Headlines: Nov. 22, 2022

· The Pulse
  • Social disorder in Chinatown, which came under the spotlight after two unprovoked murders in May, is part of a larger pattern of discrimination and government neglect in Chinatowns across Canada, the CBC's Wallis Snowdon reported for an in-depth news feature. Holly Mah, chair of the Chinatown and Area Business Association, recently told an appeal hearing for the contested plan to relocate Boyle Street Community Services to Chinatown that only around 130 businesses remain in area. "What was once considered a nuisance is now lethal violence," she said. "Sometimes our shopkeepers suffer violence. Sometimes the homeless suffer violence." The city is currently funding private security and clean-up services for Chinatown, is working on a dispatch centre for police and social workers, and began accepting submissions in October for the Chinatown Recovery Fund. Still, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he expects the problems will take years to resolve. Teresa Woo-Paw, chair of the Calgary-based Action! Chinese Canadians Together Foundation, said that half of the Chinatowns in Canada have disappeared in a lifetime due to "erosion, erasure, neglect, and gentrification," among other issues.
  • The 4B Harm Reduction Society held a protest outside city hall on Nov. 21 to call for a better shelter strategy for unhoused Edmontonians, a population that is at extreme risk this winter due to a lack of warm spaces as well as the ongoing shigella outbreak. "In the summer, it was blatantly obvious that there were so many more people out there," said founder Angie Staines, "and nothing's changed just because the weather's changed." According to Homeward Trust's By Name List, a real-time record accessible to some service providers, there are currently more than 2,600 Edmontonians experiencing homelessness. Around 1,300 are "provisionally accommodated," such as staying with friends or in short-term or transitional housing.
  • TransEd's announcement on Nov. 18 that there are 30, rather than 21, cracked concrete piers supporting the elevated Valley Line LRT tracks prompted Coun. Tim Cartmell to reflect on damage to the City of Edmonton's reputation. "We are certainly taking a reputational hit, and that reputational hit then speaks to increased costs to future projects," said the Ward pihêsiwin councillor. "There's the cost of lost confidence. There's the cost of people counting on this project being complete and making investment decisions, or purchasing homes in particular places, or locating a business in a particular place." Cartmell, who is a structural engineer, said the latest update shows that "clearly something's gone wrong here in the design and construction process, and it needs to be remedied." But, he added, "administration is as frustrated as anyone. They're not at fault here, and no one intends to make a mistake. So in this particular instance, it's gone wrong without intent."
  • The Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA), a union representing around 4,000 employees at the University of Alberta including faculty, is calling on the institution to reinstate an indoor mask mandate for university-owned buildings that would impact staff, students, contractors, and visitors. "Our view is that the pandemic is not over, and other respiratory illnesses like RSV and the flu are spreading," said association president Gordon Swaters, who added the ongoing rise in respiratory viruses seen in K-12 schools is also affecting the university campus. AASUA is also asking the university to create a process to ensure any policy changes regarding mask mandates are backed by scientific evidence. A spokesperson for the U of A told CTV News the board of governors received a letter from AASUA and said the university "will maintain guiding safety measures accordingly based on the best advice available." The U of A has "strongly recommended" wearing masks indoors since the provincial mandate was dropped in June.
  • A local man, Randy Lowry, said Kia West Edmonton tried to charge him $2,400 for a "market adjustment fee" when he went to pick up a new car after waiting four months for it to arrive. While under the impression he signed a contract with the dealership, Lowry had in fact signed a non-binding "worksheet agreement" when he paid his deposit and not a formal bill of sale. A Kia Canada customer service representative pointed to "volatility in the market" and said prices can't be guaranteed for "an extended period." Shari Prymak, a senior consultant at the non-profit organization Car Help Canada, suggested it is "unethical to add a markup like that to a car in order to take advantage of a desperate buyer."
  • Mark Noonan, commissioner for the Canadian Premier League, announced the CPL board of governors voted to terminate Fath Sports Limited's right to operate FC Edmonton, effective Nov. 21. As a result, the soccer league will not have a team in Edmonton for the 2023 season. Noonan said that the "conditions in each of our markets for our clubs to be successful on and off the field...simply didn't exist at FC Edmonton, consistently resulting in the smallest league average attendance, lowest revenue, and poor performance in the standings, despite incremental league investment." Noonan said before a CPL franchise can return to the city a "proper facility" is needed. "We look forward to working with the City of Edmonton leadership on a strategy to return CPL to the market in an appropriate facility."
  • Residents of Camrose, about 90 kilometres south of Edmonton, were told to expect a "heavy police presence" as the Camrose Police Service, the Edmonton Police Service, and the RCMP carry out search warrants on 17 properties for several days starting Nov. 21. The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said the searches are related to an organized crime investigation and there is "no immediate risk to public safety."