As we prepare for the rest of April, I wanted to give another update regarding the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday last week, Council had some very difficult discussions surrounding our financial reality. With the ongoing issues we’re facing right now, the City of Edmonton is projecting that we could face a $168 million shortfall by mid-September. If the virus extends beyond September, that number increases to $260 million by December. This comes from lost revenue and lower demand for services, as well as the expenses associated with our COVID-19 efforts.
The Mayor also announced the possibility of further temporary layoffs within the City of Edmonton. This has not been decided on and the details aren’t sorted out, but given our current financial situation, it is something that has to be considered.
I do wish this message was a more positive and hopeful one, but we have to face this reality ahead.
However, that being said, we saw the extraordinary efforts of Edmontonians this past Easter weekend. City employees canvassed various neighbourhoods across the city, and saw that churches suspended meeting in person and held virtual services, families stayed home instead of going to parks and playgrounds, and Farmers Markets were upholding regulations to keep patrons safe. Meanwhile, Police are continuing to patrol and ensure that community spaces and businesses are maintaining Provincial health standards. Edmontonians are doing their part, and I was encouraged to see this especially over the holiday weekend.
Last week, my office and I virtually met with Community League Presidents regarding ongoing concerns in neighbourhoods in Ward 10. It was a very encouraging discussion, and we heard about the wonderful initiatives community leagues are doing to reduce the negative impacts of the outbreak. Lansdowne, for instance, was running an Art Walk for kids in addition to recruiting volunteers in the neighbourhood to help out vulnerable community members. Parkallen is facilitating a volunteer program to help seniors and other vulnerable people in their community. In Aspen Gardens the community league ran a collection drive for the food bank. There are many more stories of inspiring community action from cancelling rents to organizing physically distant Easter egg scavenger hunts. Community leagues and their members are doing their best to make sure that even when we are physically distant we can remain socially connected.
For some additional updates, please note:
- Community gardens will be permitted to operate in 2020 and expand to some extent, so long as adequate safety measures are in place, which includes protocols so that physical distancing can be upheld. Details on this will be available next week.
- Starting April 20th, all ETS buses will stop running at midnight and LRT service will stop at 10 p.m. Additionally, all DATS trips will transport only one passenger at a time.
- Sporting field recreation is cancelled until May 31st, but as long as physical distancing is observed, individual exercise is allowed on the fields
- E-scooters won’t be licensed at this time, and this will be reviewed again after May 31st.
As we continue moving forward, I encourage everyone to try to shop local as much as possible. There’s a great website, Things That Are Open, that features small businesses and services in Edmonton. As their homepage states, these businesses are “still here to serve.” Let’s work together where possible to keep people in business during this difficult time. And, If you have a product or service that could possibly assist the Government of Alberta’s COVID-19 relief efforts, please consider supporting the Alberta Bits and Piecesprogram.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is in need of supports, please consider contacting one of the numbers below:
- Community Resources – 211 Alberta
- Family Violence – Find Supports – 310-1818
- Income Supports – 1-866-644-5135
- Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868
- Mental Health Helpline – 1-877-303-2642
- MyHealth.Alberta.ca: List of Important Numbers
- Toll Free Crisis Line / Distress Centres
Edmonton is facing this storm together. I can confidently say that the City Manager, Adam Laughlin, and his team are working tirelessly to do everything possible to reduce the impacts of the virus on our city. If you’d like to stay up to date on the City’s response, please visit edmonton.ca/covid-19.
I will continue to send updates as they come, but until then please feel free to reach out if you have questions or concerns, we’re always more than happy to help in any way we can.