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December 16, 2017
June 12, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Monday, June 12, 2017

Preparing for change

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

We’re going to start today talking about growing, evolving and changing. All things important to one’s life and all things that have popped up as a theme in a number of Edmonton stories from the last few days.

Edmonton is known for its sprawl, and now it’s science fact. An examination of the Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary corridor has highlighted the loss of farmland and greenspace as cities expanded over the last few decades. There are ways to keep the farmland we have in this stretch of the province – it’s actually some of our best – but it might mean considering reining in new suburbs or protecting some land.

Looking toward our climate-changed future of more damaging storms has the City pondering massive new flood prevention plan, between $2B and $4B. But councillors on the Utilities Committee are pondering if it’s smarter to spend money now or just wait until a storm hits and pay for cleanup. That’s not an easy call to make since the storm predictions aren’t exact, but it could literally be rolling the dice that cleanup won’t be so expensive and extensive that we’ll look back and curse the city council that left residents prone to floods. Epcor will be back in the fall once it’s fully taken over public drainage and provide councillors with a better idea of what just over $2 billion in prevention looks like, since we will likely pay for at least some new prevention items (I mean, I’m assuming…).

Epcor is also planning a new solar farm in the river valley.

We’re also looking at some kind of new garbage collection system to help reach a target of diverting 90% of waste from the landfill. All our gross, wet garbage is hindering some of the current plans to burn up trash and turn it into biofuels. This might mean curbside composting comes to Edmonton.

The City is reviewing the rules for digital signs. They’ve sort of exploded in popularity without many regulations about their size, brightness, location and what they’re facing. This is doubly important since the City’s own ads for the consultation lead me to believe they don’t know what digital signs are.

Neon signs are digital, right?


Around the city

Students from an Edmonton Catholic school raise the Pride Flag at Alberta’s Legislature. photo: Premier of Alberta

Edmonton is celebrating its pride this week, with the largest celebrations happening Saturday with the annual parade down Whyte Avenue. It’s definitely a great party, and it’s good to see so many people joining in and welcomed. But we’re also seeing reminders that there’s still plenty left to do to help our LGBTQ2S neighbours feel safe and really included, and that the discussion can’t end after the weekend. Keep up the celebrating, and the fight, beyond this week.

I totally recommend you punch in your property assessment into the City’s tax calculator. It’s fantastic to see a clear breakdown of where property taxes go and how everything gets funded. (Or just punch in something like $100,000 to get a nice round account of how the City of Edmonton spends tax money.) Also, I don’t agree that “nobody likes paying taxes“. I like paying taxes because I like having roads, public transit, libraries and a fire department (and schools and hospitals). Heck, I might even be willing to pay more…

It’s Monday morning and I’m just getting into the work week, but I should Google some stats about our City’s business permitting because I feel like I keep hearing stories about how the process is long (very long in some cases), rules seem to change case-to-case or when someone actually checks out a location or business plan and it can get costly for businesses that don’t fit into traditional boxes. Anyway, the owner of the Edmonton Queen, a riverboat that has been on our river for more than 20 years and permitted by the City previously, is having trouble getting permits. Huh?

We talked a lot last week about speeds on our streets (here and here) and, while this isn’t directly related to the discussion around dropping speed limits on most streets, I still had a good laugh over it. We don’t need photo radar when a hair dryer will do the trick. 😂


Let’s walk about it

More on these shoes in one of our walking stories. photo: Bill Burris

It would be great to see the downtown revitalization and (if it can happen) that of The Quarters help give our Chinatown a boost too. There’s a new walking tour of the neighbourhood happening, which should help keep up interest.

You’ve probably noticed those giant legs at the Southgate Transit Station. The Journal’s got a look at how they came together.

I’ve linked to Tim Querengesser’s website a few times in the Headlines, and he’s got a new podcast focused on urban planning and walking.

There’s also a new website focused on our city’s most walkable neighbourhoods and people living there. They’ve been producing a number of profiles and stories on people and businesses which are worth checking out.

I only partially regret the pun I used as this section’s title.


Public engagement

City Council begins its meeting today, at 1:30 p.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live from council chambers.

If you pass through Jasper Place Transit Centre on your way home you may encounter City staff who are showing off renovation plans for the hub, 3:30 – 6:30 p.m.

There are two open houses today for the Coliseum Station Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP), at City Hall, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., and at the Bellelvue Community League, 4 – 8 p.m.

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