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Budget talk: City hall hosting public meeting

WATCH ABOVE: Dozens came to City Hall today to present their asks of council during budget deliberations. Vinesh Pratap has a sample of the requests.

EDMONTON – City council listened and took notes Monday as dozens of people showed up at city hall requesting the city fund their project. It was part of a public meeting on all three proposed budgets: the 2015 Operating Budget, the 2015 Utilities Budget and the 2015-2018 Capital Budget.

The requests were varied: everything from a recreation centre in west Edmonton to part-time support workers being hired at seniors centres.

“That would organize snow shovelling, yard help, minor home repair and house keeping for older seniors,” explained Sheila Hallett, Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council.

The road to better bike lanes was also brought to the forefront.

“If you want to build the high quality infrastructure that we really want and have been talking about and asking for, you need to provide it with enough funding to do that,” said Christopher Chan, Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society.

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The proposed Capital Budget calls for $4.3 billion in spending on a variety of infrastructure projects over the next four years, on top of $1.6 billion that has already been approved through previous council decisions.

The budget would create a tax increase of 5.3 per cent. There are more than 150 projects on the wish list, but not all will get approved. The increase covers both city operations and the funding for the neighbourhood renewal program.

“We are going to need sustained and increased investments especially from the province through a city charter to ensure that we have the infrastructure dollars and program dollars to meet the complex set of growth induced needs that you find here in Alberta’s capital city,” said Mayor Don Iveson.

The proposed increase means the average Edmonton home owner would be paying $110 more a year to the city.

Council will begin its deliberations Wednesday. Budget talks are expected to end by Dec. 12.