Over the past few months, several of my constituents have reached out to my office about Reimagine Services. Council expects to be reviewing this file in June, and I wanted to offer a few comments today as to what Reimagine Services is, what residents might see in these reports, and how I intend to approach the discussion.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Reimagine Services is the third pillar of the City of Edmonton’s Relaunch, Recovery and Reimagine plan. The plan was designed last year to help our city navigate the pandemic and to prioritize fiscal restraint, efficiency and long term organizational resilience moving forward. As we adjust to the long term impact of this pandemic on the City budget, it is important that City Council engage in creative exercises like this to determine how to get the best value for every tax dollar while ensuring that folks continue to see the City services on which we all rely. Edmontonians deserve to know that their City Council is focused on continuous evaluation and improvement of the way that our local government operates, just like you would expect from any modern organization.
Administration brought the Reimagine report to City Council in July 2020, and since that time City staff have done a huge amount of work developing novel service delivery proposals and finding savings in the way the City does business. This work has been focused in five areas:
Park and Open Space Access
Recreational and Sport Facility Access/Recreation and Cultural Programming
Facility Management and Maintenance
Fleet Management and Maintenance
City Council will be seeing a detailed report on Reimagine Services in June, which will detail the ways in which Administration and their third-party specialists have proposed to change City service provision. At this point, we can see a shortlist of policy and service areas about which we know we can expect a fulsome conversation. Having not yet seen this report, I don’t have a firm position on any of the forthcoming Reimagine Services proposals. I do want to say, however, that I am broadly supportive of any effort to rightsize our organization and make sure we are serving Edmontonians efficiently and effectively. If there are better ways to do what we do, we should not be afraid to have the tough conversations about making changes.
To get a little bit more specific, I know that the conversation around recreation centres has been a source of quite a bit of recent anxiety in the community, both through the budget process and now in the context of Reimagine. I want to be clear that, from what I have seen so far, the outright sale of our public recreation centres to private providers is not being considered. What we may see proposed is third party service delivery at smaller, single-purpose faculties like arenas, as was brought to Council by several community groups during the Operating Budget Public Hearing back in December. Potential operators like Hockey Edmonton came forward with creative proposals to help us keep some of those smaller facilities off of the annual chopping block. I heard from dozens of constituents during that time that want me to prioritize these kinds of facilities, and I voted to continue funding Oliver and Tipton arenas and Oliver, Scona and Eastglen pools for this year. I am willing to entertain any sustainable ideas that would see their ongoing operations secured.
I would also just like to offer to those of you that have reached out to me using a form letter service that I’m sorry you haven’t heard back from me directly. Many form letter services do not provide me with an individual email address to which to respond, and your comments instead will be received from a central email address. Unfortunately, many of these services are designed primarily to collect contact data for future campaigns, but I have been reading the comments I have received nevertheless and they will inform my perspective when this comes before Council.
I promise to be open-minded to any new ideas through this process, and I encourage you to reach out and let me know what you think of the Reimagine Services recommendations when they are released. As always, you can reach me at email@example.com, or by phone at 780-496-8120.