City council has endorsed the region wide growth plan that increases some density targets in the surrounding communities. The goals at one time were very politically sensitive, but as time has passed, they don’t seem to be anymore.
The outcome that the mayors of the region hope will come out of this will mean less land is required for development, more transit hubs will be created, and more agriculture land will be left for that use.
Coun. Michael Walters said the targets of how many people would live in a square mile are a good fit for Metro Edmonton, even though others who want more would disagree. “It’s not a plan that might get the celebration of the most high-minded urbanists in the world,” he said to close the debate, “but it’s a plan that actually creates a model and opportunity for financial and environmental sustainability in this region for a long time.”
Questions were raised about what might happen if future town and city councils from Edmonton’s neighbors try to back away from the goals, even as an election platform. Council was told the province has the hammer to enforce these agreed to targets.
“The culture has changed,” said Coun. Ed Gibbons. “Even if a mayor or council changes it probably doesn’t need the province to clamp down. It’s actually with in the culture of the system now.”
Previous debate at the Capital Region Board has seen smaller communities steadfastly against Edmonton trying to move them in this direction.
“This is much more planning and much less politics,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “We didn’t have as much time pressure and we had more trust around the table.”
The new plan, which other municipalities will vote on over the next month, is expected to leave enough land alone, that would equal 250 quarter sections from development.
In other decisions Tuesday, council voted to spend $1.8 million on green power certificates. Faced with a choice on whether to spend money to get more wind and solar power into the Alberta energy grid, or investing in upgrading old city buildings with new cladding and more efficient energy systems, council opted for the ‘greening’ of the system because eventually the cost of renewable energy will be efficient once a carbon tax raises the price of non-renewable energy.
Mayor Don Iveson said an expanded grid relying on solar and wind will create jobs in Edmonton, even if those systems are elsewhere in the province. “Realistically wind is going to be a part of that and nobody wants windmills in downtown Edmonton.”
As for re-cladding older city buildings, or upgrading lighting and heating systems, it was decided that there will be future grants from carbon taxes to pay for energy saving measures like that.
Coun. Michael Oshry, who’s a member of the police commission has asked for a report on what would happen if the EPS was allowed to manage it’s budget away from the city budget on an on-going basis.
“If they do go over, we have to cover it, and if they do go under they have to give it back to us,” Oshry told reporters. “I think this way is for both the city as a whole and for the police specifically, I think this sort of (gives everybody an incentive) to come up with a slightly better system, and I think there’s an appetite on both sides to do this.”
Oshry said the commission’s finance committee saw a budget problem last week, which prompted the inquiry. A report will come back to city council in November, which will include the year end situation for the EPS over each of the last ten years.
Read council reports from Tuesday’s meeting by clicking here