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Edmontonians uncomfortable with tax increases, want better snow control: city surveys


As the next four-year budget planning cycle officially began at city hall, councillors were briefed on what Edmontonians indicated were their priorities, including minimizing tax increases and improving snow and ice control.

Unveiled two weeks ago, the nearly $8 billion budget was officially tabled Monday. Council is still more than a month away from approving it but received an update from administration on the general sentiment of Edmontonians when it comes to city services.

Generally, parks, sports fields and green spaces had the highest proportion of satisfied and very satisfied responses while the city's response to homelessness had the lowest satisfaction rates based on city surveys.

The City of Edmonton satisfaction survey was filled out by 4,306 people and a survey panel collected another 800 opinions.

Respondents said winter road maintenance was the most critical city service (70 per cent), with the vast majority indicating snow and ice removal should receive either more or much more investment.

Residents of southeast and northeast parts of the city placed a higher importance on traffic safety than people in central neighbourhoods.

Northeast, southwest and southeast residents believed winter road service was important compared to people living in northwest Edmonton.

Sixty-seven per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the overall quality of services provided by the city, and 60 per cent said services were easily accessible.

According to the survey, respondents said they were overall satisfied with the following services and saw them as important:

  • Fire rescue,
  • Waste collection,
  • Parks, sports fields and green spaces,
  • Traffic safety, flow and controls, and infrastructure delivery.

"While many shared the view that transit is an essential service, we also heard from those who are dissatisfied by high cost, perceived issues with safety, and planning specific to LRT construction," said Stacey Padbury, deputy city manager of financial and corporate services.


Based on the city's public engagement prior to developing the next four-year budget, 49 per cent indicated they were very uncomfortable with a property tax increase.

Twenty-four per cent were uncomfortable with the idea of a tax hike, while nine per cent were neither comfortable or uncomfortable.

Seven per cent shared they were very comfortable with increasing property taxes, and 11 per cent indicated they were comfortable.

According to the city, 2,014 respondents weighed in on the property tax increase question.

Padbury told council that the general sentiment from city engagement streams was participants asked council to consider the escalating cost of living when considering potential tax increases.

"They asked that we work at finding efficiencies, streamlining our operations and identifying new revenue streams," she added.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he recognizes the challenges Edmontonians face as inflation rises, but believes a tax increase would be necessary to ensure city services are delivered at the expected level.

He says his goal would ensure a tax increase that remains below the inflation rate.

"There are real needs out there that people want us to invest (in)," he told reporters Monday.

"We will be very mindful, and we will be very thoughful in our approach in how we continue to build the city and at the same time keep our taxes affordable."

City Coun. Jo-Anne Wright also believes a small tax increase would be necessary this budget cycle.

"I think that there would be an appetite for an increase if we can show Edmontonians that they are getting value for that increase, for the money that is being spent," Wright said, who represents Ward Sspomitapi.


In regards to public safety, only 45 per cent were satisfied the city was doing enough to ensure community safety.

City data collected from a budget planning tool shows 29 per cent would want the Edmonton Police Service to have more money at its disposal, while 43 per cent would decrease the level of funding police currently receive.

The budget planning tool offered Edmontonians the chance to indicate whether they would increase, decrease or maintain the funding levels of certain services.

When it comes to social development, 39 per cent would increase the level of current funding and 29 per cent would maintain it. Forty per cent indicated they would decrease the level of support services the city offers.

Sohi says he wasn't surprised to see data showing many Edmontonians believe there were safety concerns, especially about downtown and transit.

"This council is deeply committed to making Edmonton the safest place," Sohi said. "We know that during the pandemic, we have gone through significant challenges that have increased houselessness in Edmonton, that has increased the opioid crisis, drug poisoning crisis that is leading to disorder."

He noted that the city has increased funding to transit security and EPS, and is investing what it can for affordable housing.

"But public safety is a shared responsibility of the city and the province and the federal government," Sohi added. "We will continue to work with our partners."

Sohi hopes the province starts implementing the $187 million funding announcement it made at the start of this month to help municipalities tackle addiction and homelessness "as quickly as possible." 


When it comes to deciding if services should receive more, less or the same level of investment, 57 per cent said city-owned and operated attractions should receive the same and 46 per cent indicated fire rescue funding should be maintained.

Sixty-five per cent said affordable housing should receive either much more or more investment.

With respects to public transit, 57 per cent of survey participants want more or much more investment.

A little more than half of people who completed the survey said waste collection should receive the same level of financial support.

Overlapping themes identified in the survey were that nine per cent of respondents shared comments concerned about the high cost of living. Eight per cent believed there needed to be more accountability for managing and overseeing the city's budget and that potholes need repairing.

Seven per cent say that crime needs to be addressed, with some indicating that transit is "unsafe" and "unclean," and others sharing that they won't feel comfortable going out for a walk at night or will no longer walk alone once it is dark.

Three per cent believe garbage pick-up should return to a weekly frequency.

Of the online survey participants who identified as low income, considered any household income with less than $30,000 a year, 28 per cent believed city amenities and services cost too much.

Seventeen per cent of low income respondents rated the quality of city services lower, with some saying too much funding goes toward the south side and not enough benefitting the north, especially the northwest. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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