Ask Me About the Budget: Session 3 with Sustainable Development and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

Ask Me About the Budget: Session 3 with Sustainable Development and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

Now is your chance to ask one or more of Edmonton’s senior managers about the City budget, and the programs and services the City provides.

Do you have questions about how the City manages downtown and suburban development, parks and biodiversity and affordable housing? Post your questions here, and on Friday, November 20, we’ll have senior managers from City departments answer those questions live during one of a series of “Ask Me About the Budget” sessions. This is the third in a series of four sessions on the budget.

Friday, November 20, 2015, noon-1pm.  Ask Me About the Budget: Session 3 with Sustainable Development ​and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

The Sustainable Development ​Department advances Edmonton’s long-term vision for a great city by driving development that balances economic progress, public protection and environmental resilience.

Our work includes:

  • land use management
  • urban design
  • permits for building and development
  • downtown development
  • Blatchford redevelopment
  • the Quarters revitalization
  • environmental and climate change programs
  • affordable housing
  • mature neighbourhood infill
  • Vehicle for Hire bylaw
  • annexations and regional planning and cooperation
Answering your questions about this part of the City’s work will be Gary Klassen, General Manager of Sustainable Development.

Answering your questions about this part of the City’s work will be Gary Klassen, General Manager of Sustainable Development.

Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is a not-for-profit company established by the City of Edmonton and is responsible for providing leadership to the economic growth strategy for Edmonton and the Capital Region, with specific accountability for: supporting industry growth and diversification; stimulating entrepreneurism and innovation; marketing the city image in target markets; managing the Shaw Conference Centre; boosting tourism, events and attractions; and enriching the Edmonton Research Park.

Adam Sweet, Senior Advisor to the President, Strategy & Policy Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

Adam Sweet, Senior Advisor to the President, Strategy & Policy
Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

You can check out the City’s proposed budgets in a number of different forms:

Submit your questions on this blog, now and in the days to come, for Sustainable Development and EEDC. We’ll be publishing the questions and posting live responses during the lunch hour on November 20, 2015. Join us then for a live, interactive question and answer session.



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  1. Michelle V
    4 years ago

    I’m excited about the surge in downtown development, especially all the condo towers going up. But will the City be able to keep up and provide some amenities like more park space and bike paths for the people living in the downtown? Will developers be required to pay for some of those amenities or is it all on the City (and taxpayers) dime?

  2. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Thank you Michelle. The City has identified nearly $700 million in Downtown improvements including new sewers, parks, streetscapes and transportation routes. We have $40 million in sewer upgrades underway and another $32 million planned. Construction on the new Alex Decoteau Park starts next year, and we plan to build another Downtown park in the next 5-8 years. You can see all the projects on For bike paths, the City completed the Metro Line multipurpose trail and is planning cycling facilities on 102 Ave and 105 Ave. The improvements listed here are funded by the City, but developers are also building amenities. For example, Ice District is building a large public plaza and Oxford Properties Group installed bike racks for their tenants. Depending on the nature of the development, the developer is obligated to ensure that their development integrates well with the public infrastructure. Therefore, landscaping, sidewalk development, and road access may come at some cost to the developer. In the Community Revitalization Levy areas, the City is investing to attract new and maintain existing development. Significant new private sector development has, in fact, occurred.

  3. Thomas J
    4 years ago

    Why are you annexing land near Beaumont when the city also says sprawl increases costs for the city because of need to add roads, sewers, buses, fire halls etc?

  4. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Thank you Thomas: There is a critically low land supply in south Edmonton for both residential and non-residential land. Edmonton represents 70 per cent of the region’s population and is expected to grow to more than a million people within the next five years. 57 per cent of our growth will occur in south Edmonton. Planning ahead to meet this demand is critical.

    Land proposed for annexation areas will be developed to meet capital region density requirements which are intended to minimize the City’s footprint and optimizes our infrastructure investment (cost). Annexing land for both housing and business employment secures a balanced tax base for Edmonton’s financial sustainability that ultimately benefits our citizens and taxpayers. Edmonton has announced its intent to pursue two annexations south of its current boundary to accommodate balanced future growth for both residential and non-residential development. The objective is balanced growth in our older neighbourhoods, the downtown core and also in the suburban areas.

    We will grow these lands more densely and more effectively. Edmonton plans compact urban development with higher housing densities, and in the newer neighbourhoods exceeds targets set out by the Capital Region Growth Plan. For example, Edmonton’s new neighbourhoods are planned for 31-40 dwellings per net residential hectare. Most neighbouring municipalities achieve less than half of that density. The higher density enables efficient investment in infrastructure and deters inefficient use of land (sprawl). Growth and costs to support services required by our citizens is a natural planning function for municipalities. Value for all taxpayers is better achieved through leverage and extension of existing services and infrastructure. Without balanced growth, Edmonton’s ability to thrive and be sustainable would be limited, in turn affecting quality of life for our citizens and the metro area.

    The land separating Edmonton and Beaumont has been identified by the Capital Region Growth Plan as a priority growth area. This land will be developed, regardless of which municipality it falls within. There are overlapping interests in this land, with both Edmonton and Beaumont seeking to annex it from Leduc County.

    To find out more:

  5. Brigette
    4 years ago

    I do like the way the downtown is being revitalized, a long time in the making. Years ago it was the place to be, then it all faded, became a hub for undesirables,crime and inner city problems. Its nice to see that something will happen to make it what it used to be.
    Annexing, well I don’t think we need to expand outwards towards Leduc and the International Airport. It is hard enough for us to keep what we have in good repair and maintaining what we have. We should take pride in what we have, and do our best to showcase it. The lack of doing so is visible everywhere, there are buildings that can have a new life, open them up, use them, showcase them. Areas of the cities need repair, someone who cares about our city as a whole. It’s too easy to build new, without repairing and using what we have. The old motto ” old is too much work, new is better” is what is taking our heritage, history from our city away. Everything is better when its looked after. Stop expanding and use what we have, make our city all what she can be, beautiful, affordable and a place to call home.

  6. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Thank you Brigette. The maintenance of our existing infrastructure in communities is very important. In this regard, we have implemented programs for reinvestment including in the downtown, the Quarters, and our mature neighbourhoods, to name a few.

    The efforts and investments into Downtown by City Council have helped attract private investment that is spurring exciting revitalization and economic development in our city centre. City Council has made efforts to balance investment in maintenance of services as well as investing in the future for Edmontonians. Both types of investments are required and long-term investments (securing land for future development, funding for key infrastructure and services) do require a longer outlook before citizens experience the benefits.

    We take great pride in our city and its many programs and services. To list a few: we encourage quality building design; support inclusive communities; facilitate historical preservation, street beautification and clean streets; and invest in ongoing infrastructure and neighbourhood renewal. We also value our natural areas; support business revitalization zones; work with communities and community leagues on neighbourhood improvements; and attract investors, researchers, skilled workers and international events to increase Edmontonians’ quality of life.

    Please check out my response to Thomas above for more information on annexation.

  7. Daniel
    4 years ago

    I support the City’s support for the downtown arena. I even support taxes going to it. Not because it stimulates the economy (it doesn’t, it shifts location of spending). I support it because it adds to my quality of life in our big city. How much does an average taxpayer contribute to the arena?

  8. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Hi Daniel. One of the original objectives for the arena agreements, identified during public consultation, is that design and construction of the arena does not increase current property taxes. The total project is $606.5 million, the City’s total contribution is $279 million. There is $199 million coming from the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), which is a funding tool that allows the City to use new taxes to pay for new infrastructure. With a CRL, the City borrows money to build infrastructure within a defined area. Then we use the increased taxes in that area that come from new developments and rising property values. The remaining $80 million is from new parking revenues, the taxes from the arena and redirecting a subsidy that currently goes to Northlands. The City is not responsible for the operating costs for Rogers Place — those are being covered by the Oilers Entertainment Group. The full agreement and more information on the CRL is available online. The City will have some costs once all the facilities open. We own and are responsible for operations for the Downtown Community Arena, and will share some costs for the public area in the Winter Garden, which will cost about $1 million a year. For the Community Rink, we anticipate revenues from ice rentals should result in a cost recovery of about 60 per cent. We have also entered into a 10-year sponsorship agreement with the Oilers to promote Edmonton, which costs $2 million a year.

    Rogers Place has already stimulated $2.5 billion in private development in the downtown, including new office towers, residential condos, retail and hotel space.

  9. City of Edmonton
    4 years ago

    Welcome to the third in a series of five sessions we’re holding on the City’s budget and the programs and services the City provides. We are holding these live blogging sessions as part of the public discussions we are having on the proposed 2016-18 Operating and Utilities budgets. City Council will be making decisions on those budgets at the end of November and beginning of December. This is one opportunity we are providing for concerned residents to ask your questions or express your thoughts about the City’s financial priorities.

    With us today are senior managers with the City of Edmonton: Gary Klassen, who is the General Manager of the Sustainable Development department and Adam Sweet, who is the Senior Advisor to the President (Strategic Policy) of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

    Gary and Adam are here for the next hour to answer questions you may have about how the City manages its urban design, permits for building and development, mature neighbourhood infill, vehicle for hire bylaw, and support for industry growth and tourism. Next week, we will be hosting two more sessions with other senior City managers who are in charge of other City programs and services. Check out our series of blogs which describe the other sessions and join us in the days to come.

    Here’s how our live blog session works. You can ask your questions by commenting on this blog post. We’ll take a look at your question and then prepare an answer for you right away. We’ll take as many questions as we can over the next hour. Any questions we don’t get to, we’ll do our best to answer them in the next little while.

    So get ready to ask your questions for today’s Ask Me About the Budget: Session 3 with Gary Klassen and Adam Sweet.

  10. Dan
    4 years ago

    When is the Quarters Revitalization suppose to be complete? How much has the city spent so far on it and what income increase I. E. taxes? does the city expect do come from it?

  11. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Thanks Dan. Phase One for The Quarters Downtown included $56 million in infrastructure improvements and is nearly done. This included the rebuilding of 96 Street into a pedestrian-friendly street (The Armature), acquiring land to support future development and underground infrastructure improvements. Phase One has attracted significant development: the Hyatt Hotel, the Artists Quarters (featured today in the Edmonton Journal) and Boyle Renaissance housing developments. Phase Two is set to start soon with about $50 million in improvements, including Kinistinâw Park, connecting streetscape improvements (tied with LRT construction), a top of bank park and further land acquisition. These placemaking improvements are framed to attract further investment – including new homes, businesses and retail. With the changes in the economy, we are carefully monitoring the investments and working with Council so we are advancing investments in a financially responsible and prudent way.

    The Quarters is a Community Revitalization Levy area. These investments will create a lift in taxation, which the City will use to repay approximately $150 million in Council-committed funding to The Quarters. Over time, we expect this will result in 20,000 new residents in our east end of Downtown, and revitalize one of the oldest areas of our city.

  12. Dan
    4 years ago

    Does Edmonton Tourism see an increase in visitors from other cities they promote in? Do they track what economic activity it generates for the city? What percentage of our taxes goes to promoting Edmonton?

    Thank you for answering .

  13. Beth
    4 years ago

    Hi, what is the typical time line to get a development permit approved?

  14. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Hi Beth, thanks for your question. The time to approve a development permit is dependent on the permit type, complexity, application completeness, submission quality and the payment of required fees. In some cases, a development permit can be approved in 24 hours, although other complex applications may take a number of months. For example, we provide a service to larger home builders in our expedited permitting program that allows applications to be processed quickly. For smaller scale projects and clients, we offer assistance by providing checklists and customer education at the Current Planning Service Centre to process applications in a timely manner.
    Form listing:

    Furthermore, Current Planning continues to make improvements to processes and technology that reduce turnaround time. Some of these improvements include providing performance reporting and enabling applicants to view the status of their applications online.

    In the third quarter of this year, 93 per cent of customers, responding to a survey, were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by the service centre.

    Check out a useful guide the permit process.

  15. Adam Sweet
    4 years ago

    Hey Dan – thanks for the questions, and I’ll answer them in the order you wrote them. 1. Yes we do. For example, on an international scale, our program funds are focused on promoting and protecting our air access routes that bring in the out-of-province visitors. We have shown 12% international growth this past year and will hope to stay on pace. 2. Yes we do – our year to date economic impact is $60million, which is calculated through events, hotel rooms booked, consumer spend, etc. 3. I don’t have the percentage of taxes that go to promoting Edmonton, but I can say how Edmonton Tourism is funded. Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels (EDMH) and industry stakeholders fund Edmonton Tourism to be the expert marketing resource for Edmonton’s visitor experience. In short, they provide funding for a majority of marketing activities/programs and the tax levy from the City of Edmonton is required for the human resources to execute. This industry leverage ratio (Industry Dollars: Tax Levy) has grown from 1:1 to 3:1 in recent years as we have built the Explore Edmonton platform. Industry has also just conditionally approved a 30% increase in funding for Edmonton Tourism (i.e. this is industry money, not taxpayer dollars)

  16. Elizabeth
    4 years ago

    To both commentators: What is the single most important thing the City must get right in the next 5 to 10 years to ensure our prosperity?

  17. Gary Klassen
    4 years ago

    Thank you Elizabeth. The City has given a lot of thought to our shared desired outcomes and strategies for building the kind of city where we all want to live, work and play. This has been done with significant input from the citizens of Edmonton. Several major themes from Sustainable Development’s perspective are:
    >Confirm a sound infrastructure investment program which will help define the city of the future;
    >Continue to work on our reputation and branding to ensure Edmonton is well known and understood nationally and internationally to attract the talent and investment we will require;
    >Programs around inclusiveness and housing that ensure we are a caring community;
    >Continue to balance — how we green, grow, move and prosper to ensure we are a more sustainable community that is livable, prosperous and green.

    For a more comprehensive look at the City’s plan to ensure prosperity, check out The Way We Prosper: The City’s Economic Development Plan

  18. Adam Sweet
    4 years ago

    Hi Elizabeth – thanks for that question. The single most important thing is for the Edmonton Metro Region to come together as a unified region and hunt as a pack for investment, businesses, and talented people.

  19. City of Edmonton
    4 years ago

    That’s all the time we have for today everyone. Thank you for tuning in and asking such great questions! This session has helped us learn more about your priorities for the budget, and we hope you learned a lot about some of services and programs the City provides for you and your neighbours.

    Answering your questions today were: Gary Klassen, who is the General Manager of the Sustainable Development department and Adam Sweet, who is the Senior Advisor to the President (Strategic Policy) of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

    Join us again on Monday for Ask Me About the Budget: Session 4 with Transportation Services and its General Manager Dorian Wandzura as well as Corporate Services and its General Manager Kate Rozmahel. Check out the blog post about that session and send in your questions.

  20. Frank Russomanno
    4 years ago

    I love all the incredible change going on in our cities core I’m excited about what the next ten years will bring with all the changes happening on many levels. One of my areas of concern tho is a lot of our streets heading into the core coming from the north and east are looking unkempt and worn by streets I also mean the worn out looking buildings of various business establishments. These streets are 95,96, 97, 101, 109, 105 streets and Jasper Ave.
    I have not heard of any major effort to improve these important streets that are extremely important in introducing citizens and new visitors to our downtown.
    I know there has been some improvements on 97 str. In china town and work is been done along 107 ave. and that is good but most of our north / south bound streets as mentioned need a lot of sprucing up.
    Is there not more insensitive that canbe giving to these business owners to improve there properties such more BRL
    For these areas and the city doing its part on the street scape.
    I know all this takes time and money but something needs to be set in motion.
    It would be great to hear about some kind of plan to improve these streets some time down the road.
    Look forward to a response.


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