Headlines: Jan. 19, 2023

  • City councillors questioned a recommendation from administration to award a $26.4 million sole-source contract to Ledcor during an executive committee meeting Jan. 18. City staff say directly hiring Ledcor to build a pedway connecting Churchill LRT Station with Qualico's Station Lands would reduce potential project risks and minimize costs because the construction company is already the site contractor for the development. Council would have to approve the sole-source agreement because the city typically uses a competitive procurement process for any contracts worth $1 million or more. In response to the recommendation, Coun. Michael Janz renewed his call for a municipal lobby registry. "Right now, the city has no lobbyist registry, so we have no idea who is meeting with council and administration and what their meetings are regarding," he said.
  • Many residential roads in Edmonton are filled with soft snow because, according to the city, blading them at current temperatures would create ruts and windrows. Mark Beare, the city's director of infrastructure operations, said crews will be "grooming residential neighbourhoods" next week once temperatures drop. He added workers have already been clearing residential alleys and are currently focused on windrows, which the city drew negative feedback for not clearing last year.
  • The city announced the winners of its first-ever Name a Plow Contest. Edmontonians submitted more than 2,100 entries, which prompted the city to increase the number of winners from 10 to 15. The winning names, including "Amarsleet Snowhi," "Connor McBlade-It," and "Snow-Be-Gone Kenobi," are showcased on the side of the plows.
  • Kingsway Mall is getting a Zellers. The Hudson's Bay Company, which owns the discount store chain, announced it would open Zellers pop-up locations in 25 of its The Bay department stores across Canada early this year. Zellers largely disappeared from Canada after its lease agreements were bought in 2011 by Target Canada, which has also since vanished.
  • Edmonton hobby shops have been hit by at least a dozen break-ins targeting popular collectible cards. Jason Wynn, owner of Hobz in southeast Edmonton, decided to stop stocking Pokémon cards after his store's former location was broken into twice. "If we get robbed again, we won't survive," he said. Brendan Capel, who owns Star Lotus Games, attributes the rise in burglaries to the growing popularity of the cards during the pandemic. "The last year-and-a-half has definitely been worse than probably anytime in the last decade," Capel said.
  • An analysis of Elections Canada's political donations data from 2015-2020, conducted by the Local News Data Hub and the Investigative Journalism Foundation, ranked Edmonton Centre 17th on a list of 338 ridings based on donations made to federal parties. The riding gave $2.1 million to federal parties, which is much higher than the national average of about $853,000. The Conservative Party drew $955,712, or 45% of all donations.
  • The average detached house in Edmonton is expected to depreciate in value by roughly 3% in 2023, according to the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, which presented its forecast at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jan. 18. The number hit an all-time high of $510,000 in April 2022, but the market has since slowed and is expected to normalize in 2023 to pre-pandemic levels. The high prices drew more realtors to Edmonton, said association chair Melanie Boles, so consumers "definitely have options to look for in professional realtors."
  • Several Albertans have reported scams targeting people who access the province's affordability payment program, including text messages asking them to follow a link and register for bank deposits. The province confirmed it is not contacting people by text. The only way eligible Albertans can access the payments is through alberta.ca/affordable or a registry.
  • The province announced that it will allocate one-quarter of its nominations for the express entry stream of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program to individuals who have an immediate family member in Alberta and possess high-demand skills as determined by the province's occupational outlook. The move is intended to fast-track permanent residency for people who meet these criteria. Alberta is forecasting a shortage of more than 33,000 workers by 2025.