Happening Today

Powered by Eventbrite See more >
May 27, 2018
February 16, 2018

Council meetings this week

What happened at that meeting?

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Hey, Edmonton, as mentioned a few times in the last month or so, we’re continually tweaking our content and schedule here as we enter our second year so I’m offering up a shorter version of Headlines for Friday. This is what’s happened in the last week at Edmonton city council and committees and some of our regional councils. 

The big news continues to be that Edmonton’s “world-class” waste management system is about as run-of-the-mill as they come. Instead of being close to diverting 90% of residential waste from the landfill we’re barely at 50%. 

We’re adequate! At best! 

It’s going to mean some major changes are needed. Likely gone will be our reliance on staff at the Waste Management Centre sorting all of our trash to make sure recyclable and compostable materials are processed separately from stuff that has to go to a landfull. We’re probably going to have to do all the sorting at home, likely with a triple bin system of garbage, recyclables and organic waste for composting.

It would be awesome if we could also make sure all apartment buildings and businesses have a similar sorting system. 

*

From the same Audit Committee meeting as the great garbage lie, there was a review of the election we just held in the fall. Nothing too bad to report in terms of how the systems and people operated, but always a few things to improve before our next municipal election in 2021.  

Edmonton City Hall. photo: Dean Smith (Creative Commons)

I know everyone was really freaking out about the fountain at city hall, but I just can’t all that excited about dropping the pool’s water level from knee-height to ankle-deep. It’s still going to have a fountain, it’s still going to be centrally located and it’s obviously in need of some serious restoration. Meh.

Take the extra money we could have spent to keep the water slightly deeper and make all outdoor pools free again this summer. That doubled attendance last year! Free pools or not, I suspect the water level won’t be an issue we ever really talk about again a year after the new city hall fountain opens.  

*

A long-planned Indigenous ceremonial site is finally moving ahead. Kihciy Askiy (“sacred earth”) will have space for a sweat lodge and other gathering places in the river valley, and set up a hub of cultural practice and learning. The site passed its final hurdle, an environmental assessment, at city council this week and construction in Whitemud Park should begin this year.

That’s where they keep the secrets.

Something I find puzzling down at city hall is the secret bid we put in for Amazon’s second headquarters. Good work by reporter Elise Stolte to find out details of the bid, only to determine the City doesn’t want to give up any details, not even after a freedom of information request.

We deserve to know what enticements were offered to try and lure the tech giant to Edmonton. Could we offer similar incentives to businesses already here? Could they lure other businesses to Edmonton, in any industry? Were they terrible ideas and tax breaks we shouldn’t even be offering to anyone? We might never know and that’s kind of dumb

*

The fight between Edmonton and Beaumont appears to be over. The two municipalities are going to work with Leduc County on a new planning strategy and in return Edmonton is going to drop its attempt to annex land Beaumont was also trying to annex from the county (and Beaumont will support Edmonton’s annexation of other Leduc County land). The three Metro Region municipalities are also going to work together on plans for widening 50 Street between Beaumont and Edmonton.

*

A new home in Mill Creek Ravine saw a lineup of challengers at the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). The home was approved by the City, but many are challenging its size, proximity to a busy multi-use path, its location in the ravine (and river valley) and lack of notice of the development. The City has a history with the property, and most recently passed on an offer to buy the land, which some may be regretting. 

(I am a voluteer with the Strathcona Community League, which is challenging the development permit.)

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson has written his wish lists for the federal and provincial budgets this spring, asking for more money to help with affordable housing, transit and marijuana legalization

Strathcona County is running out of cemetery space. An airport west of Edmonton owes money to Parkland County and this is being used as the latest reason to close it. St. Albert is looking to stop always pushing major projects onto next year’s budget list when they know they likely won’t happen. That city’s council also wants a sugar tax. Stony Plain councillors are trying to figure out their pay. Fort Saskatchewan is trying to get rules in place for marijuana legalization. Marijuana is part of bylaw changes being considered in Strathcona County for all forms of smoking.

And… Parkland County is asking the provincial government for money to help with the transition from coal, because the TransAlta plant there makes up 25% of the county’s tax revenue