City councillor's petition takes aim at city's business, homeless response to COVID-19
Published Monday, April 20, 2020 12:26PM MDT Last Updated Monday, April 20, 2020 5:25PM MDT
EDMONTON -- An Edmonton city councillor says he's lost confidence in the city's economic and social responses to the COVID-19 pandemic while calling for a series of tax breaks and spending cuts.
Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel launched the petition on Monday.
He's seeking a five per cent reduction and two months forgiveness on property taxes for businesses and residents as well as further tax breaks for landlords who've offered their renters some relief.
Nickel's petition also calls for more housing for the homeless, a cancellation of the West LRT project and a focus on the city buying locally to support Edmonton businesses.
"I am not confident in Edmonton City Council's ability to manage the upcoming economic and social burdens of our city," it reads.
"This petition is about to send a message to our politicians, and not just city council, but provincial and federally as well, that we need to get control of the economy," Nickel told CTV News.
Last Friday, Nickel also questioned the city's closure of some lanes of traffic, allowing pedestrians and cyclist more room to observe proper physical distancing.
"I wish this was a joke, but it isn't."
The post attracted significant negative attention on social media from those questioning the timing of Nickel's messaging.
"I mean who on paper doesn't want to help reduce taxes, or have tax forgiveness, or buy local, or help our vulnerable population?," said Coun. Andrew Knack.
Knack added council has spent "spent almost every moment" over the last five weeks planning for the city's post-pandemic economic future.
Mayor Don Iveson was unavailable for interviews on Monday but, in a statement, the mayor's office said that several members of council have expressed concern over the posts and that some are "exploring the option" of launching a code of conduct investigation.
"He can’t speak for what other individual councillors feel should be a priority right now, but he’s focused on getting Edmonton through this public health and economic crisis, and overseeing an unprecedented, enduring state of local emergency," reads the statement.
"All Councillor feedback is welcome but it should be done in a respectful manner at all times. That is the expectation."
Nickel says he's prepared for any investigation.
Councillors are bound by a code of conduct that requires them to be respectful, even on social media.
The code states councillors must "ensure their communications accurately reflect the facts of council's decisions."