EDMONTON -- Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the city is seeking a means to defer both business and residential property taxes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are working through the details with the City of Calgary and the government of Alberta to take a consistent approach," Iveson said. 

"We do hear the concerns of businesses in our community. Employers and entrepreneurs are under a tremendous amount of stress right now." 

Iveson said he was reluctant to give more details until the city's policy is firmed up with the necessary provincial approval. 

"We'd need a considerable backstop form somebody," he said. "Either the federal or provincial government ... to continue to pay firefighters, continue to pay police officers, continue to buy essential supplies, and continue to operate government." 

On Tuesday, the city activated its emergency operations centre before a Wednesday morning meeting of city council's emergency advisory committee.

At that meeting, the city declined to declare a local state of emergency, saying many of the powers it would have gained were superceded by Tuesday's declaration of provincial health emergency.

"We are in the early days of this public health emergency but this organization has already shown its capabilities and resourcefulness," said Adam Laughlin, the interim city manager.  

Laughlin outlined to council how the provincial declaration of a public health emergency overrules many of the powers the city would gain through declaring a local state of emergency. 

"In a public health emergency, the city cannot override any decision from the province," he said.

Wednesday's meeting was attended in-person by Mayor Don Iveson as well as councillors Jon Dziadyk, Ben Henderson, Tim Cartmell and Sarah Hamilton. All remaining councillors joined the meeting via teleconference in an effort to comply with social distancing regulations. 

Both Red Deer and Calgary have declared states of local emergency in recent days. 

Laughlin said the city is monitoring a number of factors in considering if a local state of emergency is needed, including: 

  • If the police and fire departments need more power than usual
  • If community spread of COVID-19 dramatically increases
  • If local resources and services become overly strained