3 things to watch at city council

Monday's city council meeting is the group's last before the annual August break and after last week's two-day marathon meeting, they'll surely want to zip through this agenda.

Monday's meeting is the last before the annual August break

Monday's city council meeting is the group's last get together before the annual August break.  After last week's two day marathon meeting, surely they'll want to zip through this agenda on Monday so they can get some R-and-R!

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

While city hall was undergoing millions of dollars in repairs following last year's flood, city council was forced to retreat to the less than glamorous Deerfoot Junction III building in the NE for a few meetings.  No one in the city clerk's office could recall an instance of council not being able to meet in its normal location due to an emergency. Now, the city clerk wants to be better prepared if that ever happens again. Council will be asked to approve a $175,000 reallocation of money in the city clerk's budget to properly set up that cramped room at DJ3 in the event council ever has to meet there again. The money is for an upgrade of the audio visual equipment to ensure the room can handle a council meeting and stream the session to the web. When council isn't stopping by for a crisis meeting, the upgraded facilities will be used by the City's Subdivision and Development Appeal Board which meets there each week.

Cycle track benchmarks

Although city council has approved the pilot cycle track network for the downtown, it must also approve the evaluation plan for that pilot. Naturally, the ever-controversial plan has its detractors and in committee, there was a push for a more detailed benchmarking process.  Administration is also being asked to report on the traffic and parking impacts of removing the current (and poorly designed) 10 Avenue bike lane when the new cycle tracks come on stream in 2015. As any patient council watcher has learned, whenever the cycling issue comes up it's never safe to look away ... or take a phone call or go for a coffee ... or stop at the washroom. It's time to listen and watch closely. You. Just. Never. Know.

Taxes have an impact

Councillors Sean Chu and Ward Sutherland have a motion that they'd like council to support. They want an inventory of programs which provide tax relief to Calgarians and they'd like a study to be done on the impact of tax and utility rate hikes on low income households and small businesses. They say they're concerned about the type of tax and utility rate hikes that appear to be part of the upcoming four year budget plan. Chu and Sutherland also fear that future increases could hurt the overall competitiveness of Calgary vs. other major cities in the country.  If council backs their suggestion, a report would come to the Priorities and Finance committee this fall  presumably just in time for that two-week long budget debate in November.

As this is the last "3 things to watch" column until September, here's hoping council watchers and council members enjoy some time off. 

City council resumes its committee meetings right after Labour Day.


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