue is facing. Recently, the city told the restaurant that it cannot rebuild its patio in the same way it had before now that three years of sidewalk construction is complete. Instead, the patio may need to go directly beside Whyte's busy street traffic. Swensrude said she has a source at city hall who says this is "getting worked out." But Swensrude also wondered what other patio issues could result from the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy.

Hear more about this, drivers driving in bike lanes, transit-oriented development, a report on Edmonton's nighttime economy, and more on the April 12 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

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A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: April 15, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.