Transit, pools, arenas advocates among those appealing to Edmonton councillors to save funding
EDMONTON -- Advocates for Edmonton pools and arenas as well as city transit were among those appealing to Edmonton city councillors to maintain their funding on Thursday.
Last month, city administrators recommended against a property tax increase next year, but also acknowledged that would mean some tough funding choices.
"The pandemic is a grand challenge, it’s today’s grand challenge, but the health and wellness of our city is tomorrow’s," Brian Torrance with Edmonton Sport Council told city councillors.
If city administration recommendations are accepted, the East Glen Leisure Centre, the Scona and Oliver Pools and the Tipton and Oliver arenas would close.
Representatives of Hockey Edmonton also addressed councillors, expressing their willingness to help run both Tipton and Oliver arenas if it means those facilities can stay open.
"It would be a stop gap, it would be an interim measure to keep those sheets of ice open and available to the kids," said Steve Hogle.
Also at risk is the city's transit system coverage, specifically off-peak services.
Raising fares is one possible way to counteract the funding shortage, but the transit union says the idea is "poorly thought out."
"Now is the worst possible time to erode transit service, and transit user's trust," said Steve Bradshaw, Amalgamated Tranist Union 569 president.
The city's budget approach cites a one-time reduction in revenue from COVID-19 coupled with additional costs around protective personal equipment, enhanced cleaning, and support for vulnerable populations.
City council will deliberate the 2021 budget adjustments on Dec. 9 and 11 and make a final decision before the end of this year.
If approved, this would be the first time the city didn't increase property taxes since 1997.