Headlines: March 14, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Edmonton Journal reporter Anna Junker profiled the work of community safety teams working with the Healthy Streets Operations Centre (HSOC), which was launched by the Edmonton Police Service with partners in October 2022 in response to "chronically high levels of victimization and crime" in downtown, Chinatown, the Alberta Avenue area, and some LRT stations. The teams, which originally included police, peace officers, and paramedics, were joined by provincial sheriffs on Feb. 23 and will also include Edmonton Fire Rescue Services representatives beginning in late March. Insp. Angela Kemp, who oversees the HSOC teams, said their interactions can lead to an arrest but also resources to provide an "off-ramp" and divert people from the criminal justice system. University of Alberta professor Marta-Marika Urbanik suggested the HSOC teams are "fairly wraparound" on paper, but they are also "cop heavy" in way that "can tell us a lot about what the intention is."
  • City staff are working with the province on a strategy to protect Edmonton from wild pigs, an invasive species that has been spreading across the prairie provinces and can cause major ecological damage. Efforts have increased since Postmedia reported in 2022 that Edmonton could become the first Canadian city with permanent urban wild pigs. In recent years, wild pigs have been reported in nearby areas like Strathcona County, Elk Island National Park, and around the Edmonton International Airport. Postmedia archives show that Edmonton experienced a wild pig problem in the summer of 1997, with one article reporting seven sightings in a single week.
  • Police say their investigation into the murder of infamous inner-city landlord Abdullah Shah, who was shot in southwest Edmonton on March 13, 2022, has been repeatedly stalled by obstruction including the destruction of evidence, deceit, and evasion. Homicide Det. Jared Buhler called for increased cooperation and said anyone with information can share it with police anonymously. Police have also released new surveillance footage of a Toyota Highlander from the night of the killing and said the crime was a "well-organized and targeted hit." No charges have been laid in the case.
  • Stephen Jones, CEO of Edmonton-based budget airline Flair, accused one of Canada's two major airlines of trying to stymie his company's operations by attempting to lease four Boeing 737 Maxes recently seized from Flair because of overdue payments. Jones claims the unnamed company — either Air Canada or WestJet — engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations for the planes with lessor Airborne Capital Inc. after Flair was in arrears for only a few days. The sudden seizure of the planes, more than one-fifth of Flair's operating fleet, caused cancellations for about 1,900 passengers.
  • Health Minister Jason Copping and Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides discussed the 2023 provincial budget at a news conference at the University of Alberta. Copping acknowledged the province should have addressed shortages in Alberta's healthcare system earlier. The budget aims to add 3,400 spaces to healthcare post-secondary programs and puts an additional $113 million toward the Academic Medicine and Health Services Program, the province's residency program for medical students.
  • The provincial government is launching a second Alberta is Calling campaign to attract more workers to the province. The first campaign, which began in summer 2022, targeted Toronto and Vancouver, while the new campaign will focus on workers living in Atlantic Canada and parts of Ontario, including London, Hamilton, Windsor, and Sudbury.