3 budget items discussed by city council on Tuesday

Councillors heard funding requests for the Green Shack program, Edmonton Fire Rescue firefighters and 56 new lifeguards
Edmonton city council is going through the 2014 budget. (CBC )

Edmonton city council continued reviewing the 2014 budget on Tuesday. Here are three items that came up for discussion:

More lifeguards

The city will have to hire another 56 lifeguards to meet new national standards at a cost of $2.5 million.

Currently, the city has one lifeguard for every 75 people. The new standard is one for every 40 people.

“If you look at some of the features that are in these swimming pools now, and the lighting and the rope swings and all the different experiences, it really does require a different kind of scrutiny than the traditional L-shaped or rectangular tank,” Community Services manager Linda Cochrane said.

The 56 positions are on top of the people needed to staff two new recreation centres opening next year.

Fire department asks for more money 

Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block wants to increase his budget by $5 million next year.  Crews need to be hired and trained for the new fire hall opening at Lewis Farms in two years.

Block says that a growing city as well as an aging population are putting pressure on emergency services.

“Greater than 60 per cent of fire rescue service is focused on medical response, the life-threatening medical calls, so those numbers are going to go up.”

The standard is to get 16 firefighters to a scene within eight minutes, which happens about 80 per cent of the time.

Block says the goal is to reach that standard 90 per cent of the time.

Green Shack funding 

The city is also looking at restoring some of the funding that helped pay for the Green Shack summer program.

The program was put in jeopardy this year after the province ended the Summer Temporary Employment Program, a $7.4-million program that funded 3,000 student jobs,

Coun. Bryan Anderson is proposing the city put an additional $275,000 back into the Green Shack program.

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