Dear Readers, I'm breaking these newsletters into two sections. The first is City Updates, the second portion will be an Environment Scan of issues arising in other cities in Canada to inform, delight, or provoke your imagination.
Edmonton City Council Update:
As the winter weather warms, new challenges migrate and surface. Homelessness has almost doubled during the pandemic, but funding from the UCP and Premier Kenney has not.
In no particular order:
- Transit Safety
- Which Neighbourhoods have the most car crashes?
- Snow and Ice
- EPCOR CEO 2021 Compensation Increase (up almost a million to $3.1 Million!)
- Housing: Do we need an Empty Homes Tax?
- Business Recovery
- Problem Properties
- Encampment Response
- Transit Safety Response
- Our First Six Months
- Open Data: This Is YEG
- Learn how to ride safely with your family
- Book Club - This week!
Who does the silence serve? Why don't we know their names?
There has been an increasing amount of work on the topic of Police forces releasing names of victims of homicide in recent years, as there has been a marked shift in the way the police are reporting this information.
On February 24th, Edmonton Police killed two people. One, a suspect in a liquor store robbery, and two, an unrelated person in their apartment. Two months and two days later, we still do not know the name of the innocent person killed.
I was quite interested to read about Calgary Property Tax Data and foreign home ownership. With the housing market across Canada going wild, the Federal Government has recently announced a ban on foreign homebuyers. I asked Edmonton Administration to pull a city inquiry similar to Calgary as to where property tax assessments are being mailed.
I remain deeply concerned about equity and affordable housing and support new measures to help provide stability and a home for all of us. I'm working with other council colleagues to explore other taxation and assessment tools to provide equity, resiliency, and stability in our climate emergency.
I’m inspired by what Mayor Stewart has accomplished in Vancouver in terms of an empty homes tax, and see that he recently proposed increasing the tax to five percent and improving compliance. (https://council.vancouver.ca/20220426/documents/b3.pdf?mc_cid=ac23ded342&mc_eid=12d1178433)
Once again, another diverse menu of options for you to indulge your interests!
We will still have mosquito control measures -- just not the expensive helicopter program spraying larvae in water located outside of town.
Did you know that the City of Edmonton pays any penalties, costs, and legal defence for Edmonton Police Officers-- even if they are found guilty or at fault of misconduct, assault, or worse?
As part of building a police service we can all be proud of, we need to receive regular updates as to costs incurred, plans to eliminate them, and lobby the provincial government for changes to the Police Act to make it easer to remove problem officers.
Thank you for your emails to my office regarding the Edmonton Police. I know that we are committed to building an Edmonton Police Service that we can all be proud of.
Many of you wrote me with concerns about police misconduct, oversight, and transparency.
According to the chief, there were over 1300 allegations of misconduct last year against officers. We all want to see a reduction in those numbers, seeing good officers rewarded and bad officers removed from service. No one should have to worry that the officer who shows up when they call for help, may themselves be a danger.
I tried to summarize and theme many of your concerns and sent questions forward to the Edmonton Police Commission Councillors (January 17th, 2022) and the Chair of the Commission indicated that a response will be discussed this Thursday at the March 17th, EPC Meeting. As part of my commitment to transparency and oversight, I look forward to receiving it and sharing it with you.
As Peter Loughheed said, “We must think like owners.” and ensure the interests of Edmontonians are protected. It is important to remember that every dollar spent on compensation is another dollar that could be returned to the City of Edmonton as a dividend, thus funding important services and potentially reducing reliance on property taxes. During the election I heard loud and clear from voters that housing the unhoused was much more important to them than lavish management compensation.
As reported in CTV News: City councillor says EPCOR executives shouldn't be making Oilers salaries: https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/city-councillor-says-epcor-executives-shouldn-t-be-making-oilers-salaries-1.5866392
Thank you to those of you who have written me with suggestions and other areas to investigate. I will raise these questions as a member of the Utility Committee.
City Council will be tackling the issue of vacant, derelict, and problem properties that are harming our communities. We need to dramatically increase enforcement and financial penalties.
(Problem Properties Initiative Update will be coming to council April 11, 2022. Click here to read the report when available.)