Headlines: Feb. 27, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The City of Edmonton issued a public apology to Canadian artist Ken Lum for implying that his work was "pro-colonist." The city commissioned Lum about a decade ago to create two bronze statues, The Buffalo and the Buffalo Fur Trader, for the Walterdale Bridge project, but in August 2022 announced that it would not display the art based on the "potential misinterpretation" of the works as a celebration of colonialism. In a statement released Feb. 24 to clarify that announcement, the city said it "did not intend to impugn Mr. Lum's reputation." The art has been transferred from the municipal public art collection and will be displayed in an alternate location chosen by Lum.
  • City manager Andre Corbould presented criteria for determining core services as administration continues its work to reallocate $240 million in spending, as directed by council during budget deliberations last year. A core service is determined by three categories: whether it is required by legislation, whether it is necessary for practical reasons, and whether it is a council priority. Corbould said other organizations that directly receive city funding, including the Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton Police Commission, may need to do their own analysis. "One of the outcomes I see out of this review is demonstrating to Edmontonians the value for money," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.
  • Edmontonians gathered in Hawrelak Park on Feb. 25 to protest the city's plan to cut down 220 trees as part of the park's three-year rehabilitation project. The city says the trees need to be removed to make way for necessary utility repairs and that 200 trees will be planted once construction is complete. Kristine Kowalchuk, chair of the Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition, said her organization was not aware the trees would be cut down as part of the work and that the city needs to explain whether other options have been fully explored. A city spokesperson said much of the park infrastructure dates back to its opening in 1967 and needs to be upgraded or replaced to meet current and future needs.
  • City council voted unanimously to amend the city's traffic bylaw to increase the fine for excessive vehicle noise to $1,000, and double for subsequent offences. Previously the city bylaw only included a $250 fine for motorcycle noise that exceeded 92 decibels. It now also applies to other types of noise coming from vehicles such as honking or loud music.
  • An Alberta parents group is calling for school board byelections in Edmonton and Calgary to fill vacant trustee seats. Currently, the Edmonton Catholic School Division and the Calgary Catholic School District have vacancies after the resignations of two trustees. Jeff Park of the Alberta Parents' Union says waiting to fill the seats until the next municipal election in 2025 is too long because parents "are having a hard time making their voices heard in the best of circumstances." Provincial legislation does not require boards with six or more trustees to hold a byelection if there is only one seat unfilled.
  • The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating police use of force after a video of an Edmonton Police Service officer repeatedly punching a man went viral. Police said in a release that on Feb. 22 officers followed a man seen "driving erratically" to an area near 87 Street and 106 Avenue, where they used force while they attempted to arrest him. According to the release, police referred the case for third-party review "out of an abundance of caution" once they became aware of video of the incident circulating online.
  • McCauley neighbourhood kids faced off against downtown division officers from the Edmonton Police Service for the 12th annual McCauley Cup hockey game on Feb. 25. The event, which had been on hiatus for three years because of COVID, drew crowds to the McCauley Community Rink as temperatures warmed up to around -5C.
  • The city opened up the Northlands Coliseum to the media for a final tour before its demolition, which won't begin until at least 2025. The arena, which hasn't been in use since its closure in 2017, is now home to mice and bats. Much of the useable furniture and memorabilia of value has already been removed, leaving behind plenty of debris and dust. The city says it will take about a year to get rid of everything that remains before the structure itself can come down. City council approved $35 million for its demolition during last year's budget discussions.
  • Edmonton ranked 150 in a global study examining how much time drivers spent in rush hour traffic in 2022. According to the report from location technology company TomTom, Edmontonians spent an average of 135 hours in rush hour traffic last year, compared with 110 in Calgary, which ranked 268. The two worst cities in Canada were Toronto and Vancouver.
  • The governments of Canada and Alberta announced $14 million in funding to build 55 new affordable housing units for First Nations and Métis communities in the province, including the O'Chiese First Nation in Edmonton. The funding will create 10 lease-to-purchase units for Indigenous families and people with specialized needs in Edmonton.