Headlines: Jan. 4, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The city will send property owners their 2023 property assessment notices on Jan. 16 after they were delayed to avoid conflicting with the holiday season. The assessments, which will reflect the 2023 tax increase council approved in December, will also be posted to the city's MyProperty website. Property tax notices will be mailed out in May.
  • Chinatown is getting a new Harbin Gate after council approved $6 million to replace the landmark structure as part of the 2023-2026 capital budget. The original gate, a gift from Edmonton's sister city of Harbin, China, was erected in 1987 over 102 Avenue just east of 97 Street and removed in 2017 to make way for the Valley Line LRT expansion. The new gate will go over 97 Street just north of Jasper Avenue. A spokesperson confirmed Edmonton is working with Harbin on the new design. The city has already installed gate footings, but has not determined a completion date for the project.
  • Edmontonians overwhelmingly did their last-minute Christmas shopping at malls compared to shoppers in other Canadian cities. According to data from Avison Young's Vitality Index, foot traffic at Edmonton malls increased 184% between Dec. 19-23 compared to the same period in 2021, and foot traffic at big box stores increased 148%. Meanwhile, foot traffic at local stores increased only 22%. "We all wish it would've been better and that we would've seen more traffic," said Marcella Nathan, owner of Bosom Babies.
  • The city plans to start selling parcels of land in 2023 to get the ball rolling on the Exhibition Lands project, which will transform more than 200 acres of land around the Expo Centre, including the Northlands Coliseum site, into a "sustainable, transit-oriented, aspirational redevelopment." According to the project's implementation strategy, it also aims to be net-zero by 2030. In December, council committed $35 million to demolish the Coliseum, but a date hasn't been scheduled.
  • Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart of the Edmonton Police Service firearms examination and gang investigation unit expects recent improvements to the police service's in-house ballistics testing capacity will help investigators and accelerate efforts to prosecute gun crime. Relying mostly on provincial funding, police have set up a standalone test-fire facility in southeast Edmonton, which processed 749 weapons in 2021 and a similar number in 2022. Previously, firearm testing in Alberta was done by the RCMP and came with significant wait times, which can result in judges dismissing cases due to unreasonable delays.
  • In a year-end interview, Premier Danielle Smith suggested Calgary should follow the "Edmonton model" of downtown development, specifically using private investment dollars rather than public funds to replace the Scotiabank Saddledome. Smith's examples of "what seems to have worked in Edmonton" included Rogers Place, Stantec Tower, and the JW Marriott Hotel, which are all in Ice District. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in a separate interview that it would be premature to "weigh in at this stage on the premier's musings."