Headlines: Nov. 18, 2022

  • Some residents of Blatchford are upset over a recommendation from administration to heat some homes with natural gas in the short term because they say it strays from the neighbourhood's sustainability goals. Administration is reconsidering the original plan for Blatchford to rely on geothermal energy and a renewable sewer heat exchanger, particularly because Edmonton has received no grant assistance so far and because EPCOR predicts less sewer water will flow through Blatchford as the city grows. In a report going to the utility committee on Nov. 25, administration is recommending fast-tracking the development of natural gas centres at Blatchford, which council first approved in 2015 as a support measure during peak use times, to save money in the short-term and give the city time to develop other solutions.
  • The Edmonton Police Service released a three-year strategy to deal with guns and gangs, but said its success depends on the outcome of a request for funding through the city's four-year operating budget. Police say they have responded to 138 shootings as of Nov. 9 this year, up from 136 in the same period last year. "Like many other cities across Canada, we've seen an unacceptable trend in illegal ownership and violent use of firearms," Chief Dale McFee said in a statement.
  • Alberta Health Services has confirmed 173 cases of shigella in Edmonton as of Nov. 17, including 115 cases requiring hospitalization. Most cases are among what AHS categorizes as the "inner-city" population, which primarily includes Edmontonians who are vulnerable and unhoused. AHS has indicated that the present outbreak is the largest ever in the city. The city is making more temporary washroom facilities available and numerous community organizations are providing access to hygiene resources for people suffering from shigella, which spreads through contact with a contaminated surface and causes diarrhea, fever, nausea, and stomach cramps.
  • The Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH) is one organization calling on the provincial government to officially track deaths among people experiencing homelessness. "I think the people that have the jurisdiction to act on this would probably prefer that those numbers aren't known," suggested Jim Gurnett, an activist with ECOHH. "If we don't know how bad it is, it's easier to not take any action to address it." The ECOHH's own informal count has risen from 32 in 2005 to 222 in 2021.
  • Premier Danielle Smith has scrapped the entire 12-person board of Alberta Health Services and replaced it with a single administrative role held by Dr. John Cowell, a move she said will allow the province to "accelerate all the changes we all need to see." Cowell, who was appointed to the same position after the provincial government fired the board in 2013, will serve this time for at least six months. Tony Dagnone, a former board member, believes Smith was "shooting from the hip" and that the premier "doesn't believe in being informed before making these huge, huge decisions that have an impact on the health of Albertans." Replacing the AHS board was one of Smith's UCP leadership campaign promises.
  • Six people have died during the province's influenza season so far, including a four-year-old child, according to Alberta Health data released Nov. 17. In the 2021-22 flu season, the first deaths were not reported until April 30.
  • Organizers of the Okimaw Awards are inviting Edmontonians to observe the inaugural ceremony, which takes place Nov. 18 at 11:30am in the City Room at City Hall. The awards were created to recognize Indigenous men who have contributed positively to broader society and demonstrated values of traditional Indigenous leaders and visionaries.
  • Edmonton Oilers fans visited West Edmonton Mall on Nov. 17 for a public autograph session, the first the team has done since the 2019-2020 season. Lineups appeared at WEM before mall access was granted at 6am, filled mostly with fans of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.