Headlines: Feb. 14, 2023

· The Pulse
  • An opioid response team operated by Boyle Street Community Services, which formed as part of pilot project the city launched in May 2022, is no longer allowed to hand out harm reduction supplies like clean needles and pipes in public transit areas and pedways. Ryan Birch, director of bus operations with Edmonton Transit Service, said the team of city contractors has "refocused their efforts" to reflect amendments council made last June to the Conduct of Transit Passengers Bylaw, which include adding "visibly using a controlled substance" as "inappropriate behaviour." Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the program was increasing risks for passengers and transit workers, while Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford argued the lack of clean supplies only increases risk among people with addictions, who will continue to use. Clean supplies are proven to stop the spread of several infectious and fatal diseases.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Premier Danielle Smith will have their first meeting on March 7, five months after she became United Conservative Party leader in October 2022. Sohi, who told Postmedia he has requested the meeting multiple times, said he hopes to discuss housing, mental health, addictions, and issues impacting downtown businesses, adding he is "disappointed (and) concerned" over the delay. Smith has met with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek at least twice since becoming premier.
  • The city is inviting public feedback on several initiatives including the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy, which aims to "imagine a new future" for parks, plazas, sidewalks, streets, and alleys in Old Strathcona. The city is seeking input on design ideas developed with the feedback collected during Phase 1 of the project. The two major areas are Whyte Avenue and publicly owned lands next to Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail. The survey is open until March 5.
  • Ehsan Hashemi, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta Department of Mechanical Engineering, is leading a research team working on an algorithm to make autonomous vehicles safer. Part of the effort involves installing remote sensors on infrastructure to create a "shared perception" system with the vehicles. They plan to pilot the system at the north campus in coming months and eventually want to work with the city on a downtown pilot.
  • Edmonton-based photojournalist Amber Bracken and the news outlet The Narwhal have filed a lawsuit against the RCMP for wrongful arrest, wrongful detention, violation of Charter rights, and violation of freedom of the press. The Mounties arrested Bracken in late 2021 while she was covering protests opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet'suwet'en territory. The Canadian Association of Journalists said in a statement it "strongly supports" the legal action.
  • WestJet announced it is adding new non-stop flights from Edmonton International Airport to Charlottetown, Moncton, London (Ontario), Minneapolis, and Seattle as part of its 2023 summer schedule. According to a release, the company's service in Edmonton will increase nearly 50% this summer compared to 2022.