Edmonton Minute: Budget Engagement, Historic Hangar, and Mosquito Control Measures
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
The final City Council meeting before summer break takes place this morning at 9:30 am. Council will discuss the snow and ice control strategy for the upcoming winter as well as non-compliance in relation to campaign disclosure statements from the 2021 municipal election. Council will give first reading to a new bylaw regarding single-use items. The bylaw will ban using single-use plastic shopping bags and polystyrene foam serviceware as well as require a minimum mandatory fee for any paper and new reusable shopping bags that are provided to customers. Should this meeting not conclude, it will continue Wednesday from 9:30 am to noon.
On Tuesday, there will be a City Council Public Hearing at 1:30 pm to deal with a number of zoning amendments, changes to Area Structure Plans, and road closures.
- The City has created a new "Balance the Budget" tool to let Edmontontians create their own version of the City's budget by testing out increases and decreases in spending in areas like transit, fire and rescue, neighbourhood renewal, and more. Unfortunately, the tool lumps wasteful spending into big broad categories that also contain useful work, and it also won't accept more than a 10% cut to any City activity (even the ones that should be cut 100% as they're not the job of a municipality at all). It's not clear how the City expects to get useful feedback by limiting the feedback to only a very narrow window of what's "acceptable" to those currently in charge, and the tool feels more like a way of reinforcing the idea that the current system is the only one that can possibly work.
Last Week In Edmonton:
City Council’s Executive Committee considered the future of the historic Hangar 14, home to the Alberta Aviation Museum. The 80-year-old hangar requires major rehabilitation work, the cost of which could be as high as $41 million. As a legally protected provincial and municipal historic resource, it can’t be demolished, but new ownership of the building could present a big problem for the museum which has a collection of more than 30 aircraft which are not easily moved, so finding a new home for the planes and other artifacts would be a challenge. More discussion about the fate of the hangar will take place at this morning’s Council meeting.
- Members of the Community and Public Services Committee expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the City’s new mosquito control program. In lieu of aerial spraying, the City opted to redirect $507,000 toward developing biological pest control measures and an education campaign. Deterrents like mosquito traps and bat houses will be installed, but a significant portion of the budget for the program is dedicated to monitoring whether or not the measures actually work. Staff, trucks, and digital tablets for fieldwork are some of the expenditures. "I sure wish we had done the study beforehand, rather than cancel our treatments and then try to figure out if we did the right thing after the fact,” said Councillor Tim Cartmell. Yeah, us too...
- A supportive housing project in King Edward Park was completed. The four-storey building features a communal ground floor living space with supports like counselling and healthcare as well as 30 apartment units. The City also explored another "housing" project where encampments with tents would "house" up to 60 people for 90 days from August to October at a cost of $2.1 million. That's $369 per night. For tents. Thankfully, even administration realizes that that is ridiculously expensive and is recommending Council not implement the program, but how did the idea even get considered in the first place?!
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