Neighbors ought to advocate for metropolitan comfort, argues the Edmontonton Mayor

The Edmonton Mayor says it is time for neighboring communities to help cover the costs of running leisure centers and tourist attractions within the city limits.

Don Iveson says Edmonton property owners shouldn’t be the only ones paying for facilities like Fort Edmonton Park, Telus World of Science, and the Edmonton Valley Zoo.

People who live in cities and towns outside of Edmonton also visit but do not pay for general upkeep and operations other than entrance fees.

“Taxes should be higher in St. Albert and Strathcona Counties and Leduc and Beaumont because the free ride is over,” Iveson said Friday morning during the council’s budget debate.

The mayor’s comments were fueled by a $ 40 million funding request for wildlife habitats at the zoo. Mayor Don Iveson would like to speak to members of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board about common regional amenities. (CBC)

Count. Sarah Hamilton suggested debt financing for the project, and without the upgrades, some animals would have to be kept in shelters.

“They would have to close parts of the facility to public access as these areas are not suitable for animal habitats or are not safe for public access,” said Hamilton.

City officials told the city council that the zoo had 396,000 visitors in 2017, 80 percent more than in 2012 when the Arctic Shores segment opened.

However, as the council seeks to keep tax increases to a minimum, council members are looking for other ways to pay for new and ongoing facilities.

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board works to collaborate in areas such as emergency medical services and transportation.

Sharing local amenities is part of a provincial program called Inter-municipal cooperation framework.

Iveson said Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Parkland County are working together on services, so this isn’t a new idea.

“There are many examples of this in the region. Edmonton’s problem has always been dealing with these significant facilities.”

On Thursday, the council also agreed to use the regional approach for recreation centers such as the long-awaited Lewis Farms Leisure Center and Library.

The council agreed to refer the zoo project for review in the spring.

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