Headlines: Feb. 7, 2023

  • Brendan Washbern, a local comedian, ate a chili pepper in front of city council to suggest that climate change is "not the end of the world" even if things heat up. Identifying himself as "Arun Tysily" (Aren't I Silly) Washbern pulled the stunt during a public hearing about zoning bylaws and later posted a recording to YouTube. Coun. Michael Janz referred to the incident as "a bit tedious because it wasn't that funny," and Coun. Sarah Hamilton offered to help aspiring comedians who want to "brigade council meetings" get to their punchline.
  • City council voted unanimously in favour of awarding a $26 million sole-source contract to Ledcor to build a pedway between Churchill LRT Station and Qualico's Station Lands development. The agreement required council approval because it wasn't put through the city's usual public tender process. City administration said hiring Ledcor directly for the pedway contract would be more cost-effective and minimize project risks because the company is already the site contractor for the Station Lands development.
  • Edmontonians with connections to Turkey and Syria are trying to make contact with friends and family after a major earthquake struck the region on Feb. 6, killing thousands. Sim Senol, president of the Turkish Canadian Society of Edmonton, said her group will begin collecting cash donations on Feb. 10 at the community's hall at 15450 105 Ave. "This is not going to be done in one day, this is a lot of devastation. We'll have to keep it up for a long time," she said.
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is running its annual rooftop campout to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada for the first time since the pandemic. Five firefighters are living on the roof of Fire Hall #2 on 107 Street just north of Jasper Avenue and hope to raise $80,000 by Feb. 10. The campaign is accepting donations online.
  • The Alberta Legislature underground pedway system, which runs below the east side of the grounds, has lost many of its features since it was installed in the 1970s as part of a plan to upgrade the grounds under then-premier Peter Lougheed. Once containing gardens, fountains, artwork, and a cafeteria, the pedway was stripped of its opulence during cost-cutting efforts in the 1990s and today makes for an "unremarkable stroll between government buildings," wrote Postmedia reporter Matthew Black.
  • Premier Danielle Smith returned to work on Feb. 6 after a week-and-a-half vacation, during which she continued to draw controversy over a CBC report that her staff emailed Crown prosecutors in an attempt to interfere with cases related to the Coutts border blockade. A spokesperson for Smith said the vacation was pre-planned but did not indicate when the premier's next media availability would be held. Smith has not appeared publicly to take questions since a Jan. 10 press conference in which she said she would be more accessible to journalists.
  • CBC News published a profile on Marshall Smith, who is Premier Danielle Smith's chief of staff and a key advisor to the UCP government's recovery-oriented approach to opioid addiction and treatment. The article is part of the series The Way Out: Addiction in Alberta, which is documenting a "fundamental shift" in the province's approach to addictions treatment.