City councillors hold final formal meeting ahead of municipal election

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The last formal Edmonton city council meeting before October’s municipal election took place Tuesday.

The meeting marked the end of a four-year cycle that began in 2017, and saw four new councillors join.

This year, nine of 13 city council members are seeking office again. Coun. Scott Mckeen will not be running for re-election after eight years with the city, Coun. Ben Henderson will not be running after 14 years, and Coun. Michael Walters, who spent eight years on council, will also not be running for re-election.

Edmontonians will be electing a new mayor in this year’s municipal election.

“I’m filled with gratitude today,” said Mayor Don Iveson at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “It was a difficult decision not to run again because I still believe really powerfully in local democracy.”

Mayor Iveson announced in November of last year his decision not to seek a third term.

A TERM LIKE NO OTHER

The city introduced several major projects during the last four years including its Valley Line Southeast project, connecting downtown Edmonton to Mill Woods.

Edmonton city council declared a climate emergency in August of 2019 introduced by Ward 4 Coun. Aaron Paquette who is running for re-election this term.

The city also annexed land from Leduc County during its past cycle, which saw around 20,000 acres transferred from the county to areas of south Edmonton in 2019.

This, all prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced city council to focus on other priorities.

“In a pandemic situation with things as fraught and divided as they are in the world, it hasn’t been easy for this group of people to band together, and yet overall they have,” said Mayor Iveson.

The impact of the pandemic on the Edmonton’s economy was one issue discussed during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to the city clerk’s office, the largest impacts include over $50 million in revenue reductions targeting the Edmonton Transit System, community and recreation facilities, and city parking revenues.

The city said the impact on its operating revenues will likely continue on that trend through 2022 and into 2023. Mayor Iveson acknowledged the fiscal challenges Edmonton will continue to face, but applauded city council for persevering in spite of those challenges.

“I think we’ve left the books in good shape not withstanding this transit challenge for 2022, which really is a challenge that every other big Canadian city is facing,” said Mayor Iveson.

Edmontonians will select a new city council on Oct.18.