· The Pulse
By Kevin Holowack

  • City council's community and public services committee voted 5-0 on Monday to develop a drug decriminalization strategy, the first step in lobbying the federal government for an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for simple possession, or carrying illegal substances for personal use. If the plan is approved by council, Edmonton would join Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Winnipeg on the list of Canadian jurisdictions exploring decriminalization. Last year, 1,771 Albertans including 674 Edmontonians died of drug poisoning, Postmedia reports.
  • The committee also unanimously endorsed spending $1.765 million to study options for addressing derelict and abandoned properties. The city has identified 486 new "problem properties" since 2018, with the highest numbers in the Alberta Avenue, Jasper Place, and Garneau areas. Proposed options for addressing the sites include charging derelict property owners higher taxes and introducing a grant program to encourage the remediation of the properties. The Alberta Avenue Community League spoke recently with Global News about an increase in crime in the area linked to problem properties.
  • A group of property owners has decided to sell an entire block near the river valley as a ten-house package for $12.5 million. The group's real estate agent said they felt selling the properties collectively could provide more housing than allowing the lots to be converted into million-dollar homes individually, though a future owner would need to apply for a rezoning to combine the lots. The listing includes nine houses along Scona Road and another near the corner of 93rd Avenue.
  • CBC News spoke with 2SLGBT advocate Chevi Rabbit, who is critical of the city's recently approved plan to improve safety and well-being for Indigenous people based on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). "It was very glossy and self-congratulating," said Rabbit, who identifies as biracial and Cree. "I felt like [2SLGBT people] were pushed out in this reconciliation effort."
  • PCL Construction has ranked 23rd on LinkedIn's list of the 25 best workplaces to grow your career in Canada, a list dominated by financial institutions and big tech companies. The company said its inclusion "speaks to its high employee engagement and retention, since companies with attrition of more than 10% are ineligible."
  • Alberta's low rate of triple-vaccinated residents could contribute to the upcoming COVID-19 surge driven by a highly transmissible Omicron subvariant, experts warn. Only 43.1% of Albertans who are eligible for a third shot (currently those aged 12 and up) have received it, or 36.7% of the total population. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has said to expect an increase in cases in the coming weeks.