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May 26, 2022
April 12, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Thursday, April 13, 2017

No further public engagement needed

Written by Jeff Samsonow

The City of Edmonton is selling off its drainage operations, and all the pipes and sewers to EPCOR. It’s not a privatization of the system, exactly, since the City is the sole shareholder of the utility company, but it does mean some decision-making about drainage and flooding will be removed from hands the public can hold most directly accountable. Those being the hands of elected city councillors.

It was a close vote, passing 7-6 after Andrew Knack swung over to the “sell” side. He was hesitant earlier because of transparency and responsiveness to Edmontonians. He feels confident there won’t be downsides on those issues now.

Something I find interesting about the debate is that it was one day after council approved new public engagement policies and they decided more public consultation wasn’t needed here. Even though that was exactly what a couple of the councillors were asking for, and some of them actually talked about how the public doesn’t have enough information about this deal to be in favour or against it.

Definitely a “do as I say, not as I do” moment on public engagement. Let’s hope these councillors actually consider being more responsible in using the public consultation tools and procedures they claim are so important in a news release. This was a billion dollars of government assets sold-off without a full public engagement process.

Photo by Darren Kirby, (Creative Commons)

Downtown office buildings are selling for discounted prices. Buy yours today!

I’ve made jokes previously about how it’s a good time to buy a building, but I wasn’t kidding. There’s a real abundance of office space downtown, with EPCOR Tower recently being completed, the new Edmonton Tower now finished, the Kelly Ramsey Building Enbridge Centre being rebuilt (and expanded) and the Stantec Tower under construction. (Not to mention the other buildings which have or are undergoing refurbishing and upgrades.)

Don’t be surprised to see another building or two get sold this year. And certainly we’re going to see some of them change up the kind of office space they offer or even the entire purpose of the building. Edmonton obviously doesn’t have enough businesses to sustain the amount of office space we’re adding.

We talked yesterday about the City selling off some river valley land for a proposed 80-storey tower (zoning still pending) in The Quarters neighbourhood, just east of the downtown. Tim Querengesser has a good take on one of the real problems that isn’t even being discussed during this debate: Edmonton’s over-abundance of parking in the area. Especially the illegal parking lots.

Hope Mission will be downtown during Oilers playoff games. Not exactly protecting Edmonton’s homeless community from Oilers fans, but not exactly not doing that. Although something isn’t sitting quite right with me on this quote: “We want to make sure that the Edmonton Oilers fan that is experiencing homelessness feels safe…” Pity the Oilers fan who sees a homeless person.

More reminders about not being an idiot during downtown hockey celebrations.

…Unless the party is split with Whyte Avenue, and neither side of the river sees riot-worthy crowds?

Around the city

Edmonton city councillors will make the same amount of money after the next election, but it will cost us more because they’re losing a tax-free portion of their salaries.

There’s a call for Edmonton to open a refugee health clinic, which sounds like a good idea.

We always lament when a heritage building is torn down or put into jeopardy, so we’ve got to applaud when the opposite happens. The Riverdale house that is currently home to Little Brick has received official historic designation.

We’re now approaching the kind of sprawl where even Edmonton’s suburbs have suburbs!

Speaking of the suburbs… you should soon find community gardens in Sherwood Park (and Strathcona County towns).

Public engagement

There’s an open house for streetscape work around the Petrolia Mall, tonight 6-8 p.m. at Greenfield Elementary School.

On Saturday, you could grab a coffee with Ward 11 councillor Mike Nickel, 11 a.m – 12 p.m. at the Blue Chair Cafe.

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