With the start of the new year, I took some time in January to really get a feel for what the community is talking about. I was out door knocking, held a community conversation at The Orange Hub, and hosted a Facebook Live Q&A. Not to mention, constituents continue to email or call into my office with questions and comments. I want to recap some of the recurring themes that I’ve heard from these public consultations. If you have similar questions or concerns as others, I hope you find the information below helpful.
Given the weather, I have been getting lots of questions and comments regarding snow removal and sidewalk maintenance. First of all, I want to thank the hundreds of City of Edmonton employees who work day and night to ensure our roadways are safe. The City of Edmonton’s goal when there is snowfall is always to reach bare pavement. Given the fluctuating temperatures, there has been significant ice build up in some parts of the city which makes maintenance more challenging. As a resident, there are a few key things to know about sidewalks. First, many sidewalks that are in front of privately owned residences are the responsibility of the owner to clear. Recently, an accessibility advocate, Benveet Gill, shared her experience on the importance of keeping sidewalks clear. I encourage everyone to read her story to understand one of the many reasons it is important to keep the areas you are responsible for safe. If there is a sidewalk that is in need of upkeep, please report it to 311. Whether it is privately or city owned, reporting an unsafe or inaccessible sidewalk to 311 will alert bylaw officers to either come inspect or our snow removal team of the issue. The city has not completed a full review of the snow removal policy in years, and we need to ensure we are giving consideration to people who cant or choose not to drive – by having clear and accessible sidewalks as well as roads. This is something I plan to bring up when the snow removal policy is updated later this summer.
I take concerns over crime and theft in neighbourhoods very seriously, as it is critical that people feel safe and secure in their communities. At my last community conversation, a few concerns regarding home and vehicle break and enters were brought up. As such, I want to remind everyone of a few tools to both prevent, be aware of, and report criminal activity. Of course, if you are witnessing an emergency situation please call 911. In the event that you see someone in need of help (perhaps social services, mental health support, or housing) please consider calling 211. 211 is a great service to provide support when there is no law being broken. By utilizing this service, it also gives our police more time to respond to police matters. If you have questions about crimes in the city, you can access information on the Edmonton Police Service crime map. This tool allows you to see the occurrences of various crimes in each community. Lastly, one of the best ways to promote safety in your community is to host a block party. If you are regularly connecting with your neighbours then you have a better understanding of what could be out of place. If you are interested in hosting a block party there is information and resources available at Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch.
My primary goal when discussing speed limits is always safety and consistency. Many residents find certain speed limits or playground zone designations confusing or arbitrary. An example of this is the playground zone beside Westlawn School on 95th Avenue between 165th and 167th Street, which I have suggested be removed. This is an example of an area that looks and feels like an arterial road, but it not designated that way. As such, it has a different speed limit than other roads that have similar uses. I would like to see the City of Edmonton consider making most arterial roads uniform at 60 km/hr, which is the speed to which many of the roads were designed for and for our local roads to have a consistent slower speed instead. By having more consistency, the goal is that will help drivers understand the zone they are in and respect that speed limit.
It is property assessment time in the City of Edmonton. That means that if you are a property owner, you will be receiving a notice in the mail which explains how the value of your property is calculated. The most important factors to consider when you receive this notice are that you must contact a city assessor if you have a question or concern about your appraisal and that changes to your property assessment does not guarantee higher or lower taxes on your property. By calling 311 you can speak with an assessor directly. The Property Assessment team has also recently launched several new tools where you can manage an online account with your property information that can estimate your property tax, you can see the value of neighbouring properties, and much more. I would encourage you to check out their website or informational videos to learn more.
Given the bus network redesign that is happening at the City of Edmonton, I am hearing lots of anxiety and frustrations over what new bus routes might look like. Ultimately, we need to ensure that public transportation in Edmonton is accessible, practical, and affordable. Currently, all too often I hear stories of people who can’t or choose not to drive that have to spend hours on the bus everyday to go about their daily business. A large component of that time can often be the first or last part of the route. That’s why I am excited about the First Kilometre / Last Kilometre Study which will look into the feasibility of finding ways to transport people from their door to the nearest transit station. I believe that Edmonton needs to consider innovation like this in order to more effectively serve its residents. After all, while a couple of blocks (or more) may not be a large distance for some people to walk to a bus or LRT station, to others, such as those with mobility challenges, it can be insurmountable.
Thank you for taking the time to read this recap! I value hearing what members of our community are thinking about so that I can provide the best information and support innovative solutions to those concerns. If you ever have questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Written by A. Knack and M. Banister.