Edmonton Minute: Construction Compensation, Derelict Properties, and Office Vacancy Rates
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
- On Tuesday, at 8:30 am, there will be an Agenda Review Committee meeting followed by a Community and Public Services Committee meeting at 9:30 am. At the latter meeting, the Committee will discuss unfinished business from an August meeting - extending the City’s childminding agreement with the YMCA. The Committee will also look at increasing the 2023 operating expenditure budget by $3,946,000 on a one-time basis to fund Community Safety and Well-being and Family and Community Support Services Grants, as well as increasing the budget by $500,000 on an ongoing basis to fund an increase to the Indigenous Operating Grant.
On Wednesday, at 9:30 am, there will be an Urban Planning Committee meeting. On the agenda is a report outlining several transit issues facing youth - the report notes that youth using transit were concerned about transit uncleanliness, feeling unsafe at nighttime, a lack of security, and encountering drug users. The Committee will also discuss another transit-related issue - winter mobility and accessibility of pathways to transit stops.
- The Executive Committee will meet on Friday at 9:30 am. There are a number of public reports on the agenda, including one regarding the EPCOR Contract Extension for 24-hour monitoring of LRT electrical systems, and another regarding Employee Psychological Health and Safety Programs and Practices. The Committee will also consider whether children under 12 should be able to ride transit for free without a fare paying adult, and consider a proposal to acquire the River Point Homeowners Association (HOA). The HOA has approached the City to acquire their land and assets due to concerns of increasing repair and maintenance costs.
Last Week In Edmonton:
- Council has approved higher tax rates for homeowners with derelict properties in mature neighbourhoods, starting in 2024. The move is an attempt to address neglect, dilapidation, disrepair, or unliveable conditions, and aims to encourage owners to address these issues and improve the vibrancy of mature neighbourhoods. A case study revealed that such properties have cost the city approximately $1.3 million for inspections, enforcement, safety codes, and more.
- The completion of the Fort Road widening project in northeast Edmonton has been delayed, frustrating area business owners who have seen profits drop due to the construction. The project, which started in August 2021, was initially expected to be finished by the fall of 2023 but has missed the deadline. Business owners have reported significant declines in revenue, and they are calling for compensation for the losses incurred during construction. Councillor Knack introduced a motion to explore and develop a policy that would provide financial assistance to businesses affected by major construction projects. Despite concerns about complications and fairness, the motion passed, and further discussions will take place in the New Year.
- Edmonton's downtown office vacancy rate was 24.2% in the third quarter, and remains the third highest in Canada. But, according to a new report, there is growing interest from investors to convert these empty spaces with a focus on adaptive reuse - transforming "functionally obsolete" buildings into vibrant spaces or residential units. Later in October, the City's Urban Planning Committee will consider a report on office tower conversions and incentives for developers to repurpose vacant office spaces.
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