The soon to retire, Downtown Business Association executive director Jim Taylor provided some arena advice for city councillors in his final ever annual report at City Hall. If you want improved social services in the shadow of the new rink, you need to lean on the province to provide it.
“I think it’s too easy to let them off the hook, and once you take it on, you live with it,” Taylor said to council’s executive committee. “I don’t think it’s Daryl Katz’ place to look after social services in the City of Edmonton, so I hope these things get worked out but I would really like to see the province far more involved in this controversy that’s going on rather than you guys getting dragged into it.”
Boyle Street Community Services last winter unveiled a plan to build a new facility, but since then things have been relatively quiet on that front. It’s a proposed building that caught the attention of Taylor, and he’s all for it.
“It internalizes a lot of stuff that’s out on the street right now. It adds space and services. It also expands the demographic of the people that would be on that property because there’s housing that’s not just social housing, it has other aspects to it. It might have a health centre in it as well.”
“Just the idea that it’s a shiny new building with an internalized court yard, and many more services for the people that they look after makes it almost a no-brainer.”
“All of the media stories in the last couple of weeks about have we addressed this enough, and has the Katz Group addressed this enough, has the city addressed this enough, I haven’t seen the province in there in any way. But if you look at orders of government and their responsibilities, there’s no doubt that social services is a provincial responsibility.”
Taylor said at one point early in the plans for Boyle Street to build a new building, there was talk of a land swap to allow it to be built further away from the arena, however he said those informal conversations never went anywhere.
“This is a golden opportunity for the provincial government to make a big difference in our downtown with those very people that have been in the news lately because of the new arena.”