Headlines: Jan. 5, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Edmonton's anti-racism strategy, an initiative city council agreed to after being sworn into office in October 2021, is facing criticism from community leaders for slow progress and a lack of clear goals. "The language is very vague, and I think that's how people dodge accountability," said Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council. The city is also still recruiting people to serve on an independent body to "oversee anti-racism for Edmontonians," which is a key element of the strategy. The anti-racism advisory committee that helped create the strategy has put its meetings on hold indefinitely and is experiencing what Mayor Amarjeet Sohi described as "tensions" with administration. City manager Andre Corbould said he is satisfied with the city's efforts so far, pointing to funding such as the Anti-racism Grants Program, which has distributed $810,000 since 2021.
  • Edmontonians can now recycle Styrofoam and other types of polystyrene foam carrying the #6 plastic symbol at any Eco Station for free as long as it's clean. The city awarded the contract for the service to Styro Re Cycle, a southside company that uses a high-pressure machine to turn the foam into dense blocks that are sold to be turned into pellets for manufacturing. The company diverted 2,000 cubic meters of foam from landfills in 2022, the year it began its pilot project.
  • Edmonton's Food Bank continues to struggle to keep up with demand, with 30,000-35,000 people relying on the hamper program between September and October 2022. According to executive director Marjorie Bencz, supplies are lacking even as all 65 depots in Edmonton are at capacity and the organization went beyond its 2022 budget by a million dollars. Brad Lafortune with Public Interest Alberta suggested the solution lies with targeted affordability measures from the provincial and federal governments. "(We) can't keep expecting food banks and not-for-profits and charities to make up for where governments need to be doing more when it comes to food security," Lafortune said.
  • Maia Stock, a local woman, contracted a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing fasciitis while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta but remained in Mexico for treatment because there were no hospital beds available in Edmonton. An Alberta Health Services spokesperson said the organization tries to repatriate patients, but an AHS facility "may only accept if they have resources available to provide care." Stock underwent three operations over a two-week hospital stay in Mexico and was discharged Jan. 4.
  • The south tower of the Edmonton Law Courts building had a power outage lasting more than 24 hours, leading to delays in several cases including a manslaughter conviction appeal by Bradley Barton, the Ontario man who killed Cindy Gladue at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011. The court has not yet scheduled a new date for Barton's hearing.
  • WILDNorth, a local non-profit that rescues and cares for injured wild animals, receives more than 12,000 calls through its wildlife helpline and responds to around 800 rescue requests per year. Executive director Dale Gienow told Postmedia that 95% of the animals require treatment due to human activities. "I feel like somebody has to be there to champion these animals," said Gienow, who also has a wealth of stories about injured and orphaned wildlife, including coyotes, pelicans, and a talking raven.
  • Aurora Cannabis, which is headquartered in Edmonton, has sold its Aurora Polaris facility in Leduc as part of efforts to streamline operations. When it announced the plan in 2021, the company said 8% of its global workforce would be affected by the closure. In May 2022, it also announced plans to close the nearby Sky facility and two other facilities in British Columbia.