City Hall News: Long Weekend Edition

Special Long Weekend edition - Spring into exciting things to do and read around Edmonton!

March 30th Edmonton City Hall E-News: Long Weekend Edition

There's a lot to cover in this newsletter, but we've edited it for your speed reading. Skim each listed item below, and click the link to learn more! If you have submissions for a future newsletter, please email them to my team at [email protected]

  • Vote for Edmonton as North America's Strongest Town
  • Tickets Available - Sandy and Nora Live Podcast Recording - Edmonton Saturday April 20th 
  • Read: Why are progressive Mayor and Councils being undermined?
  • Read: The Alberta Government has cut from $450 to $120 per Albertan
  • Recap: Ritchie Community Event: Forest Fires - Are we ready?
  • Read: Edmonton has grown 100,000 people in the last two years and we are expected to grow another 100,000- Are we ready for it? 
  • Read: Should the City of Edmonton get out of the golf business?
  • Free U of A Course: Black Canadians: History, Presence, and Anti-Racist Futures is a four-module, on-demand micro-course tackling Anti-Black racism in Canada.
  • Borrow: The Edmonton Tool Library has your spring maintenance needs covered
  • Read: The Provincial government is clawing back funding to Edmonton 
  • Read: Homeless people in Edmonton are dying at 8 times the rate as pre-pandemic
  • Read: Edmonton Fire Service picking up the provincial slack for health care
  • Read: All the ways car dependency hurts community
  • Listen: Car insurance is too cheap
  • Read: Bad News. Edmonton Rents are rising at the fastest rate in the highest in the nation
  • Celebrate: Hard work on the problem property initiative is paying off!
  • Surveys: Mass Transit and Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy
  • Volunteer: Roots For Trees needs Tree planters!

Vote for Edmonton as North America's Strongest Town:

Edmonton has entered the final four against three other North American municipalities. Read and vote online on Monday. I believe our unique system of community leagues gives us the edge! By curbing urban sprawl, offering transportation choices, legalizing more housing, and focusing on safe streets, we're taking steps to make sure that Edmonton is more resilient over the next century.

https://strongesttown.com/


My 1st of the day podcast, Sandy and Nora Talk Politics are coming to Edmonton (Saturday April 20th)

I think I mentioned in a previous newsletter that one of the first things I do each morning is listen to the DAILY NEWS episode (~10min) from Sandy and Nora Talk Politics. Nora curates five stories that you may not have heard in the mainstream media and highlights why they matter. I believe this podcast is the #2 political podcast in Canada. At a time when independent and local media is more needed than ever, here's a chance for us to show a warm Edmonton welcome. Tickets are very limited and I expect the show to sell out.

Come and listen to a live recording of one of Canada's most popular political podcasts. Sandy Hudson and Nora Loreto will talk about the state of the world: how citizens can get involved and fight to make things better, change policies and influence politicians. To learn more about the show, go to www.sandyandnora.com.

Ticket Link: https://secure.citadeltheatre.com/9090


Why are progressive Mayor and Councils in Edmonton and Calgary being undermined?

This fantastic article by the now Editor in Chief of Taproot YEG looks at the last few years. With Take Back Alberta adjacent folks leading a recall against Calgary Mayor Gondek and the UCP surrogates causing issues in other municipalities, including Edmonton, this read is very important.

https://thewalrus.ca/why-alberta-is-bullying-its-cities/


Recap: Presentation: Citizen Action on Alberta Wildfires, A Public Discussion

On March 21st I attended “Presentation: Citizen Action on Alberta Wildfires, A Public Discussion” hosted via the Men’s Sheds and the Ritchie Community League. It was a fascinating discussion led by Richard Merry with approximately 40 in attendance. I spoke briefly about the importance of the Fire Smart work that will be rolling out across Edmonton (https://www.alberta.ca/firesmart) as well as the importance of protecting our planet and action to fight for clean air and water.

The 2023 Alberta wildfire scenario has been described as “unprecedented”, with over 2.2 million hectares of forest burned, extensive damage to human and non-human life and property, along with record negative air quality readings.  Unfortunately, experts claim that this scenario may be similar or worse in 2024. We hold our breaths nervously about another predicted long and intense Alberta wildfire season in 2024. Alberta Forestry and Parks maintain that they are prepared. However, there is a lot of doubt about that among experienced Alberta wildfire personnel, municipalities, and other experts. You can peruse his expansive resource list here: https://www.ritchie-league.com/events/rcl-presentation-wildfire


See that pothole? That crumbling brick? How much has the Alberta Government cut back on municipal infrastructure?

  • Provincial funding for local infrastructure has dropped from about $420 per Albertan in 2011 to about $150 per Albertan in 2023 – a DECREASE of about $270 per Albertan.
  • The provincial government’s spending on local infrastructure has dropped from 3.7% of total spending a decade ago to just 1% today.
  • What does this mean? This represents about $1.3 billion less investment in community infrastructure every year.
  • Your community can only grow if it has predictable funding for long-term investments in reliable infrastructure that meets the needs of your current and future residents. 
  • All orders of government are responsible for community wellbeing, which is why we are inviting the Government of Alberta to join with us in partnership to support growth, economic development, and better quality for life for all Albertans. Read more: https://www.abmunis.ca/advocacy-resources/lets-talk-about-infrastructure

Clr Andrew Knack: Edmonton has grown 100,000 people in the last two years and we are expected to grow another 100,000- Are we ready for it?

That’s how many people moved into Edmonton in the last two years with approximately 40,000 people coming in 2022 and 65,000 people in 2023. That’s the equivalent of Red Deer moving into Edmonton in just two years.

That means our population has increased by more than 10% since the 2021 Federal Census. Although our City Plan did not assume specific timelines for reaching 1.25 million people, it is safe to assume no one expected to grow as quickly as we have been. If the current growth rate holds, we could be at 1.25 million people in 3 years (that would be a 25% increase in population over 5 years). This immense growth is already creating significant pressure on the need for infrastructure and services in our City.

Rapid population growth is exciting but if we aren’t ready for it, it can create challenges. For example, do we have the necessary municipal and provincial infrastructure to support that rapid growth and has our provincial infrastructure funding for municipalities kept up with the growth?

The property tax increases (and freeze in 2021) were the lowest increases in 25 years. At the time, the 2019 increase was the lowest increase in a decade (2.6%). In 2020, the increase (1.3%) was the lowest increase in 23 years. In 2021, the tax freeze (0%) was the first time that occurred in 24 years (0%). Finally for 2022, we had the third lowest increase in 25 years (1.9%).

Read More: https://andrewknack.ca/blog/readyforit


Should Edmonton get out of the Golf Business?

Janz is concerned about the use of pesticides, and the fear that our low winter snowfall rate will have impacts on our ability to use water this summer. According to the City’s stats, we’ve received a total of 190 cm of snow since the beginning of January, 2023 — a total of nearly 15 months. By comparison, we had 201 cm in 2021, and 274 cm in 2020. That melted snow is vital to the water table.

The drought situation is a province-wide concern. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek has already warned her city’s residents that they should brace for water restrictions that could take effect by as early as May.

The City owns six courses, three of which are municipally run — Victoria, Rundle and Riverside — and three which are leased out to third parties — those are Royal Mayfair, Mill Woods and Highlands.

According to a paper by the University of Alberta’s Arshdeep Kaur, the city-owned courses take up 364 hectares of land. That’s a lot of land to maintain — and to water regularly.

Kaur writes that the City should reconsider its use of that land. Not only are there environmental questions, but public-use ones, as well. It takes hours to complete a game of golf, and each hole can take on a maximum of four golfers at at a time. So, the land doesn’t serve a lot of people at one time. It’s an expensive game to play, and, as Kaur writes, the membership skews very white, and very male.

https://urbanaffairs.ca/edmonton-ish/should-edmonton-get-out-of-the-golf-business/


Black Canadians: History, Presence, and Anti-Racist Futures is a four-module, on-demand micro-course tackling Anti-Black racism in Canada.

This micro-course explores some of the major histories, migrations, artists and activists that have contributed to the presence and survival of Black people in Canada. The course tracks Canada’s evolving relationship to Blackness and Black people while inviting learners to reflect upon the ways Canadian views of race and multiculturalism have influenced Black communities throughout the country. We invite you to reflect, dream and think alongside some of today’s most prominent Black intellectuals as we examine the history of Black presence in Canada, and imagine vibrant Black Canadian futures.

The micro-course is open to all learners and intends to facilitate learning, reflection and actions of solidarity across a wide spectrum of racial, ethnic and educational differences.

The primary objective of this course is to bring into focus the histories, realities and freedom dreams that have shaped Black presence in Canada for over four hundred years.

It aims to:

  • Celebrate the cultural, intellectual, artistic and communal contributions of Black Canadians;
  • Recognize instances of anti-Black violence and erasure in Canada’s past and present and describe the ways anti-Black racism specifically, and racism more broadly, has been sustained within the Canadian context;
  • Clarify the liberation struggles undertaken by Black Canadians and their contributions to human rights and anti-racist frameworks and practices;
  • Heed Black-led calls to action to provide meaningful support to counter racism broadly, and anti-Black racism specifically.

https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/black-canadians-history-presence-and-anti-racist-futures.html


Celebrating: The Edmonton Tool Library!

The Edmonton Tool Library is a registered not-for-profit society in Edmonton, Alberta, which provides affordable access to hand, power, and garden tools for its members. Such an impressive selection! http://www.edmontontoollibrary.ca/ and browse the inventory at: Edmonton Tool Library: https://edmontontoollibrary.myturn.com/library/

 

OPENING HOURS
Summer:
Wednesdays 6-8pm
Saturdays 11am-3pm

Winter:
Wednesdays 6-8pm
​Saturdays 11am-1pm

PLEASE CHECK OUR CALENDAR BEFORE VISITING IN CASE OF UNEXPECTED CHANGES
Location
Bellevue Community Hall (North Entrance)
7308 112 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Learn more about the Right to Repair from the Arusha Centre Calgary: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNW-OOaB9jI

This movement is growing across the United States too:

https://nextcity.org/features/repair-cafes-are-the-beating-heart-of-the-right-to-repair-movement


Funding clawbacks trickle down to municipalities

Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz said if the province was serious about helping, it would reinstate funding to municipalities that has been scaled back over the past five years. 

"Municipalities are increasingly being asked to pay more to cover the holes and patch the holes from the provincial government cutbacks," Janz said.

Edmonton's operating budget is increasingly strained every year because of provincial downloading, he said, with city services taking the hit. 

"So the province is trying to balance their books on the back of Edmonton and on the back of other municipalities around the province," said Janz.

The province gives municipalities grants in lieu to make up for not paying property tax on buildings it occupies, but has cut those in nearly half since 2019.

Janz said it amounts to the city having $60 million less to work with for services like snow clearing and waste removal. The province also cut photo radar revenues to municipalities and clawed back infrastructure funding. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/danielle-smith-says-province-ready-to-assist-with-edmonton-s-fiscal-challenges-as-city-manager-exits-1.7157881


Homeless people in Edmonton are dying at 8 times the rate as pre-pandemic. 302 people with no fixed address died in Edmonton in 2023

Data provided by Alberta Justice shows that over the past five years, the number of homeless people who die annually in Edmonton has increased dramatically — from 37 in 2019 to 302 in 2023. In Calgary, that number has risen from 51 to 294 in the same time period. The ministry would not release the causes of death, citing privacy legislation.

Death numbers climbed alongside the overall size of Edmonton's homeless population, which doubled during the pandemic. In late 2019 it was about 1,390, but as of this January it was 2,868, according to Homeward Trust.

Outreach workers and an Edmonton doctor say that the majority of deaths are the result of drug poisoning, but that people living on the streets have also died of hypothermia, smoke inhalation and burning to death while trying to find ways to keep warm, as well as other medical conditions exacerbated by sleeping rough.

They say the increase in deaths reveals a desperate need for safe consumption options, as well as housing and psychological supports to go along with addiction treatment. Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/homeless-people-in-edmonton-are-dying-at-8-times-the-rate-as-pre-pandemic-1.7149005


Edmonton fire department plans to respond to 'urgent' medical calls only

Edmonton Fire Chief Joe Zatylny said 70 per cent of the 95,496 calls to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) in 2023 were medically related.

Edmonton Fire Chief Joe Zatylny provided a report to the community and public services committee on Monday. He said 70 per cent of the 95,496 calls to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) in 2023 were medically related. The service is projecting up to 80,000 medical calls per year by the end of 2024 — assuming the trend continues.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi asked if the “life-saving” service being provided by EFRS was filling the gap in emergency medical services (EMS) and if without it someone might die. Members of the service responded saying without them, the risk would increase. “There is no ambiguity on health in Alberta. Health is the sole responsibility of the province. I’m pretty sure this government will be open to looking at strong data that we can put together that would actually demonstrate that we are actually filling that gap,” Sohi said.

If the same service being provided by EFRS were to be funded by EMS it would cost $422 per half-hour, according to information provided by city staff Monday. Overall it would come to $ 28 million per year if Alberta Health Services paid the city for providing medical care. That would represent about a 1.5 per cent tax reduction. Between 2018 and 2023 medical-related calls have increased by 82 per cent. Read more: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-fire-department-plans-to-respond-to-urgent-medical-calls-only


All The Ways That Car Dependency Harms Communities (Well, Almost All…) A new study seeks to quantify everything car culture costs us. Yet there are still more ways that auto-centrism hurts us all.

Car domination is directly responsible for at least one in every 34 deaths around the world, a new analysis finds — but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg of the many ways that automobile dependence makes life worse for virtually everyone, even in places with very few cars.In a staggeringly ambitious new literature review, a team of UK and Germany-based researchers combed through nearly 500 studies from around the world that quantified the many harms of “automobility,” an academic term for the interlocking systems of power and culture that conspire to make cars our primary mode of transportation. Read more: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2024/03/05/all-the-ways-that-cars-harm-our-communities-well-almost-all#


LISTEN: Why Car insurance is actually too cheap (factoring in human life and suffering):

It turns out you can put a cost on human life, and listening to this episode about the child in a stroller killed in a crosswalk by a driver was devastating. Especially, after that hit-and-run of a young mother with a stroller by a driver on Whyte Avenue a few weeks ago.

https://thewaroncars.org/2024/03/19/122-car-insurance-is-too-cheap/

It has never been more expensive to insure a car in the United States. Today, the average annual premium for full coverage is more than $2,500, up from more than $1,700 just a few years ago. There are a lot of reasons for this—including the high price of cars, supply chain issues, and the rising frequency and severity of crashes—but no matter how you add it up it’s a huge problem in a country where driving is a ticket to full participation in society.

Despite this, what if we told you that car insurance is still way too cheap? That’s something most people don’t understand until they or someone they love is directly affected by traffic violence. Today, mandatory state minimum coverage requirements have not kept up with the rising cost of car crashes, something all of us subsidize whether we drive or not—and that crash victims often pay for with life and limb.


Rent increases in Edmonton are the highest in the nation, according to a new report from Rentals.ca, which found new listings in the city are increasing by an average of 17%. While the increases are the highest, the average rent costs are still lower than the national average, said Giacamo Ladas of Rentals.ca. The increases are attributed to a spike in Edmonton’s population, which grew by more than 100,000 in two years, leading to a vacancy rate of 2.4%.


The city’s Transforming Edmonton blog highlighted the role of the Problem Property Initiative in the demolition of a long-standing derelict property in the Parkdale community. The demolition is part of Edmonton’s ongoing strategy to tackle properties that pose serious safety concerns and generate frequent complaints. The city has also launched a newsletter to provide updates on problem properties.


Surveys! 

  • Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy. Your input is vital in shaping publicly owned lands—parks, plazas, alleyways and sidewalks—for now and future generations of Edmontonians. We’re also talking about the important role of bus-based mass transit along Whyte Avenue in shaping it into a more inviting and vibrant area. Provide your feedback and take the survey at engaged.edmonton.ca/oldstrathpublicrealm. Visit edmonton.ca/OldStrathPublicRealm for more information on the project. Feedback collected until April 7.

Details about City public digital engagement activities are listed online at engaged.edmonton.ca with all opportunities at edmonton.ca/publicinvolvementcalendar. 


A message from the City of Edmonton Root for Trees Program:

The 2024 planting season is just around the corner! The Root for Trees volunteer schedule will be open for registration later this month. Please visit our website to stay up to date on our schedule release! Please sign-up through Better Impact, our volunteer booking system on the day of registration. If you have any questions, or require assistance with booking, please contact [email protected]. We are excited to plant together this season!

3,741 volunteers dedicated their time to planting 34,167 trees and shrubs during the 2023 season. A huge thank you to all of our tree-mendous volunteers!

Latest posts

What I'm Hearing About the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been meeting with several different organizations, attending meetings, door knocking, and responding to emails about the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy.

I wanted to share a bit of what I have been hearing and manage expectations about timelines. You can read and review the full draft plan here: https://www.edmonton.ca/sites/default/files/public-files/Old-Strathcona-Public-Realm-Strategy.pdf?cb=1713376450

April 8th City Hall E-News

  • LAUGH, CRY: April fools Joke Recap: The joke was funny. The provincial government funding cutbacks less so.
  • RSVP: Edmonton Live Show: Sandy And Nora Talk Politics: (3:00PM Saturday April 20th)
  • READ Suburban Developers have profited over $1 Billion in the last decade. We must curb sprawl.
  • SHOP: Pleasantview Les Causeries Playschool Fundraiser: Everything-For-A-Dollar Kids Clothing Sales
  • TUNE UPS!: Bike Day at Strathcona Community League - (Saturday April 13th)

Plus, more reading and videos from around town...

 

Email:
Address: 1 Sir Winston Churchill Sq, 2nd Floor, Edmonton, AB T5J 2R7