Headlines

· The Pulse
By Kevin Holowack
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  • The city's plan to build an overpass over the CP rail crossing on 50th Street and to widen sections of 50th Street to six lanes will cost $34 million more than expected, city council learned on Monday before approving the increase. Deputy city manager Adam Laughlin said trains block the crossing up to 64 times each day, amounting to five and half hours of delays. The city will lobby the federal government for a $30.8 million grant to help cover the increase, but Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the now $179.6-million project will proceed either way.
  • Many downtown workers have returned to the office as of Monday, with about 70% of the City of Edmonton's 12,000-person workforce and about 1,000 Stantec staff returning to their desks. Alberta public service staff have been returning in stages. Tom Mansfield, the city's acting branch manager for urban planning and economy, expects the office workers to add vibrancy, support businesses, and reignite "that sense of presence that has been missing."
  • City council has voted against reinstating the $507,000 aerial mosquito program, choosing instead to divert the money into biological pest control like dragonflies and bats. "This allows us to spend money, I think, more responsibly going forward," said Coun. Michael Janz.
  • City council has approved a plan to reduce single-use items and has requested a related bylaw be drafted. Once in effect, the bylaw would ban single-use plastic shopping bags and foam cups, and would require restaurants to only give napkins, straws, and packaged condiments to people who ask for them. The city also approved a business case for making food scrap and recycling collection mandatory for multi-unit properties like apartments. A public hearing is expected later this year.
  • Less than half of sworn Edmonton Police Service officers live within city limits with the rest living mostly in St. Albert, Spruce Grove, and Sherwood Park, according to data acquired by Postmedia through a FOIP request. EPS spokesperson Daniel Tames said in an email that Edmonton, like most Canadian cities, does not have officer residency requirements. Local criminologist Temitope Oriola explained that academics have "contradictory" views about whether a residency requirement is beneficial, but he believes the revealed data could surprise many Edmontonians and notes that perceptions "are powerful, particularly for an institution going through a very difficult time."
  • Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu is leaving her position less than one year after signing a two-year contract extension. In a statement, AHS board chair Gregory Turnbull thanked Yiu for her service and "tireless leadership through the worst days of the pandemic." Health Minister Jason Copping said the province is moving forward with "an ambitious agenda to improve and modernize the health system, and renewed leadership at Alberta Health Services will support delivering those changes."
  • The arrival of 20 wood bison from Elk Island National Park into the Métis Crossing Wildlife Park is "a milestone in reconciliation," said Audrey Poitras, president of the Métis Nation of Alberta. The animals, which will join a 48-bison herd already living in the park, are vital to sharing the Métis story. "Bison are absolutely foundational to who we are as Métis people," said Juanita Marois, CEO of Métis Crossing.