Here is the expanded version of my recent newsletter that was delivered to ward residents the week of November 20, 2023. Thanks for reading!
We are halfway through the City Council term and I wanted to provide you a brief update on the work my office is doing on issues important to you in Ward Métis. I remain committed to making life in our communities more affordable, equitable, and sustainable by protecting public services, improving housing and transportation options, and investing in the core city services you rely on and expect.
More Affordable Housing
I continue to work with my council colleagues to push the provincial and federal governments to fulfill their roles in housing and health. At the same time, we are not sitting idly by while 3,000 Edmontonians struggle to find a home. Our budget has more than $126-million for 3,631 new and renewed affordable housing units, and funding for additional supportive housing.
This includes unprecedented dollars to ensure ongoing operations and builds upon the 3,372 affordable and supportive housing units opened through the 2019-2022 Affordable Housing Investment Plan. Through the 2019-2022 Affordable Housing Investment Plan, the City's investment of $132.7 million leveraged $551 million from other orders of government and in equity from providers totalling a direct investment of $689 million to create 2,728 affordable housing units, 644 of which will be supportive housing units.
One of the symptoms of a lack of housing and social supports is encampments in our river valley, ravine systems, and communities. In 2023, the city is projecting 14,000 complaints for encampments, compared to 9,323 for all of 2022, that’s about a 50% increase. The City is consistently responding to encampments and is enhancing its approach to increase housing outcomes for encampment residents. Funding for human-centered prototypes aims to increase access to healthcare, keep encampments clean, reduce the possibility of fires, and offer peer-to-peer support. Ultimately, we need to be investing in systemic solutions that address root causes.
A Safe And Welcoming City
City Council is funding more resources than ever in public safety, housing, and the drug poisoning crisis. Given the complex nature of public safety, we are taking a comprehensive approach to address immediate concerns while working to address root causes. This means working alongside other partners, agencies, and orders of government to achieve shared safety outcomes.
We know that police are an important part of the social safety ecosystem, but they cannot be the only response to safety, which is why we are also investing in prevention and diversion. Increases include:
⬆ $44M for Edmonton Police Services
⬆ $13M for Transit Safety
⬆ $10M for 24/7 Crisis Diversion
⬆ $4.8M for Anti-Racism Grants
I know that transit safety has been of particular concern, which is why we have developed the Transit Safety Plan. A variety of actions are underway, including but not limited to:
A Director of Transit Safety to lead transit safety work in collaboration with Administration, EPS and Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.
A 24-hour deployment model for Transit Peace Officers, and 19 new Peace Officers.
Transit Community Action Teams (TCAT) to provide a consistent presence on the LRT and platforms throughout the transit network.
Expanded the Community Outreach Transit Team (COTT) to seven teams, each consisting of one Outreach Worker and one Peace Officer that now operate in transit spaces seven days a week.
Adding washroom attendants at five locations and measures to reduce disorder in public washrooms.
Action on Problem Properties
We are investing $5.3 million into tackling problem properties. This includes the new Community Property Safety Team, which secures problem properties, reducing associated fire and safety risks. They have achieved dramatic fire reductions, with 320+ orders issued. We also introduced a new derelict property tax (3x the regular rate) which is being applied to high risk, vacant, uninhabitable, derelict properties.
If you would like to report a problem property, please visit this page.
Valley Line Southeast LRT Opening
The journey's been long, but I am so excited that the Valley Line Southeast LRT opened on November 4! This long-awaited addition to our city's transportation network is a game-changer, connecting more communities, reducing congestion, and providing a sustainable, accessible way to get around our city over the coming decades.
As frustrating as the delays have been, it is reassuring to know the contractor, TransEd, has had to cover all of the additional costs. Read my thoughts about the first few VLSE rides here.
Core City Services
City Council remains committed to smart and efficient spending. Our property taxes are competitive with other major cities and administration continues work on spending reductions of $60-million with another $240-million redirected to core services. This budget, we are investing $1.8B into roadway maintenance, $316M for a new Transit Bus Garage, $13M for sidewalk improvements, and an additional $38M into snow removal and $59M into public transit.
Transforming the Exhibition Lands
The first stage of demolition of the Main Barns is underway at Exhibition Lands. Council approved $88M in the 2023-2026 budget for demolitions and land preparation to move this transformative project forward. Land sales are already underway for two parcels in the Southwest portion of the site. The Coliseum is slated for demolition in 2025.
This is a substantial opportunity to make better use of land that is directly adjacent to LRT and other incredible amenities like Borden Park. I am proud that council is taking decisive fiscally responsible action to demolish the Coliseum, as ongoing dark operations had cost around one million dollars each year it stood empty.
You can find more about the overall plans for Exhibition Lands here.
Work continues on building a more sustainable and affordable city through smart growth, reining in sprawl, and modernized planning rules. Provide your feedback on District Planning at engaged.edmonton.ca/districtplanning.
Drop-In Sessions in Ward Métis
Monday, November 27
5 to 8 p.m. at the Bellevue Community Hall (7308 112 Ave NW).
Ashley and the Ward Métis team will be at Bellevue for this drop in session.
Surveys are open until Dec 1st, 2023 and can be found on Engaged Edmonton.
Ward Métis includes the 118 Avenue District and the Southeast District.
Action on Climate Change
Coming out of Canada’s worst summer for wildfires, action on climate change remains a top priority. Along with a new Carbon Budget to guide our energy transition, we are investing $376 million in climate action across all departments.
$53M Energy Retrofits of City Facilities
$34M for District Energy System
$32M to Plant 2-Million Trees
$100M for Active Transportation Network
Watch for the new Clean Energy Improvement Program starting in 2024 to help you access financing for energy-saving improvements to your home.
Supporting Our Economy
We are continuing to fund key infrastructure projects and programs to help business owners and our local economy recover. We are investing $490M into economic development this budget, including industrial growth infrastructure like the 50th Street Grade Separation, tourism, public transit, and much more, including:
⬆ $20M for downtown vibrancy
⬆ $11M for arts and festivals
⬆ $5M Edge Fund to expand local business
One of the best things we can do to support our economy is to make Edmonton a great place to live, work, and visit. We are helping maintain Edmonton’s competitive advantage by investing in public and active transportation, safer streets, parks and green space, and affordable housing.
Responsible Fiscal Policy
City Council remains committed to smart and efficient spending. Our property taxes are competitive with other major cities and administration continues work on spending reductions of $60-million with another $240-million redirected to core services.
At the municipal level, land use planning is deeply related to fiscal policy, and we are working hard to rein in costly sprawl through policy conversations like Substantial Completion (click here to read my blog), and Growth Management. These important policy frameworks will align our policies with what our infrastructure is able to support, where investments are needed, and how we can be more cost effective over the long run.
Event Announcement! Strong Towns in Edmonton
We're excited to be welcoming Chuck Marohn, the founder of the STRONG TOWNS movement to Edmonton.
Strong Towns operates with the mission of replacing America’s post-war pattern of development, the Suburban Experiment, with a pattern of development that is financially strong and resilient. They advocate for cities of all sizes to be safe, livable, and inviting, and work to elevate local government to be the highest level of collaboration for people seeking to work together in a place, not merely the lowest level in a hierarchy of governments.
This event is organized and hosted by the University of Alberta Sustainability Council, the School of Urban and Regional Planning, the Edmonton Metro Region Board (EMRB), the City of Edmonton, Councillor Ashley Salvador, and Councillor Michael Janz.
RSVP and purchase tickets via Eventbrite here:
Evening Event: Building a Stronger Town - Wednesday Dec 13th, 7:00PM @The Metro Cinema: https://StrongTownsEdmontonDec13.eventbrite.ca Workshop: Building a Stronger Town - Thursday Dec 14th, 8:30AM to 12:00Noon at the Henry Marshall Tory Building (Room 3-57), University of Alberta: https://StrongTownsEdmontonDec14.eventbrite.ca
Other Upcoming Events
Ashley and the Ward Métis team will be at the following events:
Monday, November 27 - District Planning Drop-In Session • Bellevue Community Hall (7308 112 Ave NW) • 5:00 to 8:00pm
Saturday, December 9 - Holidays with Hardisty • Fulton Place Community League (6115 Fulton Road) • 5:00 to 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday, January 20-21, 2024 - Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival • 118 Avenue between 90-95 Street • 12:00 to 5:00pm each day
Friday & Saturday February 2 & 3, 2024 - Flying Canoë Volant Festival • On 91 Street in front of La Cité Francophone (8627 91 Street) • 6:00 to 10:00pm each day. Watch Ashley's social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or join the Ward Métis email newsletter for more information on events!