July 8, 2020
The City has released the Reimagine plan that looks at ways to continue building a healthy, prosperous Edmonton while working to balance the budget during these unprecedented times. The Reimagine recommendations are the basis of City Administration’s corporate workplan and will better position Edmonton to recover from the triple threat of health challenges of a pandemic, the economic contraction it has generated and the oil price plunge.
The plan aims to ensure that the City moves forward into the future in a financially responsible manner while dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
“These are unprecedented times, and they are bringing significant financial and operational challenges,” said Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin. “While we cannot foresee everything that lies ahead, I want to reassure Edmontonians that we have a plan for getting through this, and for keeping Edmonton on track as a great and vibrant city.”
There are five areas to the City’s Reimagine work, all of which will require adjustments and difficult tradeoffs. They are framed by the long-term vision and goals for the City which were developed well before the pandemic struck.
The five major areas of work are: reimagining city building, reimagining services, modernizing the workforce, focusing on being a more relationship-based city, and increasing financial viability. There are 29 specific actions within these recommendations that will help to move the City forward.
“We are driven by the long term vision and goals for the city which were developed well before the pandemic struck. Other cities may be exploring a ‘back to basics’ approach, but for us, focusing on Edmonton’s strategic plan remains critical,” added Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin. “Those goals guide us, and what we are doing is reframing our work so that we go forward with focus. Setting priorities and being clear about the choices we make will be the important and difficult work of this Council over the coming year.”
The Reimagine report comes as the City of Edmonton has new calculations that show the cost of COVID-19 will be $20 million more than first predicted. Financial pressures will continue into 2021.
The budget impacts of COVID-19 are now expected to be $172 million in the probable case for 2020. In the best case scenario they could be low as $151 million, but in the worst case scenario they could be as high as $252 million. Long term financial forecasting is in the early stages, but the financial strain is expected to continue beyond 2021. To deal with continuing financial hardship, the City remains committed to carefully managing expenses, and seeking new ways of doing business more efficiently.