Headlines: April 28, 2023

· The Pulse
  • In a long-awaited decision, the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service has declined to prosecute Const. Ben Todd of the Edmonton Police Service for excessive use of force against an Indigenous teenager in 2020, even though the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said in its decision for the case that Todd showed a "shocking lack of judgment and disregard" for the teenager's life. The officer kicked the teenager in the head while trying to arrest him, causing life-altering injuries. ASIRT concluded in its report that it would not lay charges "in accordance with the opinion provided" by the Crown. The victim's lawyer, Heather Steinke-Attia, said the Crown's decision was incomprehensible and "quashes" ASIRT's mandate to hold officers accountable. EPS said its professional standards branch will now open an investigation into the case. Steinke-Attia said other officers, who are unidentified, had lied to medical staff about the circumstances of the incident and will be investigated for misconduct.
  • Coun. Andrew Knack questioned the province's plan to put $330 million toward a Calgary arena deal, most of which will fund infrastructure supporting the development. "Right now, municipalities across the province, not just the City of Edmonton, have massive infrastructure needs and this feels very much like a one-off," said Knack, adding that governments shouldn't be allowed to make big funding announcements so close to an election. Premier Danielle Smith indicated she would be willing to discuss funding for Phase 2 of the ICE District, which would include several towers on the former Baccarat Casino site and north of Rogers Place. The province is "ready to help if there are specific infrastructure asks in Edmonton," Smith said.
  • A large fire in the river valley near downtown Edmonton broke out around 9pm on April 27, causing some damage to the patio at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Six Edmonton Fire Rescue Services crews responded to the brush fire. No injuries were reported, and the cause is under investigation.
  • The province said in a release that its pilot project to deploy 12 sheriffs to work with the Edmonton Police Service is improving public safety in inner-city neighbourhoods. The project started in February as part of the work of the Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force and is set to end on May 31. The release says two combined police and sheriff teams in Edmonton have laid 274 charges against 66 people and executed 2,986 outstanding arrest warrants as of April 23. The province also issued a release about its similar pilot project in Calgary. Kelly Sundberg, a justice studies expert and associate professor at Mount Royal University, said police presence forces unhoused people to relocate to other areas and is confident that the solution to social disorder involves the provincial and federal governments doing "strategic master planning" based on data.
  • Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis announced on April 25 that the province is creating a new unit of provincial sheriffs dedicated exclusively to arresting people with outstanding warrants linked to violent crime. The UCP government is putting $2 million toward the Fugitive Apprehension Sheriffs Support Team, which will consist of 20 officers split between Edmonton and Calgary. According to provincial data, there are around 4,200 violent offenders with outstanding warrants in Alberta. The province also earmarked $27.3 million for provincial sheriffs earlier this month to create rural crime programs.
  • Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president Steve Bradshaw spoke to Windspeaker Radio about the concerns of Edmonton transit workers and cleaning staff over social disorder in transit areas. On April 24, the Canadian Urban Transit Association released a set of recommendations to improve transit safety. The task force behind the recommendations includes representation from the Edmonton Transit Service.
  • Edmonton pickleball player Jorge Quintero was invited to be the first-ever player in the Canadian National Pickleball League, which officially launched Feb. 1, 2023. "The sport started with the older population playing it, but a lot of kids and younger people have picked up the sport, and it is growing super fast," said Quintero, who also owns a pickleball paddle company called Churco.
  • Local man Matt Devine is planning to cycle 13,000 kilometres across Canada to raise money for You Can Ride 2, an organization that removes barriers to cycling for children with disabilities. Devine told Global News he turned to cycling to improve his mental health after recovering from an alcohol addiction. His trip will take him from Halifax to Victoria and then to Yukon and the Northwest Territories before returning to Edmonton.
  • The Oilers Entertainment Group has renewed its partnership with 630 CHED for three more years. The station has been the "radio play-by-play home for Oilers hockey" for 28 consecutive years, according to a press release from Corus Entertainment, which owns 630 CHED.
  • The federal government announced a $25.3-million investment through the Rapid Housing Initiative to support affordable homes in the northern Alberta communities of Bigstone Cree Nation, Woodland Cree First Nation, East Prairie Metis Settlement, Horselake First Nation, Swan River First Nation, and Fox Creek.

Correction: This file has been updated to reflect the correct name of the charity Matt Devine is raising money for.