Headlines: Oct. 27, 2022

  • City council's urban planning committee wants to explore options for redeveloping vacant parking lots in central neighbourhoods, some of which are operating without a permit. Coun. Ashley Salvador said she feels "quite strongly" that phasing out illegal surface parking lots is part of creating a vibrant and safe downtown. Puneeta McBryan with the Edmonton Downtown Business Association agreed that Edmonton could do without the "many unpermitted, poorly maintained gravel parking lots," which she believes landowners often have no intention of developing. Administration will return to the committee in June with a report on the issue.
  • Kids under 12 should ride transit for free even if they aren't with an adult, city council's executive committee decided Wednesday. Coun. Andrew Knack, who proposed the change, said it would allow youth to access more things in the city and "build up that potential for future ridership and continued ridership as they age." Administration is expected to present a revised transit fare policy during November budget discussions.
  • Coun. Tim Cartmell has received hundreds of complaints about drivers speeding through residential and school areas in Windermere, Langdale and Keswick. In a Facebook post, Cartmell said he asked the police to increase enforcement and will ask administration to look into traffic-calming measures, like crosswalks and four-way stops, for Wright Drive, Washburn Drive, and Windermere Boulevard. "Many drivers are not going to like these measures," Cartmell wrote. "But I want you to think about how you would feel if you hit a child with your car."
  • Sonic 102.9 radio announcer Lauren Hunter is back with another Edmonton-themed Halloween costume, this time dressing up as a cracked Valley Line LRT concrete pier. "Just wanted to show my 'SUPPORT!'" she wrote on her Instagram post, which later went viral. In August, TransEd, the consortium building the Valley Line Southeast, announced the project was delayed again after inspections revealed cracks in several piers supporting elevated tracks along the route.
  • According to Statistics Canada's 2021 census data, around 23% of Albertans are or have been an immigrant or permanent resident, an increase of 2% from 2016. More than one in four people in the Edmonton metropolitan area fell into this category, the fifth-highest of Canada's urban centres. Alberta saw a drop in immigration overall, with 193,175 new immigrants from 2016-2021, compared to 207,800 from 2011-2016.
  • Crews broke ground for the Bear Hills Casino and Travel Resort, which is set to begin construction this winter and open by Christmas 2023. The resort, located on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway near Maskwacis, is owned by the Louis Bull Tribe and is expected to create hundreds of jobs for members. It will be the sixth First Nations-owned casino in the province.
  • Long hospital waiting times across Alberta are caused by a "perfect storm" of factors, including many COVID-19 patients, more patients seeking care postponed by the pandemic, and the stress of cold and flu season, according to epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine. Alberta Health Services reported a 15% increase in ER visits in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. An AHS spokesperson said the organization is "aggressively" recruiting frontline workers and has added 270 ER staff in the past year.