Your Views: Capital Budget 2022

Administration has put forward a new 4 year capital budget which includes everything from roads to bridges to recreation.

Do you have questions you would like me to ask? Click here to read the full budget.

Councillors have until November 7th to submit written questions to the administration to receive a written response. (Prefer Video? Here's a video and powerpoint of the Budget Presentation we received October 31, 2022 (Council Agenda, item 7.1 Proposed 2023-2026 Capital Budget


(Photo taken at a recent Economic Forecast event hosted by UDI)

General Commentary on the Capital Budget and more generally about municipal finance: 

  • 🔥 Edmonton is young, educated and growing. We have a bright future ahead for our community. This is an incredible place to raise a family with a cost of living, home ownership, and recreation amenities that folks in Vancouver or Toronto can't even dream of. Not to mention, we are going to be a choice city as the global climate emergency worsens and we see much more immigration choose our latitude. It only snows 73 days a year. Edmonton is our home, and we have so much to be proud of.

  • 🧮 Quick math: Just as Edmonton is nested in Alberta, nested in Canada, so to are many of our problems (provincial neglect of mental health, addiction, poverty) and solutions (housing, health care, reconciliation). Remember for context, Alberta's budget is ten times greater than Edmonton. The federal budget is about 100 times greater than Edmonton.

  • 🌍 Thinking globally: We are living in the new age of robber barons where gas companies report record-breaking profits as Canadians struggle just to get by. "For months, Canadians have tried to navigate sky-high gas and grocery prices. We know that the reasons for this include the war in Ukraine, a looming recession, and supply chain issues. But things are no longer adding up. Gas giants Chevron and ExxonMobil have released their quarterly fiscal reports, which show record-breaking profits." As offshore tax havens surpassed $400 Billion, we urgently need taxation reform from Ottawa to provide relief to Edmontonians

  • 🏡 Thinking locally: my views on building wealth, resilience and municipal prosperity have been heavily influenced by the American "Strong Towns" movement. In their words, they seek to replace America’s post-war pattern of development, the Suburban Experiment, with a pattern of development that is more productive, financially strong and resilient. They coined the term "The Growth Ponzi scheme" in reference to suburban sprawl (video). You can read their critical commentary about Calgary here: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2021/2/20/doing-the-math-in-calgary

  • ❄️ We are in a worsening climate emergency, and extreme weather is going to take a greater toll on our infrastructure. Flooding in the spring. Extreme heat in the summer. Freeze/thaw cycles through the winter. Freezing rain is now a major consideration as part of our snow removal and winter mitigation. Major changes to our transportation system, buildings, and energy system are urgently needed.

  • 💴  It is an imperfect metaphor, but Budget 2023 very much feels like the Scona Pool Closure. We are now being presented an enormous bill for decades of a failure to meaningfully invest in deferred maintenance and renewal. The last five years of municipal tax increases have failed to match or exceed inflation. (2022 - 1.8% 2021 - 0% 2020 - 1.3% 2018 - 2.6%). We are now faced with a choice: raise taxes and borrow to pay for repairs OR face closures and component failures. Bridges are not forgiving.

  • 🧈 Edmonton is an incredibly inefficient city. Our urban sprawl is larger than New York with a fraction of the population. Our climate from -40 to +40 causes havoc to our roadways, bridges, and buildings. We have too many roads that are too expensive to maintain, clean, and fix. Look at the pages and pages of renewal work contained in the capital budget that we are asked to fund. Winnipeg advocates put together this handy website called "anatomyofapothole.ca" which highlights many of the same problems that we are experiencing. 

  • ⏰ It took time to get us to where we are, and it will take time to course-correct. How and where we build, how we move, and our services must see major changes. We will need to see repopulation of mature neighbourhoods, embracing new projects like Mitchener park that bring density & revenue plus fewer expenses to the city. We need to embrace bus rapid transit and active transportation, car shares. We will need to move away from the Mega-recreation cathedrals and embrace more small-scale recreation centres such as Rollie Miles.

  • 🏡 For many young families today, the costs of homeownership are out of reach. Pull up the online realtors listing and take a look at your own neighbourhood. Could one of your children qualify for a mortgage with 20% down to purchase a suitable place for their family in your neighbourhood? Two car household? That's estimated to be $25,000 in annual expense. Even if they kept one car and used an annual bus pass that could save $15,000 -- after a few years that's almost enough for a downpayment on a home. Is this budget investing to make public transit better? Are we making priority investments that help that a family save money on transportation? This article really resonated with me: A bike will save you money and you don't even have to give up your car.

  • Change will take time. Change can be expensive. Change can be scary. But there is no alternative.

 

I look forward to your reading and your suggestions!

 

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