Priority Areas for Provincial Collaboration

A letter to all candidates in the 2023 provincial election.

Office of the Mayor Amarjeet Sohi
Published in
6 min readApr 19, 2023

--

To all Candidates,

Edmonton is Alberta’s capital city. We are home to a quarter of the province’s population and the economic anchor for one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada. When Edmonton is supported, all of Alberta benefits.

As we near the next provincial election, Edmonton’s City Council wants to give all candidates a clear and transparent list of what our community needs from Alberta’s next provincial government. We want to work collaboratively with the Government of Alberta to take action on our shared priorities including reducing red tape, addressing the affordability crisis, tackling core social issues, tackling climate change, and advancing reconciliation with our Indigenous partners. We need to do all of this while building a more robust economy.

You have heard us speak about these items many times before. We believe that in order to continue growing Edmonton into an equitable, prosperous, opportunity-rich, and competitive city, these should be the top priorities for municipal-provincial collaboration.

Economic Revitalization and Growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an affordability crisis for many Albertans, including small business owners in our city. The cost of living has increased dramatically in recent years so we must work together to make life more affordable for all Albertans. We ask the Government of Alberta to work together with the City of Edmonton to:

  • Support our Downtown and Business Revitalization areas by providing $100 million that would be used to:
  • Incentivize residential construction and the conversion of commercial and residential buildings,
  • Provide funding to renovate and modernize street-level commercial space,
  • Provide funding to support lighting, vibrancy, clean up and beautification, and
  • Incentivise businesses to come, stay and expand their operations.
  • Help attract arts, cultural and music venues to bring more activities.
  • Allocate $12.5 million to Explore Edmonton to attract new events or festivals to Edmonton creating world-class international events similar to the Calgary Stampede.
  • Help foster innovation by providing $5 million annually over 10 years to support the City of Edmonton’s efforts to build a $100 million Innovation Fund.

Energy Transition and Climate Resilience

Edmonton presents a unique opportunity to mitigate climate change while championing the future of economic growth. The City of Edmonton strongly supports the Government of Alberta’s efforts to position Alberta as the global supplier of choice for hydrogen. Not only does this sector have massive growth potential, but transitioning to hydrogen as a fuel source can play a central role in our work on decarbonization. We ask the Government of Alberta to work together with the City of Edmonton to:

  • Develop programs and support Edmonton’s capital projects that will scale the demand for hydrogen.
  • Provide a portion of the $840M for 525 zero-emissions hydrogen buses, cover 25% of the $725M required for the construction of a new transit garage and expansion of two existing transit garages to accommodate zero-emissions hydrogen buses.
  • Explore the potential of shared hydrogen fueling sites, and support the Government of Alberta’s work in transitioning their fleet to hydrogen to maximize the leverage of public sector dollars to accelerate demand and economic growth for hydrogen in Alberta.

In addition to the tremendous opportunity to decarbonize through a hydrogen economy, we can grow good jobs while making investments that help Edmonton residents, businesses and industries to better prepare for risks related to a changing climate and volatility in energy costs. We want to work in partnership with the Government of Alberta to ensure we both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change on our people and our economy. We ask the Government of Alberta to work together with the City of Edmonton to:

  • Provide $100M for accelerating energy transition of City buildings, and in the community such as implementing our District Energy Strategy, expanding Edmonton’s District Energy Nodes, and incorporating the ability to leverage hydrogen.
  • Provide support of $100M for scaling up investment and scope of the Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP). This program helps homeowners to be climate and energy resilient by providing upfront loans to upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient. Edmonton is seeking support to establish a self-liquidating (revolving) fund to support the scaling up of this program.
  • Provide $40M for climate adaptation and resilience to initiate planning and delivery of actions to adapt City of Edmonton infrastructure systems (e.g., transportation, rail, fuel supply, and green infrastructure) for changing climate conditions.

Housing, Affordability, and Safety and Community Wellbeing

Edmonton is experiencing an unprecedented housing and houselessness crisis. Almost 3000 people are experiencing houselessness on any given day in Edmonton, many of whom are Indigenous. Addressing this crisis makes good financial sense. People experiencing houselessness often require the most expensive services, including emergency room visits, and emergency services response that could include fire, ambulance or police. Many studies show that the costs of not addressing houselessness outweigh the costs of housing people and providing necessary support services. Unsheltered houselessness also impacts Edmonton’s business community and downtown vibrancy. City Council hears regularly from business owners who are compassionate to the struggles of their unhoused neighbors but are required to bear unsustainable additional costs to help manage the impact of unsheltered houselessness on their businesses. We ask that your government recognize the urgency of the challenges that Edmonton is facing.

We encourage whichever party forms the government to set ambitious targets for affordable housing and to make a financial commitment that matches the severity of the circumstances faced by municipalities. In Edmonton, we are requesting immediate interventions across the housing spectrum including:

  • Create additional permanent 24/7 shelter beds to meet the target of 1250 dignified spaces, ensure funding parity with the number of spaces in Calgary, and provide additional funding to Edmonton’s shelter providers to implement the City’s Minimum Emergency Shelter Standards to ensure safe and inclusive emergency shelters.
  • Work with service providers to increase the number and hours of sustainably funded day shelter spaces in Edmonton, and work with the City of Edmonton to provide sustainable funds for outreach services for unhoused people.
  • Provide $19.7 million in capital funding to support the creation of an Indigenous-led Shelter or Emergency and Transitional Housing for Indigenous Edmontonians experiencing houselessness.
  • Create a dedicated strategy and funding program to support urban Indigenous Affordable Housing.
  • Provide $20 million per year for 70–100 transitional housing units to help bridge people from shelters into appropriate housing.
  • Provide increased capital and operating funds to develop an additional 550 units of supportive housing that will help to address the complex needs of unhoused Edmontonians and help them heal and recover.
  • Provide funding for 2,500 additional rent-geared to income units; 31,000 deep subsidy and shallow subsidy affordable housing rental units; 7,000 near-market rental units by 2026
  • Work with the City of Edmonton to tackle the drug poisoning crisis by investing in a spectrum of evidence-informed interventions from harm reduction to treatment and recovery.

We ask the Government of Alberta to work together with the City of Edmonton to:

  • Restore the City’s share of automated enforcement revenues to 73.3% and work the City Administration to leave the entire traffic enforcement revenue with Edmonton.
  • Restore $5 million funding to Edmonton Police Services for DNA testing.
  • Increase provincial grant funding provided to the police to match population growth and inflation.

Equitable Support for Edmonton and Calgary

I heard about the Government of Alberta’s commitment to supporting Calgary’s new arena deal, the expansion of the LRT to the Calgary International Airport as well as upgrades to the Deerfoot Trail due to the economic impact these projects will have on that city. We look forward to seeing similar support for Alberta’s capital city. We ask the Government of Alberta to work together with the City of Edmonton to:

  • Restore Commonwealth Stadium to a world-class event space by providing between $160 million and $185 million to facilitate the necessary rehabilitation and modernization upgrades to the space. Commonwealth Stadium has hosted many world-class events over the years including the Commonwealth Games, and FIFA’s Women’s World Cup. An upgrade to this space would ensure we attract more world-class events bringing millions of dollars in revenue to Alberta.
  • Help expand Edmonton’s LRT network to all quadrants of the city including the Metro Line to Castle Downs and the Capital Line to South Edmonton.
  • Provide Edmonton the equivalent amount of support to repair and upgrade our infrastructure that the Government of Alberta will spend on Deerfoot Trail.

To see more advocacy letters, visit mayorsohi.ca/advocacy

--

--

Office of the Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

Edmonton is a place where you can build something. Family. Business. Community. My success is an Edmonton story. And if you like that story, keep reading.