Budget 2024 is severely disconnected from your reality.

Like you, I am seriously concerned with the Budget report released on October 26.  A 7.09% property tax at this time, with all of the other pressures you are feeling, is simply unacceptable.

Simply put, the 2024 Budget is going to cost you more money and give you less.  Less snow clearing than last year. Less grass cutting than you were promised and less maintenance for our roads, buildings and other infrastructure.

And this is just the starting point. If your property increases in value (and most single detached homes will) then your taxes will go up that much more. One example from 2022 saw a Brookview  homeowner receive a 14% tax increase against a budgeted increase of 5%.

We also know that our critical economic driver, our downtown core, is diminishing in value and that means less tax revenue and a transfer of tax to other non-residential properties. If you rent or own property for your business outside of downtown, your taxes will likely go up. 

You will hear others say that we should expect significant tax increases, that during Covid Council kept taxes to a minimum. Well here are the numbers:








Municipal Inflation Rate







Property Tax Increase







 (Source: Municipal Price Index (Various Years); Administration Presentation November 2022)

Clearly property tax increases have generally kept pace with inflation, and then some. One 0% tax increase in 2021 should not a crisis make. 

As a member of City Council since 2017, some colleagues and I have repeatedly asked our City Administration to identify service priorities.  Administration has steadfastly refused to identify those services that could or should be reduced or cut. 

During the 2021 election campaign, I suggested that we needed a transparent, public,  Council-led line by line review of our budget similar to what the federal and provincial governments do. I suggested that we should try to identify $300M (10% of the 2022 operating budget) in savings.

Last December, Mayor Sohi bundled a version of this concept into his omnibus motion. But he changed it to an Administration-led project to find $240M. The results -so far, anyway - are predictable.  No real tangible reductions.  Honestly, can we expect City Administration to reduce its own budget, especially when they suspect the Mayor and a majority of Council don’t really want them to?

I guess we will see if any tangible results are generated from Mayor Sohi’s process.  But I am not holding my breath.

On the capital projects side, I continue to hear that we have a very high level of building standards - too high.  That “no more crap” comment a few years ago has been misinterpreted as freedom to build without consideration of cost. Buildings that are more about form than function. No effort to achieve economies of scale.  

I have suggested a challenge panel, made up of industry professionals that can identify the expensive elements before they find their way into a building. Maybe we can make do with less expensive bathroom tile or building siding.  Maybe we can design a standard, robust but not over-built recreation centre and build five of them, instead of expensive one-off designs. Maybe we should use some colored, patterned concrete for our street medians instead of complicated landscape designs that we don’t have the money to maintain.

There are still things that would make good sense  to invest in because they return tangible economic benefits for our city

Edmonton used to be a leader in sports tourism, but we are losing our edge.  We need about $2.5M over the next three years to support our event commitments - money that pays back multiple times in  economic impact. These are events that engage our community and create pride in place.

We have road twinning obligations in north Edmonton. 

We need a replacement library in Terwillegar. 

We likely have pending inflation costs on some of our ongoing projects.

So what can we do?

I know people and families across Edmonton are looking at significant increases in grocery bills, power bills and other basic living costs that simply cannot absorb a significant property tax increase.

I do know this.  If we don’t start to reverse this trend, a lot of people are going to be severely negatively impacted over the next 3 years.

It will take all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. Council needs to lead. We need to take a line by line approach to reducing costs in our operating budget. And we need to bring in external expertise and support to challenge the costs of our capital projects in order to save even more money. 

This is where we need to start. Tomorrow.

Timothy Cartmell


Honoured to be the City Councillor in Edmonton's Ward pihêsiwin. #yegcc #Wardpihêsiwin