Headlines: April 17, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission (EMTSC) has been officially terminated after its board of directors voted unanimously to dissolve it by May 31, a move prompted by Edmonton's withdrawal late last year. Postmedia reported that regional leaders are discussing new strategies for better transit connections, which might involve separate transit systems each contributing coverage for some regional routes. Steve Bradshaw, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, which represents Edmonton Transit Service workers, said it's possible that updated routes could begin in September.
  • Stony Plain Road business owners are concerned about the impacts of a road closure between 131 Street and 139 Street scheduled to begin this week and expected to last over the summer as construction ramps up on the Valley Line West LRT project. While some business owners have been able to weather the impacts since the Stony Plain Road Bridge was demolished in December, crediting a loyal customer base and increased visibility due to congestion, others are worried about the lack of foot traffic. Todd Janes, executive director of the Stony Plain Road Business Association, said they are working with businesses to increase marketing and promotions to attract customers through the construction period.
  • Hoa Quach, the City of Edmonton's independent auditor since July 2021, has resigned. His last day in the role will be May 9. Quach told Postmedia his decision was driven by his desire to spend more time with his children and to seek other opportunities. Council will begin a search to find Quach's replacement. The auditor is one of two roles chosen by and accountable to city council, with the other being the city manager.
  • A new report by researchers at the University of Alberta and the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative suggests that Edmonton's early learning and childcare system is not welcoming to immigrant and refugee families. The report, titled Journeys Through Early Learning and Childcare in Edmonton: The Experiences of Ethnocultural Families, draws attention to the difficulties faced by ethnic families when accessing childcare, such as language barriers, and recommends that Edmonton's early childhood education and childcare centres make space for multiculturalism in their services. The researchers spoke to 30 parents from eight immigrant and refugee communities for the project.
  • A $20-million renovation of the Alberta legislature north plaza is underway, including the construction of a new wading pool. The design for the project was chosen based on public feedback from nearly 4,000 Albertans, and the new concept will include a river-shaped pool to replace the terraced wading pool, along with other infrastructure upgrades. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
  • The lawyer for an Edmonton Police Service officer convicted of one count of sexual assault last October has argued his client should receive a conditional discharge and one year of probation, which would leave him without a criminal record if he followed all conditions. Const. Samuel Sanson was found guilty of groping a female officer in the gym at police headquarters in January 2021. In her victim impact statement, the female officer said reporting the assault was "mortifying and intrusive," and that she felt unsupported by her employer until Sanson was convicted. The Crown prosecutor for the case argued Sanson should be sentenced to 30 to 90 days in jail, a year of probation, community service, and have to provide a DNA sample and be added to the national sex offender database for 10 years. A decision is expected May 5. A police service spokesperson said Sanson remains employed with EPS but is suspended without pay.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are starting their NHL playoffs run with their first game against the Los Angeles Kings on April 17. The Oilers, which have been leading the NHL since March 1, closed out the regular season with nine consecutive wins. However, team captain Connor McDavid says the regular season won't predict their playoff performance. "It's kind of a fresh start for both sides," McDavid said. Meanwhile, downtown Edmonton businesses are preparing for the influx of fans as the playoffs start. Kelly's Pub on 104 Street south of Rogers Place will be screening games on their outdoor patio, weather permitting. "The energy is already a lot higher," said bartender supervisor Peter Mason.
  • Bike Edmonton, a non-profit organization that promotes cycling in the city, held the Big Spring Bike Sale at its Downtown Community Workshop near MacEwan University on April 15. Most of the 65 refurbished donated bikes available were sold by the early afternoon. The event was a fundraiser for the group, which offers free workshops and courses for riders, and advocates for bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policy.
  • Premier Danielle Smith will only allow reporters to ask one question at news conferences with no follow-ups, as she prepares for the upcoming provincial election. Smith said the change is to ensure that as many reporters can ask questions as possible, but the move drew criticism from Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley. "Leaders take questions — it's part of the job," Notley said. The one-question policy comes as Smith faces controversy for her call with Calgary street preacher Artur Pawlowski and an ethics investigation into whether she interfered with the administration of justice related to pandemic-related prosecutions.