Headlines: Jan. 11, 2023

  • The city plans to cut down 220 mature trees in Hawrelak Park, nearly 19% of the park's 1,182 total trees, as part of the three-year rehabilitation project set to begin March 13. A new tree will be planted for every tree removed, according to the city's website, which does not specify the number of trees being removed. Kristine Kowalchuk, chair of the Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition, didn't recall hearing during public engagement about the city's decision to remove 220 trees and said her organization "feels the whole project has lacked transparency."
  • Administration is recommending the city give a $26.5-million sole-source contract to Ledcor to build a pedway between the Station Lands residential towers and Churchill LRT Station. In a report going to executive committee Jan. 18, city staff suggested hiring Ledcor directly will reduce costs because the construction group has already been hired by Qualico to build the private development. Coun. Anne Stevenson, who pushed back on the pedway last year when council approved funding it with the Downtown Community Revitalization Levy, thought staff made a "good argument" but said the pedway wouldn't benefit all members of the community and that pedways in general "detract from the vibrancy of our downtown streets."
  • Edmonton Public Library spent nearly $1.5 million last year to deal with the effects of social disorder at its branches across the city, according to a preliminary city report. Among the costs were naloxone kits, washroom attendants, outreach workers and opioid overdose responses. The report also showed 570 instances of "customer distress," including 77 opioid overdoses. Coun. Michael Janz, who requested the information from administration during budget deliberations last year, said it is an example of cities dealing with the costs of issues that are provincial responsibility.
  • Correctional Service Canada (CSC) said it has hired dozens of correctional officers to work at Edmonton Institution, a federal maximum security prison, in response to a critical report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator that singled out the prison as one of the worst in Canada for workplace dysfunction, use of force, assaults, and self-harm. James Bloomfield, prairies regional president with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said CSC has "created no new positions whatsoever" and only filled workplace gaps after reducing staffing to a "bare minimum" during the pandemic. He added the prison is "still a toxic work environment, or very, very close to a toxic work environment."
  • Community leaders in Chinatown who spoke to CTV News expect the installation of a new Harbin Gate will be an emotional moment. "That was the gate for friendship. It was the twinning of the two cities, Harbin and Edmonton," said Sandy Pon with the Chinese Benevolent Association, adding the gate was a "landmark for every Edmontonian." The city is currently working with a team in China to finalize the design. No timeline for installation has been decided.
  • Work to restore power at the Edmonton Law Courts building is ongoing, and while some parts of the building regained power on Jan. 10, a timeline for permanent repairs is still being determined. Since the outage began Jan. 3, Court of King's Bench managed to hear a majority of scheduled cases remotely or in other court facilities. The building was constructed in 1972, and there have been calls to replace it since the early 2000s.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are either "underachieving badly" or demonstrating that "everything that happened last spring was a fluke," according to Sportsnet columnist Mark Spector. With their 21-18-3 record this season, the team is sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference. Evander Kane, whose wrist was lacerated by a skate during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 8, may return to the ice on Jan. 19 or 21.
  • The Edmonton International Airport saw delays to most incoming and outgoing flights on the morning of Jan. 10 due to poor visibility caused by low-lying fog. From 9am-12pm, only two of 20 departures left on time and all 10 arrivals were delayed or cancelled.