Council Roundup, August 31, 2011
September 01, 2011
City Council advances downtown revitalization and city safety
In its first full meeting since the three-week summer break, Edmonton City Council directed advancement of work to revitalize the heart of Edmonton and enhance safety of citizens.
Violence Reduction Strategy
Council also praised the unified effort of the City of Edmonton’s Community Services Department, the Edmonton Police Service and REACH Edmonton to immediately start work to address the anomaly of increased violent crime experienced in the city in the last nine months. Council approved a report on the shared commitment to long-term efforts to reduce violent crime.
The City is addressing gaps in support services to the most vulnerable populations in Edmonton. Additional resources will be immediately added to expand Neighbourhood Empowerment Teams, and a Social Development Rapid Response Team will be providing a targeted, high-intensity response to emerging issues in communities before they become entrenched.
REACH Edmonton will engage Edmontonians in the fall to create community-based ways to address the root causes of violence. City Council voted to approach the province to help fund a 24/7 service centre downtown, a Reach Edmonton initiative that would provide around-the-clock services to the homeless and other vulnerable people.
Edmonton Police Service identified a range of actions started over the first eight weeks since the violence reduction strategy was unveiled in early August. This includes Community Action Teams, community crime updates and the 5 x 5 x 5 community initiative that will target five at-risk communities. Council also voted to approach the federal government to help fund the broader plan to reduce violence, which consists of various social programs delivered by police, the city and Reach Edmonton.
City Centre Airport Redevelopment
Council approved the quarterly update on the Redevelopment of the Edmonton City Centre Airport and confirmed the selection of and a signed contract with Perkins + Will as the contracted team to prepare the Master Plan for the innovative redevelopment of a family-focused, sustainable community adjacent to the downtown core.
As the chosen team, Perkins + Will will develop a plan to consult with the community and develop the Master Plan over the next 15 months. The update report also identified the creation of a Stakeholder Committee, chaired by Councillor Kim Krushell, with representatives from adjoining community leagues and business associations and NAIT, to start the process of compiling meaningful input into the Master Plan Design.
Council also indicated its support for an application to the P3 Canada Fund for a District Energy system to provide 100% renewable energy to the new community. The support for the application does not commit the city to the P3 process, but it allows administration to explore the funding option.
Community Revitalization Levy
City Administration presented to Council a concept for a Community Revitalization Levy identifying appropriate boundaries for a long-term downtown renewal plan. City Council directed administration to bring back in October a more detailed report on the dedicated tax levy which would be collected from downtown properties to re-invest in the downtown community.
An initial proposal for the dedicated revenue source, called a Community Revitalization Levy, could fund $366 million in major projects that would enhance downtown and catalyze further revitalization in the city. The majority of the projects identified were in the Council-approved Capital City Downtown Plan, including a Jasper Avenue New Vision, Central Warehouse Housing Incentive Program and River Valley Promenades. The levy would also generate $45 million in support for a new arena and $52 million in public infrastructure to support the arena.
With a revitalization levy in place, the City could borrow to fund major projects and pay off the loan in up to 20 years. The initial review of the levy estimates the potential revenue from new development within the boundary at $1.18 billion.
Although this funding strategy has been used often in U.S. cities, the dedicated levy from a certain area has only recently been used in Canada. In Alberta, Calgary has one levy in place for The Rivers District. In Edmonton, the City has approval to start one levy for the redevelopment of the Fort Road area and a second levy ready to be applied for to support development of the Quarters. The timing of starting a levy is crucial, as development should be poised to begin as soon as the levy is started because that triggers the countdown to pay off the borrowing.