Edmonton Minute: Bag Fees, Raucous Meetings, and a Public Spaces Bylaw
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
- The Utility Committee will meet this morning at 9:30 am. On the agenda is a discussion about the bag fees in the Single-Use Items Bylaw. The Committee will discuss whether to proceed with the planned bag fee increase, delay the increase by one year, or to increase bag fees for retail, but not for food service.
On Tuesday, the Agenda Review Committee will meet at 8:30 am, followed by a meeting of the Emergency Advisory Committee at 9:30 am. At the latter meeting, the Committee will discuss the Emergency Management Program Annual Update. Also on Tuesday, there will be a meeting of the City Auditor Recruitment Committee meeting at 1:30 pm, mostly in-camera (in private), to discuss recruiting a full-time City Auditor.
- On Wednesday, at 9:30 am, there will be a meeting of the Council Services Committee. The Committee will discuss the 2024 Common Travel Plan and 2024 Common Furniture Plan. The Travel Plan lists the travel budget for conferences and events that Councillors have requested to attend, and the Furniture Plan lists office furnishings requested by Councillors, of which there are none so far. Also on Wednesday, at 3:00 pm, there will be a meeting of the Special City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee. This meeting will be held in-camera discussing “Consultant Update #3”.
Last Week In Edmonton:
- Council engaged in a heated debate over whether to declare a housing and homelessness emergency, with Mayor Amarjeet Sohi proposing a new task force to address the crisis. The mayor's plan included a $3.5 million allocation as "seed money" for solutions identified by the task force. Some disruptions occurred during the meeting, with members of the public expressing frustration. Council deferred the decision by a day, but eventually returned to Chambers and voted in favour. Administration will get to work on preparing a report with a list of actions the City can take immediately, like using City-owned land for supportive or affordable housing.
- A lawsuit and injunction against the City of Edmonton, aiming to establish guidelines for the removal of homeless encampments, has been dismissed by the Court of King’s Bench. The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights, pursuing the lawsuit, sought a court order to halt camp teardowns in specific instances until a trial against the City could occur, possibly years later. Despite the injunction, the Edmonton Police Commission's recent meeting was interrupted by people unhappy with the encampment response. Police Chief Dale McFee's remarks regarding encampments were interrupted by those calling for his resignation.
- The City of Edmonton has drafted a new Public Spaces Bylaw, which is intended to consolidate and replace existing bylaws. The City said 6,425 people weighed in on the new bylaw, which aims to address panhandling, regulate the use of amplification systems in public spaces, enforce water safety measures, and clarify rules for transit spaces. The ban on panhandling would cover roads, medians, and boulevards, with fines of $250. Water safety measures include mandatory life-jacket use on the North Saskatchewan River, and a ban on skating on the river. The bylaw would also ban people from staying on a transit vehicle while the vehicle passes the same destination more than once, allow food trucks and food carts to operate in parks and on roads without requiring a specific permit, introduce a new $250 fine for consuming liquor in public, and ban drug use in public spaces. If approved by Council on February 2nd, the changes could be implemented by May 13th.
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