Headlines: Sept. 20, 2022

· The Pulse
  • The city says public complaints about encampments are up 25%, with 6,693 made so far in 2022. Encampment response teams have removed 1,370 camps so far this year, compared to 1,780 in all of 2021. According to Homeward Trust, more than 2,750 people in Edmonton have no permanent home and almost 1,300 are sleeping outside or in shelters. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi told CBC that problems are "spilling" from the downtown core to areas like Kingsway, 107 Avenue, and Whyte Avenue; he said he hoped the Healthy Streets Operations Centre in Chinatown would help, though he acknowledged it's a "Band-Aid solution." Officials say they are working on a plan to create more winter spaces because emergency shelters at the former Northlands site, Commonwealth Stadium, and the Edmonton Convention Centre are unlikely to be used again this year.
  • The Edmonton Police Service said it would not lay charges against a woman who was shoved to the ground by an officer as seen in a widely circulated video. Police alleged she was brandishing a knife, but have not released evidence that she was doing so. An EPS spokesperson said no charges were laid because "intoxication was considered a factor" and there was no willing complainant.
  • Hundreds of Albertans gathered for a memorial for Queen Elizabeth II at the legislature while the royal funeral proceedings were wrapping up in England. Attendees took in an hour-long ceremony featuring bagpipes, a 96-gun salute, hymns from the Greenwood Singers, and a moment of silence. Premier Jason Kenney, who recently waited 10 hours to see the Queen's coffin in London, remarked that it was "astonishing to see the world stop in quiet, peace, and gratitude."
  • A new playground at Boyle Street Plaza will be celebrated with a grand opening event on Sept. 24. Joelle Reiniger, a community representative, said the playground was designed through a lens of Truth and Reconciliation and sought input from local Indigenous residents and an elder. The project was led by a partnership of Boyle Street residents and the YMCA.
  • Members of the DBG Fruit Growers Group exchanged locally grown plums, grapes, pears, figs, peaches, and apples at a fruit festival at L.Y. Cairns School. "A lot of people believe you cannot grow really good, excellent tasting apples and pears and cherries and plums (in Alberta)," green thumb Bernie Nikolai told CBC. "They're wrong."
  • Twenty people attended the third edition of Camp Inspire, a program by Edmonton Fire Rescue Services intended to increase representation by promoting firefighting to women and gender-diverse people in a "safe, approachable" way. Only 11 of about 1,250 local firefighters are women, camp coordinator and firefighter Daisy vanRavenswaay told CTV.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have signed a tryout agreement with Jake Virtanen, a former Vancouver Canucks winger whose contract was bought out after he was accused of sexual assault in May 2021. In July 2022, Virtanen was found not guilty by a B.C. Supreme Court jury. Mary Jane James, CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE), noted Virtanen had faced "very, very serious" allegations and said the Oilers are "sending a horrible message to our community" in the wake of Hockey Canada's mishandling of sexual assault allegations.
  • With only a few games left this season, FC Edmonton is facing an uncertain future. Sports columnist Derek Van Diest doesn't think the Canadian Premier League, which runs the owner-less club on a shoestring budget, will continue to do so next season. FC Edmonton is currently last in the league with three wins, seven ties, and 15 losses. The CPL has said talks are ongoing to find a new owner
  • Experts are expecting flu rates to return to normal or slightly heightened levels this fall, along with a rise in COVID-19 rate, putting pressure on hospitals already experiencing staffing shortages. Alberta's free flu immunization campaign starts in October.