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June 20, 2018
December 8, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, December 8, 2017

The budget is set

Written by Jeff Samsonow

The Metro Line. photo: City of Edmonton

Edmonton city council has adjusted its 2018 budget, with a 3.2% tax increase to help pay for everything the City does. It’ll be almost three times that much for business property owners.

After cost-saving measures, including no pay increases for managers and digging into each department for potential reductions, the tax increase is about at inflation when you take the neighbourhood renewal levy out. This will be the last year with that, and the work will be funded as part of regular cycles starting next year. That means we might be looking at inflation-level tax increases going forward, which sounds pretty nice. 

Most Metro Region municipalities are raising taxes in 2018, with Edmonton just ahead of the average increase.  

Along with the $2.7-billion operating budget, which covers City services, programs and ongoing infrastructure maintenance, council also approved the $1.4-billion capital budget for next year, which is for big-ticket items like new fire halls, libraries and police and transit infrastructure.

In the last decade or so, Edmonton taxes have gone up more than 50%, and this story has a few good charts to show you how that money gets split up. Police, fire, transit, roads, parks and capital projects make up about 2/3 of your tax bill. Makes sense. Neighbourhood renewal has also been a small chunk of the annual tax bill, though it won’t require an additional tax increase as we catch up on maintaining streets and sidewalks. 

Along with the usual items, council threw another $12-million of un-budgeted money to a number of projects, including more money for some winter festivals, money to move some festivals out of Churchill Square during LRT construction, the Health City initiative, bus service to the airport and the Abundant Communities Initiative – which could be a great way to connect more people in their neighbourhood and plays a role in combating social isolation (we talked a bit about that in our story on Buddy Benches). 

We’re also putting another $3-million into the war on dandelions, including some herbicide use. We aren’t supposed to be using herbicides much anymore, but we also can’t let the tiny yellow weeds destroy everything we hold dear.


Other city council stuff

On top of the budget meeting, city council had its last regular meeting before the end of 2018. This wraps up the first two months of the new council. 

Hey, the Metro Line is only four years behind schedule and city council is really, for sure this time, not going to stand for this anymore.

Council is threatening the signals company with “serious consequences” if the LRT isn’t running as promised by the spring. Oh, and we also might have just learned the signal system had never been used on a street-level train before! (And obviously might never be again.) Basically, don’t expect the Metro Line to run at full speed and capacity (and the Capital Line also maintains reduced capacity) until next year and then… well, who knows. 

The team is just focused on, we just want a new stadium, and the city is just focused on not losing the team, which is exactly what happened in Edmonton.”

That sort of sums up part of the reason we have an awesome new arena downtown and have no idea what to do with our old arena. Northlands Coliseum isn’t being scheduled for demolition just yet, but it’s definitely a clock-is-ticking situation. It’s most disappointing for the north Edmonton neighbourhoods around the Northlands grounds that city councils have continually just left them hanging without any kind of plan for years now. 

Also, we’re not going to fund a bid for the 2020 IAAF World U-20 Track and Field Championships after all, which means we’ll focus on the ITU World Triathlon that summer.


Around the city

A couple of stories with local angles in the continuing “me too” campaign to out and oust sexual harassers, assaulters and predators. A local gymnastics club has removed one of its founders, after allegations of abuse years ago in another province. And a former football legend is facing a lawsuit related to workplace harassment at a sports agency.

Local development company Beljan is doing some great things in walkable communities and back alleys. It’s sorted hinted they may be interested in working on the long-dormant Rossdale plans around the old Epcor plant. 

This weekend is the 30th anniversary of Edmonton’s Telephone Historical Centre. Check out some old phones! It’s a fun little museum hidden here in the city.  

Also, New Year’s Eve in Edmonton has a new location and a new time. The events will take place at the Alberta Legislature (specifically at the Capital Plaza off 99 Avenue) and fireworks are at 9 p.m. You can be in bed before the year even ends! 


Just nice things

There was a bunch of nice stuff in the news in the last week and it’s perfect to read these when the continuous dumpster fire of the world gets a little too much for you. Maybe bookmark this?

Work continues to bring a community food centre to the Jasper Place neighbourhood, to help fill a number of food security issues in west Edmonton.

We’ve got a “suspended coffee” program at the new Nook Cafe in downtown Edmonton. I was really happy to see this option to buy a coffee for someone later when I stopped in recently – particularly for someone who can’t afford a coffee. I love the community spirit of this new coffee shop.

The Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is offering seniors in Edmonton a chance to meet by phone, which is a great help for people who can’t get out as much. 

Women Building Futures, the Hope Mission and the Lurana Shelter Society are all credited with helping a women find her life again

Edmonton’s Michael Jackson hangs up his moonwalking shoes

This one kind of came up during the budget deliberations, but in the end the community stepped forward to help keep the winter warming bus rolling

There’s a new short story machine at the airport. Local authors have provided the stories that you can print out while waiting for a flight. This is so cool.

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