As things start to wind down for the Holiday Season, I would like to provide one final update for 2023.
In my previous update in November, I communicated that on November 28th City Council agreed on a property tax levy increase of 6.6 percent in 2024, 5.3 per cent in 2025 and 4.7 per cent in 2026.
In my Budget 2024 blog, I noted that this is not the end of the conversation of the property tax levy for 2024.
In January / February, City Administration will be presenting options for $240M in budget deductions that could be reallocated to current priorities and / or returned to the tax levy to reduce the above increases.
Early in 2024, Council will receive an update on expectations of all of our union partners for future settlements.
City Council will receive the final 2023 financial statements in April which will tell us how big of a deficit we have.
And in the first quarter of 2024, the City will receive its education tax requisition from the Province of Alberta
All of that information will inform a Budget Adjustment debate at Council in April 2024, after which the final tax rates will be determined.
Thank you to everyone that has shared their feedback regarding the above numbers. I also agree that this is not the best outcome, but it is the best we have for the moment. More to come in April 2024.
Over the last several weeks we have heard many reports on very violent incidents at our transit stations. This is simply unacceptable and I extended my sincere condolences to anyone that has been impacted by these events.
At the beginning of December, Council discussed transit safety in great detail. We received reports from our own Transit Peace Officers and from the Edmonton Police Service indicating that, despite public perception, reports of violent crime are decreasing on our LRT system (while reports of non-violent crime are increasing).
The challenge that my Council colleagues and I are grappling with is this:
How do we balance sharing the good news, the good stories, the statistics that show transit is safe with the feedback from residents that they don’t feel safe using transit?
Where should our focus be? Trying to convince you that transit is safer than you think? Or on taking your feedback to take actions that will make you feel safer?
More cops, more security, fare gates? Or more positive stories?
I think both are necessary. City Council needs to continue to be data informed about transit security. At the same time, we need to hear those that say regardless of how few incidents there are, they are unwilling to play “LRT roulette” and become the next victim of violent crime.
On December 13th, I moved a motion at Council to install fare gates at two stations as a pilot project. City Council supported the following motion:
That Administration provide a report outlining a detailed plan for a two-year trial for the use of fare gates at two transit facilities, including one LRT station with an underground platform, including a cost-benefit analysis, recommendations, evaluation plan and detailed costing for the trail.
The report is expected to come back for further conversation in the Third Quarter of 2024. We need to look at having all of the tools available to us and this includes examining this report that will be presented to Council in 2024.
I share more of my thoughts on transit safety over on my website. I encourage you to review the following blogs:
🚌Transit Safety: When is the City Going to get Serious: An overview of the transit safety concerns in Edmonton
🚍Transit is “Super Mid”: I had the opportunity to connect with young Edmontonians to learn about what they want in a City, and much of their feedback included the need for safer transit
🚏Transit Ride-Along: This blog shares my experience regarding a transit ride-along with the Chair of the Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year
There have been many other important issues at the Council table this past year, and next year promises to be just as busy. If you have any questions on the work of Council, please don’t hesitate to contact my office and I will update you as best I can.
That said, my office will be closed for the holidays. My staff have been working extremely hard for you, and its time for all of us to get a break, spend time with friends and family and gather our energy for the year ahead.
If you have an urgent City concern, please contact the City Services Contact Centre by either dialing 311 (or 780-442-5311 if you're outside of Edmonton).
This holiday season is a joyous time for most of us, but it can also be a challenging time for some. I encourage you to connect with a friend or relative over the holidays. So often that simple effort of calling just to chat for a few minutes can make all the difference. Let’s take care of one another, take the joy that we feel in our own fortunate lives and pay it forward.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, access to resources or just someone to listen, please call or text the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 24/7 information and referral line at 211. See here for more information about this fantastic community resource.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous New Year! See you in 2024!
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