Apr 22, 2020

COVID-19 Update — Budget Shortfalls, Outdoor Markets, and Transit

Since we last chatted there have been several COVID-19 related developments at Edmonton City Hall.I am thinking of you lots as we welcome warmer weather, and I hope that you are staying healthy and looking out for the safety of yourselves, family members, and neighbours. Today I have updates on our budget, family and business supports, community gardens, transit solutions, and our community leagues.

There is a budget shortfall and I have a strategy

COVID-19 has serious economic and fiscal implications for the City of Edmonton. Without financial support from our provincial and federal counterparts Edmonton is currently facing down a projected 140 million dollar budget hole come end of summer. On April 27, City Council will reconvene to debate budget updates. The three pillars that I will use to re-evaluate our new budget considerations are:

During the budget debates, you will only hear me advocating for projects and investments that serve these purposes. That means you will see me voting in favour of a property tax reduction and investments in projects that support Edmonton.

We need to reduce costs as much as possible so you feel the relief at home, and we are able to invest in infrastructure projects that stimulate our economy and create local jobs. Now is NOT the time to leave our vulnerable community members high and dry, and now is also NOT the time to spend frivolously. We need practical and quick solutions that we all feel the benefits of.

New supports for families and businesses

The City of Edmonton has launched a 1-on-1 support service for Edmonton business owners. If you have questions about how City decisions and resources impact your business, you can email businessinfo@edmonton.ca or visit http://edmonton.ca/businessinfo

If you or someone you know is in need of low cost or free groceries, please share this information with them. If you can, please donate or volunteer for these organizations. We are all in this together.

Outdoor markets open for business, community gardens allowed

We received great news about local food this week! You and I raised our voices about the importance of local food and businesses in Edmonton, and our efforts were successful. Both community gardens and outdoor markets are permitted this summer. If you run a community garden or outdoor market, keep your eyes peeled for physical distancing and cleaning protocols.

Are you interested in a garden of your own this year but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! My team and I are working on compiling resource guides and I will update you on their availability soon.

Unfortunately, in order to adhere to regulations laid out by the Chief Medical Officer (2-metre distancing, and limits on mass gatherings) garage sales will not be permitted in Edmonton this year.

We are creating transit options for our front line workers

Because ETS is trying to reduce the number of security concerns on transit during COVID-19, they have decided the last LRT will depart at 10:00 PM and some bus routes are ending early. I am worried about what this means for our front line heroes working night shifts. I am working hard to advocate for an effective solution for ALL front line workers. ETS is working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Covenant Health to develop on-demand solutions. I will continue to work towards a system that is safe and reliable for those who need it most.

I am meeting with all the community leagues

Our community leagues are hubs for action, connection, and great grassroots ideas. That’s why I am meeting with all of the Ward 4 leagues over the next few weeks to discuss how we can all support each other. In my first meeting, there was a suggestion made that community members would like to print off my emails and share them with friends and family who do not have access to the internet. I encourage you to do this!

While this past week has had a lot of distracting political drama, I am focusing on real work, frank talk, and helping our North East community. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at aaron.paquette@edmonton.ca.