· The Pulse
By Mack Male

  • Edmonton's homeless population has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began while calls to 311 about encampments increased from 790 in 2016 to more than 6,200 last year. "There's approximately 2,800 people in our city with no permanent home, and we estimate that approximately 700 to 800 of those folks are sleeping outside on any given night," said Christel Kjenner, director of affordable housing and homelessness at the City of Edmonton. Administration recommends against both creating a city-sanctioned homeless encampment and allowing encampments that pop up this summer to stay, Postmedia reports.
  • Edmonton police officers used force 18.9% more frequently last year compared to 2020, according to the Edmonton Police Service's 2021 annual report. That follows a 10.9% increase from 2019 to 2020. Staff Sgt. David DeMarco told the Edmonton Police Commission that a training program and new policy aimed at improving reporting, approved in early 2021, "is likely a driving factor in the increase," Postmedia reports. He explained that although the number of times officers drew their weapons increased by 34%, the proportion of incidents in which physical force was actually used fell somewhat. University of Alberta criminologist Temitope Oriola said he believes the numbers suggest an "over-reliance on force," Global News reports.
  • Police have charged six boys — two 14-year-olds, two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-olds — and a 17-year-old girl with second-degree murder for the stabbing death of 16-year-old Karanveer Sahota outside McNally High School earlier this month. The girl is also charged with attempted obstruction, and no further charges are expected to be laid. Hundreds of friends and family attended Sahota's funeral on Sunday afternoon, where Mayor Amarjeet Sohi spoke. "Your loss is felt by the community, your loss is really a loss for this city, the loss for a potential young man who could have grown up to give back to build a better city," he said.
  • The city's Summer Streets program, which converts some vehicle lanes into mobility lanes to support active modes of transportation, is returning again this year. The first lane will be setup this week at Victoria Park Road, with mobility lanes along Saskatchewan Drive and 104 Street coming early next month.
  • A new report called Action Alberta from the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights recommends that education districts establish system-wide policies on anti-racism, hire more teachers and assistants from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and provide consistent and stable funding for anti-racism initiatives. Edmonton Catholic Schools and Edmonton Public Schools are both developing anti-racism strategies, CBC News reports.
  • The Edmonton Valley Zoo has transferred its birds indoors or to outdoor habits protected by mesh to help keep out wild birds that could spread the deadly avian influenza subtype H5N1 that arrived in Alberta earlier this month.
  • Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, who currently serves as a member of the Edmonton Police Commission, has announced her nomination campaign to be the NDP candidate for Edmonton-Rutherford. MLA Richard Feehan, who was elected in the district in 2015, announced Friday that he won't seek re-election.
  • Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish told Postmedia that the plan to modernize Alberta's health care cards will have to wait until after next May's election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We need to make our motor vehicles registry systems able to talk to Alberta Health Systems and that sounds simple but it actually requires an enormous amount of technology work and upgrades," he said. The project's budget is still $20 million over three years.