Headlines: Dec. 5, 2022

· The Pulse
  • The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) says the city's proposed four-year capital budget does not include the funding necessary for required growth and renewal projects, including improvements to police headquarters, vehicle fleet replacement, and IT and radio system upgrades. Police officials made the $132-million funding request during a Dec. 2 presentation to council, which will spend the next few weeks on budget deliberations. The city's current proposed capital budget includes $48 million in police service funding. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted the current combined police capital and operating budgets amount to nearly half a billion dollars. "In my mind, that is a sufficient amount of money for the service to be allocating on the priorities they feel are necessary to keep our communities safe," Sohi said. Among the initiatives police requested additional money for was a previously funded dash cam pilot project, which EPS delayed earlier this year.
  • Two more Edmonton Public schools are adopting a lottery system to limit enrolment for the 2023-24 school year, bringing the total number of schools using the process to seven. The system allows schools that are at or nearing capacity to determine "which attendance area resident students can access their designated school when there are more resident students than spaces," a report to Edmonton Public Schools board trustees says. Students who are not selected are instead designated an overflow school. Board chair Trisha Estabrooks said "the need for new schools and Edmonton Public has reached a critical point."
  • An Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) recruitment program aims to encourage more women to become firefighters. Camp Inspire, which is in its second year, provides women and gender diverse applicants with the opportunity to learn more about the EFRS application process in a safe and welcoming environment. The weekend-long program also includes simulated fire event training. Of the 1,200 firefighters in Edmonton currently, 12 are women, which is twice as many as five years ago. "If you have the passion for it, anyone can be a firefighter," said Jessica LaMer, a senior fire operations official who has been with the service for 26 years.
  • A new fan park is under construction in Edmonton's Ice District at the location of the former Baccarat Casino between 102 Street and 101 Street. The space will include three outdoor rinks, art installations and greenery, and will be able to accommodate festivals, sports and other public events. The year-round space will create "an opportunity for increased vibrancy and new and unique events," Stu Ballantyne, president and chief operating officer for Rogers Place and Ice District, said in a release. The space is set to host its first event later in December.
  • The Alberta government is drafting changes to its proposed Alberta Sovereignty bill, which critics have called undemocratic because it grants cabinet the ability to bypass the legislature and amend provincial laws behind closed doors. Premier Danielle Smith said her government is "working on amendments" to the bill to clarify its intent. "You never get things 100% right all the time," Smith said. Meanwhile, protestors rallied outside the Alberta legislature on Dec. 4 in opposition to the proposed bill. Protest organizer Haruun Ali said the bill shows misplaced priorities and shouldn't have been introduced. "Effectively their first action as government, especially during a cost of living crisis, isn't to act on that, but it's a fight to Ottawa — a fight that Albertans do not want."
  • The Holiday Light Up on Dec. 3 welcomed Edmontonians to celebrate the season and visit local businesses at its new downtown location on Rice Howard Way. Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association said she was optimistic about the event's impact, despite the flurry of criticism the organization and city received after it was announced that there would be no Christmas tree in Churchill Square this year. "There's so much joy in exploring local businesses, local makers…just being together with friends and family. So that's the kind of stuff we're featuring here," McBryan said.
  • Former Edmonton Oilers head scout Barry Fraser, who was credited with helping to build the Oilers teams of the 80s and 90s, died Dec. 4 at the age of 82, the Oilers announced in a tweet. Fraser became the team's director of scouting in 1979 and would go on to draft hockey legends Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr.