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“We have taken a bit of a pause over the last year. The board itself is all volunteer-run so with the pandemic we have all had our own lives that have been put on pause and it also didn’t seem like a good idea to be asking for money during a time of hardship for so many people and also charitable organizations that could use the money more than us at the time,” she said.
Now, the report will be back in front of council’s urban planning committee Tuesday to look at two funding scenarios. Council could direct that an operating grant be provided out of the city’s base budget, but this would require a reassessment of city priorities as the base budget has been fully allocated.
The second option would be to provide the financial support through council’s $700,000 annual contingency fund. This fund, for emergent, one-time items, is currently unallocated in 2021. The society was previously asking for $500,000 to get off the ground, but cut down the request at the end of 2019 in response to the city’s fiscal restraint.
Deputy city manager Stephanie McCabe endorsed the proposal in a letter to the society, citing its alignment with the City Plan as Edmonton grows toward two million people.
“The City of Edmonton encourages city builders to consider lending their support to advance this timely and exciting initiative. Community-led projects like the High Level Line underscore the significant contributions that residents and the community-at-large can make in shaping the places where Edmontonians live, gather, work and play,” McCabe wrote in the letter.
Downtown Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen said he supports the idea to create more public greenspace and wants to see where the proposal can go, which starts with this initial funding from the city.
“It’s a small investment in opening up further reasons to be along that linear park,” McKeen said. “So $85,000 to keep this project, I would almost say limping along, is really worthwhile.”
If committee decides to endorse a funding source for the $85,000, it would need to be voted on by all of council at a later date for approval.