Edmonton city council voted to move forward with a possible affordable housing project on this city land in Riverdale. // City of Edmonton

Council proceeds with affordable housing project in Riverdale

Edmonton city council moved forward Monday with a plan to develop affordable housing on city land in the Riverdale neighbourhood.

Following up on a report about the expressions of interest the city received from six housing providers in regards to building some form of affordable housing on surplus city land at 92 Street and 102 Avenue, council voted to “undertake a formal property offering of the City-owned land in Riverdale with a requirement that submissions include primarily a long-term non-market affordable housing component.”

The only councillor opposed to moving forward with the development was Councillor Mike Nickel of Ward 11, who said he wasn’t against building more affordable housing, just against the proposed location.

“It is not that I’m opposed to affordable housing; I’m not opposed to this project; I’m not opposed to … what you are doing. I think you’re all doing a fine job. I am opposed to the where,” Nickel says, “and has been consistent over the years, I’ve never been able to cross that line for good reason for development in the River Valley.”

Councillor Scott McKeen of Ward 6 replied by saying “that horse left the barn years ago.”

McKeen also pointed out that Riverdale is already a model mixed community, making it a good candidate for affordable housing.

“When we talk about having a mixed community Riverdale should probably be the one we point to because it’s very successful,” he says.

City administration confirmed that any proposal will come back to committee once again before it can move forward.

Mayor recognizes staff work in initiating city’s extreme weather protocol

Mayor Don Iveson thanked City of Edmonton staff for their work during the recent cold snap, which allowed some of the city’s “most vulnerable residents” to find shelter at the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre.

Council to pilot new budget process for fall 2020 supplemental budget adjustments

Edmonton city council will be using a new process for its budget deliberations come the fall.

The decision came after council received a report from administration detailing the feedback it had collected from both council members and staff regarding the multi-year budget process.

One of the options presented in the report suggested that amendments to the budget could be made using a hybrid method, which would use both randomization and a draw system. Amendments can be made at any time during the budget meeting, but voting will be postponed until the end when all amendments are on the floor. All of the amendments would then be put into a random order and then using a draw, each councillor can bring an amendment forward to be voted on. The draw process can be repeated any number of times as determined by council, and then the remaining amendments will be dealt with in random order.

Though the suggestion was brought forward to improve the multi-year budgeting process, council thought it would be best to test drive it right away, rather than waiting two years until the next multi-budget process.

Council rejects possibility of creating third-party position to oversee selection of items for private meetings

Council voted 7-6 against having administration provide a report to council outlining options for the appointment of a private meeting investigator.

The motion was put forward by Councillor Aaron Paquette of Ward 4, who said that the purpose of the position was to make sure that all matters council discusses in private, should be discussed in private.

The Province of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act allows municipal councils to hold meetings in private “if a matter to be discussed is within one of the exceptions to disclosure in Division 2 of Part 1 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Mayor Don Iveson and councillors Michael Walters, Mohinder Banga, McKeen, Sarah Hamilton, Tony Caterina and Bev Eslinger opposed Paquette’s motion, on the grounds that they didn’t think there was a problem.

“To me, the motion implies a premise that there is something wrong and I don’t agree with that premise. Full stop. So I’m not going to support this,” Iveson said.

“We always are provided with legal advice and legislative justification when we go into private,” added Walters. “We have the clerk’s office, we have the city solicitor, the auditor and the city manager who all double and triple check and we as council can quadruple check and beyond.”

Councillors Jon Dziadyk, Tim Cartmell, Ben Henderson, Nickel and Andrew Knack supported the motion.

“I’m a little bit torn on this, because I’m not actually sure what the solution is to this, but I do think we need to separate the idea of who we are right now and who the players are right now from the possible players maybe in the future,” said Henderson.

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