- Edmonton Transit Service said its bus ridership levels have returned to 100% of its pre-pandemic levels, becoming one of the first large transit systems to reach the milestone. During January 2023, there was an average of 1.2 million rides per week, compared with just 350,000 rides per week during the height of the pandemic in 2020. ETS attributed the increase in ridership to a variety of factors, including the Bus Network Redesign, which added On Demand Transit service, and the recent introduction of the Arc electronic payment system.
- New Edmonton Police Service (EPS) recruits from diverse backgrounds accounted for at least 60% of new hires between 2020-22. A total of 159 new hires over the past three years identified as Indigenous, people of colour or gender or sexually diverse. A ceremony for graduating recruits at City Hall on Feb. 10 included constables from nine countries who speak 14 languages among them. The police service has outlined its efforts to hire more diverse people in its Commitment to Action plan and its 2023-26 Strategic Plan. According to data collected in its 2021 Annual Report, 20% of EPS senior ranks are women, 12% are Indigenous and 8% are racialized.
- An Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officer who missed a body while searching a homicide scene has been demoted from detective to constable following a disciplinary hearing. Paul Kelly, who was a detective with the crime scene investigation unit, failed to locate the body of 25-year-old victim Blayne Burnstick while investigating the scene at a rooming house on Sept. 13, 2017. The body was ultimately discovered five days later, leading Chief Dale McFee to charge Kelly with 14 counts under the Police Act. Kelly was convicted of 10 counts last November and has been suspended without pay since.
- Rob McLeod, otherwise known as Frisbee Rob, attempted to break his own record for the longest self-caught Frisbee toss on skates Feb. 11 during the Silver Skate Festival at Hawrelak Park. McLeod had been aiming for 100 metres, but only managed to throw the Frisbee 79 metres, falling short of his record of 93 set in 2018.
- Stable interest rates could encourage potential homebuyers seeking mortgages to take the plunge this year, according to Marc Crossman, managing partner with Alberta Mortgage Professionals. On Jan. 25, the Bank of Canada increased the overnight interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.5%, but said it expects to hold the rate steady while it assesses the impact of recent increases.
- The Alberta government appointed five new judges to serve on the provincial court beginning in March, including four in the Edmonton division. The government also appointed four new justices of the peace, two of whom will serve in Edmonton.
- Premier Danielle Smith drew widespread criticism after she tweeted a video in which she said Indigenous people and settlers "united to tame an unforgiving frontier" for the "prosperity of countless future generations." The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations said in a statement that it was disappointed by the "simplistic views on the colonization of Canada's First Nations peoples and their territorial lands, and the lasting impacts colonization continues to have on our people." Smith expanded on her comments during her Your Province, Your Premier radio show on Feb. 11, after a caller asked her to apologize. She said Alberta has "been a pioneer in our relationship with First Nations" and while governments have not always lived up to Treaty agreements, her government is making "historical reparations for the errors that we made."
- Premier Danielle Smith called for a new Calgary arena deal, cautioning the experience of other cities that lost their NHL teams after failing to secure agreements. Smith made the comments Feb. 11 on her radio show in response to a caller who asked why she is pushing for a new arena rather than opening a new hospital. "I do not want to see the Quebec Flames ... so we've got to make sure that we do what we can to keep that team here," she said. The city of Calgary is currently negotiating a new events centre with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. Smith said the province has not received any funding requests for the project but is staying up to date on discussions.
Headlines: Feb. 13, 2023
By Mariam Ibrahim