When I first took the job as City Councillor I was expecting a nice quiet term working with my old friends from my old neighborhood. As usual in politics, the only certainty is that your base assumptions (if not examined with due diligence and extreme scrutiny) may turn out to be very wrong. We have had a very busy year in Ward 11 and it appears there will be no slowing down.
The following will be a very long look at Ward 11. I feel that it is important for everyone to get a clear idea of what has being going on and what I have been focusing on. Some of it is great, some not so great and some is downright concerning given the size and scope of the issues involved. The first section is an outline from the City Manager addressing a number of serious concerns I have had with matters in the Ward. The second portion of this blog is an outline of several major issues that are still pending and require everyone’s serious attention. Sorry for the length – but it is the middle of the term and I think everyone deserves an update. I encourage you to provide your comments!
- Drainage, Berm, and Other Issues
“At our meeting on Monday, May 9, 2016, you raised a number of concerns over a lack of response on dry pond issues in your Ward. I appreciate your follow up email providing your correspondence with Administration and the Minister of Infrastructure, Brian Mason, specifically on the flood mitigation construction and a potential noise attenuation berm in Ward 11. My response to your concerns is outlined below.
Flood Mitigation Construction
As discussed at the May 3/4, 2016, Council meeting, Tweddle Place, Ekota and Tawa flood mitigation projects were identified in the Utility Services Spring 2016 Capital Budget Adjustment report CR_3477. The start of these flood mitigation projects has not been delayed; rather the purpose of the Capital Budget Adjustment brought forward was to provide additional transparency and align with corporate standards for capital projects. To support the transparent management of projects, standalone capital profiles are created when project budgets exceed $2 million for growth projects and $5 million for renewal projects. In the case of these three flood mitigation projects, as part of this 20152018 capital budget cycle, they were initially bundled in a composite profile (Expanded Neighborhood Flood Mitigation CM23/319611) based on conceptual design details at the time of budget approval in December 2014. As the design of these projects has advanced, Administration is in a better position to identify a more accurate budget for the projects thus created stand-alone capital profiles. Unfortunately we may have confused the situation as the stand alone capital profiles created for Tweddle Place, Ekota and Tawa flood mitigation projects were labeled as ‘unfunded’. To clarify, the funding of these projects was not in jeopardy. Rather, Council approval is required to transfer funds from a composite profile to stand alone capital profile. Council formally approved creation of the three capital profiles as listed above at its May 3/4, 2016 Council meeting.
Highlevel project schedules for these three flood mitigation projects are outlined below. Project Construction Schedule:
Tweddle Place Dry Pond and Sewer Upgrades (1623/319800)2015 2021
Ekota Dry Pond and Menisa Storm Relief (1623/319801) 2016 2018
Tawa Dry Pond (1623/319802) 2016 2018
Tweddle Place Dry Pond and Sewer Upgrades (16‐23/31‐9800)
This project includes a combination of storm sewer upgrades and expansion of the existing Tweddle Place dry pond. Due to size of the project, the design and construction spans over the 201518 and 201922 capital budget cycles. The first portion of the project was funded in the 201518 Capital Budget under the Expanded Neighborhood Flood Mitigation (CM‐23/31‐9611) profile, with a plan to fund the remainder of the work in the 201922 capital budget cycle. With the creation of the stand-alone capital profile the complete scope of the project is funded, including the work that extends beyond 2018. The following provides a summary of construction completed todate and further planned work:
Sewer Upgrades Stage 1:
- Construction started August 2015
- Planned construction completion November 2016
Dry Pond Expansion
- Planned construction start Fall 2016
- Planned construction completion Fall 2018
Sewer Upgrades Stage 2:
- Planned construction start 2019
- Planned construction completion 2021
Ekota Dry Pond and Menisa Storm Relief (16‐23/31‐9801)
This project includes the construction of a new dry pond in Father Ivor Daniel Park and storm sewer upgrades. The construction tender has been awarded and the contractor is currently working on the dry pond construction and sewer installation. The project is planned to be completed in the Fall of 2017, as noted below:
1) Dry Pond Construction:
- Construction started April 2016
- Planned construction completion October 2016
2) Sewer Installation:
- Construction started April 2016
- Planned construction completion October 2017
Tawa Dry Pond (16‐23/31‐9802)
This project includes the construction of a new dry pond in Tawa Park and storm sewer upgrades. The
construction is planned to be tendered in June 2016 and construction is planned as follows:
1) Dry Pond Construction:
- Planned construction start Fall 2016
- Planned construction completion Spring 2018
2) Sewer Installation
- Planned construction start Fall 2016
- Planned construction completion Fall 2018
Malcolm Tweddle/Edith Rogers Dry Pond
The Malcolm Tweddle/Edith Rogers dry pond project had been proposed to be accelerated from its original 2019 start date because of anticipated provincial funding, which is now uncertain. This was presented to the community and task force on April 6, 2016, with details provided in the attached. Detailed design on the dry pond will be completed this year and will provide a quick start to construction once funding is made available. We have recommended that funding for construction is pursued through the recent Federal Water/Wastewater stimulus package.
Noise Attenuation Berm
Administration has assessed the proposal of utilizing soil available from the Tweddle Place dry pond construction to use for a berm on the Provincial Transportation and Utility Corridor (TUC) between 66 and 91 Street. While this proposal offers the benefit of creating a berm, there are significant additional costs to accommodate the surplus material and construct the berm. My understanding was that conversations did take place regarding associated incremental costs to this construction, but we acknowledge we should have confirmed this with you more directly and formally. Construction of this berm would require approximately 200,000 cu.m of soil and requires clearing, site access development, material placement, compaction, topsoil and seeding. The estimated costs for this work is approximately $13 million. The current tendered pricing we are receiving on dry pond projects for excavation and disposal offsite is approximately $5 million. Additional costs would also be required for engineering the berm to ensure it functions properly and does not interfere with existing storm water management in the area. Given these incremental costs are significant and different from the approved profile; Council approval would be required as this would reduce the funding available to the larger flood mitigation program.
As the development of the Integrated Infrastructure Services Department moves forward, Administration is refining its approach in defining the scope, schedule and budget for a capital project which will be based on more advanced design. Administration remains committed to providing consistent and timely information to both the citizens of Edmonton and members of Council. Additional information related to these projects for the public are also available on the City’s website. We acknowledge the need to keep individual Councillors more aware of emerging issues in their Ward and we commit to more direct contact in this regard.
Planning Application Processing Activities
During our meeting on May 9, 2016 you also raised concerns around decision making and information sharing within Citizen Services, specifically around Whitewater Paddlers and Donnan Arena. Overall pool allocation is reviewed and adjusted annually as part of continuous improvement to balance events, programs, and rentals. There are 50 events at Kinsmen Sports Centre between September 2016 and June 2017. Therefore, the Friday evening rental time was no longer consistently available for rentals. The new Sunday rental provides the Whitewater Paddlers with a consistent rental opportunity without any lost allocation time. Administration has been working towards this new arrangement with the President of the Whitewater Paddlers since October and has met as recently as last week. Donnan Arena Administration was still in the process of discussing the closer of Donnan Arena with user groups when Hockey Edmonton approached media with its concerns. Subsequently, on March 18, 2016, the attached fact sheet was provided to City Council to clarify the situation. In short, Donnan Arena is scheduled to close for the 2016/2017 Winter season to complete lifecycle rehabilitation. Administration estimates that construction will begin in October 2016 and is expected to take eight months.
The scope of work includes:
- Replacement of the ice plant refrigeration system and dehumidifier
- Concrete repairs throughout the building
- Replacement of plumbing fixtures, hot water heaters and storage tanks
- Addition of barrier free features to address accessibility issues
User groups were notified and concerns were addressed. Consideration was given to minimize impacts to arena users. Of the 31 City owned sheets of ice, Donnan is the only one that will be unavailable during the 2016/2017 Winter season. We acknowledge again that you did not have prior information on this planned closure and we commit to providing more advance notice to all Councillors in the future”.
May 16, 2016
To: Councillor Nickel
Office of the Councillors
Copy to: City Council
From: Linda D.M. Cochrane, City Manager
2. Valley Line LRT: Valley Line LRT Project
It is no longer realistic to accommodate Edmonton’s rapid growth in population by sprawling outward. We need to stop wasting land and limit pollution with smart development that increases density and makes efficient transportation alternatives like public transit more attractive and accessible.
The Valley Line LRT will be an important part of the picture, by putting frequent, reliable, convenient, and comfortable service within easy walking distance of thousands of people, initially between Mill Woods and downtown Edmonton. Travel time between Mill Woods and downtown will be about half an hour, with trains running every five minutes during peak periods. The line will eventually extend to Lewis Farms, running past Misericordia Hospital and West Edmonton Mall.
For the 13-kilometre southeast leg which will feature 11 street-level stops and one elevated station, many factors went into the choice of alignment from 25 original options. These factors included providing connections between areas that are currently densely populated, those that are to become more densely populated in the future (“transit-oriented development”), consideration of environmental impacts, constructability, how it will fit into the larger future network, and of course, cost.
After City Council approved the alignment and locations of LRT stops and stations for the Valley Line LRT in early 2012, work began on the design, which will result in a system that fits in with its surroundings, connects communities and takes people where they want to go.
The cost to design and construct the Valley Line is estimated at $1.8 billion, funded through partnerships with the Province of Alberta and Government of Canada:
- The City of Edmonton is contributing $800 million.
- The Province of Alberta is contributing $600 million
- The Government of Canada is contributing $400 million
From Design to Construction
While some early works such as utility relocations have been occurring over the past year, construction will begin in earnest this spring. The City recently finalized a public-private partnership (P3) contract with TransEd Partners, a consortium that will finalize the design and then build, operate and maintain the Valley Line, which it will also partially finance. Some of the major partners in the group include Ellis-Don, Bechtel Corporation, Bombardier and Fengate Capital Management. The agreement is structured in a way that if any of the partners fail to deliver, the entire consortium is penalized, which means that the partners must meet not only the commitments made to the City, but those that they have made to each other. The contract requires construction to be completed by the end of 2020.
Urban-Style LRT and Sustainable Urban Integration – Fitting into the Community
The Valley Line system marks a shift in the City’s approach to LRT, by introducing an “urban-style” system. It differs from the existing system by blending in better with the neighbourhoods it serves. Street-level stops are smaller in scale and closer together, and passengers will enjoy step-free boarding onto the low-floor train. The train itself runs alongside traffic at roadway speeds, controlled by the same signals that control vehicles on the road. This means no gates, flashing lights or bells to disrupt neighbourhoods or vehicle traffic. There will be better links to more destinations through more direct transit, pedestrian and cyclist connections. The lower speeds also make for a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and there will be landscaping, streetscaping, architectural features and public art to make the whole system more appealing and less intrusive.
The light rail vehicle that Bombardier will supply for the new system is the Flexity Outlook model, similar to one that was demonstrated at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and those in service in several major cities internationally, including Brussels, Geneva and Milan. It is well-suited to the role it will play in Edmonton: it is compact on the outside, roomy on the inside and quiet in its operation.
Public Engagement and Commitments to Edmontonians
Public input has played an essential role in shaping the Valley Line LRT, from the identification of the corridor in 2009 through the development of the concept plan to the completion of preliminary design in 2013. Thousands of Edmontonians have been engaged through hundreds of meetings, presentations, open houses and online. In 2015, the City established five community-based Citizen Working Groups along the corridor to allow for ongoing dialogue right through to the completion of the project.
Value for Money
The process that led to the contract award was highly competitive. The winning bid exceeded the requirements of the Request for Proposals, and the enhancements in the proposal have been written into the project agreement (contract) to provide additional value to the City. The competition also benefited the City financially, as the overall price to build, operate and maintain the system was pushed lower than expected. This has resulted in a lower tax increase than expected to fund the City’s share. A report detailing Value for Money, along with the project agreement will be released this spring.
Fulfilling Commitments to Edmontonians
The City has made a number of commitments to its citizens and stakeholders to minimize the impact of construction and do its utmost to preserve the character of the spaces we enjoy. These commitments include providing notice of disruptions, ensuring construction traffic management, minimizing impacts on trees and greenspace, complying with the provisions of the Environmental Impact Screening Assessment for the river valley, coordinating with the City’s major festivals, maintaining quality service and safety standards, and many others.
There is also a commitment to ensure that the new Tawatinâ Bridge reflects the vision chosen by the citizens of Edmonton and approved by City Council, and that the bridge crossing is reopened to pedestrian, cyclist and active transit use as soon as possible. The project agreement will ensure that the contractor fulfills these commitments.
Brace for Construction
A short-term construction schedule snapshot will be produced this spring, with a more detailed schedule for the entire project to be delivered this summer. The schedule will indicate what work will be occurring, when, and where. While some preparatory work has already begun– including testing of ground conditions for construction–major work is expected to begin in several locations along the line this spring after the schedule has been set. The Valley Line is to be completed and in operation by the end of 2020.
Disruption due to construction is inevitable. However, the contractor is required to minimize impacts. TransEd’s responsibilities will also include publicizing its construction plans, schedules and activities, and it will be establishing a project website, phone and email address. It will also have a drop-in information kiosk downtown (as this is written, the Lee Pavilion at the Citadel Theatre is being considered as the location). Details will be announced as soon as they’re up and running this spring. The City will continue to be responsible for working with the five Citizen Working Groups that have been established along the corridor, and TransEd will take an active role in the dialogue with these working groups. Stay Tuned
With construction about to begin, interest in the Valley Line is at an all-time high. Stay tuned for public information sessions later this spring that will include opportunities to ask questions and learn more about the construction program. For ongoing information about the Valley Line LRT, visit www.edmonton.ca/valleyline. You can also contact LRT Projects Information Centre at 780-496-4874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 24, 201
1. Millwood’s Double Barrel Project
Originally conceived to provide flood relief for over 400 homes along 91 Street from 85 Avenue to 23 Avenue this project has come under fire for numerous reasons. At its original budget of 40 million dollars it has now ballooned to over 90 million dollars; roughly 135% increase. Conceptual design was started as far back as 2006 with construction beginning in early 2013. At the heart of the cost overruns and time delay issues are the City’s consulting engineers. Our consultant engineers (people who are supposed to be experts and advise the City on complex construction matters) failed to accurately account for sandy soil conditions, which in turn gave Council an unrealistic estimate as to the timeframe of work that would be required to do this project. On the Administration’s side they failed to keep track of this project with its associated cost overruns and other risks and in turned failed to keep Council apprised of this red line project. At each critical stage it is clear to me that our consulting engineers failed us. Be it the 2006 conceptual designs, the 2007 geotechnical analysis on ground conditions to the current time lines that are required to complete the project. The chart below gives administrations best estimate as to the project’s completion:
30 Avenue Sewer Work Complete
85 Street (excluding surface restoration) August 2016
23 Avenue (excluding surface restoration) December 2016
91 Street Convert existing double into full Sanitary sewer March 2017
Site and surface restoration August 2017
2. RioCan Redevelopment of Mill Woods Town Center & Mill Woods Station Area Redevelopment Plan
Presently there is a large DC2 development application in the works that is calling for the redevelopment of Millwood’ Town Center Shopping Mall which includes an application to add over 1,700 people to the site. At the moment their plan is still in the early stages. The applicant (ParioPlan) provided pre-application notice via mail to the neighborhood in November 2015.The rezoning application was received and accepted for Mill Woods Town Centre on December23, 2015. A notice was sent to the surrounding neighborhood on March 8, 2016. The rezoning will not come to Public Hearing for a decision until late 2016.
For more information please visit: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/mill-woods-station-area-plan.aspx
3. Four Corners Project in Ritchie
Ritchie is a residential neighborhood in South East Edmonton, developed during the immediate post-war period. It is named for the original owner of the Ritchie Mill and former mayor of the City of Strathcona. The population of Ritchie enjoys good access to the nightlife of nearby Old Strathcona and the Mill Creek Ravine. Whyte Avenue provides good access to the University of Alberta. 99 Street, which passes through the neighborhood, provides good access to the downtown core. A bustling, working class neighborhood in the 1960’s Ritchie has been undergoing resurgence for the last decade. With plenty of infill housing, recent neighborhood infrastructure improvements, and now, participation in the Corner Store Project, Ritchie has become one of the most sought after home and business markets in the City of Edmonton. With much work to come, the “Four Corners” as they are known to residents, is undergoing a transformation from a tired and worn corner to a neighborhood hub for activity.
The neighborhood is anxiously awaiting the construction of Ritchie Market, expected to open in 2016, that will see a new public house, a bicycle chop, a Transcend Coffee, and a new home for Acme Meats. In addition, Ritchie will see the existing structures receive facade and infrastructure improvements and a new “pocket” park on the South West corner along with some additional parking. Source: http://ritchiefourcorners.ca/
In conclusion it has been a busy two years. There are many other smaller issues we deal with each day but above are the big ones that I think we all need to be aware of. If you have any questions or concerns please contact my office as we always appreciate your feedback and suggestions!
Councillor, Ward 11