- Vehicle traffic on 102 Avenue between 99 and 103 Streets will soon be permitted again after city council voted 7-5 against a proposed bylaw that would have piloted the four-block strip as a pedestrian-only zone. The corridor has been closed to traffic since 2018 as TransEd worked on the Valley Line LRT, but administration told council that the avenue could reopen within a few weeks. Council had asked for the draft bylaw last June as a way of increasing vibrancy and foot traffic in the area, but several organizations, including the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (EDBA), the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and the YMCA spoke against the proposal. EDBA executive director Puneeta McBryan said with the LRT and a bike lane already on the avenue, the road does not have enough space and "does not really make sense from an activation standpoint."
- Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee said police are "prepared to lead" efforts and "try some different things" to address downtown crime and social disorder while suggesting the tactics are "probably not going to be popular for some." He made the remarks at a luncheon chat with Lisa Baroldi, CEO of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Edmonton, who said safety is the "No. 1 threat" facing the commercial real estate industry. Baroldi said a survey commissioned by BOMA showed costs for downtown property owners and managers have increased almost $200,000 per year on average since March 2020 due to expenses related to security, maintenance, and addictions awareness training and resources.
- The Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH) issued an open letter calling on the leaders of Alberta's political parties to commit to taking action on housing security ahead of the May provincial election. The requests include more money for affordable housing, recognizing housing as a human right, and establishing a housing ministry. ECOHH chair Nadine Chalifoux told Postmedia that much of the provincial money put toward affordable housing isn't meeting the need and existing laws fail to protect renters.
- ATCO and Qualico are partnering to build what could become Canada's first fully hydrogen-powered community in Strathcona County just east of Edmonton. Construction on the proposed Bremner community is expected to start this year, with residents able to move in by 2025. The community is designed to eventually support 80,000-85,000 residents plus businesses. A study on the logistics of delivering hydrogen to the area will be funded by a $2-million grant through the Hydrogen Centre of Excellence run by Alberta Innovates, which has announced a total of $20 million for 18 projects across the province to advance hydrogen innovation.
- The Silver Skate Festival, the last festival in Hawrelak Park before it closes March 13 for a three-year rehabilitation project, wrapped up on Feb. 20. Silver Skate will relocate next year to the nearby Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park, while other festivals formerly at Hawrelak will relocate elsewhere, including the Exhibition Lands, Borden Park, and RE/MAX Field.
- Habitat for Humanity volunteers recounted their memories of working with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who spent time in Alberta as part of a pledge to build 150 affordable homes across Canada to mark 150 years of Confederation. Carter Place, a 58-townhouse site in Edmonton built in 2017-2018, takes its name from the former president. The Carter Center recently announced the 98-year-old would spend the remainder of his life receiving hospice care at home.
- The province said in a news release that its 2023 budget, if passed, would invest an additional $243 million in primary health care over three years, for a total of $2 billion. Of the new money, $125 million will be used to implement recommendations made by advisory councils formed as part of the Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System initiative. The budget is expected to be unveiled Feb. 28. The Opposition NDP have said they would spend $150 million a year to hire health care workers to support a team-based primary care model as part of their Family Health Teams plan. They are holding public consultations on the plan on March 1 and 9.
Headlines: Feb. 22, 2023
By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim