April 3, 2020
As incoming Chair of UDI-Edmonton Region, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity. In these unprecedented and uncertain times, we are fortunate to be able to rely on the exceptional group of industry volunteers who comprise our Board of Directors and our 5 Standing Committees and 7 Regional Committees.
Coming into this year, the Board's strategic priorities were focused on many important initiatives as set out in our 2020 Business Plan. However, in a very short period of time, things have changed significantly as a result of COVID-19 and its related market impacts. At this time, more than ever, it is important to ensure we make quick and decisive actions.
As a quick update on actions taken so far, we are working with the City to identify further opportunities that could help mitigate the challenges facing our industry. These ideas we brought forward were focused on:
(1) Cash flow (including property tax deferrals, surety bonds as an option to new and existing letters of credit and other cash deferral options with the City).
The City has confirmed that property taxes can be delayed to August 31st without penalty. Refer to the City's Covid-19 Business Support for further information.
(2) Deferral of City initiatives that will add costs to our industry (such as offsite levies, energy transition costs); and
(3) Continue to, and accelerate, efficiencies that will promote investment.
We are working through these requests with the City and will keep you informed of further results and progress. For all news, briefs, updates and research please continue to refer to our website which we will keep as current as possible in this rapidly changing environment. Additionally, please check your email next week for a new feature: UDI-ER's Research and Policy Quarterly Newsletter.
COVID-19 has had other impacts on UDI-ER. With the primary focus of protecting the health and safety of our staff and volunteers while also ensuring the business continuity of the organization, the office has been closed and staff are working remotely from home. However, while locations have changed, the work has not - Board and committee meetings are continuing via teleconference and staff are continuing their regular duties. Additionally, we have postponed our monthly luncheons until further notice. With regards to the luncheons and all of our events in general, we will ensure that Members are provided with timely updates as this COVID-19 situation evolves.
There are a number of positive developments that are also occurring. For example, our membership composition now includes some of the largest participants in brownfield and infill development and through them, we are creating a brand new standing committee - the Core Redevelopment Committee. As an organization of City Builders in the Edmonton Metro Region, we will advocate for policy that is good for all growth.
Lastly, I would be remiss not to thank outgoing Chair Andrew Usenik for the time, dedication and accomplishments UDI-ER achieved under his leadership. His contributions and impact to the organization were tremendous and although I'll miss working with him on the Board, know he's a phone call away for advice.
Chair, UDI-Edmonton Region