Edmonton Minute: Affordable Housing, Corporate Welfare, and Budget Adjustments Begin
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
- There will be a City Council Public Hearing today at 9:30 am to consider a number of zoning bylaw amendments. On Tuesday, at 8:30 am, there will be a meeting of the Agenda Review Committee.
There will be a meeting of City Council on Tuesday at 9:30 am. On the agenda are the budget adjustments, which, if approved as presented, will result in the largest tax increase to Edmontonians since 2014. The debate on the adjustments continues until the end of November - we’ll be bringing you all of the information after the adjustments are presented, so be sure to watch your inbox! If the Council meeting doesn't wrap up on schedule, it will continue on Wednesday, beginning at 9:30 am. There will also be a Non-Regular Meeting of City Council on Friday at 9:30 am. Much of the meeting will be held in-camera to discuss candidate shortlisting for the Edmonton Police Commission and the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority.
- It’s Remembrance Day on Saturday. There are a number of events around Edmonton including a service at City Hall which will be led by the Commanding Officer of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. Seating will start at 9:30 am for the 10:00 am service and is first-come, first-served. Following the service, there will be an outdoor procession to the City Hall Cenotaph, to lay wreaths.
Last Week In Edmonton:
- The Urban Planning Committee voted to study how the Downtown Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) might be used to incentivize developers to convert offices to residential buildings. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi introduced the motion, and said the aim is to reduce downtown vacancy rates and promote housing construction without increasing property taxes. Using the CRL, which is funded by Downtown property taxes, for this purpose may delay other projects. Money has already been allotted for Warehouse Park and the 100 Street pedestrian bridge, upgrading Beaver Hills House and Michael Phair parks, and renovating Jasper Avenue, and it’s unclear whether these would move forward after reallocating the money. Developers argue that current costs make conversions expensive and incentives could help revitalize downtown, but critics worry that providing corporate welfare to profitable organizations isn't the best approach for development. A report on this proposal is expected next spring.
- The Valley Line Southeast LRT overcame its cracked concrete piers, poor cabling, and a myriad of other obstacles, and finally opened for business on Saturday. Dozens of riders took the inaugural trip before the sun came up, including Councillors Andrew Knack, Tim Cartmell, Ashley Salvador, and Anne Stevenson. Some passengers celebrated with cake and others cut ceremonial ribbons. The project, originally slated to be completed in December 2020, was delivered almost three years late, but apparently, the Mill Woods to Downtown train northbound departed five minutes early, at 5:10 am instead of 5:15 am.
- Council approved the allocation of $16.7 million from the City's affordable housing grant to fund 276 below-market or near-market rental homes. The five housing projects include transitional buildings for homeless patients leaving hospitals, refurbishing the old Downtown YMCA into new apartments, and a mixed-market rental building in southwest Edmonton's suburban outskirts. Most of these homes (209 units) will be rented at up to 80% of average market rates, with the remaining one-quarter (67 units) offering even deeper subsidies.
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