Many of the planned projects are in the North Millbourne neighbourhoods of Tweddle Place, Michael’s Park, Lee Ridge and Richfield. A complete schedule of planning, in progress and completed flood mitigation programs is now on-line.
One of the major projects being planned is enlarging the dry pond along 91 Street between Whitemud Freeway and Millwoods Road. This requires the removal of the berm and replacing it with a living wall of earth and willows. A sample of the living wall will be installed next to the berm later this summer to showcase what it is, what it looks like, how it works, and to have local residents experience how it changes with the seasons.
In anticipation of capital funding approval, design work is already being done. Over the next few weeks, survey crews will be busy in the area and you will see some borehole drilling being done to gather information about soil types where proposed upgrades are to take place. Some minor traffic disruptions may occur.
City of Edmonton Drainage Services is well aware of the difficulties many homeowners have of acquiring adequate flood insurance because of their locale, past flooding history and/or insurability of certain perils such as sewer backup. The City of Edmonton is working with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to communicate to its members the City’s existing system, current flood mitigation efforts and future investment. This will help insurance companies more accurately assess insurance risk when offering Edmontonians flood and sewer backup insurance.
One of the Insurance Bureau’s roles is to provide insurance education and information to consumers so they are aware of their rights and options. In addition to education materials online at www.getintheknow.ibc.ca the Insurance Bureau has a Consumer Information Centre staffed by insurance professionals who can answer your questions, provide advice and advocate on our behalf. In Edmonton call 780-423-2212 or toll free at 1-800-377-6378. Reminder:The deadline for finalizing a claim as a result of the July 12, 2012 storm that caused flooding in your area is less than a month away.
Please share this information with you neighbours and friends. Thank you.
Richie Summer Community BBQ – Friday, June 20th 6-9pm
Celebrate summer with some food, fun and friends!
A great way to find out whats happening and be a part of the community!
Backbeat Block Party! – Sunday, June 22nd 12-6pm
The league will be selling popcorn!
We’re going to Rock Out and celebrate East Whyte with live music, art, pop-up patios and more. And everything’s going down in our back alley! This year we’re super pumped ti be partying with: On the Spot pop Ups, The Paint Spot, Daawat, B’s Diner, GF Diner, the Ritchie Community League, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society.
Green Shack is Back!
Starting July 2nd Monday to Friday, 2:30-6pm
More info available here.
Nominations for the Front Yards in bloom opened May 20, 2014
The largest of its kind in Canada, Edmonton’s Front Yards in Bloom program honours residents who are making our city more beautiful and contributing to the vibrancy of our communities.
Help highlight Edmonton’s lovely front yards by nominating your neighbour’s yards in one of four categories, general, natural, edible and public spaces. Nominations can be sent until June 30, via:
- Online submission form at frontyardsinbloom.ca
- Phone 311
Volunteers will visit each nominated yard to deliver a yellow sign and brochure. Awards for the top yards will be announced during the Edmonton in Bloom Awards on August 13 at City Hall.
Edmonton’s Front Yard in Bloom program is a partnership between the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Horticultural Society and the Civic Union of Postal Workers with sponsorship from the Realtors Association of Edmonton.
Learn more about the program and submit your nomination at frontyardsinbloom.ca
Welcome to the Edmonton In Bloom Photo Scavenger Hunt Contest!
Here is the first Mystery Location.
Think you know where this picture was taken? Want to enter the contest? Visit the Edmonton in Bloom page for contest rules and details. You have until this Friday (May 9) at noon to email us an entry with the correct location.
All correct answers will be entered into a random draw to win a weekly prize.
50 Street: TUC – Whitemud Dr.
51 Avenue: 93 St. – 75St.
42 Avenue: 97 St. – 99St
Active Modes (Pathways and Sidewalks)
28 Avenue: Parsons Rd. – 92St
Argyll Road: 75 St. – 79 St.
In Your Neighbourhood (Neighbourhood Renewal)
King Edward Park (Phase III)
Argyll (Phase II)
Hazeldean (Phase II)
17 Street: S/Maple Ridge Dr. – 76 Ave.
Elmjay Industrial: N/76 Ave. – E/17 St
70 Avenue: 18 St. – W/18 St. (Dead End)
19 Avenue: 50 St. – 54St.
66 Street NBD: 23 Ave. – Whitemud Dr.
94 Street: S/17 Ave. – 23 Ave.
20 Avenue: 94 St. – Karl Clark Rd.
Karl Clark Road: 20 Ave. – 40m E/Parsons Rd.
39 Avenue: 101 St. – 99St.
101 Street: 39 Ave. – 42 Ave.
42 Avenue: 101 St. – 99 St.
34 Street: 74 Ave – Sherwood Fwy. EBD Ramps
Sherwood Park On Ramps: Sherwood Park Fwy. – 34 St.
Sherwood Park Off Ramps: Sherwood Park Fwy. – 34 St.
Sherwood Park Ramps EBD: Sherwood Park Fwy. – 50 St.
Sherwood Park Ramps WBD: Sherwood Park Fwy. – 50 St.
Argyll Road (SPF Ramp): Sherwood Park Fwy. – 76 Ave.
Argyll Road: 76 Ave. – 75 St.
Parsons Road: 23 Ave. – 34 Ave.
67 Street: 68 Ave. – 76 Ave.
71 Street: 68 Ave. – Girard Rd.
72 Avenue: 67 St. – 71 St.
Girard Road: 76 Ave. – S/72 St.
68 Avenue: 50 St. – 75 St.
Valley Line LRT
More info on the Valley Line can be found here
More info can be found here
Note: No specific start dates have been released.
It began as a lofty vision: Transform the noisy, carbon-centric City Centre Airport into a green, eco-friendly, state-of-the-art community that will be an example for and the envy of the world. After years of back and forth, of arguments, legal battles, plebiscites, votes, more debates and more votes, the decision was finalized. The former Blatchford Field, 217 hectares of land, right in the heart of a major city, is ready for development. This is an opportunity unrivaled anywhere.
It’s ambitious, to be sure. But previous Councils and former Mayor Mandel were insistent: the latest in housing, for all incomes and lifestyles, both low and high density. New heating and cooling technologies, some of it fueled by solar and other alternative energies. Sustainable green spaces, with special wastewater handling methodologies. Parks, open spaces, town squares, unique waterways; a veritable Garden of Eden (Edenmonton?)
Of course, that was what all the planning documents and proposals said. There were nice models, beautiful renderings, lots of artists’ conceptions. And consultation. At least we thought so. But today we are facing reality. And it’s nowhere near as pretty.
Just getting the site prepared is running up against some serious cost escalation. It’s not just the money. The difficulties of operationalizing some kind of development on these lands are daunting. Things are so unclear now that some people are wondering aloud if they might have been sold a bill of goods to encourage a “yes” vote on airport closure. I estimate that we are about $100 million into this deal at this point. And for that much money, I have a lot of questions about what exactly was said by the City’s representatives during the redevelopment “community consultation.” And I wonder now if proponents among Council and Administration over promised on the environmental attributes and under stated on the true costs of implementation.
There are many decisions yet to come on the details of the redevelopment plan, but one decision Council can make right now, that will go a long way to answering questions, is to become a lot more transparent and open in its Blatchford discussions. Council’s most recent discussion had both public and in-camera sessions, but there was no solid reason to shut out the public from any of it. The public portion of the agenda dealt with some of the governance and operational challenges the project will face. The private portion was about the size and scope of the dollars involved. There was no compelling reason for this to be private. I wasn’t the only Councillor who wanted the discussion held in open session, but Council bowed to the request from Administration.
What is it about money and spending that has to go behind closed doors for even the most benign items? Whether it’s the new arena, the new downtown city office tower or some other issue with monetary sensitivity, it seems the city bureaucrats just don’t want to have any discussions—or scrutiny—in public. I get the sense that more and more of these items are being pushed into private, largely because it’s more convenient, and a lot less messy, for Administration.
Recently, Council was asked for a multi-million dollar decision on a new downtown City office tower. Administration gave us one option, to rent, and we had less than a week to decide. I was leaning more towards constructing our own building and operating it, but that wasn’t even presented as an option for us to consider. I’m pleased that a majority of Council agreed and sent Administration back to come up with some comparative numbers so we could be fully informed before voting on which way to go.
And that’s what we need with the Blatchford project too. Lots of options, fully costed, with all the variables. And with the discussion in public. Council may decide collectively to move some of the discussions in-camera. That’s always its prerogative, but we need all the information first. That’s why we ordered Administration to bring back another report that details the costs of the various models so that taxpayers could see exactly what we are getting into on this project, both in terms of what quality of life and green elements could be included and what their potential costs might be. Without full public disclosure, Council will be fundamentally abdicating our democratic responsibilities. I’m certainly not alone on Council in having a very strong desire to get everything out in the open.
You’ve heard a lot about an airplane’s black box recently as investigators hope to use the information stored there to find out what happened to a missing flight. Same with the Blatchford project. We need to get all the information about this project, its options and its costs out in the open so we can see what happened and make improvements to future endeavours. Council is scheduled to get a new Blatchford report in June. Until then, feel free to move about the cabin, but watch for the Fasten Seat Belts sign. It could get bumpy!
“The auditors are here.” It’s a phrase that can strike fear into the heart of a manager, executive or a taxpayer. That’s because the auditor is charged with exposing the truth and reality of what’s going on in a business, a corporation or on your income tax return. And so it is with government auditors. And often the truth is ugly. Reporters and opposition politicians relish the annual reports from the Auditor General, both federally and provincially. They can use the information to blister the government for all kinds of failures, omissions, waste and profligacy. And the Government often tries to defend itself or make an occasionally feeble attempt at a remedy. But when it’s a municipal audit, there really is no opposition to speak of to jump on those responsible. It’s all on us. City Council is responsible both for the mess and for pointing out the trouble spots. And for the clean up.
So let me start with the most recent report from the Office of the City Auditor and his review of the Building Permit and Inspection Services department. Ouch! It’s a scathing indictment of the policies, practices and operations of BPIS. Among the findings: misuse of overtime, huge backlogs, poor service delivery, inconsistent fees, no measurable targets, no prioritizing of tasks, operating beyond its mandate. It’s a long and troubling list.
I find the huge backlog of permits and the unreasonable delays in getting the process started very troubling. I also note the fact that the department has no measurable goals or targets to be able to determine if it’s performing well. And there is a lot of confusion about just what the department is supposed to be doing. These items alone demand drastic action from Council.
There are tens of thousands of open building permits in the current backlog. But construction continues. And because some of these backlogged permits date back to the construction boom of ten years ago, the construction is done, the buildings are occupied and the work is inaccessible. As a result, the BPIS have, in the words of the Auditor, “…exposed the City to significant risks.” In essence we have residential and commercial buildings under construction and / or finished that have NEVER had a building inspection.
At the end of 2012 the backlog stood at 61,493 open permits. By this past June, the number was down to around 42,000. At this rate it’ll be 2016 before the Department gets current. Oh, by the way, this backlog number reflects only those permits issued since 2003. Management has nothing to say about what to do with permits issued before then that are still open.
While BPIS seems to handle HVAC and other mechanical permits quickly, turning things around in a day or two, it’s taking two week or more to issue building permits for 38% of applications. With expensive crews and equipment ready to go, builders often start construction without a permit, and if there are further delays in permitting, inspections can be missed or overlooked, putting people and property at risk. When more than a third of construction projects are facing expensive delays, with many forced by economics to ignore permit requirements, this is not just bad. It’s very bad.
I’ve written about regional competitiveness before, discussing amalgamation. Giving builders, developers and contractors a smooth, efficient, transparent permit process is critical to Edmonton’s growth and prosperity. When it takes more than 1000 days to go from an Area Structure Plan to issuing of permits, we are just begging to have development pushed beyond our borders into the welcoming arms of our surrounding (and fast acting) neighbours.
But there is hope. Management has changed and I’m convinced we have the right people in the right positions at the top. We are also allocating proper resources to that management team to begin to address the issues. We are setting benchmarks so we can measure outcomes. I know from my business experience that what gets measured, gets fixed. With no goals or targets in place in the past, it’s no wonder BPIS is a mess. With measurables in place, I will be arguing at Council that we use them rigourously to hold people accountable.
The previous Council and the Auditor should be commended for tackling these long-standing industry complaints about permitting processes. I believe it’s time for a similar, brutal examination of the way the City handles ASPs, Neighbourhood Area Structure Plans and the like. You may hear more from me on that this Fall, but in the meantime, I’m encouraged that we have a basis upon which we can begin to shift from service mediocrity to service excellence. We should expect nothing less from ourselves as Councillors and demand nothing less from our Administration.
When there is a lull in political discourse in the Capital region, or if some thorny issue arises that pits one municipality against another, then we hear the volume turned up on the arguments for amalgamation. We’ve heard such arguments recently from Edmonton’s Chamber of Commerce. And many casual observers in Edmonton might agree. Of course, if you’re in St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc or Spruce Grove you probably have a different view. But Edmonton is the biggest, most powerful entity in the area and naturally its voice is pretty loud.
“Let’s just make one big municipality,” the proponents say. “It’ll be much more efficient and we can stop the endless bickering.”
Perhaps. But if putting an end to bickering is the motivation, shouldn’t we consider the true cost of peace before we plunge headlong into such a scheme. While there may be some theoretical advantage in planning, service delivery and coordination with a single municipal government, the likely reality is much less Utopian.
Any municipal government operation, large or small, suffers from varying degrees of disorganization and competency. The quality of political leadership, the bureaucratic culture and the abilities of the people working for the entity all have a bearing. The harsh reality is that if these government structures didn’t have the advantage of monopoly, they would never survive the commercial marketplace. But they are competing now in what we could call a marketplace of municipalities. Amalgamation will destroy that.
It’s odd that the Edmonton Chamber, populated with business leaders who succeeded by winning the competitive battles in their respective marketplaces, would be advocating against competition and the Darwinian improvements it brings. Amalgamation means a reduction in regional competition in housing, a reduction in regional competition for industry, a reduction in regional competition in services and taxes. These competitions hold costs down, result in service improvements, and deliver better value in the long run. Isn’t that what the taxpayers want? And deserve?
And it’s not just the stifling of inter-municipality competition that should have us nervous about amalgamation. There’s the most obvious pitfall: size. Increasing the size of an organization is no guarantee of improvement in anything, except the bulk of the political and administrative bureaucracy required to support it. In the new economic order, where small is the new big and being nimble is a primary asset for competing on the global stage, how can creating an increasingly large basket for our ever more complex eggs be an advantage? The proponents use the “only one taxpayer” argument to advocate for the simplicity of a single large municipal structure. But using that same theory, that one taxpayer in Sherwood Park, should see a benefit whether the new widget factory is built in his community or in Stony Plain.
If Edmonton City Council wants to be taken seriously (and sincerely) its regional talks with others, we need to admit that we want to grow, but also that we accept that undermining or outright eliminating other players in the region is not in the long term interest of all the taxpayers in the region. Instead of being seen as the big bully, prepared to ask the Province to bludgeon the other municipalities into submission, we need to compete robustly for business, industry and commerce against our smaller, more nimble and more creative neighbours. We can do that by reducing the transactional burdens within our own jurisdiction. Edmonton should strive to be the best, the fastest, the simplest and easiest body to work with in the area. That’s what I’ll be advocating for on Council.
I don’t see a viable, smooth, efficient answer in amalgamation. I see each municipality with its own particular appeal and its own unique challenges. I don’t think importing one area’s problems and exporting another’s is a workable solution to the demands of 21st century growth. There are better solutions. There are faster solutions. But it’s going to take some clearly stated principles from the players involved and the leadership to carry them through.
Welcome to the new website.
It has been about four months since the citizens of Ward 11 elected me as your Councillor. It is my honour to be your representative on Edmonton City Council.
These past few months have been very busy times for the new Council. We have discussed drainage in Mill Woods, bike lanes and snow removal. All of these issues came up when I met with residents of Ward 11 during and after the election campaign. I continue to encourage your input and I hope you will sign up for our newsletter which we will be sending out.
Thank you for your support and continued conversation.