Edmonton Minute: EPS Training, Transit Funding, and Lots Without Permits
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
- There is only one meeting at City Hall this week - an 8:30 am meeting of the Agenda Review Committee on Tuesday.
Edmonton is playing host to the Alberta Municipalities Convention and Trade Show. Elected officials from most of Alberta’s municipalities attend the event, and this year’s schedule features educational sessions on bus fleet electrification, attracting film productions to municipalities, Council codes of conduct, and more.
- The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed on Saturday to honour residential school survivors. In Edmonton, there will be a run/walk beginning at Kinsmen Park, with the goal of raising funds for the Orange Shirt Society. Tickets are also available for Fort Edmonton’s Indigenous Peoples Experience for those who want to spend their day learning.
Last Week In Edmonton:
- The Executive Committee heard some options for securing consistent funding for public transit. Potential revenue sources discussed included a dedicated transit tax, property tax increases, local improvement taxes, higher fares, development charges, or off-site levies. Administration looked into a motor fuel tax and a road use charge, but found that the City does not have the legislative authority for those mechanisms. An analysis showed that there are service gaps of approximately 5,000 bus hours each week, and that maintaining the status quo through property taxes would require a 0.3% dedicated tax increase every year beginning in 2024. Expanding service would require an increase closer to 1%. The City plans to advocate for more funding from other levels of government before going down the road of a tax increase.
- The Edmonton Police Service reported that improved training has led to fewer injuries to both subjects and officers in the field, according to its latest Control Tactics Report. While mental health and drug-related incidents are on the rise, injuries to both subjects and officers are decreasing. EPS has implemented scenario-based training to better prepare officers for various situations, which appears to be contributing to this positive trend. The report indicates an increase in interactions with the public, an upward trend of occurrences involving force of a minor nature, but a downward trend of occurrences involving a higher level of force. EPS plans to continue developing strategies and providing additional training to handle complex situations and minimize the use of force.
- A review by the City revealed that 90% of surface parking lots in the central core operate without permits. Out of 275 such lots in the city center, only 30 have a current development permit, with the rest either having expired permits or never having applied for one. The City said that there could be consequences for enforcing permits - closing a lot is not a guarantee that the land will be developed sooner, strict enforcement may result in vacant lots, which lead to social disorder, and there is potential for backlash from landowners and users of the lots. There’s also the problem of staffing resources needed for ticketing. Administration recommended using incentives like grants and tax relief to encourage developers, and Councillors referred the report back to City staff for more work. Why exactly are we looking at paying people to comply instead of just abolishing the red tape that comes with permitting?
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