The next phase will focus on investment, safety, and support

City councillors have given a strong vote of confidence to revitalization efforts in the 118 Avenue communities. At its April 30 meeting, Edmonton city council voted yes to extending resources and staffing for revitalization work over the 2019-2022 budget period.  

Council approved $297,000 in 2019 for Alberta Avenue and Jasper Place resource continuation. The following year will see an injection of $224,000. Further resource allocation to 2022 will depend on a report presented to council in the spring.

With this assurance of support, community leaders are ready to move ahead with renewed vigour to combat issues such as unsafe streets and marginalized living conditions.

“For me, the important issue is what hasn’t been done and should be done. What do we need to do to continue to bring life, beauty, and change to our neighbourhoods?” says Christy Morin, one of many community leaders who have been pushing for continued funding.

Morin, executive director of Arts on the Ave, said the focus now is to consider what this next phase of revitalization should look like. Over the past decade, Alberta Avenue’s revitalization has been steered by a committee of community members who set out pillars for immediate action, such as streetscape and zoning issues.

For this next phase of revitalization 2.0, the steering committee will turn their energy to new pillars. These include attracting private investment, improving community safety, and better supporting marginalized people in the revitalization zone.

“My hope is that we can look at these next pillars that need care. This can play out in many different ways,” says Morin.

Tony Caterina, councillor for Ward 7, made the motion to extend funding. He says that since its introduction, revitalization has transformed Alberta Avenue neighbourhoods, and it’s important to finish the job.

“As the original funding was coming to an end, it was clear the work wasn’t quite complete, and it was apparent that community members were still engaged and enthusiastic about revitalization,” says Caterina.

City staff, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, and community organizations will be looking at options over the next months for continuing funding beyond 2019. Once their report comes back this spring, the City will better know how to discuss and decide on further revitalization support in the fall of 2020, says Caterina.

At the April 30 council meeting, the revitalization package was one of six items that still needed a funding decision in order to set the City’s four year budget. A common concern by council was how to support the items without draining the City’s reserve, which provides a buffer against unforeseen expenditures. Another was maintaining the municipal tax rate increase at 2.6 per cent.

Council’s endorsement of revitalization 2.0 is not just for the next four years, says Jon Jon Rivero, chair of Alberta Avenue Business Association.

“It’s for generations to come, to continue to plant seeds for the long term,” Rivero says, adding that the community is grateful for the support from the City. “Many family businesses have passed on the torch to the new generation and want the City’s support to continue development that improves the community.”

Featured Image: Revitalization has transformed the area. | Kate Wilson