Headlines: Jan. 30, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The city activated its extreme weather response on Jan. 27 as frigid temperatures took hold in Edmonton. The response will remain in place until Feb. 4 at 6am but could be extended if the extreme cold remains. As part of the response, Edmonton Transit Service is operating three overnight bus routes to transport people to shelters with capacity, and the Al Rashid Mosque will provide up to 50 overnight shelter spaces to vulnerable people. The Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services community spaces also have expanded daytime hours to provide services and supports to people in need. As with previous extreme weather responses, the city said it will not open LRT stations as warming spaces because they do not have appropriate amenities such as heat and washrooms.
  • The Alberta government has provided Edmonton with $5 million to support downtown recovery. The city received $4 million to support events and festivals, enhanced cleaning and snow removal, along with branding and promotion, while the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (EDBA) received $1 million for marketing initiatives intended to attract visitors and businesses to the city's core. Puneeta McBryan, EDBA executive director, told Postmedia the funding will also go toward the 2023 Downtown Spark event and three new murals on buildings downtown. The funding is the latest effort aimed at restoring vibrancy to the city's core after the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 and 2022, the city awarded more than $4.9 million to 53 projects through the Downtown Vibrancy Strategy Funding Program.
  • The city has identified 100 crossings that will receive safety upgrades in 2023 as part of the Safe Crossings Program. The upgrades include raised crosswalks, adaptable curb extensions and two-stage crossings to allow pedestrians a place to rest and provide a shorter crossing distance. Upgrades also include infrastructure such as flashing lights, beacons and traffic signals. Planned and completed projects are listed on the Safe Crossings Dashboard.
  • Part of 28th Avenue is closed until Feb. 8 as TransEd completes electrical repairs on a Valley Line Southeast LRT substation near the Mill Woods Transit Centre. To accommodate the work, the eastbound right turn lane east of 66 Street will be partially closed from 8:00am until about 4:00pm. The company has also been granted an overnight work permit, but said the noise will be minimal. The opening date for the line, which is two years late, remains unknown, but TransEd told Postmedia News that line-wide performance demonstration tests will happen soon.
  • A new report from the Anti-Racism Muslim Collaborative has identified issues faced by Black Muslims in Edmonton, including a need for inclusive spaces for Black people in Muslim communities, a lack of inclusion for non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and a lack of representation among Muslim leadership. The project, facilitated by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, included community engagement with members of the Black Muslim community and put forward a series of recommendations. The report is "intended to contribute to the fostering of inclusive Muslim spaces in Edmonton by addressing anti-racism, especially anti-Black racism, through community empowerment, advocacy, and education," the centre said in a release.
  • The Edmonton Police Service announced the winners of a $50,000 contest for ideas to help reduce catalytic converter thefts. An Edmonton mother and daughter, Mavis Shaw and Tamara Dolinsky, won $25,000 for their first-place creation "Foilem Fence," which Dolinsky described as "a fence that prevents people from getting under the vehicle, so they can't access the catalytic converter." Police launched the contest in August 2022 and received 210 entries from around the world. Catalytic converter thefts increased 25% between 2021 and 2022, from 2,647 to 3,345 incidents, according to police.
  • The Bear Clan Patrol's Edmonton chapter has donated handmade scarves and toques to help people experiencing homelessness get through the cold winter months. "Our brothers and sisters love to have homemade items. It shows them that the community cares and loves them," said chapter leader Judith Gale.
  • Albertans who have not yet received their flu vaccine are still encouraged to get their shot. The season peaked earlier than usual last November, rather than the typical late December peak "so it kind of leaves an open question as to what might happen for the rest of the season," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta. There have been 8,463 cases of influenza so far this season, along with 1,979 hospitalizations and 102 deaths, according to the latest provincial data.
  • The Alberta government will unveil the 2023 provincial budget when the spring legislature session opens on Feb. 28. Finance Minister Travis Toews said the budget will focus funding health care and school enrolment growth. It is expected to be the last budget before the next provincial election, which is scheduled for May 29.