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Provincial Photo Radar Review

Provincial Photo Radar Review

Photo radar is always a controversial topic. I’ve written about it in the past. I’ve also had hundreds of conversations about it. It is clear that whether they accept it or hate it, almost everyone seems to have a strong opinion about photo radar.

In response to criticisms and concerns, the province recently released a report on the use of Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) in Alberta.

It’s been interesting seeing responses to this study. Some have held it up as proof that photo radar is a “cash cow” with no contribution to safety. Others are using this study as evidence that ATE is responsibly used to decrease accidents.

Since it is being used to support contradictory conclusions, I’d encourage you to read the study for yourself. You can click here to access it.

Following is a summary of the key findings I see in this provincial study.

Childcare Fees

Childcare Fees

At our Feb 18th meeting, Council will be discussing proposed changes to City run preschool and after school care programs. As always, I'll be posting background information and my opinion the weekend before. But I'm still grappling to form my position.

Most of our discussion will revolve around fees.

So I'd love to ask you: what are your expectations around our fees for childcare?

Downtown Rehabilitation

Downtown Rehabilitation

This week, Downtown Rehabilitation was discussed at a council committee. The Downtown Association wants to see this project move forward. I thought I'd take the opportunity to re-post and clarify my opinion.

During budget deliberations, Council was presented with options to undertake Phase 4 of this project in 2019. The presented options would’ve seen the City spending up to $28,000,000 this year. The large majority of that would’ve been financed through debt.

Council chose NOT to go ahead with this work for now. However, it also directed administration to come back with options to improve the surface looks of 100 Ave without tearing up the roads. I supported this course of action. I do believe some modest investment in improving the looks of the east end of 100 Ave is worthwhile. But with the information I have right now, it would be irresponsible to support borrowing tens of millions of dollars to go ahead with Phase 4 at this time.

Are taxes really going down?

Are taxes really going down?

I’ve had a few people over the past week say something like “my taxes went up, I thought they were going down, what’s up with that!?”

So to be clear: the tax rate for 2019 has not been set yet. But we are still projecting that the municipal portion of property taxes owed by an average property will go down. The target reduction is 4.1%. This target was set in November and I am not aware of anyone from the City thinking it should change.

So then, what is going on here? Why are people’s taxes apparently going up?

People I’m talking to are seeing their assessments and/or monthly Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) payments going up. However, these going up does not necessarily mean that someone will be paying more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

Below is some information about why we do taxes the way we do. After that I explain why assessments and TIPP payments don’t tell the full story.

Grande Prairie Storm Requests

Grande Prairie Storm Requests

Yesterday the Community Living Committee discussed the Grande Prairie Storm. They've been working hard to strengthen their operations, and have had a lot of success (for example, this season they've reported a 63% increase in ticket sales, a 28% increase in corporate sponsorship, and an increase in fundraising). The team feels that it is on a path to long-term sustainability. They've asked the City to help them along.

Provincial Police Act Review

Provincial Police Act Review

Since November, I have been attending regular meetings hosted by the province. It is doing consultation in regards to updating the Police Act. I've learned a lot and have appreciated the opportunity to advocate for the City.

This Thursday, I'll be at a meeting about Roles and Responsibilities. Next week I'll be going to a meeting about Policy and Oversight. There will be a lot of questions discussed, but the two most important [in my mind]:

1) WHAT ROLES SHOULD POLICE OFFICERS HAVE IN THE COMMUNITY?

2) WHAT ROLE DO YOU EXPECT LOCAL OFFICIALS TO HAVE IN POLICE OVERSIGHT?