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Edmonton city council to reconsider e-bike rebate if motion passes

Edmonton mayor defends e-bike rebate criticism during tough financial times
WATCH ABOVE: (From June 11, 2020) Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson addresses the criticism the city has received for offering rebates to Edmontonians buying e-bikes at a time when the city has cut services due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 closures, saying the pandemic "hasn't changed the underlying climate imperative."

Edmonton city council will likely begin the process of cancelling an e-bike rebate when it meets on Monday. That’s if they accept a motion by Coun. Scott McKeen, who is among those having second thoughts about the electronic two-wheelers.

Earlier this spring, the city dispersed $50,000 in rebates that covered 30 per cent of the purchase price of an e-bike for a maximum return of $750.

WATCH: E-bikes see rising popularity among Canadians 

“This just seemed all a little tone-deaf in the context of a pandemic,” McKeen told Global News on Friday.

“I think now is the time to talk about suspending or even cancelling the program.”

He intends on getting the ball rolling at Monday’s council meeting by introducing a motion that will be debated, if accepted, two weeks later.

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On June 11, Mayor Don Iveson defended the e-bike rebate, saying the pandemic or its financial impact “has not changed the underlying climate imperative.”

The mayor said the climate emergency was a strategic priority for the city.

However, since then, McKeen says public feedback about the rebate program has grown.

“I know there is enough concern out there right now about businesses hanging by their fingernails, people unemployed,” he said. “And we’re all hearing this, and I know my council colleagues are as concerned as I am.”

The program set aside $50,000 a year in each of three years for e-bikes. McKeen said Year 1 of the money is gone. He’s hoping to redirect the other $100,000.

“Since this money’s been included in the budget, do we now look at taking the remaining funds over the next couple of years and see if it can be applied to COVID[-19] relief?” he asked.

READ MORE: Edmonton to join low-carbon cities network and share in $183M fund

“The other $450,000 of the program was for home or commercial chargers for electric vehicles,” McKeen said. “I think we should be debating that as well.

“Is this the time that we should be investing in that technology?”

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McKeen was also a little sheepish about how the $600,000 got by without him noticing.

“From my memory, it was not debated,” he said. “It may have been tucked inside a report that passed by my notice, so I feel really bad about that, and I’m sorry about that.”

At Monday’s meeting, council will also look at a motion being introduced by Coun. Jon Dziadyk to restore the original grass-cutting budget that was pared back because of the pandemic, and the resulting layoffs of seasonal staff.

Dziadyk gave notice to have that debate looked at at the conclusion of Tuesday’s council meeting.