Headlines: May 3, 2022

· The Pulse
By Kevin Holowack

  • The city announced it is rolling out new mobile public washrooms this week in high-traffic areas — including parks, business districts, and outdoor event spaces — as part of its Public Washrooms Strategy. The units will be open from 10am to 9pm, and some locations will have water bottle filling stations. On May 2, Edmonton Transit Service also reopened 10 of the 18 LRT and transit centre washrooms that council voted to close in February, a move that was criticized by riders and addictions advocates. City spokesperson Trevor Dennehy says the reopened washrooms will have sharps containers and enhanced cleaning hours and security guards have been supplied with Naloxone.
  • The city has begun its three-week engagement process for Warehouse Park, a proposed 1.47-hectare "urban oasis" stretching from 106 Street to 108 Street and from Jasper Avenue to 102 Avenue. In a release, the city said the project will also include new open spaces, a public washroom facility, and the renewal of streets and alleys adjacent to the park. Right now the area is mostly parking lots, which the city has been buying since the idea first arose in 2017, Global News reports. Edmontonians can share their thoughts on design options through an online survey or by attending an online Q&A on May 10.
  • The Alberta government has hired the consultancy Norrie and Co. to help explore the creation of an independent agency to handle complaints about police. The move is part of the government's ongoing review of the three-decade-old Police Act, which began in 2018. Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says the agency would lead the way in "modernizing police governing" across Canada, where most police services investigate themselves. The government has not disclosed further details, but criminologist Temitope Oriola advocates for a civilian-led body and a public database of all disciplinary actions taken against sworn officers, a model that provides effective independent oversight at top-performing police services around the world, he told CBC.
  • Five Edmontonians have come home after spending 20 days helping displaced Ukrainians on the Poland-Ukraine border. Pawel Turczyk, Nestor Turczyk, Daniel Sousa, Tim Sousa, and James Sousa raised more than $86,000, which they spent on delivering supplies and transporting people further into the country and to Germany. "The conversation needs to keep going. The awareness needs to keep up. That's everyone's job," said one member of the group, which plans to continue fundraising to support their new contacts in Poland.
  • St. Martin Catholic School, a Ukrainian bilingual school in south Edmonton, has welcomed 32 Ukrainian students who escaped the war, some of whom were sponsored by their families and others by parents who don't have family in Ukraine. Principal Angela Zapisocki says the school's cultural and linguistic familiarity make it a "natural destination" for some newcomers experiencing anxiety and trauma. The majority of the 70,000 displaced Ukrainians who received temporary resident status in Canada so far are women and children.
  • Playoff fever has hit Edmonton, and Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl assured the public that "(it's) gonna be loud, it's gonna be rowdy." The game against the L.A. Kings on Monday was the Oilers' first postseason tilt before a full house at Rogers Place since 2017. While downtown businesses are expecting a boom while the Oilers are in the playoffs, economist Moshe Lander said he wouldn't expect a net increase in economic activity, at least not in the first round.
  • More than 1,000 Edmontonians gathered in Callingwood Park on Monday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. After morning prayers, festivities took off with food trucks, a bouncy castle, and family activities. "It feels great that the community is getting back together after two years of pandemic, after two years of isolation," Imam Mahmoud Ibrahim of Rahma Mosque told Postmedia.
  • Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, appeared on the In Development podcast from the Infill Development in Edmonton Association to discuss current and future steps in activating Edmonton's downtown.