Edmonton Minute: Online Schools, Transit Fares, and Finally A Genuine Actual Tax Freeze
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
On Monday, City Hall will get underway with an Executive Committee meeting at 9:30 am. Amongst other things, the meeting will consider Phase 2 of the Edmonton Economic Recovery Grants, a report on what to do with the buildings on the exhibition lands (formerly known at Northlands), and an Investment Committee report. The Investment Committee report, in particular, is interesting, as it shows that the City has about $3.1 billion in cash and assets, and is making good returns. Maybe we can afford some more bike lanes, after all?
On Tuesday at 9:00 am there will be an Agenda Review Committee meeting, while on Wednesday at 9:30 am there will be a Community and Public Services Committee meeting. The Committee will be debating whether people should be allowed to smoke Shisha (the City is opposed) and whether people should be able to drink in parks (the City is in favour). On both counts, we say people should be free to make choices about their own lives, and if you don't like it, you don't have to join in! Lastly, on Friday at 9:30 am, there will be a Utility Committee meeting considering a Waste Reduction Roadmap and performance-based rates for services provided by EPCOR.
- Edmonton is launching its On-Demand Bus Service, where users in certain areas of the City can use an app or phone a City number to have a small shuttle pick them up 30 minutes later from designated stops in their community and take them to a transit station where they can wait for regular public transit services. Did the City just invent a slower, less convenient, and more expensive (for taxpayers at least) version of Uber, 12 years later? This isn't just a throwaway joke, either, many other cities that have tried this have actually found that it's cheaper to pay Uber to provide these services, rather than doing it themselves!
Last Week In Edmonton:
- In an abrupt change, both Edmonton Public School Board and Edmonton Catholic School Board moved Grade 7-12 students to online learning again. The School Boards claim this is a "circuit breaker lockdown" that's necessary as substitute positions were going unfilled, and cases in the public division have increased about 5-fold in about 10 days.
- In some good news, after City Council approved the Spring Supplemental Budget Adjustment, Edmonton finally, officially, for the first time since 1997, has a property tax freeze. Now, your property's individual tax bill could still rise if your property value performed better than the average in the last year, but the average tax bill will see an 0.7% tax decrease. If you'd like to see more tax freezes in the coming years, sign up to volunteer on our campaigns!
- Finally, City Council decided to cancel the planned $3.50 to $3.75 increase in cash fares for Edmonton Transit. The price will still go up to $4.00 in February 2022, however. The City will also be starting to roll out smart cards later in the year, which will cost only $3.00 per ticket to use. We'll let you know more about that as the program rolls out.
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