News / Edmonton

Winner and losers: Who got what so far in Edmonton's 2018 operating budget

So far council passed 13 motions out of a total of 18. The remaining will be dealt with on Thursday

The police asked for funding for a recruiting drive, but council postponed a decision to the spring supplementary operating budget.

Kevin Tuong / for metro

The police asked for funding for a recruiting drive, but council postponed a decision to the spring supplementary operating budget.

Edmonton City Council got a chance to dive into the 2018 operating budget Wednesday, and in the process debate the fate of many programs currently running in the city.

Between one-time and ongoing funding, the city has almost $12 million dollars to spend on everything from festivals to forums. Going over that means raising property taxes, which sometimes means tough decisions about which programs get money and which get cut.

On Wednesday, 18 organizations got the chance to ask the city for funding for projects. Approving all of them would have meant a price tag of almost $19 million.

Council approved asks like the bus network redesign and the dandelion control project, but gave them less than they'd requested.

New projects were also raised.

Coun. Aaron Paquette asked if it would be possible to fund the winter warming bus run by Boyle Street Community Services. The vehicle, which provides food and other services to homeless people, is currently off the road due to a lack of money.

After finding out that the city already funds half of the bus's $200,000 budget, he withdrew his motion. “The hope is that private donors will bridge the gap,” he said.

“I’m fully confident that the citizens of Edmonton have warm hearts and they will have a warm bus.”

Mayor Don Iveson also mentioned the Northlands Coliseum, asking administration if it would be possible to ask for proposals from private companies to take on the responsibility of the aging facility.

“Maybe there is a partnership opportunity out there. Maybe we can do some kind of RFP maybe where in exchange for taking on the site, taking on the removal of building, we could also entice private investors to take on this with the hopes of developing it,” he said.  

There are still three more organizations who will get to ask on Thursday.

The city's operating budget is divided into two pots: they have a budget of $3 million for ongoing funding and a budget of $8.8 million for one-time funding. Here's who's getting funding, and who isn't, after Wednesday's debate:

WINNERS

Airport accord

The city signed an agreement with Leduc County and the Edmonton International Airport in June, to promote the economic development of the area around the EIA.

This was a result of the annexation discussions that took place between Leduc and the city.

Gave: $564,000 on a one-time basis.

Health City Initiative

This is an economic development initiative that helps local companies and businesses bring in talent and connect them to other organisations in order to help them grow. It was started by Norquest President Jodi Abbott.

They are asking the city for funds to cover four positions including the CEO.

Gave: $984,000 on an ongoing basis

Churchill Square Festival Relocation

Due to construction and improvements being made to Churchill Square, three festivals are being forced to relocate: Taste of Edmonton, the Street Performers Festival, and The Works Art & Design Festival.

All three festivals plan on moving to another location but need funding to do so.

Gave: $373,000 on a one-time basis

Winter Festivals

Four winter festivals are asking the city for more money to help them operate, and grow.

The ask will be split evenly among Deep Freeze, Ice on Whyte, Flying Canoe and Silver Skate.

Gave: $200,000 on an ongoing basis

Abundant Community Edmonton

This is a neighbourhood engagement and community program that works on relationship building in communities to help social isolation.

They requested for funds to cover additional staff.

Gave: $470,000 on an ongoing basis

UN Safe Cities Global Forum

An international platform that focuses on the safety of women and girls in urban spaces.

Gave: $400,000 on one time basis.

Bus Network Redesign

The new bus network was part of the overhaul to the transit system that took place in December, 2016. It added more frequent service and more easy-to-understand bus routes in the core.

The suburbs could see express buses that get people to their destinations more quickly during peak hours.

Gave: $1,780,000 on a one-time basis

ETS service to Edmonton International Airport

The Edmonton Transit Service is asking for funds to cover the operating cost of Route 747. At a the Community and Public Services committee meeting last month administration asked council to either cover the $500,000 cost or fund the bus partially and increase bus fare, which the committee did.

Gave: $143,000 on a one-time basis

Africa Centre

This is a cultural centre that supports African immigrant and refugee families. They recently moved to a new location after their older building was no longer safe to use. But operators say the move led to a loss of revenue.

They asked for: $448,000.

Gave: $130,000 on an ongoing basis

LOSERS

The following did not receive funding from this operating budget:

Edmonton Police Service

Police say they're going to need more officers to patrol the land the city gained through annexation, so asked for more money to recruit new officers.

Ask: $1.9 million on an ongoing basis.

Council postponed this to the spring supplementary operating budget.

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