Headlines: June 1, 2022

· The Pulse
  • Boyle Street Community Services will be operating a new Overdose Prevention and Response Program, which will see teams of medical professionals and outreach workers responding to drug poisonings in the downtown pedway system and environs. The program is a partnership with the Edmonton Downtown Business Association and the City of Edmonton, which provided a $195,000 grant to the initiative as part of its Downtown Vibrancy Strategy. The Overdose Prevention & Response Teams (OPRTs) will be active from May to September. More than 1,700 Albertans died of drug overdoses in 2021, and 55 deaths occurred in Edmonton in January 2022 alone, Global News reports.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro both described a May 31 meeting on public safety as productive after a tense few days that saw Shandro evoke the Police Act to require Edmonton to deliver a public safety plan in response to crime in the core and on public transit. "We had good conversations about our shared responsibility," Sohi said, while Shandro defended his approach, saying it enabled the province to the province "bring some discipline to the work" the city is doing, Global News reported.
  • Lawyer Kate Engel has filed a complaint calling for the removal of Edmonton Police Commission chair John McDougall and commissioner Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, alleging that their response to Robert Houle's criticism of police funding breaks the commission's code of conduct, Postmedia reports. Meanwhile, former police commission member Murray Billett wrote an op-ed asserting that some city councillors have failed to comply with the Police Act by questioning the level of police funding. Instead of leaving the budget to the police commission, he wrote, "they chose to politicize policing by jumping on the popular anti-police bandwagon."
  • Edmonton is falling behind other Canadian cities when it comes to recycling street sand, owing to a cancellation of the city's award-winning Winter Street Sand Recycling program, once considered the largest in North America. In 2016, auditors found the program was poorly managed and may not have saved money, but Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge are saving millions each year with comparable programs, CBC reported. Edmonton uses thousands of tonnes of sand annually, which it pays to deposit in landfills.
  • The Edmonton Police Service will be the first in Alberta to start using HealthIM, which is a tool to help police respond to mental health emergencies as part of a "recovery-oriented system of care." The mobile app will give police access to de-escalation techniques, a screening tool to determine if community-based services should be involved, and a way to share relevant information about the person in crisis with health facilities and other services.
  • The City of Edmonton has released its first podcast as part of the Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative. The five-episode Making Space series is about how city zoning impacts people's lives, focusing on the stories of "real-life folks" and the "hard-won lessons" of how to make Edmonton more equitable. A 30-minute episode featuring an interview with a planning expert will be released every Tuesday until June 28.
  • From June 23 to 24, Edmonton will host the inaugural major for the Professional Triathletes Organisation before the competition heads to Slovakia and Texas. The event builds on the city's two-decade tradition of hosting the World Triathlon, which it has done three times.
  • Sports columnist Sean Fitz-Gerald thinks Edmonton is arguably "Canada's best sports town", the current Oilers renaissance marking but one chapter in a city with a history of sports dynasties.
  • Travis Toews is the first person to officially enter the UCP leadership race after resigning as Finance Minister on May 31 to do so. Other ministers are thought to be considering a run, as are past UCP leadership contender Brian Jean and former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith.